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Wellerman finally makes it to number one
After seven weeks in the top three, Nathan Evans' version of Wellerman finally climbs to the top of the singles chart in week eight. Tom Grennan has his first number one album.

Wellerman rises to the top of the singles chart. Tom Grennan gets his first number one album.

After seven weeks oscillating between numbers two and three Nathan Evans finally makes that final step up to the top of the singles chart with his interpretation of the sea shanty Wellerman. Itm gives him a number one with his first hit and does the same for one of his collaborators Billen Ted whose excellent adventure has ended in triumph. The other featured artist, 220 Kid, has one other top ten hit to his name.

At approximately 160 years old, Wellerman is, unsurprisingly, one of the oldest songs ever to top the UK singles chart. Compiling a list of the oldest songs to top the chart is a difficult task, not least because music that is out of copyright can be sampled without the original composer getting any credit and, therefore, without any need to pay royalties. Thankfully, shireblogger did a lot of work on this subject a few years ago and published the results of his research on Haven. I am heavily indebted to him (and Haven members who contributed a couple other suggestions) for most of the information in the next few paragraphs.

The first song in the list is one of those not to credit the composer of the tune being sampled. That tune is the French national anthem, La Marsellaise, which is used at the beginning of the Beatles’ All You Need Is Love. The original tune was written in 1792 which means it was 165 years old when All You Need Is Love went to number one. As the precise age of Wellerman is uncertain, it is possible that All You Need Is Love does not belong in this section but it links in with a later entry so (in the style known to regular readers of these ramblings) it has to stay in.

The first song which is undoubtedly older than Wellerman has been to number one in two different versions. The lyrics of Can’t Help Falling In Love were written for Elvis Presley but the tune dates back to 1784 which means it was 178 years old when Presley took it to number one in 1962. Thirty-one years later, UB40 recorded their own version and that too topped the chart by which time the tune was 209 years old.

The next song borrows from a piece written by Giaochino Rossini, best known for operas such as Barber Of Seville and William Tell. The overture from the latter was recorded by Mike Oldfield but it wasn’t a hit. A melody from Barber Of Seville was used rather more successfully by Mika in his debut hit Grace Kelly, 191 years after the opera was written.

Old though it is, La Marseillaise is not the oldest tune to get to number one in 1967. That is Bach’s Air On The G String written in around 1730, some 267 years earlier. Although Procol Harum have never publicly acknowledged it, there can be few people who have heard Bach’s melody and A Whiter Shade Of Pale (which was displaced from the summit by All You Need Is Love) without noticing a distinct similarity. For the sake of completeness (and thanks to Earl Purple for pointing this out in the thread mentioned above), All You Need Is Love also has a little bit of Bach at the end which means Bach should arguably be added to the list of writers to replace himself at number one, albeit very posthumously.

The final three are all well over 1,000 years old. That brings us neatly on to Cliff Richard. His Millennium Prayer, a number one in 1999, used the tune that was later used for Auld Lang Syne. The tune dates from somewhere before 1700 but the words used in Millennium Prayer are those of the Lord’s Prayer which was written in the first century AD, making them approximately 1,900 years old by 1999.

The Bible is also the source of the lyrics to Boney M’s Rivers Of Babylon. Once again, the precise date is unknown but, as they come from the Old Testament, we can be confident that they are a good deal older than the words of the Lord’s Prayer and were probably around 2,500 years old when Rivers of Babylon was number one in 1978.

Finally, then, we come to the granddaddy of them all, the oldest song ever to reach number one in the UK. As with Rivers Of Babylon, the lyrics of the song in question (or, at least, one verse of the lyrics) come from one of the psalms but this one is believed to have been written by King David in around 1000BC. The Latin translation of the psalm can be found in the lyrics of Enigma’s sublime Sadeness Part I which graced the top of the chart for a week in 1991 approximately 3,000 years after they were penned.

A1 × J1 jump ten places to number two with Latest Trends.

Anybody with a penchant for songs called Patience has had to have a lot of that virtue when waiting for such songs to become top forty hits. Their reward has been to see each of that rare breed reach the top ten. That trend is maintained this week with the arrival at number three of Patience by KSI featuring Yungblud and Polo G. It follows hits by Guns ‘n’ Roses (number ten in 1989) and Take That’s comeback single which went to number one in 2006. Patience is Polo G’s first top forty hit after four previous charting singles fell short.

