'X Factor' Winner Sam Bailey Grabs U.K. Christmas No. 1 with 'Skyscraper,' One Direction Narrowly Denied Top Album


Sam Bailey, the 36-year-old former prison officer who won last weekend’s final of “The X Factor,” has claimed the U.K.’s prestigious Christmas No. 1 single with her cover of Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper” (Syco Music/Sony). Robbie Williams’ “Swings Both Ways” (Universal Island) narrowly held off the challenge of One Direction to become the festive album bestseller.

Bailey’s debut single sold 149,000 copies last week to claim the singles crown. Proceeds will be split between the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and Together For Short Lives, with the British Government agreeing to waive its VAT portion of sales. Bailey will support Beyoncé on the U.K. leg of her “Mrs Carter World Tour” in February.

Last year’s Christmas No. 1 single, the Justice Collective’s cover of “He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother” (Metropolis), sold 269,000 copies in its first week. Bailey’s opening tally is the second lowest total for the debut single by an “X Factor” winner, higher only than Steve Brookstein’s 127,000 for “Against All Odds” in 2004. Nevertheless, “Skyscraper” outsold its nearest rival, Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” (Back Lot), by more than 2-1. Lovato’s original, which reached No. 32 in the U.K. in March 2012, also sold 9,000 new copies to reappear at No. 37.

“Happy” climbed 4-2 as Leona Lewis’ “One More Sleep” (Syco/Sony) held at No. 3. A social media fan campaign to get AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell” (Epic/Sony) to No. 1 ahead of the “X Factor” winner, ended with the rock classic landing at No. 4, becoming the band’s first-ever U.K. top ten single. The track reached No. 56 in 1979, and a live version peaked at No. 14 in 1992. The Official Charts Company reports that its weekly sales to Saturday night were 43,000. 

Avicii’s “Hey Brother”  (PRMD/Positiva/Universal) fell 2-5 on the new singles chart and Lily Allen’s “Somewhere Only We Know” (Parlophone/Warner Music) dropped to No. 6 after three non-consecutive weeks at the top. The Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York” (Warner Bros./Warner Music), featuring Kirsty MacColl, climbed 15-14 but the other big recurrent Christmas favorite, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” (Columbia/Sony), which moved past U.K. sales of one million last week, dipped 12-13. 

“Swings Both Ways” started a third aggregate week atop the album chart with 126,000 sales, outselling One Direction’s “Midnight Memories” (Syco Music/Sony) by a mere 200 units. An unchanged top five saw Gary Barlow holding at No. 3 with “Since I Saw You Last” (Polydor/Universal), Olly Murs’ “Right Place, Right Time” (Epic/Sony) at No. 4 and Beyoncé’s self-titled Columbia/Sony release at No. 5. 

Ellie Goulding’s “Halcyon” (Polydor/Universal) rebounded 15-6 and the Killers’ “Direct Hits” (Vertigo/Universal) jumped 25-10 after the band’s performance last weekend on “The X Factor” of “Mr. Brightside,” which itself jumped 75-29. “Now! That’s What I Call Music 86” (Sony Music CG/Virgin EMI) began a fifth week at the compilation chart summit, new sales of 172,000 taking its total sales to an impressive 973,000. 


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