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by Matthew Dixon
Well here it is, you may have read the reviews of each year, or of each decade, here it is, the answer, the Chart Of All Time. What is the best charting song of all time, could it be "I Believe" by Frankie Laine from the 1950s, "Stranger On The Shore" by Mr Acker Bilk from the 1960s, "My Way" by Frank Sinatra from the 1970s, "Relax" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood from the 1980s, "Love Is All Around" by Wet Wet Wet from the 1990s, Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" from the 2000s or maybe something that charted over more than one decade?
Working through the top 100, we start with the song that was No. 2 in the first ever chart, Jo Stafford's "You Belong To Me". "Knock Three Times", "The Locomotion" and "Ghostbusters" follow in a novelty hit extravaganza, and the classic hits from the Hollies, Soft Cell and Snap! followed, alongside some hits from Bing Crosby, the Shadows, Max Bygraves, Bobby Darin and Jim Reeves. "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" lands at No. 88, and is followed by two classic hits, Nat "King" Cole's "When I Fall In Love" and New Order's "Blue Monday".
The best selling song of all time is Elton John's "Candle In The Wind 1997 / Something About The Way You Look Tonight". You would quite easily be fooled into thinking that it therefore must be one of the best charting hits of all time. There you would be wrong. The tribute to Lady Diana lands at No. 85. However many other high selling tracks don't even chart this well. Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" lands at No. 183, whilst this 2002's biggest seller from Will Young, whilst one of the ten best selling songs of all time, lands at a rather dismal No. 845. After Elton John's track come hits from Mario Lanza and Buddy Holly, Hot Chocolate's "You Sexy Thing" and the first of two Beatles entries inside the top 100, "From Me To You".
At No. 79 come Steps, with their double A-sided single "Tragedy / Heartbeat", however you have to go down to No. 1615 to find their second biggest single "5, 6, 7, 8". It narrowly beats "Island In The Sun" by Harry Belafonte, whilst tracks from Roy Orbison, Frank Sinatra, Guy Mitchell, Tom Jones and Frankie Laine, give this part of the chart a rather older feel. At No. 73 is singer/comedian/artist/TV star and general all round personality, Rolf Harris, with his biggest hit "Two Little Boys". "Sun Arise" is at No. 613 whilst the ever popular "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" doesn't even make the top 2000, landing at No. 2213. Wink Martindale's "Deck Of Cards" follows, a hit which charted in each of three decades, and then we have Procol Harum's one famous hit "A Whiter Shade Of Pale".
Elvis features four times inside the top 100 songs alone, his first entry, "It's Now Or Never", lands at No. 70, followed by Pat Boone. Largely thanks to the film "Top Gun", Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" gets in at No. 68, this is followed by Eddie Calvert, and then at No. 66, largely thanks to the film "Ghost" comes the Righteous Brothers' rendition of "Unchained Melody". Jimmy Young takes the track to No. 159, Robson Greene and Jerome Flynn take it to No. 218, Al Hibbler takes it to No. 263, whilst Gareth Gates can only take it to No. 475. The first ever UK No. 1 lands in at No. 65 on the chart of all time, Al Martino's "Here In My Heart". The Nilsson classic "Without You" follows, and then hits by Connie Francis and Johnnie Ray surround Stevie Wonder's biggest hit "I Just Called To Say I Love You" which is at No. 62.
Just inside the top 60 are hits from Shirley Bassey, Ruby Murray, Jennifer Rush, and Rod Stewart, with his classic "Maggie May". No. 56 and No. 55 are both hits by Frankie Laine, and they are followed by another Frankie, "Two Tribes", the second best charting hit for Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Cher's 1998 classic "Believe" is at No. 53, followed by Chris Montez and Emile Ford and the Checkmates. Hits at Nos. 60-52 all come from the 1950s or 1960s. These include hits from Jim Reeves, Don Cornell, Mantovani, Eddie Calvert, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, the Everly Brothers and the Oberkirchen Children's Choir, as well as the "Telstar" single and Elvis Presley's second top 100 entry, "All Shook Up". Beating all of these but narrowly missing out on a top 40 placing is a song that owes its success to the successes of the England football team, the combined total of all versions of "Three Lions" by David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and the Lightning Seeds.
Pat Boone's "I'll Be Home" starts off the top 40, the highest charting entry for a man who is often forgotten nowadays. It is followed by "Let's Twist Again" by Chubby Checker, one of the earlier songs on this list that is still just as popular now as ever. The Archies "Sugar Sugar" gets in at No. 38, the highest placing for a non-human act, and is followed by Free's "All Right Now", which has entered the chart on three completely separate occasions. Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross" comes next, followed by Connie Francis's biggest hit "Who's Sorry Now". Doris Day's most famous hit "Whatever Will Be Will Be (Que Sera Sera)" is at No. 34, but there's still one more hit from Doris to come, further up our list. Next up, at No. 33, is our second all round personality, comedian turned singer Ken Dodd, with his song "Tears". Hits by old country stars Tennessee Ernie Ford and Slim Whitman land at Nos. 32 and 31.
