Following a week-long head-to-head, the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS choir’s charity single, A Bridge Over You, finished the chart race with 127,000 sales and downloads, nearly 31,000 sales more than the multimillion selling popstar. The choir received a late boost after Bieber urged his own fans to support the cause.
In the final hours of the race, when the choir was just 662 units behind Bieber’s Love Yourself, the Canadian singer tweeted: “I’m hearing this UK Christmas race is close… but @Choir_NHS single is for charity … So for 1 week it’s ok not be #1. Let’s do the right thing & help them win. It’s Christmas. @Choir_NHS good luck. This is what it’s all about. Merry Christmas.”
After hearing that the choir’s single had reached No 1, Bieber tweeted: “Just heard the news. Amazing. That is what Christmas is all about. @Choir_NHS congrats!! Very cool.”
Proceeds from the NHS choir’s single will go to health charities including Carers UK and Mind. Bieber has been an unexpected champion of state healthcare from a young age, once telling Rolling Stone, when he was 16, that the US health insurance system was evil.
Speaking about their victory, the choir told OfficialCharts.com: “We are absolutely overwhelmed and couldn’t be any happier. It’s a brilliant celebration for the NHS across the country, so well done and thank you everyone for downloading and streaming. A massive cheer for the NHS, thank you!”
Choir member and children’s doctor Katie Rogerson previously said it was bizarre that they were battling it out with a multimillion-selling act. “It’s just ridiculous that it’s the NHS versus Justin Bieber, but that’s all in the jolliness of it,” she said. “You don’t expect an NHS choir to make the top 40, so to be honest, we’re [already] massively pleased. If we got to No 1, it would be insanity – but a really good version of it.”
A Bridge Over You was originally recorded two years ago with the choirmaster Gareth Malone on the BBC2 programme Sing While You Work, but this year Rogerson and colleagues started a social media campaign to get it to No 1.
Martin Talbot, the chief executive of the Official Charts Company, said: “What a fantastic result for the NHS Choir to claim the 2015 Christmas No 1. There will be thousands of NHS staff across the country working through Christmas Day, while the rest of the nation is putting its feet up – this success is for them. There couldn’t be a more deserving group of winners.”
This was the closest battle for Christmas No 1 since 2009, when Rage Against the Machine’s single Killing in the Name beat the X Factor Winner Joe McElderry’s The Climb. This year’s X Factor winner, Louisa Johnson, failed to make the top three. Her cover of Bob Dylan’s Forever Young has been the worst performing in the show’s history, entering the charts last week at No 9 and finishing in 12th place.
Bieber still claims three positions in the charts, with Love Yourself at No 2, Sorry at No 3 and What Do You Mean at No 5.
Meanwhile, Adele has produced the biggest-selling album of Christmas 2015. The singer’s latest record, 25 – which became the fastest 2m-selling album in the UK – holds the No 1 spot on the official album chart for a fifth week running.
In the final shopping week before Christmas alone, 25 sold nearly 450,000 copies. Elvis Presley’s If I Can Dream came in at No 2, Bieber’s Purpose at No 3.
You can download the song here. All proceeds will be shared between healthcare charities, including Carers UK and Mind – with a percentage also being distributed to Samh (Scotland) and Niamh (Northern Ireland).
This article was written by Nadia Khomami, for theguardian.com on Friday 25th December 2015 13.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010