Recorded to raise funds for victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, which claimed dozens of lives and left hundreds homeless a little over a week ago, Bridge Over Troubled Water debuts emphatically atop the singles chart on sales of 170,360 copies (including 1,785 from sales-equivalent streams) despite being released a mere 40 hours before the end of the chart week. That’s the highest weekly sale for any single since Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You debuted atop the chart 23 weeks ago on sales of 226,808 copies.
Credited to Artists For Grenfell, Bridge Over Troubled Water includes contributions from more than 50 recording acts, most of them British, and is a cover of the classic title track to Simon & Garfunkel’s fifth and final studio album, which spent three weeks at No.1 when released as a single in 1970. More recently, A Bridge Over You – which combines elements of Bridge Over Troubled Water and Coldplay’s Fix You and was also a charity release – was the Christmas No.1 in 2015 for Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Choir.
Wikipedia states rather weakly that “over 50 artists” have recorded Bridge Over Troubled Water. In fact, it is well over 1,000 – and Simon Cowell, who organised the Artists For Grenfell recording and issued the track on his Syco label, has more than a passing connection with it, with artists signed to his label who have recorded it including Robson & Jerome (a rejected 1996 recording which has since turned up on a PWL compilation), Rhydian, Susan Boyle, Il Divo (on DVD), Clay Aiken and 2014 X Factor winner Ben Haenow, whose version was sold on the ITV website at the time but is no longer available. Fellow X Factor graduates including Leona Lewis, Matt Terry, Louisa Johnson, James Arthur and Fleur East are on the Artists For Grenfell recording. Other notable artists included Powerstudio Veterans Paloma Faith, Robbie Williams and Stormzy.