UK Singles Chart records and statistics

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The UK Singles Chart began to be compiled in 1969. However the records and statistics listed here date back to 1952. This is because the Charts Company counts a selected period of the New Musical Express chart (only from 1952 to 1960) and the Record Retailer chart from 1960 to 1969 as predecessors for the period prior to 11 February 1969, where multiples of competing charts (none of which official) coexisted side by side. For example the BBC compiled its own chart based on an average of the music papers of the time; many songs announced as having reached number one on BBC Radio and Top of the Pops prior to 1969 may not be listed here as chart-toppers since they do not meet the legacy criteria of the Charts Company.

There have been various records to break, including most chart toppers, longest run at number one, biggest selling single etc. All the records have changed hands over the years, some more than others and many have certain reasons as to why the records have been held by a certain act. Here are some of the most important records held by acts in the UK at the moment:

Most number ones[edit]

One of the most important records over the years has been which act could obtain the most UK Chart toppers. The following is a list of all the acts with 5 or more UK number one songs:
Note 1: Acts with equal total amount of chart toppers ordered chronologically
Note 2: Those denoted with an asterisk (*) reached number one as a featured artist

The record has changed hands a few times, although after the massive success of Elvis, it was mainly him and the Beatles in the race for this chart record. Al Martino was the first act to have one number one single, with "Here In My Heart". In June 1953, Eddie Fisher became the first act to have two number one singles, with "Outside Of Heaven" and "I'm Walking Behind You" both reaching the top spot. However, the record was quickly beaten in November, when Frankie Laine scored a third number one single with "Answer Me" after "I Believe" and "Hey Joe" had reached the top. He broke his own record when "A Woman In Love" hit the top in October 1956.

Elvis finally scored his first UK number one single in 1957 with "All Shook Up", and quickly became a phenomenon. It was in 1960 when the million selling "It's Now or Never" hit the top giving Elvis his fifth number-one single after "Jailhouse Rock", "One Night/I Got Stung" and "A Fool Such As I" had all hit the top. He kept breaking his own record another ten times by June 1965 with "Are You Lonesome Tonight", "Wooden Heart", "Surrender", "His Latest Flame", "Can't Help Falling In Love/Rock-A-Hula Baby", "Good Luck Charm", "She's Not You", "Return To Sender", "Devil In Disguise" & "Crying In The Chapel". He had now achieved 15 #1 singles, a record that seemed very difficult to beat.

However, in 1963, the biggest phenomenon to sweep the UK began when the Beatles started recording. From the point when "From Me To You" hit #1 in 1963 to their last number one in 1969, they accumulated a total of 17 chart toppers. These included "She Loves You", "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "Can't Buy Me Love", "A Hard Day's Night", "I Feel Fine", "Ticket To Ride", "Help!", "Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out", "Paperback Writer", "Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby", "All You Need Is Love", "Hello Goodbye", "Lady Madonna", "Hey Jude", "Get Back" & "The Ballad Of John & Yoko".

Elvis fought back when he revived his career in Las Vegas. "The Wonder Of You" became his 16th #1 single in August 1970 and was a live recording taken from one of his shows. Upon his death in August 1977, Elvis scored a 17th chart topper with a single made shortly before his death, "Way Down". The two greatest acts in UK chart history were now neck and neck. Hundreds of re-issues happened over the next few decades including a massive anthology project of Beatles re-issues during the 1980s. However, it wasn't until 2002, 25 years after Elvis equalled the Beatles' record that he went one step forward.

Having been used in a Nike World Cup advertisement, an old Elvis song "A Little Less Conversation" was remixed as Elvis vs JXL and went straight to the top for 4 weeks, giving Elvis his 18th #1 single. Celebrating the 70th anniversary of his birthday, all of Elvis' 18 #1's were re-issued in 2005. "All Shook Up"'s format didn't allow it to qualify to take a place in the singles chart, so "Jailhouse Rock" hit the top and the following week it was replaced by "One Night/I Got Stung", which consequently also became the 1000th #1 on the UK singles chart. Despite being re-issues, they were given different catalogue numbers and therefore count as separate singles, giving Elvis 20 #1 singles overall. Although "A Fool Such As I" was kept off the top spot the following week, "It's Now or Never" was able to reach the top giving Elvis 21 #1 singles.

^ Note: The Shadows, or The Drifters as they were originally called, are credited on twelve #1 singles. Seven of these share credit with Cliff Richard and some lists recognise only their 5 chart-topping singles without Richard.

Most combined weeks at number one on the UK singles charts[edit]

Rank Artist Weeks at # 1
1 Elvis Presley 80
2 The Beatles 69
3 Cliff Richard 46
4 The Shadows 44
5 Frankie Laine 32
6 ABBA 31
7 Madonna 29
8 Take That 28
9 Rihanna 24
10 Elton John 23
11 Wet Wet Wet 23

Longest run at number one[edit]

Another record is how many weeks a record can stay at the top of the UK charts in a consecutive run (records that go back to the top are excluded from this section). This record hasn't changed much over the years. In 1952, the first Number 1, "Here In My Heart" by Al Martino, topped the UK charts for 9 weeks. In the summer of 1954 David Whitfield broke the record when "Cara Mia" held on for 10 weeks. During the 1950s songs managed to stay at the top of the charts for lengthy periods of time – the following year, US country singer, Slim Whitman held on to the top for 11 weeks with his only No. 1 single, "Rose Marie". This record remained for 36 years. In 1991, Bryan Adams spent 16 weeks at the top with his hit single, "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You", the theme song from the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. To date, no-one has beaten this record.

