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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What Are the Best-Selling Bay Area Singles of the Last 25 Years?

Posted By on Wed, Nov 28, 2012 at 3:30 AM

Train's "Hey, Soul Sister" has sold more than six million copies. - FLICKR/LATATI
  • Flickr/Latati
  • Train's "Hey, Soul Sister" has sold more than six million copies.
Compared to the relatively few big-selling Bay Area albums of the last quarter-century, there's a plethora of singles that have sold at least a half-million copies since 1987. Can you guess the Bay Area singles that have sold the most in the last 25 years? Here are the surprising answers:

See Also:
* What Are the Best-Selling Bay Area Albums of the Last 25 Years?
* The Top 20 Greatest San Francisco Musicians: The Complete List

click to enlarge Michael Franti and Spearhead have sold more than two million singles. - JAMES MINCHIN III
  • James Minchin III
  • Michael Franti and Spearhead have sold more than two million singles.
Since the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) started charting digital sales in 2003, San Francisco act Train has run away with two multiplatinum, one platinum, and four gold singles. If the band's song "Hey, Soul Sister" (2009) still seems ubiquitous, that's because it's one of the most downloaded songs of all time, and has sold more than six million copies. This year's "Drive By" has sold more than two million copies, while platinum certifications have been issued for "50 Ways to Say Goodbye" (2012), "Marry Me" (2009), "If It's Love" (2009), "Drops of Jupiter" (2003), and "Calling All Angels" (2003). Only one other local act has sold more than two million copies of a digital single: Michael Franti & Spearhead, with "Say Hey (I Love You)" (2002). As for the Bay Area's other super-sized rockers, Green Day has earned three platinum ("21 Guns," 2009; "Holiday," 2005; "Wake Me Up When September Ends," 2005) and four gold digital singles ("Good Riddance," 1997; "American Idiot," 2004; "Know Your Enemy," 2009; and "When I Come Around," 1995). Santana has rocked a platinum plaque for "Into The Night" (2007) and a gold one for "Smooth" (2003). Additionally, "Smooth" has also sold more than a million physical copies, and ditto for "Maria, Maria" (1999). Metallica has two gold digital singles (1989's "One" and 1991's "Enter Sandman," which alongside 1996's "Until It Sleeps" are also gold physical singles), as does Counting Crows ("Big Yellow Taxi," 2002; "Accidentally in Love," 2004). Journey has one for its latter-day hit "When You Love a Woman" (1996). A quartet of classic and new Bay Area hip-hop tracks round out the locals that have achieved gold digital singles sales: MC Hammer's "Can't Touch This" (1996), E-40 featuring T-Pain and Kandi's "U and Dat" (2006), Kreayshawn's "Gucci Gucci" (2011), and LoveRance's "Up" (2011). Reach back prior to 2003 for physical single sales, and the Bay Area leader is En Vogue, with one platinum song ("Don't Let Go," 1996) and five gold singles ("Whatever," 1997; "My Lovin'," 1993; "Free Your Mind," 1992; "Giving Him Something He Can Feel," 1992; and "Hold On," 1990). Trailing them is Hammer with five gold efforts, though surprisingly not "Can't Touch This": "Pumps and a Bump" (1994), "Addams Groove" (1991), "Too Legit to Quit" (1991), "Have You Seen Her" (1990), and "Pray" (1990). Continuing the Oakland-centric winning streak, Tony Toni Toné grabbed a trio of gold certifications for "If I Had No Loot" (1993), "Anniversary" (1993), and "Feels Good" (1990). Digital Underground's "The Humpty Dance" (1989) went platinum, and "Kiss You Back" (1992) hit gold, as did a song that frontman Shock G produced for his then-protégé 2Pac, "I Get Around" (1993). Local '90 classics "Wicked Game" (1990) by Chris Isaak, Faith No More's "Epic" (1990), N2Deep's "Back to the Hotel" (1992), 4 Non Blonde's "What's Up" (1993), and "Semi-Charmed Life" (1997) by Third Eye Blind are all also gold singles. But perhaps the most surprising of all is a song that the local hip-hop scene still enjoys as a crowd-igniting anthem: 1995's "I Got 5 On It," by the Luniz, has sold more than a million physical copies and earned platinum status. The world, it seems, is listening to our backyard.

-- @teemoney415

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Tamara Palmer


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