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All-Time 'Best Ever' Singles?

We have updated this page to reflect the fact that towards the end of 2006 both Virgin Radio and Q Magazine compiled lists of the 'best ever' singles based on votes from their listeners / readers.

Periodically, magazines and radio stations mount grand polls, asking readers and listeners to register their "all-time favourite" singles/songs.

The most recent of these was carried out by Virgin Radio. The resulting chart was unveiled in Dec 2006.

This page shows the Top 100 (and then some!) singles - obtained by combining the results of the Virgin poll with the five previous National listeners'/readers' 'Best Ever' polls. These were conducted by Q Magazine (2006), Radio 2 (2004), Guinness (2002), Radio 1 (1998) and Mojo Magazine (1997).

We have calculated this chart by combining the positions in each of the individual polls, following the type of statistical distribution obtained in music listings based on public votes. A track must appear in at least two separate Top 100s to be included in our chart.

By using this methodology we have largely eliminated any idiosyncrasies caused by 'fad' voting (favouring very recent releases), skewing resulting from a restrictive demographic (most radio stations/magazines aim at a relatively narrow age-band) and attempts by artist fan clubs to influence voting.

Snow Patrols' "Chasing Cars" topped the Virgin poll and, whilst few people would disagree that it is a single par excellence it is unlikely to be occupying that slot by their next compilation. No doubt it will appear in our listing at the next update but our methodology means that it will have a more graceful and appropriate placing than would otherwise be the case..

The listing illustrates the premise that short (weekly) snapshots of sales, whilst accurately reflecting the mood of the Nation at the time, do not always reveal the public's true, long-term appreciation of a song. Many singles which sell hundreds of thousands per week at the height of their chart success are relegated to the bargain bins (or consigned to waste bins!) within weeks of leaving the chart. This listing is about songs which, in theory at least, ooze quality and have longevity.

     No. 1
No. 1
No. 3

What follows is totally subjective, of course, but it is the nearest it is possible to get to the definitive "all-time best-ever" 'singles' (though, by our reckoning, the entries marked "(*)" have never been released as singles!)

