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At 5, Google Play calls out Adele, Candy Crush as most popular

The search giant's online store turns five. Among its most popular content: lots of Facebook apps and a movie that caused an international incident.

Adele's album "25" is the top-selling album in Google Play's five-year history.
Paul Kane, Getty Images

It's time for a trip down memory lane.

On Monday, Google Play, the search giant's online store for apps, movies, music and books, turns five years old. To commemorate the anniversary, Google is releasing lists of the store's most popular content of all time in the US.

Some of the top titles aren't surprises. Candy Crush Saga, the addictive game by the mobile company King, was the top game. Adele, perennial internet darling, had the top-selling album, "25." (Adele, by the way, also accounted for last year's top viral video on Google-owned YouTube, with her turn on "Carpool Karaoke" on "The Late Late Show with James Corden.") Editors' note: Corden's show airs on CBS, CNET's parent company.

Three of the top five apps come from Facebook: the main Facebook app, the Facebook Messenger chat app and Instagram. Snapchat, the disappearing photo app whose parent company, Snap, went public last week, rounds out the top five. (The ranking doesn't include preinstalled apps, like Gmail or Google Maps, on Android devices.)

App stores have been a driving force behind the popularity of smartphones, which for many people are much more about apps than about basic phone capabilities like calling. All that got rolling with Apple's App Store, which launched in 2008, offered 2.2 million apps last year and recorded its best sales day ever on New Year's Day of this year.

The Play store has "millions" of apps (though a Google spokeswoman declined to share a more specific number), 40 million songs and 5 million books.

The best-of lists aren't just a measuring stick for each of the apps or artists. The lists are also a good window into pop culture -- and sometimes a wormhole into major events -- in the United States over the past five years.

For example, the No. 1 movie was "The Interview," the Seth Rogen and James Franco film about assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. If you remember, that was the movie embroiled in the Sony Entertainment hacks in 2014. At the time, the FBI said the hackers had ties to North Korea, and there was fear of terrorist attacks if the movie was released in theaters. So, the studio released the movie on services like Google Play and iTunes on Christmas Eve that year.

Below are the full lists:

Top installed games

  1. Candy Crush Saga
  2. Subway Surfers
  3. Temple Run 2
  4. Despicable Me
  5. Clash of Clans

Top installed apps (doesn't include preinstalled apps on Android devices)

  1. Facebook
  2. Facebook Messenger
  3. Pandora Radio
  4. Instagram
  5. Snapchat

Top-selling songs

  1. Ed Sheeran - "Thinking Out Loud"
  2. Lorde - "Royals"
  3. Taylor Swift - "Blank Space"
  4. Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars - "Uptown Funk"
  5. Pharrell Williams - "Happy"

Top-selling albums

  1. Adele - "25"
  2. Eminem - "The Marshall Mathers LP2 (Deluxe)"
  3. Taylor Swift - "1989"
  4. Drake - "If You're Reading This It's Too Late"
  5. Kendrick Lamar - "To Pimp A Butterfly"

Top-selling movies

  1. "The Interview"
  2. "Frozen"
  3. "Deadpool"
  4. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"
  5. "Guardians of the Galaxy"

Top-selling books

  1. "Fifty Shades of Grey," by E L James
  2. "The Hunger Games trilogy," by Suzanne Collins
  3. "A Game of Thrones," by George RR Martin
  4. "The Fault in Our Stars," by John Green
  5. "Gone Girl," by Gillian Flynn

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