The UK's most streamed songs in 2017 by year of release, including Toto's Africa, Oasis and TLC

A look at the classic tracks that have found a huge audience in the streaming era.

With streaming now firmly established in music – accounting for over half of music consumption in the UK – it’s not just new songs that are racking up millions of plays, many classics are now finding a sizeable audience.

Tracks released before 2016 (what can loosely be defined as ‘catalogue’ songs) made up 55% of music streaming in 2017, despite the Top 10 most played tracks of the year all being released in 2017.

The seasonal appeal of Christmas classics are the obvious choice for popular catalogue songs on streaming, and last year saw Wham’s Last Christmas become the most popular song on streaming released in the 1980s with 24 million plays in 2017, closely followed by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s Fairytale Of New York on 20.5m.

Behind the festive favourites, not completely unsurprisingly, is Toto’s Africa, which notched up just under 18m plays in the UK last year. The soft rock classic, released in 1982, has found a new audience in the streaming era thanks in part to nostalgic Millennials revisiting the song as well as countless memes and essays about the song online. The same goes for Earth Wind & Fire's September, which also featured in the hit film Trolls and was the most popular single of the 1970s last year with 17.5m streams. 

More surprising is Train’s Hey Soul Sister, which was the most streamed track of 2017 released in 2009, with 11.7 million plays. The folk-pop number was a huge radio hit but only a moderate UK chart success at the time, peaking at Number 18 on the Official Singles Chart in 2010 and finishing as the 84th best-seller of that year.

Meanwhile, the most streamed track of the 1990s last year was Oasis’ 1995 hit Wonderwall with just over 27m plays, narrowly beating Mariah Carey’s 1994 yuletide favourite All I Want For Christmas Is You with 26m streams. 

Elsewhere, the enduring appeal of The Killers’ Mr Brightside makes 2003 the golden song of the Noughties, acquiring 42m plays in 2017 alone, while The Jackson 5’s 1969 single I Want You Back was the most popular track of the 1960s last year.

Take a look at the complete list of the most streamed songs of 2017 by year of release below, compiled by the BPI using Official Charts Company data:

YEAR TITLE ARTIST
2017 SHAPE OF YOU ED SHEERAN
2016 YOU DON'T KNOW ME JAX JONES FT RAYE
2015 BE THE ONE DUA LIPA
2014 ONE LAST TIME ARIANA GRANDE
2013 POMPEII BASTILLE
2012 RADIOACTIVE IMAGINE DRAGONS
2011 THE A TEAM ED SHEERAN
2010 WHAT YOU KNOW TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB
2009 HEY SOUL SISTER TRAIN
2008 VIVA LA VIDA COLDPLAY
2007 FLOURESCENT ADOLESCENT ARCTIC MONKEYS
2006 NAÏVE THE KOOKS
2005 GOLD DIGGER KANYE WEST FT JAMIE FOXX
2004 NUMB/ENCORE JAY-Z & LINKIN PARK
2003 MR BRIGHTSIDE THE KILLERS
2002 IGNITION REMIX R KELLY
2001 LAST NITE STROKES
2000 IN THE END LINKIN PARK
1999 NO SCRUBS TLC
1998 IRIS GOO GOO DOLLS
1997 BITTER SWEET SYMPHONY VERVE
1996 NO DIGGITY BLACKSTREET FT DR DRE
1995 WONDERWALL OASIS
1994 ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU MARIAH CAREY
1993 LAID JAMES
1992 CREEP RADIOHEAD
1991 SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT NIRVANA
1990 THUNDERSTRICK AC/DC
1989 I WANNA BE ADORED STONE ROSES
1988 FAST CAR TRACY CHAPMAN
1987 FAIRTYALE OF NEW YORK THE POGUES FT KIRSTY MACCOLL
1986 YOU CAN CALL ME AL PAUL SIMON
1985 MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE SHAKIN' STEVENS
1984 LAST CHRISTMAS WHAM!
1983 SWEET DREAMS (ARE MADE OF THIS) EURYTHMICS
1982 AFRICA TOTO
1981 DON'T STOP BELIVIN' JOURNEY
1980 MY MAKE MY DREAMS DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES
1979 HIGHWAY TO HELL AC/DC
1978 SEPTEMBER EARTH WIND & FIRE
1977 MT BLUE SKY ELO
1976 GO YOU OWN WAY FLEETWOOD MAC
1975 BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY QUEEN
1974 SWEET HOME ALABAMA LYNYRD SKYNYRD
1973 STEP INTO CHRISTMAS ELTON JOHN
1972 SUPERSTITION STEVIE WONDER
1971 TINY DANCER ELTON JOHN
1970 SIGNED SEALED DELIVERED (I'M YOURS) STEVIE WONDER
1969 I WANT YOU BACK JACKSON 5
1968 ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER JIMI HENDRIX
1967 AIN'T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH MARVIN GAYE & TAMMI TERRELL
1966 PAINT IT BLACK ROLLING STONES
1965 I CAN'T HELP MYSELF FOUR TOPS
1964 MY GIRL THE TEMPTATIONS
1963 IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR ANDY WILLIAMS
1962 BRING IT ON HOME TO ME SAM COOKE
1961 STAND BY ME BEN E KING
1960 AT LAST ETTA JAMES

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