As previously reported, Adele‘s “Hello” blasts onto the Billboard Hot 100 (dated Nov. 14) at No. 1, setting a record for the most U.S. downloads sold in a week: 1.11 million, in the week ending Oct. 29, according to Nielsen Music. It’s the first song ever to sell at least 1 million downloads in a week.
While “Hello” arrives as the first million-selling download in a week, it’s the second song to move at least that many copies in a frame in the U.S. since Nielsen Music began tracking sales in 1991, counting both digital and physical singles.
The only prior such smash? A song by, like Adele, another British artist, and about a late British icon: Elton John’s double-sided “Candle in the Wind 1997″/”Something About the Way You Look Tonight.” His tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, logged two weeks of higher sales than “Hello”: 3,446,000 upon its debut (as reflected on Billboard‘s charts dated Oct. 11, 1997) and 1,212,000 the following week (Oct. 18). Prior to the advent of download purchases, sales for John’s single (which topped the Hot 100 for 14 weeks) encompassed physical components (CD, cassette and vinyl copies).
The sales record for “Candle,” carried, of course, somber tones, fueled by worldwide mourning for Princess Diana, who died, at 36, in a car accident on Aug. 31, 1997. John performed the ballad at her funeral Sept. 6. The studio version subsequently released was produced by the legendary George Martin, best known for his work producing the Beatles.
In honor of Adele’s “Hello” becoming just the second song to sell at least 1 million singles in a week in Nielsen Music’s 24-year history, here’s a look at 1) the top 10 biggest sales weeks for digital downloads, a list which “Hello” now tops, 2) the top 10 biggest sales weeks for digital and physical singles combined and, 3) the top 10 biggest sales weeks for physical singles; John’s “Candle” remains burning bright atop the latter two lists.