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Robbie Williams ‘Swings’ Into Pole Position on U.K. Album Chart, Equals Elvis’ Record

Robbie Williams' "Swings Both Ways" (Universal Island) has become the 1,000th No. 1 in the history of the U.K. chart. The set sold close to 109,000 copies to take the honor, as Lily Allen's cover of…

Robbie Williams’ “Swings Both Ways” (Universal Island) has become the 1,000th No. 1 in the history of the U.K. chart. The set sold close to 109,000 copies to take the honor, as Lily Allen’s cover of Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know” (Parlophone/Warner Music) moved up 2-1 on the singles chart.

“Swings Both Ways” is Williams’ 11th solo U.K. No. 1 album, which draws him level with Elvis Presley’s record haul. The new album follows Williams’ previous collection of swing and big band recordings, 2001’s “Swing When You’re Winning,” which now has U.K. sales of 2.3 million units, according to the Official Charts Company. The chart compiler puts his total domestic album sales at 18.6 million, from a worldwide total of 55 million.


The swing theme of the 1,000th No. 1 is appropriate, since Sinatra topped the first U.K. album chart in July 1956 with “Songs For Swingin’ Lovers.” Until the mid-2000s, the nation’s first album bestseller was traditionally listed as the soundtrack to “South Pacific,” in November 1958, before new research uncovered the publication of a top five chart by music weekly Record Mirror for the week of July 28, 1956, with the Sinatra title listed ahead of the “Carousel” film soundtrack, titles by Mel Tormé and Louis Armstrong, and the “Oklahoma” movie score.

“Go Gentle,” the current single from “Swings Both Ways,” fell 10-15 in its second chart week. The parent album finished a comfortable 67,000 sales ahead of Eminem’s former “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” (Interscope/Universal), which held at No. 2, as its former No. 1 single “The Monster,” featuring Rihanna, fell 4-5.

Jake Bugg’s second album “Shangri-La” (EMI/Universal) made its debut at No. 3, as its platinum-certified, self-titled predecessor fell 30-46 in its 58th chart week. Pop band JLS, who will split at the end of their imminent U.K. arena tour, entered at No. 6 with “Goodbye — The Greatest Hits” (RCA/Sony). The compilation contains all 12 of their hit singles, ten of which reached the top ten (the latest, “Billion Lights,” opening at No. 19 on the new survey). 

Lady Gaga’s “Artpop” (Interscope/Universal), new at No. 1 last week, fell to No. 9. As Christmas-themed music started to rise, Michael Bublé’s “Christmas” (Reprise/Warner Music) climbed 37-14 and Rod Stewart’s “Merry Christmas Baby” (Verve/Universal) 22-20. On the compilation chart, “Now! That’s What I Call Music 86” (Sony Music CG/Virgin EMI) debuted at No. 1. “Now! 85” is the U.K.’s bestselling album of 2013 by a long distance, with sales now past 900,000.

Lily Allen’s third U.K. No. 1 single, following 2006’s “Smile” and “The Fear” in 2009, was a close-run thing, as the British singer ended the week just 660 sales ahead of Bastille’s new entry at No. 2, “Of The Night” (Virgin/EMI). Allen’s Keane cover is the featured music in retailer John Lewis’ Christmas campaign; meanwhile her “other” new single “Hard Out Here” took its bow at No. 9 this week. The Bastille single updates Corona’s 1994 No. 2 hit “The Rhythm of the Night.”

Robbie Williams’ Take That colleague Gary Barlow debuted at No. 3 on the singles chart with “Let Me Go” (Polydor/Universal), from his fourth solo album “Since I Saw You Last,” which is released today (Monday). Ellie Goulding’s BBC 2013 Children In Need single “How Long Will I Love You?” (Polydor/Universal) fell 3-4, with the Eminem track at No. 5 and Martin Garrix’s No. 1 of last week, “Animals” (Positiva/Virgin/Universal), down to No. 6.

The most dependable event of the singles chart week was the annual resurgence of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” (Columbia/Sony), which climbed 98-68. The Pogues’ fellow festive perennial “Fairytale of New York” (Warner Bros./Warner Music), featuring the late Kirsty MacColl, rose 113-85.