Gr8at: Famous Songs that Charted Badly in the UK

It’s easy to think that great songs must have topped the charts (or at least like in my last Gr8at post), come pretty close. But whether through lack of promotion, more people buying the album, the band not being well known enough at the time or for any other number of reasons, some singles have had mediocre UK chart placings.ย  Which of the following most surprised you? Do you have a favourite?

One of the all time greats. Who didn’t love the utterly unique David Bowie? Choosing a greatest song is near impossible, but arguably his most famous is Heroes, which inexplicably only reached 24 on first release. Even with more modern charts, it hasn’t even made the Top 10.


To some a majestic song by an artist at the peak of her powers from one of the all-time great albums. To the more pedantic, a question of whether the song is or isn’t in fact ironic. Either way, Ironic only reached 11, impacted by most buying the Jagged Little Pill album, which has sold 33 million copies worldwide.


Not many artists could have a song top of the UK charts for a record 16 weeks but not be the most recognised song on a pop culture level. But while Adams’ song Summer of 69 only placed 42, it’s more popular than ever. Indeed, Bryan Adams doesn’t even need to be on stage for it to get requested.


Arguably, the most haunting love song ever written. That’s some claim, but this extraordinary heartbreaking track still chills down the spine long after its haunting refrain. It has connected with so many people, that it’s now even used in sporting contexts. Not bad for a track that only reached 13th place in the charts.


It may well just have scraped into the Top 40, but there was any chance of this track being forgotten. One of the all-time great break-up songs, Go Your Own Way is a force of nature with heartfelt lyrics coming straight from the bitterness of broken heart and a ridiculously catchy melody.


From a voice as gifted as Marvin Gaye, and with such a fantastic opening and poignant lyrics, it seems impossible that this didn’t top the charts, let alone fail to make the Top 40. Thankfully, the song has always been regarded as a classic and can be found on most lists of greatest songs.


Whether you rate it as one of the best films, or one of the best songs, you can’t deny that Goldfinger’s theme tune adds to the iconic film’s charm. So i’ts more than surprising that one of the major hitters in the James Bond collection only reach 21 when released. Especially as it’s been such a fixture in popular culture, with countless covers from other artists and references in Frasier and The Wolf of Wall Street.


It may have only reached 47 here in the UK, but there’s no danger of this gem from Dolly Parton being forgotten. The theme tune from the 1980 film of the same name actually topped the US charts, with the song lending its name to the current musical.


16 thoughts on “Gr8at: Famous Songs that Charted Badly in the UK

  1. Great post, Alex. I remember like it was yesterday when Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors” was released. It was the summer of 1976 and I was thirteen. It’s ALL that was played on the radio. I am shocked that “Go Your Own Way” wasn’t a hit.

  2. I know and adore all of these songs. However, the only one that gives me shivers, raises the roots of my hair and churns my gut is Goldfinger! Shirley Bassey … WOW!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s