It’s exactly 23 years since Take That scored their first-ever Top 40 hit with Promises, and few could have predicted back then that the quintet-turned-quartet-turned-trio would still be a major chart force all these years later.
They’ve had more ups and downs than the lifts in Selfridges, but one thing has remained constant: that hitmaking ability. 11 Number 1 singles, from 25 Top 40 hits and sales stats that most boybands – or manbands to bring them bang up to date – would kill for a quarter of. Over 9.3 million singles’ sold is the kind of sales real talk we are dealing with here.
They broke our hearts on Valentine’s Day 1995 when they said it was all over, but we should have known they couldn’t stay away.
In the last few years we have seen Jason Orange, Mark Owen, Gary Barlow and Howard Donald reform as a quartet, re-recruit prodigal band member Robbie Williams, only to shed both Robbie and Jason in time for the release of their brand-new album III.
And with their first single as a trio These Days a serious contender for this week’s Number 1, we thought it was about time we had a good old route through their biggest selling songs to see which tracks come out on top. And as we’ve got over 23 years of history to look over, why not go the whole hog and make it a great big Top 40?
First, the Top 10…
1: Back For Good (1995)
The heartfelt ballad was something of a bittersweet experience. Arguably a career high, the band looked invincible at this point (something they’d refute in next single Never Forget) but behind closed doors, trouble was afoot, and this was the last single to be released while Robbie was still actually in the band.
Spending a month at the top from April 1995, Back For Good gave us a glimpse of the kind of songs we could expect from Take That when they reformed in 2006, not that any of us suspected that was on the cards, of course.
Premiering at the 1995 BRIT Awards, demand for the song was so high, the release had to be brought forward. At the following year’s BRIT Awards, Back For Good won Best British Single. It’s a solid-gold classic – well, platinum, actually – that no slow dance at the disco would be any good without.
SALES: 1.1 million
CHART FACTS: Back For Good ended a week-long reign at the top for Outhere Brothers’ novelty hit Don’t Stop (Wiggle Wiggle) and its own four-week Number 1 stint was terminated by Oasis scoring their first chart-topper with Some Might Say. It was the band’s only US Top 10 and went to Number 1 in over 30 countries across the globe.
One famous admirer of Back For Good is Coldplay’s Chris Martin, who invited Gary on stage with him and the band to sing it, while he did backing vocals.
2: Rule The World (2007)
And so we zoom 12 years into the future, skipping over Gary, Mark and Robbie’s solo careers, a triumphant return and more Number 1s to a little curiosity that didn’t even make it to the top of the Official Singles Chart.
Rule The World was a bonus track on the repackaged tour edition of the band’s hugely successful comeback album Beautiful World, and was also featured on Michelle Pfeiffer movie Stardust. When released as a single, it was a success of Back For Good proportions – save for that small detail of missing out on Number 1 – and became an instant radio staple.
X Factor contestants fought over who got to sing it, couples about to get married immediately rethought their first dance playlists, and you bought it in your droves – it was fifth bestselling single of the year. And earlier this year, it became Take That’s second single to score the big one – a million copies sold!
SALES: A ‘cool million’
CHART FACTS: How could such an amazing song sell so much and yet never get to Number 1, you might ask? Well, Rule The World was blocked by the chart-topping juggernaut of 2007 that was Leona Lewis’s Bleeding Love, which spent seven weeks at Number 1.
Rule The World spent 12 weeks inside the Top 10, more than any other Take That song.
3: Patience (2006)
After a silence of over a decade, TT were B – A – C – K. A reunion TV show and tour the year before had proven there was still an appetite for the band, so they put their best foot forward, and mouth to the mic and got back in the studio to make a comeback with new material.
First up was Patience, almost a companion song to Back For Good, Patience stormed to the top of the Official Singles Chart almost exactly eight years ago, and refused to budge for a month.
To say the comeback was a success is something of an understatement – Beautiful World has sold over 2.8 million copies in the UK.
SALES: Patience has notched up over 690,000 sales.
CHART FACTS: The band had their first brush with Leona when she bumped them off Number 1 with her X Factor winner’s single A Moment Like This.
Patience was the ninth bestselling single of 2006, despite being released so late in the year. Patience won the BRIT Award in 2007 for Best British Single.
4: How Deep Is Your Love (1996)
Back in time we go, to the song that we all assumed was going to be the very end of the Take That story. The band’s first Number 1 without Robbie (he left before Never Forget was released, but still sang on it), How Deep Is Your Love was their swansong, released after the announcement of their split.
Selling over 230,000 copies in its first week, and paying back Oasis for knocking off Back For Good by returning the favour with Don’t Look Back In Anger, How Deep Is Your Love stayed at Number 1 for three weeks.
CHART FACTS: How Deep Is Your Love is, of course, a cover of the Bee Gees’ classic from the soundtrack of John Travolta movie Saturday Night Fever.
Take That managed what the brothers Gibb could not – they took it to Number 1.The original only made it as far as Number 3 in 1977.