In 1992 Whitney Houston spent 10 weeks at the top with the hit single from her movie, The Bodyguard, "I Will Always Love You". In 1994 Wet Wet Wet's recording of "Love Is All Around", featured in the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral spent 15 weeks at the top. In 1992, Shakespear's Sister's "Stay" held the top spot for 8 weeks, to date the longest consecutive period at the top by an all-female duo. In 1997, Spice Girls' "Wannabe" managed 7 weeks at #1 making it the longest consecutive period at the top by an all-female group. It became less common for songs to stay in the number one spot for long from the mid 90s. In 1998, Cher's "Believe" spent 7 weeks at the top becoming the last single to spend more than 6 weeks at the top until 2005 when Tony Christie's "(Is This The Way To) Amarillo", managed 7 weeks at the top. In 2006 US duo Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" became the first artist in 12 years to spend 9 weeks at number one with its first week based solely on downloads (and being the first artist to do so). "Crazy" might have been able to spend additional weeks in the top position but it was deleted so that Gnarls Barkley could start promoting their upcoming single. In 2007, Rihanna's single, featuring rapper Jay-Z, "Umbrella" was at #1 for 10 weeks.

The record for most non consecutive weeks at No.1 is held by Frankie Laine's "I Believe". In 1953, it spent 9 weeks at No.1, dropped down for a week, returned to No.1 for 6 weeks, dropped down for a further week and returned to No.1 a third time for 3 weeks. This totalled its run at 18 weeks. It is also the only song to return to #1 more than once under the same catalogue number.

Below is a table of all singles that have lasted 10 or more weeks at the top of the charts:

Position Artist Single Year Weeks
1st Frankie Laine "I Believe"* 1953 18 weeks
2nd Bryan Adams "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" 1991 16 weeks
3rd Wet Wet Wet "Love Is All Around" 1994 15 weeks
4th Queen "Bohemian Rhapsody"* 1975/76 & 1991/92 14 weeks
5th Slim Whitman "Rose Marie" 1955 11 weeks
6th David Whitfield "Cara Mia" 1954 10 weeks
Whitney Houston "I Will Always Love You" 1992
Rihanna (feat. Jay-Z) "Umbrella" 2007

* not consecutive weeks at the top of the charts

Number-ones by two or more different artists[edit]

"Unchained Melody" reached number-one four times by four different artists, becoming the most successfully-covered song on the chart. Meanwhile, "Spirit in the Sky", "You'll Never Walk Alone", "With a Little Help from My Friends" and "Do They Know It's Christmas?" reached number-one three times each.

Most successful debuts[edit]

Al Martino scored the first No.1 hit, meaning he was the first act to have his first single reach No.1 (although it was not the first single he ever released, it was the first single to chart). Eddie Calvert took "Oh Mein Papa" to the top in 1954 and "Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White" the following year. Eddie Calvert became the first act to have his first two singles reach No.1. Over eight years later, in 1963, Gerry & the Pacemakers became the first act to have their first three singles reach No.1 when "How Do You Do It?", "I Like It" & "You'll Never Walk Alone" all hit the top spot.

Gerry & the Pacemakers remained the only act to have achieved this until 1984, when Frankie Goes to Hollywood's first three singles also reached No.1 ("Relax", "Two Tribes" and "The Power of Love"). Five years later, Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers equalled the record when their first three singles reached No. 1.

During 1996 and 1997, the Spice Girls took their first six singles to No.1. These were "Wannabe", "Say You'll Be There", "2 Become 1", "Who Do You Think You Are", "Spice up Your Life" and "Too Much". Their run was eventually broken by their seventh single "Stop", which stalled at No.2, although the group then went on to have another three consecutive No.1 hits following this.

Westlife, became the first act to have their first seven singles ("Swear It Again", "If I Let You Go", "Flying Without Wings", "I Have a Dream / Seasons in the Sun", "Fool Again", "Against All Odds" & "My Love") reach No.1. This record was achieved in 2000.

In 2006, Leona Lewis' debut single "A Moment Like This" broke the world record for fastest downloaded single, having been downloaded 50,000 times in just half an hour.[citation needed]

Biggest-selling singles[edit]

A lot of novelty singles clock up high sales and many one-hit wonders manage to sell many copies with their sole hit. Since sales also increase during the Christmas season, a Christmas number one single is sometimes able to sell in excess of a million copies, due more to the timing of the single's release than to any considerations of quality.

Rock and roll became a massive craze in the mid-1950s and the first massive hit and most certainly the first number one to come from this genre in the UK was the second single released by Bill Haley & His Comets, "Rock Around The Clock". Breaking many records in various countries, it became the biggest selling single of all time in the UK after topping the charts for a total of five weeks in late 1955 and early 1956 and returning to the charts several times until 1957, when it clocked up its millionth sale. Spending 36 weeks in the charts, it sold 1.42 million copies[1] and remained the biggest selling single of the 1950s. The record took the greatest phenomenon in the UK to be broken.

