Elvis Presley recorded about 700 songs over the course of his career, a remarkable number given that he died at age 42. He was in over 20 movies, which were released between 1956 and 1972. The figures are even more impressive since he was in the Army from 1958 to 1960.
He was not only prolific. His career was outrageously successful. He sold (and continues to sell) over a billion recordings of his songs, a figure his followers say is the highest number of all time. He also sent 109 songs to the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, even though the chart began about four years after he started releasing music. While he does not have the most chart-topping hits, he certainly ranks among the artists with the most.
24/7 Tempo has identified Elvis’s most popular song, based on album sales and Billboard performance. Many of the songs we considered were released during Elvis’s hot streak during the late 1950s. However, some of his most beloved recordings came out as late as the 1970s, a testament to his staying power as an artist.
To determine the most popular Elvis Presley song, 24/7 Tempo created an index based on two metrics: the number of singles sold, as reported by the Recording Industry Association of America, and performance on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. As the Hot 100 did not begin until August 1958, some Elvis Presley songs did not have the opportunity to chart upon their release. These songs were not penalized in the ranking. Editorial discretion was used in rare instances where a song had a greater cultural impact than reflected by its sales and chart performance in relation to other songs.
Elvis’s most popular song was “Hound Dog.” It was released on July 1, 1956, and has certified sales of 4 million copies.
Elvis’s scandalous performance of “Hound Dog” on “The Milton Berle Show” in June of 1956 is among his most iconic moments and has been credited as essential in shaping rock and roll. Complete with hips swinging, the appearance cemented his status as a national sensation. The song is Elvis’s best-selling single in the United States.
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