Chart Battle: Lady Gaga takes on Cliff Richard in race to Number 1

Two pop heavyweights, one release date. But who’s going to come out on top? Mother Monster or Uncle Cliff? We pit the megastars against each other…

Two pop heavyweights, one release date. But who’s going to come out on top? Mother Monster or Uncle Cliff? We pit the megastars against each other…

One of them is an artist with an enviable chart record and millions of fans the world over. And the other… Oh, hang on, both of them are!

This week sees the release of Lady Gaga’s long-awaited third album ARTPOP, featuring the Top 10 hit Applause, along with R Kelly collaboration Do What U Want and interplanetary dance banger Venus. Mother Monster has been something of a chart phenomenon since bursting onto the pop scene in 2009.

While over in the red corner, we have a music star who would comfortably earn the title ‘legend’. With over 55 years in the music business, Cliff Richard has gone from Bachelor Boy of rock and roll to the Knight of Pop (yep, he was made Sir Cliff in 1995). And now he’s back with his 100th album – yes, 100th! The Fabulous Rock ‘N’ Roll Songbook, also out this week, sees Sir Cliff return to his roots, reimagining rock ‘n’ roll classics like Wake Up Little Susie, Dream Lover and Johnny B. Goode.

So Cliff’s looking back while Gaga’s on a futuristic tip. But who’ll be victorious in this brutal chart battle? There can be only one winner, but who’s got the chart chops to take them all the way to the top? They may seem poles apart on first glance, but do Lady Gaga and Sir Cliff have more in common than we think? We pit the two megastars against each other in six hotly contested rounds.

Cliff Richard

Popstar name

Both our chart battlers decided early on that their birth names were simply not up to the job of serving a global popstar. Sir Cliff was born plain old Harry Rodger Webb in India, while over in New York almost 45 years later, Gaga started out with a slightly more exotic moniker – Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta.

Young Harry Webb opted for the name Cliff as it was another word for ‘rock’, which is all our Harry wanted to do – rock out. The ‘Richard’ part was thanks to Cliff’s rock ‘n’ roll here Little Richard – who, just like his superfan, is still rocking after all these years.

The story goes that Stefani’s transformation into Lady Gaga is a result of a mis-spelled text message from producer Rob Fusari. He meant to text ‘Radio Ga Ga’ – a reference to the song made famous by British rock legends Queen.

WHO WINS? Gaga has certainly made the most of her name, even turning it into a chant at the beginning of her Number 1 single Bad Romance. Cliff’s name however, was chosen because it is another word for ‘rock’. A rockstar who calls himself ‘rock’? We’re in. Round 1 to Cliff.

Lady Gaga

Fashion sense

Lady Gaga didn’t sing “Walk, walk, fashion baby” for nothing – she lives and breathes it. Gaga may have been around for only five years or so, but she’s got more signature looks than Simon Cowell has high-waisted jeans. Lobster claw shoes, meat dresses, endless wigs, a stunning array of sunglasses, police tape bikinis – no trend has gone untried by our Gaga.

We’re not saying Cliff wouldn’t look great in all or any of those outfits, but he has tended to play it safe over his five decades of chart stardom. The craziest our holy Knight has got to being fashion-forward donning a pair of roller skates for the video to 1981 hit Wired For Sound.

WHO WINS? While Cliff dresses pretty sharply for a 73-year-old, when it comes to sartorial bravery, Gaga walks away with this one – or as much as she can walk in those great big heels. Ooh, she’ll go flying if she’s not careful.

Lady Gaga – Bad Romance

Signature song

Cliff Richard’s back catalogue is a radio station all of its own, packed with songs everyone knows. From his vintage easy listening hits like Summer Holiday and Congratulations, to his poppier efforts Carrie, Some People and I Just Don't Have The Heart, Cliff’s greatest hits truly are great.

But when it comes to the quintessential Cliff song we don't think it's Living Doll or The Young Ones – it has to be his 1988 Christmas Number 1 Mistletoe and Wine. With its singalong chorus and festive feelgood factor, we never tire of hearing it – tinsel appears before our very eyes.

WHO WINS? Gaga’s tunes are certainly memorable, and Bad Romance is probably the most unforgettable of them all. So between Gaga’s bangers and Cliff’s crackers, who edges it? Mistletoe And Wine is a solid gold classic, but Bad Romance has shifted more copies – over a million in fact – and we can’t argue with that. Victory belongs to Gaga.

Cliff Richard

Sex appeal

She’s all about making statements and having control of her body, and we salute that. Cliff has never intentionally tried to be sexy, but all those adoring fans of his can’t be wrong. And he did go shirtless for his 2013 calendar, and we can confirm rumoured sightings of a six-pack.

WHO WINS? Gaga looks fantastic, Cliff looks amazing, but who’s the hottest? Arise, Sir Handsome – you’ve won this round!

Lady Gaga ARTPOP


Gaga meticulously plans her looks for her campaigns and it shows. From the high-fashion gloss of The Fame Monster to the half-bike half-popstar oddness of Born This Way, Gaga showed she’s not afraid to take a risk. The cover for ARTPOP, by celebrated kooky artist Jeff Koons, features a nude sculpture of Gaga with a crystal ball covering her ‘bits’.

Sir Cliff’s album covers tend to focus on the man himself, occasionally with guitars, behind trees or with cars, but always beautifully lit.

WHO WINS? Cliff may have had 100 album covers to play with, but we think for sheer wow factor, Gaga’s got to have this one.

Official Singles Chart logo

Official Chart record

Since her first single went straight in at Number 1 in January 2009, Lady Gaga has notched up a total of 15 Top 40 hits on the Official Singles Chart, ten of those breaking the Top 10. She went on to have three further Number 1s that first year: Poker Face, Bad Romance and Telephone FT Beyoncé. Poker Face and Bad Romance are among the biggest selling songs in the UK of all time ­ both have passed the million mark.

Cliff may have taken a little longer to hit the top spot – his first Number 1, 1959’s Living Doll, with The Shadows, came after five Top 40 hits – but he’s made up for it since. He went on to have another 13 chart-toppers, including a million-seller of his very own, The Young Ones from 1962.  The Peter Pan of Pop has had over 100 Top 40 hits, including a Number 1 single in five separate decades. He even took Living Doll back to Number 1 in 1986, teaming up with the cast of anarchic comedy The Young Ones.

WHO WINS? Massive, ground-breaking chart success against a career spanning over 50 years? It’s almost impossible to call – they’re both chart icons, but in recognition of five decades of chart history, we have to hand this one to Sir Cliff.

So with three points for Gaga and three for Cliff, we can’t choose between them. Only the record-buying public have a say on whose album will come out on top.

Chart lovers, it’s over to you…