The Beatles's first single only reached number 17 in the UK charts in 1962, but by 1969, they had scored that many UK number ones, they'd become a global phenomenon and clocked up 7 million-selling singles in the UK. "She Loves You" was the band's second UK number one and a huge worldwide success. Selling 1.89 million copies after spending 29 weeks in the UK chart, it was the track which catapulted them to superstardom. It became not only the biggest selling single of the year and the decade, but also of all time; a record which remained for another 14 years. The Beatles' other million-selling singles were "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "Can't Buy Me Love", "I Feel Fine", and the double A side "We Can Work It Out"/"Day Tripper".

In 1971, Paul McCartney formed a group called Wings, which also included his wife Linda McCartney. They enjoyed great success over the decade and in 1977 scored a massive hit with their single "Mull Of Kintyre". It topped the charts for nine weeks, enjoying the longest stay at the top of the charts all decade (joint with "Bohemian Rhapsody") and sold in excess of 2.05 million copies, becoming the first single to break the 2 million mark. It remained so for another 7 years, even amid a period of greatly increased singles sales in general, as shown by the huge success of the singles from the soundtracks to films such as Saturday Night Fever and Grease. The success of relatively new calypso group Boney M also clocked up high sales.

When Bob Geldof (at the time lead singer of the Boomtown Rats) saw images of the effects of devastating famine on the Ethiopian people, it inspired him to form the most successful charity act ever in UK history, Band Aid. Comprising a number of very successful artists at the time (1984), the single "Do They Know It's Christmas", written by him and Midge Ure, entered the charts at #1 and remained at the top for 5 weeks, selling over 3.55 million copies during its chart run. This made it the biggest selling single in the UK. The USA also made their own charity record, "We Are The World", which topped the charts in the UK.

The 1997 release of Elton John's "Something About The Way You Look Tonight / Candle in the Wind 1997" became the biggest ever selling single in the UK with 4.9 million copies sold. "Candle in the Wind", originally about Marilyn Monroe, was re-written and re-released to commemorate the then recently deceased Diana, Princess of Wales. It topped the UK charts for five weeks.

The biggest-selling single released by a female artist in the UK history is Cher's "Believe". It reached the top spot of the UK Singles Chart at the end of the 1998 and stayed there for 7 consecutive weeks. So far, it has amassed in excess of 1.7 million units and became one of the biggest-selling singles in the UK.

Below is a list of the ten best selling singles to date.[1]

Rank Title Artist Release Year Sales (m)
1 Something About The Way You Look Tonight/Candle In The Wind 97 Elton John 1997 4.9
2 Do They Know It's Christmas? Band Aid 1984 3.69
3 Bohemian Rhapsody Queen 1975 2.36
4 Mull of Kintyre/Girls School Wings 1977 2
5 You're The One That I Want John Travolta and Olivia Newton John 1978 2
6 Rivers Of Babylon/Brown Girl In The Ring Boney M 1978 2
7 Relax Frankie Goes To Hollywood 1983 2
8 She Loves You The Beatles 1963 1.9
9 Unchained Melody/There'll Be Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs Of Dover Robson Greene & Jerome Flynn 1995 1.86
10 Love Is All Around Wet Wet Wet 1994 1.85

Posthumous number ones[edit]

The first artist to score a number one single after their death was Buddy Holly in April 1959 with "It Doesn't Matter Anymore". It became common for artists to top the charts after their death, but only those who made a significant contribution to the music industry were generally able to make it to the top. Singer Eddie Cochran made #1 after being killed in a taxi crash with "Three Steps to Heaven" in June 1960. Being killed in a plane crash just like Buddy Holly, Jim Reeves scored a #1 single with "Distant Drums" in September 1966. Amazingly this was two years after his death.

Dying in 1970, Jimi Hendrix scored his only chart topping single with "Voodoo Child" two months after his death, in November. After this the only other artists to receive one posthumous number one single were:

Harrison took over from Aaliyah at the top, marking the only time in UK chart history one posthumous act has replaced a different posthumous act at number one.

Elvis Presley and John Lennon have both accumulated 3 or more posthumous chart toppers. John Lennon did not receive any #1 singles during his lifetime, but after his death there was a massive frenzy of buying his singles, as a result of which he became the act to obtain 3 chart toppers quicker than any other. "(Just Like) Starting Over" hit the top in late 1980 and was replaced at the top after a week by "There's No-one Quite Like Grandma", which became the Christmas number one. Then after 2 weeks, it was knocked off the top by a re-entry of a #6 hit from 1975, "Imagine" which is the biggest selling posthumous hit with over 1.5 million copies sold. Remaining at the top for 4 weeks, Lennon became the second act to replace themselves at the top of the UK charts when "Woman" took over for a 2 week spell at the top. Shortly after this Roxy Music's version of "Jealous Guy" also reached #1, meaning that from December 1980 to March 1981 four out of six chart toppers were written by Lennon.

Elvis holds the record for the most posthumous chart toppers. Following his death in August 1977, "Way Down" instantly shot to the top for 5 weeks. Then 25 years later, an old song "A Little Less Conversation" was remixed by JXL and used in a Nike World Cup advert. It became so popular, it shot straight to the top of the charts and remained there for 4 weeks. Then in 2005, RCA decided to re-issue all 18 of his #1 singles for his 70th birthday anniversary. "Jailhouse Rock", "One Night/I Got Stung" and "It's Now or Never" became 3 more chart toppers for the superstar giving him 21 chart toppers and 5 posthumous chart toppers. In 2007, the 30th anniversary of his death, one of Elvis's albums reached the top spot.

