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UK Singles Chart records

Since the inception of the UK Singles Chart in 1952 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

One of the most important records over the years has been which act could obtain the most UK Chart toppers. Here is a list of all the acts to gain 5 or more UK chart toppers:

See also List of artists by total number of UK number one singles

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. Ever since "From Me To You" hit #1 in 1963, they accumulated a total of 17 chart toppers by 1969. These consisted of "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.

Longest run at number one

Another equally important 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. However, Wings' song "Mull Of Kintyre" spent 9 weeks at the top of the charts in 1977, matching this record. This set quite a difficult record to beat, however in the summer of 1954 David Whitfield broke the record when "Cara Mia" held on for 10 weeks. It seemed difficult for a song to stay on longer than Cara Mia, but during the 1950s, songs did manage to stay at the top of the charts for very lengthy periods of time. Therefore, 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 and seemed impossible to beat, but 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, but during the 90's there were some close contenders. 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, the closest contender for most weeks at the top came from Wet Wet Wet's recording of "Love Is All Around", featured in the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral, which spent 15 weeks at the top. The charts started transforming from the mid 90s and songs began spending less time at the top. 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. The addition of digital singles into the chart seems to have affected the charts in a positive manner in terms of how long a single stays at #1. 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 Umbrella was at #1 for 10 weeks; the success of the single has taken Rihanna high on the records list.

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 second 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:

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 1992/93 (10 weeks)

= Rihanna feat. Jay-Z - Umbrella 2007 (10 weeks)

* = not consecutive weeks at the top of the charts

Most successful debut

The most successful debut is also considered to be an important record. Obviously 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 8 years later, in 1963, Gerry & The Pacemakers became the first act to have their first 3 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 single "Relax" (which coincidentally had Gerry Marsden's "Ferry Cross the Mersey" as one of its B-sides) climbed up to No.1 after being banned by the BBC and a frenzy followed. It dropped out of the charts only to return to No.2 six months later. Through all of this, the single managed to sell 1.91 million copies. The band's second single, "Two Tribes" sold in excess of 1.5 million copies and spent 9 weeks at No.1, 4 weeks longer than their first single. Their third single, "The Power of Love" did not quite manage to equal the success of its predecessors, but spent a week at the top and was only knocked off by Band Aid, which went on to sell over 3.5 million copies. Their next release stalled at No.2, ending their consecutive run making their record the same as Gerry & The Pacemakers, but it would be fair to say that Frankie Goes to Hollywood were a more "successful" debut, because of incredibly high sales. 5 years later, Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers equalled the record of an act having their first 3 singles reaching No.1 (and, in May 1998, Aqua also achieved the feat).

In 1997, 34 years after Gerry & The Pacemakers achieved their 3rd No.1, the Spice Girls took their first 6 singles to No.1. Promoting "Girl Power" and carrying music onto new levels, they were hugely successful and proved so by extending this record to having their first 6 singles ("Wannabe", "Say You'll Be There", "2 Become 1", "Who Do You Think You Are", "Spice up Your Life" & "Too Much") reaching No.1. Their run was eventually broken by "Stop", their seventh single stalling at No.2.

By this time it had become more common for singles to enter at No.1. "Wannabe" did not enter at No.1, so the Spice Girls could not claim the record for the first act to achieve their first six singles entering at No.1. This was a new record. B*Witched became the first act to have their first four singles ("C'est La Vie", "Rollercoaster", "To You I Belong" & "Blame It On The Weatherman") all enter at No.1. Westlife, became the most successful boyband in Britain and 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") all enter at No.1. This record was achieved in 2000.

Biggest selling single

The biggest selling singles in most countries tend to be charity singles. 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 & 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 both the UK and the US was the second single released by Bill Haley & His Comets, "Rock Around The Clock". The single received massive airplay all around the world and was well-received across the globe. 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 1.39 million copies 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 #17 in the UK charts in 1962, but by 1969, they had scored that many UK #1s, 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 #1 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 (former 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" 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, but this was not all that came from Band Aid. The famous Live Aid concert of 1985 clocked up huge sales and saw many successful and popular artists perform in the UK and the US to millions of fans either there in person or watching on TV. The USA also made their own charity record, "We Are The World", which topped the charts in the UK, but was a much bigger success in the US selling over 4 million copies.