All-Time 'Best Ever' SinglesYearVirginQRadio 2Guin'ssRadio 1Mojo
  1Queen Bohemian Rhapsody1975116211823
  2John Lennon Imagine1980182552821
  3Robbie Williams Angels199721113612
  4Beatles Hey Jude196812231137
  5Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit199137011232
  6Oasis Live Forever199445112942
  7Oasis Wonderwall199542403029
  9Verve Bitter Sweet Symphony199719938360
  10U2 With Or Without You1987551729207
  11Beatles Penny Lane / Strawberry Fields Forever196749316671
  12Beach Boys Good Vibrations1966892110513
  13REMLosing My Religion1991155885162046
  14Bob Dylan Like A Rolling Stone1965591237644
  15Beach Boys God Only Knows19664436155612
  16REMEverybody Hurts199341286832698
  17Kinks Waterloo Sunset1967963819912
  18Oasis Donít Look Back In Anger19962920821285100
  19Procol Harum A Whiter Shade Of Pale196711938
  20Led ZeppelinStairway To Heaven19714787
  21Beatles Yesterday19763052349
  22BeatlesA Day In The Life (*)196722438
  23Eagles Hotel California19773970251785
  24Massive AttackUnfinished Sympathy199140441
  25Abba Dancing Queen197627487
  26Madonna Like A Prayer198927577
  27Jimi Hendrix ExperienceAll Along The Watchtower1968684188995
  29Michael JacksonBillie Jean1983168115
  30Who My Generation196531638814
  31Kate Bush Wuthering Heights19783661304088
  32RadioheadParanoid Android19971024
  33Undertones Teenage Kicks197849517415
  34Joy DivisionLove Will Tear Us Apart198073995
  35Simon And Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water197087133594
  36Bruce SpringsteenBorn To Run1987862617
  37Bob Marley & The WailersNo Woman No Cry197543918
  38Guns N RosesSweet Child O Mine1988202295
  39Elvis Presley Suspicious Minds196953601490
  40Beatles Let It Be1970744910
  41Rolling Stones (I Canít Get No) Satisfaction 196552663731
  42Meat Loaf Bat Out Of Hell197985859
  43Pulp Common People199544901683
  44Mariah CareyHero1993467
  45Marvin Gaye I Heard It Through The Grapevine1969693918
  46Derek And The Dominoes Layla197282534625
  47Don Mclean American Pie1972473134
  48KillersMr Brightside20041047
  49MadnessIt Must be Love1981956
  50Rolling StonesPaint It Black 19661736
  51Sex Pistols Anarchy In The UK1976469616
  52Green DayTime Of Your Life (Good Riddance)1998686
  53OasisChampagne Supernova1996953523
  54JamA Town Called Malice / Precious1982780
  55Spice Girls Wannabe1996876
  56RadioheadStreet Spirit (Fade Out)19964217
  57FreeAll Right Now19705713
  58Stone RosesFools Gold / What The World Is Waiting For1989672252
  60Electric Light Orchestra Mr. Blue Sky1978701877
  61Sinead OíConnor Nothing Compares 2 U19901371
  62SmithsThis Charming Man19839711
  63George Michael Careless Whisper1984353399
  64ClashLondon Calling19791476
  65BlurSong 219977115
  66JamThat's Entertainment19812543
  67Red Hot Chili PeppersUnder The Bridge19922445
  68RadioheadKarma Police19973333
  69Sex PistolsGod Save The Queen19771865
  70Ottis Redding(Stittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay1968895924
  71Pink FloydWish You Were Here (*)19752645
  72BeatlesIn My Life (*)19655722
  73Police Every Breath You Take1983378345
  74AnimalsHouse Of The Rising Sun19646522
  75Stone RosesI Am The Resurrection1992936128
  76Bryan Adams (Everything I Do) I Do It For You19919118
  77RadioheadFake Plastic Trees19955427
  78Pink FloydComfortably Numb (*)19791990
  79Van Morrison Brown Eyed Girl19674210044
  80Gerry Rafferty Baker Street19784834
  81Beatles She Loves You19634339
  82Dire StraitsRomeo And Juliet19813358
  83Rolling StonesJumping Jack Flash19688127
  84Celine Dion My Heart Will Go On19982884
  85Puff Daddy And Faith Evans Iíll Be Missing You19973660
  86SmithsHow Soon Is Now?1985565177
  87Beatles Help!19653860
  88U2Where The Streets Have No Name1987944363
  89David Bowie Space Oddity19753570
  90David Bowie Heroes197768756197
  91David Bowie Life On Mars19734557
  92LAsThere She Goes1990904770
  93Righteous Brothers Unchained Melody19655251
  94JamGoing Underground / Dreams Of Children1980669848
  95Smokey Robinson & The MiraclesTracks Of My Tears19699835
  96Dexy's Midnight RunnersCome On Eileen19824663
  97Moody BluesNights In White Satin19673693
  98New OrderBlue Monday19836943
  99George HarrisonMy Sweet Lord19716349
  100Eminem Stan20005954
  101Manic Street PreachersMotorcycle Emptiness19928841
  102Abba The Winner Takes It All19807247
  103Kylie MinogueCan't Get You Out Of My Head20015563
  104Pogues featuring Kirsty MacCollFairytale of New York1987549684
  105Scissor SistersTake Your Mama20047950
  106Elvis Presley Heartbreak Hotel19564896
  107Crowded HouseDon't Dream It's Over19877855
  10810CCIím Not In Love19759250
  109Verve The Drugs Donít Work19976073
  111Human League Donít You Want Me19818657
  112Nilsson Without You19729955
  114Glen Campbell Wichita Lineman 19698772
  115David GrayBabylon20008876
  116Bryan Adams Summer Of í6919859575
  117Paul WellerWild Wood 19999281
  118Jimi Hendrix ExperienceVoodoo Chile19708593

    No other singles have made the Top 100 in two or more of the included charts.

  • Polls which place restrictions on voting (eg. by allowing voting only for tracks which made no. 1 - such as this one broadcast on Radio 2 in Nov 2002) have deliberately been excluded from the compilation process.

  • There is a popular misconception that Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl" has never been released as a single. In fact it has been issued as such on three separate occasions, failing to make even the lower reaches of the chart each time.

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