Tiesto’s The Business slips back to number four. Friday by Riton featuring Nightcrawlers and Mufasa climbs to number five.

Olivia Rodrigo’s Drivers Licence becomes the latest song to take a big tumble from number one after being put on to the Accelerated Chart Ratio (ACR). As it has now been in the chart for at least ten weeks (exactly ten in this case) and its streams have fallen for three weeks in a row, the value of those streams has been cut in half. As a result, Rodrigo has crashed to number eighteen after nine weeks at the top. She establishes an unusual record by spending nine weeks in the top ten, all of them at number one. If Ladbaby releases singles for the next six Christmases, he could equal that record but with nine different songs.

Most people who get their first driving licence (to use the UK term) simply want to get their own car with realistic expectations of what that car might be. Others aspire to a luxury car such as a Lamborghini (the name of KSI’s first hit) or a Ferrari. That links seamlessly to Ferrari Horses, the latest aural monstrosity from D-Block Europe at number 36. They are joined by Raye who really ought to know better.

London rapper Central Cee gets his third top forty hit with 6 For 6 at number sixteen. The title represents either a terrible score (for a batting team) or spectacular figures (for a bowler) although the song might not be about cricket.

This has been a great week for Bedford-born singer Tom Grennan. Last Friday (12 March) he released his second album, Evering Road. Not only has that given two singles a boost - A Little Bit Of Love climbs thirteen places to number thirteen and his duet with Ella Henderson, Let's Go Home Together is at number 21 - but the album itself has gone straight to number one. Evering Road is named after a street in Hackney and so joins Abbey Road and Stanley Road (the road in Woking where Paul Weller once lived) in the list of real roads that have given their name to number one albums.

London-based rock band reached number two with their second album Laughing On Judgement Day back in 1992. That remains the peak of their chart achievements although they nearly matched it in 2017 when their eleventh set, Rip It Up, made it to number three. For most of this week, they looked to be on course to revisit the runner-up spot although their lead over their nearest rivals was always a fairly slender one. They have ended up being pipped by Central Cee who enters at number two with Wild West, knocking Thunder back to number three.

Dual Lipa’s Future Nostalgia falls two places to number four.

As is so often the case, RJ Thompson’s Wikipedia entry might give the casual reader the impression that he is at least moderately famous with a fair degree of success. His chart record says otherwise. You could have started with a blank piece of paper, listed all of his chart entries (singles and albums) and still been left with a blank piece of paper. His second album, Lifeline, was released last October without making any impact on the charts. That has changed with the release of a physical version and he makes his chart debut at number five.

Kings Of Leon fall to number six after a week at number one with When You See Yourself. Yungblud’s Weird album jumps back in at number nine after topping the chart last year.

At number sixteen we have another collection of material from the David Bowie archives. Something In The Air is a live album recorded at the Elysée Montmartre in Paris in 1999. It is the fifteenth “new” Bowie album to enter the top forty since his death in January 2016, not including Blackstar which was released just a few days before he died and was heading for number one anyway.

The best-named album in this week’s list of new entries undoubtedly goes to Rob Zombie’s The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse.Just one of his band White Zombie’s albums reached the top forty (in 1995) but this is the fourth of his solo albums to do so, coming in at number 24.

Selena Gomez’s albums to date have each peaked at a higher position than its successor. That progress comes to an end with the release of her first album in Spanish, Revelacion, which is at number 28.

The final new entry of the week is another album from someone whose previous release have failed to trouble the chart compilers. Welsh-born singer Catherine Davies released her first album under the name The Anchoress in 2018 and recorded an album with former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler last year. It’s third time lucky for her as The Art Of Losing (under the Anchoress moniker again) is at number 31. Of course, even if she goes on to record an album that sells ten million copies in the UK alone, that will still not match working with Bernard Butler.

I should have mentioned last week that Queen’s Greatest Hits set clocked up its 100th week in the top twenty. As I forgot, I shall just have to record its 101st week this week.
Published on: 2021-03-19 by Suedehead2 || 1263 Views
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20 Mar 2021 - 9:50
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Not forgetting Greek writer Homer, of course, who got a credit as part of The Simpsons laugh.gif
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