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Artists For Grenfell go straight to number one
A version of Bridge Over Troubled Water released to raise money for the Grenfell Tower fire tops the singles chart. Royal Blood have the number one album.

A charity record for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire tops the singles chart. Royal Blood get a second number one album.

On the night of 13/14 June a fire broke out in Grenfell Tower, a tower block in Kensington, west London. People all over the world will have been shocked to see the speed with which the fire spread. It is still not known how many people died but it seems certain that it will be at least 100. Many of those who survived will have lost all their possessions such was the intensity of the fire.

It was heartening to see the speed with which the British public responded to this disaster. So many items of clothing and furniture were donated that some people had to be turned away because there was no space left to store it. Some people went online and booked rooms in nearby hotels to give residents somewhere to stay. Once again, following the two recent terrorist attacks, the response of the emergency services was magnificent. It should not be forgotten that many of these first responders will have seen sights which nobody would ever want to see.

A number of funds were set up to raise money for the victims and for those made homeless by this tragedy. In order to help raise money Simon Cowell recruited a cast of musicians (and Jessie J) to record a charity single under the collective name Artists For Grenfell. Artists involved include various members of One Direction, Roger Daltrey (The Who), Kelly Jones (Stereophonics), Robbie Williams and Emeli Sande. There is also a choir, led inevitably by Gareth Malone, including residents of the block.

Given the speed with which the project was put together, it was predictable that not only would it be a cover version, it would have to be a well-known song. The song chosen was Simon and Garfunkel’s 1970 classic Bridge Over Troubled Water.

It follows the usual pattern for these releases with each artist singing a single line although some only get a couple words and James Arthur pops up even more frequently than Quavo does in the average 2017 singles chart. Even the raps by Stormzy and Wstrn proved not to be as bad an idea as they first sounded.

The general assumption is that these charity singles don’t actually get played very often after they have been bought. By extension, that means that they perform poorly on streaming sites. As streams now account for a majority of “sales” the chances of major chart success are a good deal lower than they were. The fact that Bridge Over Troubled Water was only released on Wednesday morning, with just 40 hours of the chart week left, made its chances of an instant number one appear remote.

However, this particular cause really seems to have struck a chord with the British public. The fact that the song itself is a lot better than many feared will have helped too. On Thursday the Official Charts Company reported that it had racked up 120,000 sales on Wednesday alone. It continued to outsell everything else by a very wide margin on Thursday and enters the chart at number one.

Roger Daltrey’s presence gives him a first number one single over fifty years after he first charted with The Who.

Bridge Over Troubled Water becomes one of the few songs to have topped the charts for three different acts. The Simon and Garfunkel original spent three weeks at the top in 1970 sandwiched between Lee Marvin’s gravel-voiced rendition of Wanderin’ Star (with a Clint Eastwood song as the b-side) and Dana’s Eurovision winner. A version of the song combined with Coldplay’s Fix You provided a number one for the NHS Choir (Gareth Malone again) at Christmas 2015.

That NHS Choir version replaced a Justin Bieber song at the top of the chart. This new version repeats that trick. By a further coincidence, on each occasion the Bieber song in question had replaced another Bieber song at number one. Your challenge this week - find another pair of three successive number ones to have followed the same pattern so closely.

The Justin Bieber song in question is Desapcito - with Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee - which slips to number two after a six-week residency at the top. It may yet continue to mirror the run of number ones including the NHS Choir by returning to the summit.

For most of the life of the singles chart it has been fairly rare for an act to have more than two songs in the chart. It happened fairly regularly in the very early years and has become a common occurrence in recent years. When all singles sales were physical copies it was possible for a record company simply to stop producing new copies of a single. That doesn’t happen with downloads or with streaming. The regular use of featured artists has created further opportunities for somebody to have several songs in the chart simultaneously.

One regular featured artist - and, for that matter, a user of featured artists - is Barbadian singer Rihanna. Her frequent guest appearances have helped her to accumulate 46 top forty singles in just twelve years. This week she gets a 47th as a featured artist on DJ Khaled’s Wild Thoughts, a new entry at number three. The song also features Bryson Tiller whose second album spent a week in the top forty earlier this month.

Liam Payne and Quavo remain at number four with Strip That Down. French Montana and Swae Lee fall two places to number five with Unforgettable.

