Tag Archives: Charity single

Going For Gold: The Justice Collective Bring In “Heavy” Sales

A #1 single isn't "impossible."

A #1 single isn’t “impossible.”

Once again, the year flew by and the end of it is here again, which means there’s a massive competition brewing for the #1 single in the United Kingdom this week, traditionally dubbed The Christmas Chart as it falls just before the national holiday on Tuesday. Of course, that country’s Singles Chart is fully determined by sales, whereas our Billboard Hot 100 takes in multiple aspects (airplay, sales, streaming), so a digital release won’t always rise to the top; thus, artists lead big campaigns in order to secure the title. This year, however, isn’t looking as crazy overall as in many past years. Last week, X Factor winner James Arthur sold nearly 500,000 copies of his debut single, a cover of Shontelle‘s “Impossible”, which easily gave him the #1 spot. It is now the fastest selling single of the year. Proceeds from Arthur’s single are going to Together For Short Lives, a U.K.-based children’s charity for young ones with life-threatening conditions. However, another charity single has emerged with a slight lead over Arthur and may just deny him of a second week at the top of the charts.

“He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” is a remake of the old The Hollies tune which became a top ten hit here in the States back in 1970. It was also a #3 hit on the other side of the pond. This version is done by The Justice Collective, benefitting charities associated with the Hillsborough Disaster, a 1989 tragedy in which 96 people were killed in a giant stampede in order to gain entrance to Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England. Back in September, an independent panel reviewing the incident stated that nearly half of the victims that lost their lives on that day could have been saved had the police presence not neglected to calm the crowd, who toppled over one another when a barrier broke loose. This charity effort was intended to help cover the legal costs of those families who wanted justice from losing a family member or members during the event. Quite a few musicians were recruited for the effort, including a few we know here in the U.S., like Melanie C of the Spice Girls, Paloma Faith, Paul McCartney (who also plays electric guitar), Rebecca Ferguson, Robbie Williams and several members of The Hollies themselves. It was recorded in October and a music video featuring the recording sessions was premiered two weeks ago. Instrumentally, it stays pretty faithful to the original sound of it; it’s even in the same key. However, the addition of a full orchestra definitely opens things up and combined with the soulful vocals provided by the participants, makes it a very emotional song. It truly is a great rendition of it all going towards a good cause.

Here’s the situation: both songs have sold over 100,000 copies a piece since the tracking week began on Sunday. Both are available as digital and physical CD singles, which complicates estimations a bit seeing as iTunes freely displays a chart on their front page while brick-and-mortar retailers don’t. As of now, The Justice Crew are ahead by about 3,000 copies combined, and anything could happen in what could be one of the closest Christmas Chart races in history. (As of Thursday, there’s now a 13,000 copy separation.) Both support worthwhile organizations, but there’s a certain glory in achieving that coveted #1 spot on such a notable week. Though the X Factor contestants traditionally released their winning single on the Week for several years, it was changed last year when winners Little Mix debuted at #1 on the chart before the Christmas Week, giving the Military Wives and Gareth Malone a huge sales week and the #1 Christmas Chart record of last year, “Wherever You Are”, which spent just one week there. I would say that gives a group charity single like “Brother” the advantage in this race, but you never know what Arthur has up his sleeve. With book and CD signings, he may just be able to come back and take the top spot by a few thousand or even hundred copies. Plus, he was just on one of most watched television shows over here. Everything is up in the air.

So, it’s up to you over in the United Kingdom to buy up what you think is worthy enough to grab the #1 spot of the week. We’ll be able to view the final result on Sunday. Arthur has already had his turn at the peak of the pop survey. If there’s any justice out there, take a minute to download The Justice Collective to help them provide a sense of justice to the 96 lives lost on that spring day back in 1989.

Buy “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” on AmazonMP3.

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Who’s Laughing Now: One Direction Do Comic Relief

It's a Harry situation.

It’s a Harry situation.

(Listen to One Direction‘s “One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks)” here.)

