UK Singles Chart records and statistics

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The UK Singles Chart was first compiled in 1969. However the records and statistics listed here date back to 1952 because the Official 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 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.

Most number ones[edit]

The following is a list of all the acts who are individually credited on 5 or more UK number one songs (this means that being part of a group does not count towards an individual's total unless they are named separately as a featured artist):
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

[1]

Progression of the record[edit]

Al Martino was the first act to have a number one single, with "Here In My Heart" in November 1952. Seven months later Eddie Fisher became the first act to have two number one singles, with "I'm Walking Behind You" following "Outside Of Heaven". In November 1953 Frankie Laine scored a third number one single with "Answer Me" and a fourth with "A Woman In Love" in October 1956. In 1960 "It's Now or Never" gave Elvis Presley his fifth number-one single. He broke his own record ten times until June 1965 when "Crying In The Chapel" became his 15th number one. The Beatles then took the record to 17 with "Get Back" and their last number one to date "The Ballad of John and Yoko". After his death in August 1977, Elvis scored a 17th chart topper with "Way Down" to tie.

In 2002, having been used in a Nike World Cup advertisement, a 1968 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 number one single. Celebrating the 70th anniversary of his birthday, all of Elvis' 18 number ones were re-issued in 2005. Despite being re-issues, they were given different catalogue numbers and therefore count as separate singles, giving Elvis 21 number one singles.[3]

^ 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

Most weeks at number one[edit]

In 1991, Bryan Adams spent 16 consecutive 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.

The record for most non-consecutive weeks at No.1 is 18 by Frankie Laine's "I Believe" in 1953. It spent 9 weeks at number one, dropped down for a week, returned to number one for 6 weeks, dropped down for a further week and returned to number one for a third time for 3 weeks. It is one of three singles to return to number one more than once, the others being "Singing the Blues" by Guy Mitchell in 1957 and "Happy" by Pharrell Williams in 2014.[4]

Below is a table of all singles that have spent 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 [5]

Number-ones by different artists[edit]

Currently two songs have reached number one four times by different artists, which are Unchained Melody and Do They Know It's Christmas?.

Four artists

Three artists

Two artists

Most number ones from chart debut[edit]

In 1963, Gerry & the Pacemakers became the first act to have their first three singles reach number one when "How Do You Do It?", "I Like It" & "You'll Never Walk Alone" all hit the top spot.

The record was equalled by Frankie Goes to Hollywood in 1984 and five years later by Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers.

During 1996 and 1997, the Spice Girls took their first six singles to number one from "Wannabe" to "Too Much".

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 number one in 2000. [5]

Biggest-selling singles[edit]

See also List of best-selling singles in the United Kingdom

Best-selling singles in the UK
No. Single Artist Record label[a] Released[a] Chart
peak[a]
Sales[b]
1 "Candle in the Wind 1997" / "Something
About the Way You Look Tonight
"
John, EltonElton John Rocket September 1997 1 4,920,000
2 "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Band Aid Mercury November 1984 1 3,750,000
3 "Bohemian Rhapsody" Queen EMI October 1975 1 2,440,000
4 "Mull of Kintyre" / "Girls' School" Wings Parlophone November 1977 1 2,080,000
5 "You're the One That I Want" Travolta, JohnJohn Travolta and

Olivia Newton-John

RSO May 1978 1 2,050,000
6 "Relax" Frankie Goes to Hollywood ZTT January 1984 1 2,030,000
7 "Rivers of Babylon" / "Brown Girl in the Ring" Boney M. Atlantic/Hansa April 1978 1 2,020,000
8 "She Loves You" Beatles, TheThe Beatles Parlophone August 1963 1 1,910,000
9 "Love Is All Around" Wet Wet Wet PolyGram May 1994 1 1,860,000
10 "Mary's Boy Child – Oh My Lord" Boney M. Atlantic/Hansa November 1978 1 1,860,000
  1. ^ a b c The record labels, dates and chart peaks are those given by the OCC.[6]
  2. ^ The sales are those given by the OCC as of 27 June 2013, except where a more recent OCC figure is available.[7][8]

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]

The lowest weekly sale for a number one single is 17,694 copies held by Orson's "No Tomorrow" in 2006.[9]

The addition of downloads to the UK charts means that singles can now reach number one with zero physical sales. The first single to achieve this was Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" in early 2006. From 2014 audio streaming is included in the calculation of chart position, so it is now possible for a single to reach number one without actually selling any copies. The highest proportion of 'chart sales' from audio streams for a number one so far is 16 percent for Rude by Magic! in August 2014.[10]

Self replacement at number one[edit]

Since the inception of the UK Singles Chart in 1952 only three acts have replaced themselves at the top of the UK charts with exactly the same billing (as opposed to any named artist, for example 'Cliff Richard and the Shadows' and 'The Shadows' have had back to back number ones on four occasions):

  • The Beatles "I Want to Hold Your Hand" replaced "She Loves You" in 1963
  • John Lennon "Woman" replaced "Imagine" in 1981
  • Elvis Presley "One Night/I Got Stung" replaced "Jailhouse Rock"

[11]

Fastest selling single[edit]

The fastest selling single in chart history is "Candle in the Wind 1997" by Elton John which sold 1.55 million copies in its first week (it sold 658,000 on the first day of release, 13 September 1997).[citation needed]

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. Publicity had built up due to the televised talent contest Pop Idol with 8.7 million people phoning in to vote for the finalists.[citation needed]

Biggest selling single not to top the chart[edit]

The record is held by Wham! with their 1984 Christmas release, "Last Christmas / Everything She Wants", which peaked at number two, being kept off the top by Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?". It has sold 1.7 million copies following first week sales of half a million.[citation needed]

The biggest selling single to peak at number three 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.[citation needed]

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 one to chart without ever receiving a UK physical release was Coldplay's Viva la Vida in June 2008.. 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 there on downloads alone:

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

On 31 August 2008, 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, 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[citation needed]

Most weeks on UK Singles Chart by decade[edit]

1950s[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

1960s[edit]

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

1970s[edit]

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

1980s[edit]

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

1990s[edit]

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

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).[12]

Age records[edit]

Youngest[edit]

Oldest[edit]

Other records[edit]

General[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.

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]

Ten biggest drops out of the Top 10
No. Artist Single Top 10
position
Chart position the
following week
Total drop
in places
Week-ending
date
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 Union J "Tonight (We Live Forever)" 9 74 65 6 September 2014
8 Wizard of Oz Film Cast, TheThe Wizard of Oz Film Cast "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead" 2 65 63 21 April 2013
9 delirious? "History Maker" 4 61 57 17 April 2010
10 Wedding Present, TheThe Wedding Present "Come Play with Me" 10 65 55 23 May 1992

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]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Most Number 1s". 
  2. ^ "Cheryl scores record-breaking fifth Number 1 single with I Don’t Care". 9 November 2014. 
  3. ^ "ELVIS PRESLEY". 
  4. ^ Myers, Justin (2 March 2014). "Unstoppable Pharrell scores chart record hat-trick as Happy smashes a". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  5. ^ a b British Hit Singles. Virgin Books. November 4, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  7. ^ "Daft Punk's Get Lucky becomes one of the UK's biggest selling singles of all-time!". Official Charts Company. 27 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "Naughty Boy and Sam Smith smash 1 million UK sales with La La La". Official Charts Company. 10 June 2014. 
  9. ^ Masterton, James (April 13, 2013). "Hey, What Does It Take". 
  10. ^ "Magic! top the UK singles chart with debut single". Telegraph. August 3, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Self-Replacement At Number One". 
  12. ^ Information from www.chartstats.com