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by Matthew Dixon & Tom Eames
On the 14th November 2002, the charts celebrate their golden jubilee. This feature looks back at the past 50 years of the singles chart with the attempt to find out exactly what was the biggest charting hit of all time. Throughout the 200 days leading up to the jubilee, we will look back at every year and every decade of the past 50 years looking at which are the biggest charting hits.
So what will be the biggest hit of all time, could it be Frankie Laine's "I Believe", which managed 16 weeks at the top? Could it be Frank Sinatra's "My Way" which managed over 100 weeks on the chart? Could it be Elton John's "Candle In The Wind 1997 / Something About The Way You Look Tonight", which is the best seller of all time? Maybe Elvis, or Cliff, or the Beatles? All surely must be up near the top with something, or are they? Watch this space gradually update as we go through the year.
To work this out - We've used a rather complicated formula that has three parts. First we took 0.75 points for a week at No. 1, 0.74 - for a week at No. 2 etc. down to 0.01 for a week at No. 75. Then in each week, we added on to that another factor to increase the importance of the top few positions. (This is e (2.718) to the power of minus half the chart position and works out at 0.61 for a No. 1, 0.37 for a No. 2, but only 0.007 for a No. 10 - dying away rapidly). Finally we multiplied the result by a number that increases as the year increases but is always near 1, to take into account the larger sales at Christmas, and the smaller sales in the New Year.
Here are the charts of each year:
Chart Of All Time - 1952
The authors of this would like to thank all who made this chart possible, in particular Volker Doerken for the donation of a copy of the charts, that he had spent so long in collecting.