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 world and also became the biggest selling single in Britain with 4.86 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 and topped the US charts for 14 weeks, where it sold 11 million copies. It is highly unlikely, due to rapidly declining numbers in single sales, that this record will be broken anytime soon, with the biggest selling single since then being Will Young's debut single "Evergreen" selling only 1.78 million copies.

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.

Posthumous number ones

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

Amazingly, 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" & "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 rival, 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

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 8th 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. Before 2003, the average #1 single would sell around 132,000 copies. This showed how bad things had become for the single. The record is held by Orson's "No Tomorrow". This was previously held by re-issue of Elvis Presley's "One Night/I Got Stung", which sold 20,463 copies in its one week at #1. It broke its own record in doing so; the week before it 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

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:-

As many UK Chart Books, now add in numerous
Cliff Richard Singles & Albums, to The Shadows Hits.
It means that The Shadows replaced themselves at Number 1,
in the UK Singles Chart once in 1960, & twice in 1963.
They also replaced themselves at Number 1 in the UK Album
Chart, in both 1961, & 1963. Also, The Official UK Charts
Company, gives The Shadows 8 UK Number 1 Albums.
4 as a Group, & 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,
& 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 the 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 4th 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 60's 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

In the 90s 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. "Candle In The Wind 1997" is also 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 him himself receiving over 4 million votes. He is one of the few people to receive longstanding and great success from a talent show in the UK.

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 proved to be incredibly successful, selling 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 distressing famine in Ethiopia.

Biggest Selling Single Not To Top The Chart

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.

Biggest selling single to peak at #3 is New Order's "Blue Monday", which has sold just over a million copies. However, it could be said this was not achieved on its own merit, because its two remixes caused the single to be re-issued twice, pushing up sales. If we are talking about the biggest selling single to peak at #3 where sales from re-issues are not counted, then Everything But The Girl's "Missing" takes the record. It sold 870,000 copies during its chart run in 1995-97.

Shipping a million to shops and selling in excess of 860,000 is the biggest selling single to peak at #4, which is "Angels" by Robbie Williams. It is his largest selling single to date, despite having 6 chart toppers and various Top 3 hits throughout his career.

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.

Biggest selling single to peak at #6 is most likely to be "Just Loving You" by Anita Harris. In 1967, it is believed to have sold around 625,000 copies. Interestingly enough, the only peak position of a single that exceeds the highest selling singles' sales from the previous position 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).

Biggest selling single not to make the top 10 is Numb/Encore by Linkin Park and Jay-Z, which gained the record in July 2008. It has sold in excess of 300,000 copies. It beat the line-dancing classic "5,6,7,8" by Steps, which spent 14 weeks in the Top 40, but only managed to make #14. 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. The best-selling single not to make the Top 20 is perhaps Amazed by Lonestar, which has sold 180,000 copies despite only peaking at #21.

Singles to reach number one on downloads

Artist Song Date Sales
Gnarls Barkley Crazy 2nd April 2006 31,703
Mika Grace Kelly 21st January 2007 30,500
Rihanna ft. Jay Z Umbrella 20th May 2007 34,164
Sugababes About You Now 30th September 2007 34,068
Duffy Mercy 17th February 2008 38,366
Duffy Mercy (second week) 24th February 2008 50,962
Estelle ft. Kanye West American Boy 23rd March 2008 51,857
Madonna ft. Justin Timberlake 4 Minutes 20th April 2008 40,634
Coldplay Viva la Vida 22nd June 2008 23,212
Dizzee Rascal ft. Calvin Harris and Chrome Dance Wiv Me 6th July 2008 49,414
Katy Perry I Kissed a Girl 10th August 2008 45,935
Katy Perry I Kissed a Girl (second week) 17th August 2008 44,500
Katy Perry I Kissed a Girl (third week) 24th August 2008 41,131
Katy Perry I Kissed a Girl (fourth week) 31st August 2008 40,587
Kings of Leon Sex On Fire 14th September 2008 44,943

The biggest selling single to reach number one on digital downloads alone, based on one week sales, is American Boy by Estelle ft. Kanye West.

There have only been 2 occasions when a song which reached number 1 purely on digital downloads has been overtaken by another. Both times it overtook after the physical release. Oddly enough, it was Estelle ft. Kanye West first, who were then knocked off the top spot by Madonna and Justin Timberlake.

