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Fascinating animated timeline of bestselling music from past 50 years goes viral — watch

From the Beatles to Madonna and Céline Dion to Drake, the timeline gives an incredible look at pop history

From the Beatles to Madonna and Céline Dion to Drake, the timeline gives an incredible look at pop history

A fascinating new animation that shows the bestselling popular music artists and albums of the last half century has gone viral. (YouTube/Data is Beautiful)

A fascinating new animation showing the bestselling popular music artists and albums of the last half century has gone viral.

According to online creator Data is Beautiful, the animation incorporates 50 years of record industry sales data from the Recording Industry Association of America, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and record companies, and offers a moving view of music history.

At the start, the Beatles and Elvis reign supreme, and by the end it's Drake, BTS and Ed Sheeran.

In between, the chart moves through the '70s (Elton John, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Pink Floyd), and into the 1980s (Michael Jackson, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Prince), the 1990s (Céline Dion, Whitney Houston, Backstreet Boys, Garth Brooks), the 2000s (Eminem, Mariah Carey, Rihanna) and into the 2010s (Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift).

Watch:

What's most fascinating is how the chart shows just how much particular artists outsold their peers, and which ones — especially the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Rihanna and Drake — had the most staying power, topping the list for years on end.

According to the creator's YouTube page, the numbers are based on worldwide certified record sales, adjusted to the 12-month trailing average. More recent data includes digital singles sales as reported by online music retailers and streaming services.

"I am a first year PhD student, data geek and I love visualizations," writes the Data is Beautiful creator. "Please support my channel. It can buy me another cup of coffee."

The animation has taken off online, reaching three million views in just a few days.

About the Author

Jennifer Van Evra is a Vancouver-based journalist and digital producer for q. She can be found on Twitter @jvanevra or email jennifer.vanevra@cbc.ca.

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