This month, November 2012, marks the 60th anniversary of the UK singles chart which began in the NME in 1952. We’ve come a long way from crooner Al Martino‘s “Here In My Heart” all those years ago to the current resident of the number one spot in the UK singles chart; Robbie Williams with “Candy”. Maybe we haven’t come too far though as Robbie does fancy himself as a crooner doesn’t he. I must confess that Robbie’s current number 1 is one of the few songs of his that I like.
The chart now includes downloads which have helped to boost sales of singles considerably. Apparently there have been 3.7 billion singles sold in that 60 year period in all formats. But the peak for the physical format was the 80s which recorded 640 million singles sales. The biggest selling UK single ever was Elton John’s “Candle In The Wind ’97” which was the singers dedication to Princess Diana. It sold 4.9 million copies and therefore raised millions for charity. Personally I prefer the original version. Does anyone ever play the Diana version these days? Incidentally do you know what the biggest selling single never to top the charts is? It’s Wham! with “Last Christmas/ Everything She Wants” which lost out to Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas” which is the second best-selling single ever back in 1984.
There have been more than 1,200 number ones in the chart’s history. The artists with most number one singles in the UK are;
Elvis Presley (21)
Cliff Richard (14)
How tragic is it that Westlife are in there?
As a teenager I can still recall lining up my cassette recorder microphone near the transistor radio to record my favourite songs from the Radio 1 chart rundown back in the 70s. How many of you did the same? I know of at least one fellow blogger who did. You can check out his excellent post on this chart milestone on his Every Record tells A Story blog by clicking here. You’ll even be able to see him on the chart history documentary on the Beeb! Recording the charts now seems almost pointless given the availability of music on-line, which I think is a real shame. But hey that’s progress right? Talking of progress, the first ever UK number one single based on download sales alone was as far back as 2006. It was the excellent “Crazy” from Gnarls Barkley.
There are also a number of chart records an artist probably wouldn’t want though, like;
Most Top 75 hits (97 of them) without a number one. That one is the honour of the Glee Cast. I hope they keep that one forever
Most Top 40 hits without a number one is easily won by Depeche Mode with 40 of them.
But perhaps the one you really should feel sorry for is Sash! A record of five number 2 singles and no number 1.
But let me finish on a better note. The first single I ever bought was a classic UK number one in my opinion. It was “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies and stayed at the top for 8 weeks at the tail end of 1969. Personally I fell that the charts will stay with us for many years yet, albeit very much adapted from the old days of purely physical sales. I would love to hear your thoughts on this fabulous UK Charts anniversary.