As part of the 60th anniversary of the charts, in an upcoming blog I will be talking about my favourite number 1’s and also which songs I think have been the most important chart toppers of all time.
But what about the records that just fall short of the top spot? Over the years there have been many great records which were denied a place at number 1. Some think that this is a bad thing, I disagree. We remember certain songs just because they didn’t reach the top. The obvious one is ‘Vienna’ by Ultravox which was denied a reign at Number 1 by the irritating Joe Dolce Theatre – ‘Shaddap You Face’. Would we remember ‘Vienna’ with the same reverence if it had had a spell at the top or does the fact that it got held at number 2 mean we think more of the track and the injustice of it not topping the charts (Personally I think its pretentious, too long and boring, but that’s my opinion).
You have to think how getting to number 2 can alter a successful artist’s tally of number 1’s. Elvis Presley has had 21 chart toppers, the Beatles – 17, Cliff Richard – 14 and Madonna has had 13 number 1’s. However, Elvis has also had 9 number 2’s (He also had a further 8 that were re-releases that already had got to number 1) Beatles – 5, Cliff – 11 and Madonna – 12. This makes the chart change with Elvis – 29, Madonna and Cliff – 25 and the Beatles – 22, so just because you don’t have a number 1 doesn’t mean you aren’t very successful.
Sash! (who is also the only artist to have had hits sung in 4 different languages) holds the record for most number 2’s without hitting the top spot (5) so his place in the records of pop is secure for now but if he’d “done a Quo” and had 1 week at number 1 then he would be just another DJ/producer who had a few hit records (remember DJ Sammy?)
Sometimes you get records held off the top by one track for a long period of time, Right Said Fred spent 3 months in the top 10 of which 6 weeks were at number 2 but it was held off by Bryan Adam’s record breaking stint with ‘Everything I Do (I Do For You)’ in 1991.
Wham! sold 1.4M copies of ‘Last Christmas’ and it sits in the top 10 selling singles of all time yet it never reached number 1 due to Band Aid with the original version of ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’.
Any other year it would have almost certainly been the Christmas number 1 but is a classic example of a record been kept of the top by a “freak” chart topper. Another good example is ‘Love Is All Around’ by Wet, Wet, Wet which kept All 4 One from achieving their only UK chart-topper with ‘I Swear’.
There have been many classic records only reach number 2 in the charts, Kim Wilde – ‘Kids In America’, Blur – ‘Song 2’ (2 minutes long, track 2 on the album, 2nd release off the album, reached number 2, scary!!!), David Bowie – ‘The Jean Genie’ and my personal favourite and possibly the best record of the 90’s, Deee-Lite – ‘Groove Is In The Heart’.
There is one record that will go down as the most controversial Number 2 ever. On the 11th June, 1977, Rod Stewart was announced as the UK number one for Jubilee week with a double A side (remember them?) of ‘I Don’t Want To Talk About It’/‘First Cut Is The Deepest’. The first title is quite apt as the chart company certainly didn’t want to talk about the record that had been the previous week’s number 11 and had officially climbed to number 2 despite many reputable claims that it had been the biggest selling record that week. I wouldn’t dare to suggest that in the week of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee that the charts were rigged to prevent the Sex Pistols’s version of ‘God Save The Queen’ from being number 1 but it will go down as the most controversial number 2 ever!