On 22nd June 2008, both songs in the top two (Colplay and Ne-Yo) were there on downloads alone. However, on 31st August 2008, this record was broken again, and the entire top three (Katy Perry, Eric Prydz and Rihanna) were download only at the time.

Other records


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

  • Most Top 75 hits: Elvis Presley (152). Runner-up: Cliff Richard (131)
  • Most Top 40 hits: Elvis Presley (128). Runner-up: Cliff Richard (120)
  • Most Top 20 hits: Elvis Presley (100). Runner-up: Cliff Richard (95)
  • Most Top 10 hits: Elvis Presley (77). Runner-up: Cliff Richard (66)
  • Most Top 5 hits: Elvis Presley (54). Runner-up: Madonna (44)
  • Most Consecutive Top 5 hits: Westlife (22). Runner-up: Elvis Presley (20)
  • Most Consecutive Top 10 hits: Madonna (34). Runner-up: Westlife (23)
  • Most Consecutive Top 10 hits by a female group: Girls Aloud (18). Runner-up: Spice Girls (10)
  • Most Top 40 hits by a female group: Bananarama (25). Runner-up: Sugababes (22)
  • Most successful songwriter: Paul McCartney 1662 weeks. Runner-up: John Lennon 1398 weeks
  • Most number ones written; Paul McCartney and John Lennon. 33 number ones each
  • Most weeks on singles chart: Elvis Presley (1277 wks). Runner-up: Cliff Richard (1166 weeks)

Most hits without reaching...

  • Most Top 75 hits without reaching No 1: Depeche Mode (43)
  • Most Top 40 hits without reaching No 1: Depeche Mode (40)
  • Most Top 10 hits without reaching No 1: Bon Jovi and Janet Jackson (17)
  • Most Top 5 hits without reaching No 1: Janet Jackson (9)
  • Most No 2 hits without a No 1: Sash! (5)
  • 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 10: AC/DC (28)
  • Most Top 40 hits without reaching Top 10: Super Furry Animals (20)
  • Most Top 20 hits without reaching Top 10: The Levellers and Super Furry Animals (8)
  • Most Top 75 hits without reaching Top 20: PJ Harvey (15)
  • Most Top 40 hits without reaching Top 20: The Almighty (8)
  • Most Top 75 hits without reaching Top 40: Gorky's Zygotic Mynci (8)

Weeks on chart by individual singles

  • Most weeks in Top 75 by a single: "My Way" by Frank Sinatra (124 weeks)
  • Most consecutive weeks in Top 75 by a single: "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol (57 weeks)
  • Fewest weeks on chart by a No 1 single: "It's Now Or Never" (2005 re-issue) by Elvis Presley (4 weeks).
  • Fewest weeks on chart by a No 1 single (excluding re-issues):

*"Baby's Coming Back / Transylvania" by McFly (4 weeks)
*"What a Wonderful World" by Eva Cassidy and Katie Melua (4 weeks)

Most singles in a year

  • Most Top 75 singles in a year: 19 by Michael Jackson (2006).
  • Most Top 75 singles in a year (excluding re-issues): 12 by Elvis Presley (1957) and by The Wedding Present (1992).
  • Most singles simultaneously in Top 75: 13 by The Jam (January 1982).
  • Most weeks spent on the Top 75 in a calendar year: 134 by Oasis (1996).

Album with most Number-one hits

Westlife (1999), for boy-band Westlife. Total: 5 Flying Without Wings, Swear it Again, Seasons in the Sun, Fool Again, If I Let You Go. Ironically the Album itself failed to get to No.1. It peaked at No.2.

Album that spent the most time at Number one

The soundtrack to South Pacific spent a record 115 weeks at number one in the UK charts. It got to number one on nine occasions including a run of over a full year there. It beat the second place (The Sound of Music soundtrack) by 45 weeks.

Highest placing for a digital-only single

"Say It Right" by Nelly Furtado reached number ten on the UK Singles Chart in March 2007, and by doing so, it broke the record for the highest chart placing for a download-only single, after chart regulations were changed to allow songs not accompanied by a physical format to chart. It was later tied with digital-only single "Lord Don't Slow Me Down" by Oasis which peaked at number ten in November 2007. The record has since been broken by Coldplay who reached number one in June 2008 with download-only single Viva La Vida.

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