John Cage v X Factor, Naomi Campbell and Busted’s cassingle: the top 40 weirdest chart facts

From the Guardian

A rule change in the singles charts means that Ed Sheeran will for ever have the record for the most songs in the Top 20 – so here’s a welter of chart trivia to re-enter your brain

The roaring 40s. Composite: Getty Images

There’s always one, isn’t there? Always one person who has to ruin things for everyone else. That person is currently Ed Sheeran, and the thing being ruined is the sanctity of the UK Top 40.

This year, Ed’s phenomenal popularity, coupled with streams being allowed in the charts, meant his entire new album entered the singles chart, including nine songs in the Top 10. So, as of this week, the Official Charts Company (OCC) have amended their rules. An artist can now only have a maximum of three songs on which they are the lead artist in the Top 100 at a time. The bad news is that, under the new rules, Galway Girl would still have charted, but the good news is that this new rule should, in theory, free up the charts and make more space for people who aren’t Ed.

For trivia fans, it looks as if he will hold the record for most songs in the Top 20 (16!) until the end of time. And, to further help your future pub quiz-entering selves, here are 40 more Top 40 factoids.

1 The first singles chart was published in 1952, and involved NME asking 20 retailers each week what had been selling. Publications such as Record Mirror and Melody Maker followed suit, with Radio 1 basing its own chart on a combination of those sources, but it was 1969 before the first official chart was compiled.

2 Chainsmokers aside, the least musical single to hit the Top 20 was arguably the Royal British Legion’s Two Minutes Silence, which got to number 19 in 2010. Notable for being neither silent nor two minutes’ long.

3 If you’re looking for some real peace and quiet, head over to the chart entry for Cage Against the Machine’s cover of 4’33”, which got to No 21 in 2010, thanks to a campaign aiming to make some point or other about The X Factor.

4 Bryan Adams, eh? As well as holding the record for the longest-running No 1 single (Everything I Do, which racked up 16 weeks “atop” the “hit parade”), he’s also the man behind the best-selling single not to have gone Top 40: his ode to seasonal guitar purchasing, Summer of 69, has sold more than 500,000 copies. (B Ad’s UK record was equalled on the US’s Billboard chart by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s One Sweet Day, which also reigned for four months.)

5 The first single to hit No 1 without being released on vinyl came from digital trailblazer Celine Dion – her 1994 single Think Twice sold more than 1.3m copies on CD and cassette.

6 The longest song to chart was the Orb’s wobbly 1992 hit Blue Room, which came in at three seconds below the permitted 40-minute limit, and reached No 8. The sweariest was Super Furry Animals’ The Man Don’t Give a Fuck (which gives 49 of them).

7 In 1980, ITV’s World in Action broadcast an investigation called The Chart Busters. (Please set aside half an hour to watch it on YouTube.) It followed a Mirror exposé, in which “housewives” were said to have been recruited to buy specific singles in bulk. One song said to have benefited from this chart-hyping was the Pretenders’ Brass in Pocket.

8 Seventeen years later, doorstep-dwelling investigative journalist Roger Cook embarked on a two-part ITV documentary designed to blow the lid off chart-hyping. In order to show how simple it was to hype a song into the charts, he recruited an Aitken- and Waterman-free Mike Stock to record a cover of You Can Do Magic fronted, somewhat improbably, by Edwina Currie’s daughter. The single got to No 86

9 In nominative determinism news, Tinchy Stryder and N-Dubz got to No 1 in 2009 with their single Number 1, while Blur’s Song 2 got to No 2. Not everyone fared so well: Pharrell and Kanye’s Number One got to No 31, John Legend’s Number One got to No 63, Goldfrapp’s Number 1 got to No 9, the Tweenies’ Number 1 got to No 5.

10 Iron Maiden had their first and only No 1 in 1990. Bring Your Daughter … to the Slaughter became the first-ever metal No 1 through a combination of clever timing (they released it during a notoriously quiet festive sales week) and keen fanbase – the single came out on two different 12”s, two different 7”s, cassette and CD.

Read more here

Have you got a favourite weird pop/chart fact? Here’s a starter….early ’80s new romantic, synth epic ‘Vienna’ by Ultravox was kept off the top spot by Joe Dolce’s peerless(!) ‘Shaddap You Face’….

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