American rapper Tupac Shakur died in September 1996. His friend, the Notorious B.I.G., was killed a few months later in 1997. Neither reached the top of the UK charts during their lifetimes, but in 2005, Tupac reached number one with "Ghetto Gospel" sharing the credit with Elton John. A few months later, in 2006 the Notorious B.I.G. matched his rival with "Nasty Girl" (sharing the credit with Diddy, Nelly, Jagged Edge & Avery Storm).

Lowest selling number one[edit]

Unfortunately we cannot take into account many #1 singles from the 1950s and early 1960s as precise sales records were not kept. It was only in 1969 that cumulative totals for the entire UK were kept and although at their lowest then, they quickly rose. Therefore, the lowest selling number one by the 90s was Iron Maiden's "Bring Your Daughter...To The Slaughter". It was the heavy metal band's only #1 single and hitting the top for two weeks after Christmas 1990, it sold only 100,000. After a boom of sales in the 1990s with many tracks breaking 1 million and Elton John setting a record, singles sales declined as the 21st century began. After 2002, things got worse, and Kylie Minogue was able to beat Iron Maiden's record with her 7th UK #1, "Slow". This was broken in 2004 by Ja Rule featuring R. Kelly and Ashanti on their #1 single, "Wonderful", which sold around 65,000 copies during its chart run. By February 2005, this was the lowest selling number one single, however with sales being at their absolute worst in early 2005, this record is likely to have been broken several times. Subsequently, things have improved with the introduction of digital downloads into the UK chart.

Lowest weekly sale for a number one single is 17,694 copies held by Orson's "No Tomorrow". This was previously held by the re-issue of Elvis Presley's "One Night/I Got Stung", which sold 20,463 copies in its one week at #1. Presley broke his own record in doing so; the week before the re-issue of "Jailhouse Rock" had set an alltime low sales record with only 23,159 copies sold. Before this, the lowest weekly sale was from Eric Prydz's single, "Call On Me", which sold 23,000 copies upon its return to number one in October 2004. "No Tomorrow" is also the lowest selling number one in its first week at the top, destroying the records held by Elvis's "One Night".

The addition of downloads to the UK charts has made it harder to sell such low amounts overall, but has meant that singles can now reach number one with zero physical sales. The first, but not last, single to achieve this was Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" in early 2006.

Self replacement at number one[edit]

It is extremely difficult for an act to replace itself at the top of the UK chart seeing as one single must be popular enough to last at the top until the next song is released, however releases can come quicker due to posthumous releases and re-issues marking certain occasions, including deaths of an act. No non-posthumous act has replaced itself on top of the UK charts with both songs at consecutive runs at the top, however this is not required to be classed as a self-replacement.

Since the inception of the UK Singles Chart in 1952 only three acts have replaced themselves at the top of the UK charts. These are in order of replacement:-

Many UK chart books now add in numerous Cliff Richard singles and albums to The Shadows hits. This means that The Shadows replaced themselves at Number 1, in the UK Singles Chart once in 1960, and twice in 1963. They also replaced themselves at Number 1 in the UK Album Chart, in both 1961 and 1963. Also, The Official UK Charts Company gives The Shadows 8 UK Number 1 Albums – 4 as a Group, and 4 with Cliff Richard. It credits them with '40 Golden Greats', a 1977 Number 1 album – which all other sources credit only to Cliff Richard. The other sources give The Shadows 7 Number 1 UK albums – 4 alone, and 3 with Cliff.

In 1963, the Beatles became a phenomenon. They broke chart and sales records across the world and became the biggest selling group of all time and one of the top-selling music acts, based on both singles and albums sales. However, during this year, the Beatles had only just started receiving fame in the UK and were not a worldwide phenomenon. Nonetheless, it didn't stop their being a craze in the UK and breaking several records.

In week ending 14 September, the Beatles' 4th single, "She Loves You" became their 2nd #1 single, storming to the top of the charts. It remained there for 4 weeks and then fell from the top spot and began to decline down the charts. Amazingly, after a total of 7 weeks (becoming the longest gap between a song falling from the top and returning) "She Loves You" returned to the top of the UK charts for 2 weeks. It became the biggest selling single in the UK on its chart run of 29 weeks, selling over 1.89 million copies.

Since the Beatles had already planned to release "I Want To Hold Your Hand" for Christmas, on the week ending 4 December, the song was released and it overtook "She Loves You" at the top. They became the first act to replace themselves at the top of the charts and the only as of January 2005 to not be posthumous when replacing themselves at the top.

The death of ex-Beatle John Lennon shocked the world due to his iconic influence during the 60s and afterwards and with the addition of the cause for his death (he was shot), the impact of this moment was huger than ever. Although never being hugely successful chartwise as a solo artist, his death caused him to become the act to receive 3 chart toppers quicker than any other (having not had any previously). A week after he was shot dead in New York, "(Just Like) Starting Over" – a track from his comeback album Double Fantasy -topped the charts for 1 week (having previously only peaked at #8). It was deposed from #1 by a sentimental release for the Christmas market, "There's No-one Quite Like Grandma".

In the first chart of 1981, another Lennon re-issue, "Imagine" was on top. This topped the charts for 4 weeks and went onto sell 1.51 million copies and was replaced by another track from Double Fantasy, "Woman" which topped the charts for 2 weeks. It made Lennon the second act to replace themselves at the top of the UK charts and the first to do so posthumously.