Another frequent user of featured artists is Scottish DJ and producer Calvin Harris. He gets his 30th top forty single in ten years with Feels at number 21. The word has appeared in the title of many top forty singles but never on its own until now. Among the best songs with the word Feels in its title are Fiction Factory’s Feels Like Heaven (later reworked by Dario G and the Inspiral Carpets’ This Is How It Feels. One of the Inspirals’ roadies then contributed to Oasis’s Who Feels Love?

The featured artists on Feels are Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry and Big Sean. I’m sure Pharrell feels happy about that.

Selena Gomez re-enters at number 35 with Bad Liar.

The Glastonbury Festival has provided a launchpad for many bands over the years, helped by the extensive coverage given to the festival by the BBC. Three years ago Royal Blood were a little-known rock band performing at the festival in the early afternoon. Tonight (Friday), coinciding with the release of their second album, they are playing on the main stage ahead of The XX and Radiohead. They will be able to use the opportunity to celebrate a second number one album as How Did We Get So Dark goes straight to the top. It can be assumed that its sales have not been affected by recent comments by someone who (officially at least) has some royal blood.

Ed Sheeran’s ÷ spends another week at number two. He will be gracing Glastonbury’s main stage on Sunday night.

People wishing to deride the Canadian music scene will often cite Nickelback as an example of the quality of that country’s output. However, some people like them. After all, Rockstar spent about three million years in the top forty. Feed The Machine, their ninth studio album is a new entry at number three.

Rag ‘n’ Bone Man’s Human spends a third successive week at number four.

One of the current favourite singers with the critics is New Zealander Ella Yelich-O’Connor, better known as Lorde. The late David Bowie was a fan and she performed his song Life On Mars? as a tribute at the Brit Awards shortly after his death. Therefore, much was expected of her second album, Melodrama. The album enters at number five which will be considered a disappointing performance by some. Her appearance at Glastonbury may help to keep the album in the top ten next week.

Two more David Bowie re-issues enter the chart this week. Another live album, Cracked Actor, is back at number 27. The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, probably his best-known album, is at number 29.

The name Fleet Foxes could refer to a group of Leicester City fans who meet at a motorway service station in Hampshire or could refer to creatures near an underground river in London. On the other hand, it probably doesn’t refer to either of those. The band of that name enter at number nine with Crack-Up.

Over the years Oxford has not really been known as a hotbed of new musical talent. However, for a period in the late 1980s and early ‘90s it produced Radiohead, Supergrass and Ride. If you were into miserabalism, Radiohead were for you while those who liked a more poppy sound - but still with a distinct rock flavour - had Supergrass, If swirly guitar sounds were your thang, Ride would probably have been more to your taste. Of course, some people liked all three.

Ride have disbanded twice and have now re-formed once again to record a new album. The result, Weather Diaries, enters at number eleven.

One of Ride’s members is guitarist Andy Bell. Another musician called Andy Bell is the half of Erasure who is not Vince Clarke. As noted here a few weeks ago Erasure are one of a number of acts formed by Clarke after he left Depeche Mode. Another of those acts was Yazoo featuring Alison Moyet on vocals. After Yazoo disbanded Moyet embarked on a solo career, achieving hits with singles such as Love Resurrection and Weak In The Presence Of Beauty. Her new album, Other, is new at number twelve.

Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit enter at number 26 with The Nashville Sound. I think we can guess what sort of music that album contains.

Some very old albums re-enter the chart this week. The highest of them is Electric Light Orchestra’s Best Of collection All Over The World at number thirteen following some renewed promotion. Fleetwood Mac’s 40-year-old Rumours is back at number 33, Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Greatest Hits returns at number 34 and The Stone Roses’ debut album is at number 40.
Published on: 2017-06-23 by Suedehead2 || 20649 Views
Comments (1)
King Rollo
23 Jun 2017 - 16:51
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Group: Members
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I can think of four other songs which have 3 or more versions reaching no.1:

Unchained Melody - Jimmy Young,Righteous Brothers,Robson & Jerome,Gareth Gates
Do They Know It's Christmas? - Band Aid,Band Aid II,Band Aid 20,Band Aid 30
Spirit In The Sky - Norman Greenbaum,Doctor and the Medics,Gareth Gates and the Kumars
You'll Never Walk Alone - Gerry and the Pacemakers,The Crowd,Robson & Jerome

Are there any others that I haven't thought of?
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