It was announced earlier today that boy band One Direction will be singing this year’s Comic Relief charity single, “One Way Or Another”, a remake of the Blondie classic from 1979. The charity supports “poor and disadvantaged people”, the hallmark of it being a once-every-two-years telecast running roughly nine hours to celebrate Red Nose Day. Just as it says, performers and presenters alike wear the plastic noses in the name of drumming up money for the over twenty-five year old charity. Though an American version has aired for several years on cable, it’s nowhere near as big as in the United Kingdom, where 2011’s event raised over £108 million, the highest total yet. However, this year, that total could be surpassed.

Now, this is going to cause a bit of a stir in the boy band world as rivals The Wanted released the last official Comic Relief single back in 2011, “Gold Forever”. It reached a peak of #3 in March of that year. (A second release, “I Know Him So Well” by Susan Boyle and Peter Kay (as parody act Geraldine McQueen) got to #11. You’ll understand why there were two later on.) A similar case happened several years ago when Irish boy band Boyzone sang 1999’s single, a remake of Billy Ocean‘s “When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going”, while rivals Westlife took on 2001’s release, a cover of Billy Joel‘s “Uptown Girl”. In both of those cases, the songs reached the #1 spot in the U.K., though the former lasted two weeks in the top spot while the latter only got one. One Direction are coming off the hype of a #1 single, their ballad “Little Things”, with the potential of another single coming in between that and “Another”, so they may have the upper hand in the boy band battle. Yet, the sales of it may be so front-loaded, it may just end up at #3 like “Forever”. (One Direction‘s track has since debuted at #1. It also became the first Comic Relief single to be released outside of Europe, hitting the Hot 100 last month.)

Here are some other top tracks to come out of Comic Relief:

  • 1986: The first charity release comes out in April of this year, a remixed version of “Living Doll” by Cliff Richard, featuring the cast of BBC2 series The Young Ones. It easily reached #1 and stayed three for three consecutive weeks.
  • 1989: Top girl group Bananarama collaborate with comedians French & Saunders and Kathy Burke, who call themselves La na nee nee noo noo (a takeoff on the group’s name), and take a remake of The Beatles‘s “Help!” to #3.
  • 1991: Hale & Pace, the comedic duo, create a line dance sensation in “The Stonk”, which hit #1 for a week in March. It also began a yearly version of Comic Relief, which lasted until 1995 before going back to a once-every-two-years format.
  • 1994: Dance duo Pet Shop Boys took their charity single on an electronic kick, featuring Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley on “Absolutely Fabulous”. It peaked at #6.
  • 1995: One of the more treasured releases for the event, “Love Can Build A Bridge”, a cover of a U.S. Country hit for The Judds, brings together CherChrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, Neneh Cherry and Eric Clapton. It spent one week at #1 in May.
  • 1997: The first two-sided single representing the charity, “Mama / Who Do You Think You Are”, is released by the Spice Girls. Without much hesitation, it goes to #1 for three weeks.
  • 2005: Yet another boy band, McFly, take their double-side single of “All About You” and a cover of Carole King’s “You’ve Got A Friend” to the #1 spot. However, 2005 also marks the year that a second single is issued as a part of the event, “(Is This The Way To) Amarillo”, by standards singer Tony Amarillo and comedian Peter Kay, who is credited despite not singing it (though he does appear in the music video for it.) Over thirty-three years after it was first released, it goes to #1 for seven consecutive weeks.
  • 2007: A remake of Aerosmith‘s “Walk This Way” unites rival girl groups Girls Aloud and Sugababes. The single goes to #1, as does the second more comedic release, “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”, a new version of The Proclaimers hit featuring Peter Kay as Brian Potter and Matt Lucas as Andy Pipkin, two wheelchair-bound characters.
  • 2009: Continuing the chain of girl groups, The Saturdays issue a cover of Depeche Mode‘s “Just Can’t Get Enough”. However, it becomes the first Comic Relief since 1994 to fail to reach the top spot in the  U.K., peaking at #2. However, the comedy release, “(Barry) Islands In The Stream”, a takeoff of the Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton classic as performed by Vanessa Jenkins (Ruth Jones) and Bryn West (Rob Brydon) from the show Gavin & Stacey, and featuring Tom Jones and the late Robin Gibb, does reach the #1 spot, marking the first time this occurrence happened.

Check back to see what happens in the Spring! For now, One Direction’s Take Me Home is still in stores and ready for you to gift during this holiday season.

Do you have a favorite charity single that was released for the event? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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