A re-issue of Elvis' 18 #1 singles to celebrate his 70th birthday anniversary by RCA led Elvis to score more posthumous #1's after "A Little Less Conversation" hit the top in 2002. His first to be re-issued was "Jailhouse Rock", previously at #1 in 1958. The song became his first chart topper in 2005 and his second posthumous chart topper. The following week was the competition for the 1000th #1 single which he scored yet again when "One Night/I Got Stung", previously at #1 in 1959 hit the top. This is the only time that an artist has replaced himself at the top with both songs being at the top for just one week each. Elvis also became the second act to replace themselves at #1 posthumously.

Fastest selling single[edit]

In the 1990s, record companies became much more focused at promoting singles and producing ones with maximum chart impact. The fastest selling single became the new phenomenon. This is basically how many copies a single shifts in its first full week of sale.

The record is held by Elton John with "Candle in the Wind 1997" which sold 1.55 million copies in its first week (it sold 658,000 on the first day of release, 13 September 1997). It is also the biggest selling single in the UK as well as the fastest selling, and the biggest selling single in the world (37m copies) and the fastest selling single in many other countries also – it went platinum (sold a million copies) in 24 hours in the US. Elton outsold Dario G's "Sunchyme" by a clear margin, and this is the biggest ratio between #1 and #2 to date. Dario G sold 85,000 to hit the #2 slot that week.

The fastest selling debut single is "Anything is Possible/Evergreen" by Will Young. It sold 1.11 million copies in its first week of sale. Massive publicity had built up in his single due to Pop Idol and the massive phone vote of 8.7 million people phoning in the final showed how popular the show was, with he himself receiving over 4 million votes.

The fastest selling single from a group (and also fastest selling debut from a group) is Hear'Say's debut single, "Pure and Simple". Winning ITV's first series of Popstars, massive interest in the group had built up and their debut single sold 0.55 million copies in its first week. This is only true if we discount Band Aid from being classified as a group whose single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" sold 0.75 million copies in its first week due to the pictures shown of the famine in Ethiopia.

Biggest selling single not to top the chart[edit]

The record is held by Wham! and their 1984 Christmas release, "Last Christmas / Everything She Wants". It hit #2 being kept off the top by Band Aid's huge sales. The single itself sold 1.45 million copies and even managed a first week sale of 0.5 million, meaning it would have easily topped the chart any other week.

In 1997, Natalie Imbruglia's worldwide hit, "Torn" sold more than 1.17 million copies without reaching #1 and stalling at #2 for four weeks behind Aqua's Barbie Girl.

In 2011, Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera hit "Moves like Jagger" sold 1,447,000 copies without reaching #1, spending seven consecutive weeks at #2.

Just a year earlier, Eminem and Rihanna's song "Love The Way You Lie" was the biggest selling single of 2010 despite never reaching #1.

The biggest selling single to peak at #3 is New Order's "Blue Monday", which has sold over a million copies. However, it garnered its total sales via two further remixes of the track, meaning its one million sales are attributed over all three releases. The biggest selling single to peak at #3 without re-issues is Ed Sheeran's "The A Team", which has sold just over a million copies since its 2011 release.

In 1942, Christmas classic "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby was released which became the second biggest selling single in the world (30 million copies sold). It peaked at #5 in 1977 after Crosby's death and is believed to have sold a million copies (if it has, it has been the million seller taking the longest to achieve the millionth sale – a total of 33 years). It is incredibly likely to have sold a million copies, seeing as it is so popular and has clocked up high sales around the world, but with the inception of the singles chart happening 10 years after the release, we can never be sure. If this is excluded due to uncertainty, "I Love You Because" by Jim Reeves is the biggest selling single to peak at #5. Although total sales are hard to come by, it seems to be the only #5 to have exceeded 750,000 copies with such a high degree of certainty.

The biggest selling single to peak at #6 is Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol, which has sold over 1 million copies since its release in 2006, becoming the longest-running song on the top 100 of the chart in the process. The highest-selling #7 hit, which for a long time exceeded the sales of any #6 hits, is LeAnn Rimes' "How Do I Live" which despite selling around 714,000 copies during 1998, it only managed to peak at #7 (it did however spend 30 weeks in the UK Top 40).

I'm Yours by Jason Mraz only managed to peak at #11 on the singles chart, but has sold an excess of 650,000 copies, making it the highest-selling song to never chart in the Top 10.

As for lower peaking singles, sales get so close, it is hard to make out which singles have sold more overall, and it is usually not in a chart researchers interest to be aware of lower peaking singles sales. Dog Days Are Over by Florence and the Machine, which only reached #23, but has sold over 345,000 copies since release - this is very likely to be the highest-selling song to never chart in the Top 20, while Gold Dust by DJ Fresh also didn't chart within the top 20, only peaking at #22, but has managed to sell over 202,000 copies. It is known, however, that Forever by Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne & Eminem - charting only at #42 but having so far cleared 150,000 copies - is the highest selling song to miss the top forty.


