Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Sing It With An Accent

Britain's a weird place.  So like us, yet so different. Anyway, that's what I thought when the Official Charts Company, in Britain, celebrated its 60th anniversary by listed the top musical acts of all time.

To no one's surprise, the Beatles, with 22.1 million in combined sales, came out on top, in any category.  Behind them, in top groups, was Queen. A bit of a surprise, I'd have to say.  After them, ABBA (huge throughout Europe), the Rolling Stones (that's more like it), and Oasis, another flower that bloomed a lot bigger across the pond.

For male artists, Elvis was #1, and just below the Beatles in overall sales.  Almost tied with Elvis (just 200,000 units behind) is Cliff Richard, who's been big forever in England, but means nothing in America.  Then comes Michael Jackson, Elton John and David Bowie.

For female artists, Madonna is first.  Rihanna, surprisingly, is second.  She's young enough that she may be #1 yet.  Then comes Kylie Minogue, another odd taste, followed by Whitney Houston and Lady Gaga. All fairly modern names compared to the other lists.

When it comes to top singles, things get even weirder.  Let's look the top eleven.

11.  "Mary's Boy Child/Oh My Lord" by Boney M.  Christmas songs do well, but Boney M?

10.  "Love Is All Around" by Wet Wet Wet.  Like the song, but this version?

9.  "Unchained Melody/(There'll Be Bluebirdes Over) The White Cliffs Of Dover" by Robson Green & Jerome Flynn. Once again, who?

8.  "She Loves You" by the Beatles. Finally, a great song by a great act. But note this is the Beatles' biggest seller--not "Hey Jude" or "I Want To Hold Your Hand" (and "Yesterday" wasn't even released as a single there in the 60s).

7.  "Relax" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood.  A silly (if fun) song by a silly band.  Hardly top ten material.

6.  "Rivers Of Babylon/Brown Girl In The Ring" by Boney M.  Who can get enough Boney M. Shocking they're not outselling the Beatles.

5.  "You're The One That I Want" by John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John (whose "Summer Nights" is 20th on the list).  Grease obviouly looms large there.

4.  "Mull Of Kintyre/Girl's School" by Wings.  Yep, this sentimental Paul McCartney tune, which means less then nothing in America, is a bigger seller than anything by the Beatles.

3.  "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen.  So now we see why Queen was so big. (And why wouldn't Queen be big in a country with royalty?)

2.  "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band Aid.  The song is bad enough, but why is it huge while "We Are The World" doesn't even register?

1.  "Something About The Way You Look Tonight/Candle In The Wind" by Elton John.  This is really more a keepsake to commemorate Princess Di, but it's still a weird song to top the list.

9 Comments:

Blogger New England Guy said...

What? Do They Know Its Christmas- is the best preachy song ever- unlike the the oppressive overproduced We Are The World, you can dance to it and there's even some edge to it in Bono's line ("thank god its them instead of you")- it was a thrown together song by a bunch a folks in a few minutes- like the best garage band hits. It feels punk.

On the other hand, though its a single and been a huge seller since the 70s- I have tried to force myself to listen to "Mull of Kintyre" several times and never made it all the way through. we are a people separated by a common language, no doubt.

Surprised that the Sex Pistols and PiL didn't make the top (I think Death Disco (released in America as Swan Lake) was number #1 for quite some time (which though I really like the song says something about commercial appeal in the UK- quoting from the liner notes from the collection album I bought)

6:37 AM, November 06, 2012  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

Well, this was sales. Going forward, do $.99 I-Tune sales count toward this record?

I have to find "Girl's School", the B side of Mull of Kintyre. Is it up tempo to counterbalance the A side?

7:33 AM, November 06, 2012  
Blogger LAGuy said...

"Girl's School" is a flat out rocker, and a pretty good one. It charted in America, though only made it to #33 (while the other side, "Mull Of Kintyre," did nothing.)

Once again, England and America, totally different. Post-Beatles Paul had nine #1 hits in America, but only two in Britain--"MOK" and "Pipes Of Peace," another flop in America.

10:08 AM, November 06, 2012  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

New England Guy's first paragraph is exactly what I was about to write, but he said it better. That particular line is the best thing Bono ever did.

I just played Mull of Kintyre on YouTube, sure that I must know it, but I can't recall ever hearing this. It really sold well in Britain? Bizarre. -- I just checked my "Wings Greatest" CD, and MoK is the final song on it. So I guess I must have heard it at least once, but I don't recall it at all.

2:41 PM, November 06, 2012  
Blogger LAGuy said...

It means a lot more personally over there, but it's not much of a song.

2:47 PM, November 06, 2012  
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