When you think of classic rock radio staples like "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Bohemian Rhapsody," you tend to assume those were the songs that always defined that band.
But that's far from the case. As bands like Journey, Queen, the Rolling Stones went from chart-toppers to classic rock legends, their history was rewritten in the process.
We took a look at the best-selling digital tracks of the Nielsen SoundScan era (downloads dating back to 2003 and ending Nov. 2, 2014 ) and compared them to various artists' chart history.
Bands' highest-charting Billboard hits often wane in popularity as the years go on, while songs that weren't even released as singles can become that band's most popular track. A few might surprise you -- click ahead and see.
AC/DC were never major chart-toppers ...
AC/DC were never major chart-toppers in the U.S. Over their lengthy career, only three singles ("Back in Black," "You Shook Me All Night Long" and "Moneytalks") hit the top 40 on the Hot 100. They fared much better on the U.S. Mainstream Rock Songs chart, with four No. 1 hits. But not one of those seven singles is their digital bestseller. Instead, it's "Thunderstruck," from 1990's 'The Razor's Edge,' that has become their most popular track in the 21st century. The ear-shattering rock track might not have conquered the charts, but it won fans' hearts in the long run.
Billy Joel has notched tons of hits o...
Billy Joel has notched tons of hits over the years, but his most enduring song -- at least in terms of online sales -- is one of his earliest. And it's far from his biggest chart success. "Piano Man" peaked at No. 25 in 1974, with Joel moving on to see more than 20 of his singles fare better on the charts. Three hit No. 1: "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me," "Tell Her About It" and "We Didn't Start the Fire." And although those three enjoy significant online sales, it's "Piano Man" that stands tall as the most-downloaded Billy Joel song of the digital age.
That "Don't Stop Believin'" is Journe...
That "Don't Stop Believin'" is Journey's best-selling digital song is hardly a surprise. But people might be surprised to learn that Journey saw three songs -- "Open Arms," "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" and "Who's Crying Now" -- best their signature tune on the Hot 100. But the power of karaoke, classic rock radio and Glee have catapulted "Don't Stop Believin'" to legendary popularity. In fact, it's sold more than three times the downloads of Journey's next most popular song in the digital age, "Faithfully."
In a post-'Wayne's World' world, it s...
In a post-'Wayne's World' world, it seems obvious that Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" would be their most popular song. If anything, you'd expect the sports anthem "We Will Rock You" to be the only song that might surpass "Rhapsody" in ubiquity. But actually, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and "Another One Bites the Dust" were the most popular Queen tracks back in the day, with sales of the latter far surpassing "Bohemian Rhapsody." But in the digital era, it's another story entirely. "Rhapsody" reigns queen, followed by "We Will Rock You." For comparison, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" -- which bested both songs on the charts -- has sold about three percent of what "Rhapsody" moved in the digital era.
Unless you're a 'Glee' fanatic, Fleet...
Unless you're a 'Glee' fanatic, Fleetwood Mac's most popular digital track is probably going to surprise you. Stevie Nicks' lilting ballad "Landslide" is Fleetwood's best-selling song these days by, well, a landslide. It wasn't even released as a single until a live version of "Landslide" came out in 1998, but the track from their 1975 self-titled effort has exploded in popularity thanks to cover versions from Glee and Dixie Chicks, the latter of whom scored a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with it. Recent covers from Paramore, Miley Cyrus and singers on shows like 'American Idol' and 'The Voice' have kept the song consistently in the public consciousness. "Dreams," Fleetwood's sole No. 1 on the Hot 100, is also a big seller, but it's nowhere near as popular as "Landslide."
No major surprise here -- Led Zeppeli...
No major surprise here -- Led Zeppelin's most popular track these days is the immortal "Stairway to Heaven." But "Stairway" did nothing on the charts during the '70s. In fact, it wasn't even released as a single -- same goes for "Kashmir," the second best-selling Zeppelin song in the digital era. So while "Whole Lotta Love" might've been their biggest chart success back in the day, it's the epic Zeppelin tracks that captivate fans these days.
Even though the Rolling Stones have h...
Even though the Rolling Stones have had many different hits from many different eras, you would think "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" would top (or come close to topping) the list of their digital bestsellers. You would be wrong. While "Satisfaction" does well, numerous other Stones songs are outselling it these days. At the top of that list is "Paint It, Black," which is somewhat surprising. Sure, it was a No. 1 hit, but so were "Get Off of My Cloud" and "Miss You." So what accounts for the lasting success of "Paint It, Black"? Let's chalk it up to teen angst. After that (and before "Satisfaction," mind you,) are "Sympathy for the Devil" and "Gimme Shelter" -- which is even more surprising, given that the latter song wasn't even a single.