Number one singles on downloads alone[edit]

Artist Song Date Sales
Gnarls Barkley "Crazy" 2 April 2006 31,703
Mika "Grace Kelly" 21 January 2007 30,500
Rihanna (feat. Jay-Z) "Umbrella" 20 May 2007 34,164
Sugababes "About You Now" 30 September 2007 34,068
Duffy "Mercy" 17 February 2008 38,366
Estelle (feat. Kanye West) "American Boy" 23 March 2008 51,857
Madonna (feat. Justin Timberlake & Timbaland) "4 Minutes" 20 April 2008 80,634
Coldplay "Viva la Vida" 22 June 2008 23,212
Dizzee Rascal (feat. Calvin Harris & Chrome) "Dance Wiv Me" 6 July 2008 49,414
Katy Perry "I Kissed a Girl" 10 August 2008 45,935
17 August 2008 44,500
24 August 2008 41,131
31 August 2008 40,587
Kings of Leon "Sex on Fire" 14 September 2008 44,943
Leona Lewis "Run" 7 December 2008 131,593
14 December 2008 85,034
Kelly Clarkson "My Life Would Suck Without You" 1 March 2009 51,115
Flo Rida (feat. Kesha) "Right Round" 8 March 2009 72,101
Lady Gaga "Poker Face" 22 March 2009 53,699
29 March 2009 57,781
5 April 2009 55,318
Calvin Harris "I'm Not Alone" 12 April 2009 66,970
The Black Eyed Peas "Boom Boom Pow" 17 May 2009 74,440
"I Gotta Feeling" 2 August 2009 61,314
David Guetta (feat. Akon) "Sexy Bitch" 23 August 2009 55,207
Dizzee Rascal (feat. Chrome) "Holiday" 30 August 2009 80,070
Jay-Z (feat. Rihanna & Kanye West) "Run This Town" 6 September 2009 62,836
Rage Against the Machine "Killing in the Name" 20 December 2009 502,569
Iyaz "Replay" 10 January 2010 106,237
17 January 2010 86,814
Eminem feat. Rihanna "The Monster" 29 October 2013 74,674

With very few singles now issued in a physical format, almost every number-one single since early 2010 has reached number one on downloads alone.

Digital downloads[edit]

Downloads grew steadily in popularity after first being integrated into the chart in 2005. Although Gnarls Barkley's 'Crazy' gained considerable attention for being the first song to enter at number 1 on downloads alone in 2006, this eventually received a physical CD release. The first number 1 to chart without ever receiving a UK physical release was Coldplay's Viva la Vida in June 2008, although a physical was released overseas. As of 2012 very few songs are given a physical release, and almost the entire chart is released solely on digital download.

On 22 June 2008, both songs in the top two were on downloads alone:

  1. "Viva la Vida" by Coldplay
  2. "Closer" by Ne-Yo

However, on 31 August 2008, this record was broken again and the top three were download only at the time:

  1. "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry
  2. "Pjanoo" by Eric Prydz
  3. "Disturbia" by Rihanna

On 1 March 2009, this record was broken a third time, when the top four were all download only:

  1. "My Life Would Suck Without You" by Kelly Clarkson
  2. "Love Story" by Taylor Swift
  3. "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga
  4. "Dead and Gone" by T.I. (feat. Justin Timberlake)

By 13 February 2010, the whole top 9 consisted of download only songs:

  1. "Fireflies" by Owl City
  2. "Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby)" by Jedward (feat. Vanilla Ice)
  3. "If We Ever Meet Again" by Timbaland (feat. Katy Perry)
  4. "Don't Stop Believin'" by Glee Cast
  5. "Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down" by Alicia Keys
  6. "Replay" by Iyaz
  7. "Starstrukk" by 3OH!3 (feat. Katy Perry)
  8. "One Shot" by JLS
  9. "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey

The biggest selling single to reach number one on digital downloads alone, based on one week sales, is "Killing in the Name" by Rage Against the Machine. Downloaded as a successful attempt to gain the 2009 Christmas number one single, it sold 502,569 in seven days.

Most weeks on UK Singles Chart by decade[edit]


1. Elvis Presley 298 weeks
2. Frankie Laine 268 weeks
3. Pat Boone 239 weeks
4. Lonnie Donegan 213 weeks
5. Perry Como 191 weeks
6. David Whitfield 189 weeks
7. Bill Haley & his Comets 173 weeks
8. Johnnie Ray 163 weeks
9. Guy Mitchell 153 weeks
10. Nat "King" Cole 147 weeks


1. The Shadows 631 weeks
2. Cliff Richard 537 weeks
3. Elvis Presley 444 weeks
4. The Beatles 333 weeks
5. Roy Orbison 309 weeks
6. Jim Reeves 292 weeks
7. Billy Fury 258 weeks
8. Adam Faith 246 weeks
9. The Hollies 231 weeks
10. The Everly Brothers 222 weeks


1. Elvis Presley 331 weeks
2. Elton John 223 weeks
3. Diana Ross 220 weeks
4. Paul McCartney/Wings 216 weeks
5. Rod Stewart 209 weeks
6. Marc Bolan/T. Rex 196 weeks
7. David Bowie 196 weeks
8. Cliff Richard 185 weeks
9. Hot Chocolate 176 weeks
10. Abba 173 weeks


1. Shakin' Stevens 254 weeks
2. Madonna 252 weeks
3. Michael Jackson 241 weeks
4. Cliff Richard 234 weeks
5. UB40 222 weeks
6. Madness 217 weeks
7. Kool & the Gang 196 weeks
8. David Bowie 190 weeks
9. Elton John 190 weeks
10. Adam Ant(& the Ants) 185 weeks