5: The Flood (2010)
Yet another comeback in the boys’ back catalogue, this time Take That were welcoming their long-lost fifth member, Robbie Williams. Yes, the reunion that absolutely nobody – especially Robbie and Gary – thought would ever happen was actually a real thing and we were wide-awake and not dreaming and hadn’t even bumped our head or anything! The Flood was the first single to feature Robbie in over 15 years!
CHART FACTS: Cruelly kept off the top by the mighty Rihanna and her future million-seller Only Girl (In The World). The Flood was one of the Top 40 bestselling singles of 2010.
6: Greatest Day (2008)
The lead single from fifth album The Circus, Greateat Day became Take That’s eleventh Number 1 – their most recent so far.
CHART FACTS: Yet another Take That tune to feel the Leona Lewis effect – her cover of Run knocked Greatest Day off the top after one week.But they’ve only themselves to blame. Take That helped Leona to victory on The X Factor, performing A Million Love Songs with the star in the 2006 grand final.
7: Never Forget (1995)
If you think about it, this is the real moment the old Take That said goodbye. Although Robbie had recently departed the band, they ploughed ahead with the release of Never Forget. The first song to feature Howard on lead vocals and the last Number 1 with Robbie, there was barely a dry eye in the house as Never Forget reigned supreme at Number 1.
CHART FACTS: Never Forget marked the second time Take That had knocked Outhere Brothers off Number 1 in that same year – some might say it was getting personal. Boom Boom Boom was denied a fifth week at the top thanks to Howard and the gang.
Never Forget meant that every member of Take That had scored a Number 1 on lead vocals – except Jason. Gary, of course, sang the majority of the band’s chart-toppers, but at this stage Robbie and Mark had also scored one each on lead, with Everything Changes and Babe respectively. Mark would go on to have another Number 1 as frontman when Shine did the business in 2007.
Take That found themselves inadvertently caught up in the battle of Britpop when Oasis and Blur went head-to-head to knock them off Number 1. It was Roll With It vs Country House, and Blur, of course, won that round.
8: Shine (2007)
The second single from Beautiful World gave Take That a sixth consecutive Number 1 and for some reason reminds us that we have to go to the supermarket to get in a few bits for Christmas. Featured Mark on lead vocals for the first time since 1993’s ten-hanky blubfest Babe.
CHART FACTS: Shine spent two weeks at Number 1, giving Kaiser Chiefs’ only chart-topper, Ruby, the heave-ho. It was toppled by Sugababes vs Girls Aloud and their Comic Relief cover of Walk This Way.
9: Pray (1993)
Take That’s very first Number 1, and the first of four consecutive chart-toppers for the band, Pray was when TT mania really took hold. Dreamy, beach-set video? Check. Everyone looking like they’ve been down the gym? Check. A month at Number 1? Check. It took the might of late, great Queen frontman to depose them, but it wasn’t the last we’d heard of Take That in the Number 1 spot…
CHART FACTS: Pray was the first of three Number 1s for Take That in 1993 – they spent a total of seven weeks at the top of the Official Singles Chart that year.
10: Babe (1993)
And just edging it into the Top 10 is the Christmas Number 1 that never was. Babe had all the right ingredients to be a festive chart-topper. It tugged at the heartstrings, with a tale of love, loss and reunion. The video had snow. And a cute child.
But you must never underestimate the purchasing power of the British public, and the UK found the charms of a huge pink alien/monster (we're not quite sure) too hard to resist. Mr Blobby, of course, was that big, erm, blob of chart smashery who leapt back up to Number 1, knocking them off the top after a week and landing there just in time for the turkey.
CHART FACTS: Babe was the first Take That single to feature Mark on lead vocals and the band’s first Number 1 with anyone other than Gary as frontman.
Other notable entries in the Top 20 and beyond…
Take That’s second Number 1 Relight My Fire FT Lulu just misses a Top 10 placing with 330,000 sales. It’s the only time Take That have released a single with a featured artist.
The band’s first Top 10 It Only Takes A Minute lands at Number 20, and Happy Now, from the band’s Progress album, is their biggest selling song not to make the Top 40 at Number 24.
First hit Promises lands as their 30th bestseller.
And just outside at Number 41 is the band’s classic debut single Do What You Like, which failed to chart. We’ve never been able to look at jelly in the same way since.
Here’s Take That’s Official Top 40 Biggest Selling Songs…
|1||BACK FOR GOOD||1||YEAR|
|2||RULE THE WORLD||2||YEAR|
|4||HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE||1||YEAR|
|11||RELIGHT MY FIRE||1||YEAR|
|13||COULD IT BE MAGIC||3||1992|
|14||A MILLION LOVE SONGS||7||1992|
|16||LOVE AIN'T HERE ANYMORE||3||1994|
|17||WHY CAN'T I WAKE UP WITH YOU||2||1993|
|18||UP ALL NIGHT||14||2009|
|19||SAID IT ALL||9||2009|
|20||IT ONLY TAKES A MINUTE||7||1992|
|23||I FOUND HEAVEN||15||1992|
|25||I'D WAIT FOR LIFE||17||2007|
|26||HOLD UP A LIGHT||N/A||2008|
|30||WHEN WE WERE YOUNG||N/A||2011|
|37||LIKE I NEVER LOVED YOU AT ALL||N/A||2006|
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