Starting off the top 30 is Candian balladeer Celine Dion. Her song "Think Twice" charts at No. 30. Her other famous song, "My Heart Will Go On" from the film "Titanic" lands at No. 248. Sir Cliff Richard follows, with his one and only top 100 chart of all time entry, "Living Doll". Can he top the artist chart? Find out in the next review. Kitty Kallen lands at No. 28 with "Little Things Mean A Lot". She beats the Archies, Baddiel and Skinner, and the Oberkirchen Children's Choir to become the best charting one hit wonder, having not registered any other hits on our listings. Another modern diva follows, with Whitney Houston's "Bodyguard" theme "I Will Always Love You". This is ten followed by Englebert Humperdinck's second biggest hit "The Last Waltz". "There Goes My Everything" makes No. 119 for him.
Only one hit to date has managed to chart in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. That hit is "Imagine" by former Beatle John Lennon. It manages to make No. 25 in our list, ranking as the highest placing for a former Beatle's hit. Despite being a two-million-seller, "Mull Of Kintyre / Girls School" by Paul McCartney's band Wings is only at No. 120. The second highest placing for Elvis Presley is for "Heartbreak Hotel", at No. 24, and this is followed by the Frank Chacksfield Orchestra, and "Terry's Theme from Limelight". Rod Stewart's greatest charting hit is "Sailing", landing at No. 22, 35 places higher than "Maggie May". The other hit that fails to make the top 20 is the 'classic' novelty hit "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree" by Dawn.
Boney M kick off the top 20 with their two-million-selling double-A-sided single "Rivers Of Babylon / Brown Girl In The Ring", the first of two massive 1970s singles in a row. The following one is the Grease classic "You're The One That I Want" by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John, which charts higher than Boney M in the chart of all time thanks to a 1998 rerelease. Classic early hits from Russ Conway, Frank Ifield and Paul Anka follow, and then it's the highest charting appearance for Elvis Presley, with "Hound Dog". Two classic ballads follow, "Gentleman" Jim Reeves with "I Love You Because" and David Whitfield with "Cara Mia".
At No. 12 it is the song that is most often put top in polls of the greatest hit of all time, Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody". It seems to have a timeless quality that people just can't get enough of, and the fact that it was No. 1 in each of four different years shows that off very well. The surprising thing is not how high it has got, but rather that it is not in the top 10. Also just missing out on the top 10 is Englebert Humperdinck, with his most famous hit "Release Me" landing at No. 11.
So into the top 10 we go, and we start with the song that managed the longest consecutive run at No. 1, Bryan Adams's "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)", from the film "Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves". Its chart career was truly massive but, believe it or not there are nine tracks out there that beat it. At No. 9 we currently have Judy Collins, with her version of "Amazing Grace". Check back later when the full charts have been included in these reviews to see if she can climb any further. She managed an amazing 67 weeks on the chart and several of these weeks are currently being undercounted by us, so she could well rise a few more places. The other version of "Amazing Grace" that hit the charts big time, by the Pipes and Drums and Military Band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards landed at No. 169.
At 8 we have a band who needs absolutely no introduction, it's the Beatles. Their biggest charting hit by quite a long way was "She Loves You", the track which brought them their real taste of huge megastardom, and their second UK No. 1. The sharp eyed amongst you will have noticed that earlier we passed the second largest charting hit for Doris Day, and will know there's still one to come, that means. "Secret Love" manages a truly remarkable No. 7, showing just how popular Doris was back in her day. The other song to fail to make the top 5 has the second longest consecutive spell at No. 1, Wet Wet Wet's "Love Is All Around". Taken from the film "Four Weddings And A Funeral" it was another song that many were really getting fed up of by the end but people just would not stop buying it!
Into the top five we go, and we still have three Franks and the first big rock 'n' roll hit to go. First of all, the theme to an early sixties TV show about an au-pair girl in Brighton, "Stranger On The Shore" by Mr Acker Bilk. Believe it or not he has one of two songs in the top five not to have topped the chart. At four we have our first Frank. Frankie Vaughan followed up his music career with a spell in acting. The papers were full of the story, "Frankie Goes To Hollywood!" Anyway, at No. 4 we have "Relax" by the band who chose that as their name. It gets here due to the sheer controversy of its Radio One banning, which saw it rocket up the chart and make Frankie Goes To Hollywood the biggest phenomenon of 1984 on the charts.
At No. 3 we have Bill Haley and his Comets with "Rock Around The Clock". It was arguably the song that kick-started the rock 'n' roll movement, and possibly the most influential piece of popular music to date because of it. It managed many a spell on the chart, both when it was big in the 1950s and in numerous re-releases. Anyway, that leaves two hits, both by people called Frank. At No. 2 we have the single that spent the longest at the top of the chart of any single, Frankie Laine's "I Believe". Whether it got there due to lack of competition or due to the fact it is such an amazing powerful ballad is open for debate, but suffice to say it has almost made it to the end.
And now, the end is near, and so we face, the final countdown. Best charter of all time? You should have really worked it out now. We did a massive list and can I say, not in a shy way, the best charter of all, Sinatra's "My Way". So many weeks upon the chart, you'd not have thought it at the start. It only peaked at No. 5, 125 weeks it did survive. It beat them all, it topped the pile, it did it by a handsome mile. The records show, Frank stole the show, with his song "My Way".
Yes, it was "My Way".
Here are the 100 best charting singles of all time:
You can also check out the chart of Top 1000 singles (in plain text).