1. Oasis 282 weeks
2. Madonna 258 weeks
3. Mariah Carey 219 weeks
4. Celine Dion 215 weeks
5. Boyzone 201 weeks
6. Janet Jackson 177 weeks
7. Michael Jackson 175 weeks
8. East 17/E17 170 weeks
9. Whitney Houston 169 weeks
10. Bryan Adams 163 weeks

All-time total weeks on chart (15 Nov 1952 – 31 December 1999)[edit]

1. Elvis Presley 1,166 weeks
2. Cliff Richard 1,130 weeks
3. The Shadows/Drifters 769 weeks
4. Diana Ross 661 weeks
5. Elton John 565 weeks
6. Madonna 509 weeks
7. Michael Jackson 490 weeks
8. Rod Stewart 473 weeks
9. Beatles 456 weeks
10. Frank Sinatra 440 weeks
11. David Bowie 438 weeks
12. Stevie Wonder 415 weeks
13. Paul McCartney/Wings 410 weeks
14. Status Quo 408 weeks
15. Queen 402 weeks
16. The Rolling Stones 366 weeks
17. Tom Jones 365 weeks
18. Bee Gees 349 weeks
19. Everly Brothers 345 weeks
20. Roy Orbison 345 weeks

Top chart acts per year by total weeks on chart[edit]

Year Artist Weeks on Chart
1952 Frankie Laine 13
1953 84
1954 66
1955 Ruby Murray 85
1956 Bill Haley & His Comets 110
1957 Elvis Presley 118
1958 Pat Boone 76
1959 Russ Conway 81
1960 The Shadows 107
1961 118
1962 92
1963 116
1964 75
1965 54
1966 Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich 51
1967 Engelbert Humperdinck 97
1968 Tom Jones 58
1969 Marvin Gaye 60
1970 Elvis Presley 59
1971 66
1972 T. Rex 58
1973 David Bowie 55
1974 The Wombles 65
1975 Mud 45
1976 Rod Stewart 48
1977 Elvis Presley 49
1978 John Travolta 60
1979 Donna Summer 46
1980 Madness 46
1981 Adam & The Ants 91
1982 Soft Cell 49
1983 Michael Jackson 60
1984 Frankie Goes To Hollywood 68
1985 Madonna 84
1986 59
1987 41
1988 Kylie Minogue 54
1989 Bobby Brown 52
1990 New Kids On The Block 56
1991 R.E.M. 36
1992 Michael Jackson 38
1993 Whitney Houston 50
1994 Mariah Carey 45
1995 Oasis 64
1996 134
1997 Spice Girls 57
1998 Aqua 52
1999 Steps 76

Totals include all instances where artist is actually credited as part of the act. Therefore, for example, The Shadows score for their own hits as well as those where they backed Cliff Richard, and Diana Ross scores for both her solo hits and those as Diana Ross & the Supremes. However, Paul McCartney, for example, is not credited for any of The Beatles' hits as he does not have a separate credit, (although his hits with Wings do count towards his total as they are classed together in the Guinness Book of Hit Singles).[2]

Age records[edit]

Youngest to...[edit]

  • Have a number 1 single: Jimmy Osmond was just 9 years old when he hit the summit in 1972 with "Long Haired Lover From Liverpool".
  • Have a number 1 single in three decades: Kylie Minogue was 32 years old when "Spinning Around" became her fifth number one single in 2000. She had scored three number ones in the 1980s and one in the 1990s, making her the youngest to achieve a number one single in three different decades.
  • Debut at number 1: At the age of 15 Billie Piper became the youngest ever solo artist to debut at number 1, she did this with "Because We Want To". Piper is also the second youngest artist to get a number 1 single, again with "Because We Want To".
  • Band ever to have an album debut at number 1: in 2004, McFly's debut album, Room on the 3rd Floor, debuted at number 1 in the UK Album Chart and is certified as double platinum, this led to the band becoming known as the youngest band ever to have an album debut at number 1 – a title taken from The Beatles.

Oldest to...[edit]

  • Début at number 1: In 1971, TV actor Clive Dunn's only hit, "Grandad", reached the top of the charts on the week of his 51st birthday.
  • Have a number 1 single: The oldest singer to reach number one was Tom Jones, who was 68 when "(Barry) Islands in the Stream" reached the top in 2009.

Other records[edit]


NB: In the following statistics, Elvis Presley's 17 re-issues in 2005, which all made the Top 5, count as separate hits.

Most hits without reaching...[edit]

  • Most Top 75 hits without reaching Top 5: Chris Rea (32)
  • Most Top 40 hits without reaching Top 5: Gloria Estefan (27)
  • Most Top 10 hits without reaching Top 5: Gloria Estefan (5)
  • Most Top 75 hits without reaching Top 20: PJ Harvey (15)
  • Most Top 40 hits without reaching Top 20: The Almighty (8)

Weeks on chart by individual singles[edit]

As of 1 May 2010, "Sex on Fire" by Kings of Leon has been in the chart for 81 weeks. Take That's "Rule The World" left the chart after spending 71 weeks on the chart. "Sex On Fire" is also the only single in chart history to have two separate chart runs of more than 30 weeks. It first charted on 20 September 2008 and on its initial run left the chart after 42 weeks on 4 July 2009. However, three weeks later it re-entered the top 75 and this time managed a 37 week run with the final week being 3 April 2010.

