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63 UK Christmas No.1s - 2011

Military Wives with Gareth Malone - Wherever You Are
2011


"Wherever You Are" is a song written by Paul Mealor and performed by the Military Wives Choir, made from ladies of Chivenor and Plymouth under the direction of Gareth Malone. It is a spin off of the BBC Two television series The Choir: Military Wives. It was released on 19 December 2011 following a campaign to make it the 2011 UK Christmas number one. The song entered the UK Singles Chart at number 1, claiming the Christmas number 1 - selling more than 556,000 copies in the week, more than the rest of the Top 12 combined. The song also claimed the status of the biggest first week sales since "A Moment Like This" by Leona Lewis sold over 571,000 copies in its first week in 2006.

"Wherever You Are" was nominated for Best British Single in the 2012 BRIT Awards, but the award was won by One Direction for their single "What Makes You Beautiful".

The Military Wives Choir was formed in 2011 by Gareth Malone for the BBC Two television series The Choir: Military Wives. The programme documented Malone's visits to Chivenor Barracks first and then a few months later to Royal Citadel, Plymouth - both in Devon, in which he formed two choirs of wives and partners of British military personnel deployed on active service in the Afghanistan War. In forming the choirs, Malone aimed to raise the women's morale and raise their profile in the public perception.

The cover art features the emblem of a Remembrance poppy on a green background and the logos of the charities benefiting from the sales. It was released in the UK as a single by Decca Records on 19 December 2011, with proceeds going to the Royal British Legion and SSAFA Forces Help.

The lyrics of "Wherever You Are" make a love poem compiled from letters written between the women and their absent husbands and partners. It was set to music by composer Paul Mealor, who is noted for his composition of a choral work sung at the Royal Wedding in 2011.

The first public performance of the piece was at The Royal British Legion's Festival of Remembrance held at the Royal Albert Hall on 12 November 2011 attended by The Queen. The event was broadcast in the final episode of The Choir television programme to an estimated television audience of 2.65 million viewers.

A campaign was launched to promote sales of the CD single, with the aim of it becoming the 2011 Christmas number one in the UK Singles Chart. Support for this campaign was received from BBC Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans. In the traditional, competitive speculation in the run-up to Christmas, the Military Wives single was said to be in competition for the title with the The X Factor winners Little Mix, who released a cover version of Damien Rice's "Cannonball", a campaign to promote the 2011 re-release of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" to number one, a campaign to highjack the Christmas Number 1 spot by British YouTube vlogger Alex Day named Forever Yours and a campaign fronted by Chris Moyles from BBC Radio 1 to hijack the Christmas #1 with Dominick the Donkey. The race was further heated by the introduction of a trophy for the number one record by the Official Charts Company to celebrate sixty years of the UK Charts. It is to be awarded to every artist who makes it to number one in the UK Charts, with the first trophy being given out to the 2011 Christmas number one single.

In mid-December 2011 it was reported that "Wherever You Are" had broken sales records in becoming the most pre-ordered music item ever on the UK Amazon website.

Little Mix’s single was released a week earlier than normal X Factor winner’s singles, going to number one in the UK singles chart a week before the Christmas number one race, but with the lowest first week sales of any X Factor winner’s single since 2004. With pre-order figures counting against first day sales on 19 December 2011, it was revealed that the single was outselling the group a hundred to one. This combined with the volume of money being placed on the single caused bookmakers Ladbrokes to close all bets on the Christmas number one.

Following the second day of release, some 242,000 copies of the single had been sold, making it the fastest selling single since X Factor winner Shayne Ward's 2005 single That's My Goal. At that point it was leading the race for Christmas number one, having sold six times the number of singles as second place Little Mix.

The song debuted at number 144 on the UK Singles Chart. The following week the song climbed to the number-one spot, becoming the Christmas number one of 2011. It sold 555,622 copies, more than the rest of the top 12 combined. It is also the biggest first-week sales since "A Moment Like This" by Leona Lewis sold over 571,000 copies in its first week in 2006. Despite impressive first week sales, "Wherever You Are" only spent one week atop the chart, with Coldplay's "Paradise" replacing it at the summit on January 1; causing it to fall three places to number four.

Tags: 2011, military wives, uk christmas no1s, wherever you are
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