Singles which were first to reach chart milestones[edit]

  • 20 weeks on chart: "Because You're Mine" by Mario Lanza (28 March 1953)
  • 26 weeks on chart: "I Believe" by Frankie Laine (26 September 1953)
  • 30 weeks on chart: "I Believe" by Frankie Laine (24 October 1953)
  • 40 weeks on chart: "A Scottish Soldier" by Andy Stewart (21 October 1961)
  • 50 weeks on chart: "Stranger On The Shore" by Mr. Acker Bilk with the Leon Young String Chorale (10 November 1962)
  • 52 weeks on chart: "Stranger On the Shore" by Mr. Acker Bilk with the Leon Young String Chorale (24 November 1962)
  • 60 weeks on chart: "My Way" by Frank Sinatra (11 July 1970)

"My Way" was also the first single to reach each milestone from 70 weeks to 120 weeks as follows:-

  • 70 weeks: 19 September 1970
  • 80 weeks: 5 December 1970
  • 90 weeks: 13 February 1971
  • 100 weeks: 1 May 1971
  • 110 weeks: 10 July 1971
  • 120 weeks: 16 October 1971

Please note all above figures relate to total weeks on the chart as per the "Guinness Book of British Hit Singles". The following are the same details for consecutive weeks on the chart where different from the above:

  • 40 weeks on chart: "Stranger on the Shore" (as above)(1 September 1962)
  • 60 weeks on chart: "I Gotta Feeling" by The Black Eyed Peas (28 August 2010)

Only official chart lengths used as specified by the "Guinness Book of British Hit Singles", therefore the placings between 76 and 200 are not included for the purpose of these records.[3]

Most singles in a year[edit]

The 21 solo Michael Jackson songs to chart simultaneously on the chart dated 5 July 2009 (the week after his death) were:

As well as the six Jackson 5 / The Jacksons / Michael & Janet Jackson singles:

One other Jackson 5 song had charted ten weeks earlier, bringing the 2009 total of top 75 singles for Jackson to 28:

On the chart dated 12 July 2009 although many of the 27 Jackson songs in the top 75 previously had fallen out, three new ones entered bringing his year total to 31.

Longest time between number one hit singles for an artist[edit]

The Hollies went 23 years between their first top hit "I'm Alive" in 1965 and their next top hit, the re-release of "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" in 1988. They had eleven other singles in the top 10 in that interim time, including three singles to reach the number 2 spot.

Album with most original number-one hits[edit]

Spice by Spice Girls with four number-one original hits from the same album: "Wannabe", "Say You'll Be There", "2 Become 1" and "Mama" / "Who Do You Think You Are".

Biggest drop out of the Top 10[edit]

Originally, Wet Wet Wet set the record for the second biggest drop out of the Top 10 when "Weightless" fell from number 10 to number 96 in February 2008, a drop of 86 places. The biggest drop ever had been recorded six weeks earlier in January 2008 by the Pogues when they fell from number 9 to number 107 with "Fairytale of New York". In May 2010, "Leeds Leeds Leeds (Marching On Together)" by Leeds United Team & Supporters fell from number 10 to number 112,[4] a drop of 102 places, a new record. On 1 January 2012, Alex Day's "Forever Yours" fell from number 4 to number 112 making it the single with the highest chart placing to spend just one week inside the Top 75 since its inception in May 1978.

Ten biggest drops out of the Top 10
No. Artist Single Top 10
Chart position the
following week
Total drop
in places
1 Day, AlexAlex Day "Forever Yours" 4 112 108 7 January 2012
2 Leeds United Team & Supporters "Leeds Leeds Leeds (Marching On Together)" 10 112 102 30 May 2010
3 Pogues, TheThe Pogues "Fairytale of New York" 9 107 98 12 January 2008
4 Wet Wet Wet "Weightless" 10 96 86 23 February 2008
5 AC/DC "Highway to Hell" 4 81 77 4 January 2014
6 Precision Tunes "Payphone" 9 85 76 23 June 2012
7 Wizard of Oz Film Cast, TheThe Wizard of Oz Film Cast "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead" 2 65 63 21 April 2013
8 delirious? "History Maker" 4 61 57 17 April 2010
9 Wedding Present, TheThe Wedding Present "Come Play with Me" 10 65 55 23 May 1992
10 Turner, TinaTina Turner "Best, TheThe Best" 9 63 54 8 May 2010

Some singles have been deleted from the charts due to technicalities, and have thus "dropped" out of the Top 10 and the singles chart entirely. Such singles include: "Mrs. Robinson" by Simon & Garfunkel (1969), "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley (2006) and "Maneater" by Nelly Furtado (2006).

Singles to have stalled at Number 2 twice[edit]

This unlucky feat has only been achieved three times in chart history:

"Honey" by Bobby Goldsboro on 1 June 1968 then, on reissue, on 26 April 1975
"Crazy for You" by Madonna on 29 June 1985 then, on reissue on 2/9 March 1991
"One For Sorrow" by Steps on 5 September 1998 then, on reissue on 6 October 2001

First to...[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". The Guardian. 
  2. ^ Information from
  3. ^ Guinness Book of British Hit Singles
  4. ^ Charts Plus issue 458