It’s that time of year again people! Today and all weekend, the nation digs deep and gets ready to do all manner of crazy things to raise money for the BBC’s annual Children in Need appeal, with the live telethon kicking off tonight at 7pm on BBC One.
One of the longest standing traditions of the appeal has been the official single release for it – ensuring a huge hit for the artist lucky enough to record it that year, as well as a guaranteed fundraiser to boot. As Katie Melua gears up to release this year’s one, we’ve compiled our special Spotify playlist of our favourite Children in Need singles from years gone by. Hope you enjoy it…
1. VARIOUS ARTISTS – ‘Perfect Day’ (1997, #1)
Now this is an interesting one – largely because it was never meant to be a single in the first place. As part of the BBC’s brief campaign in the autumn of 1997 to promote their commitment to coverage of music for all tastes and ages, a string of artists as wide ranging as Boyzone, Lesley Garrett, Gabrielle and Ian Broudie of the Lightning Seeds – and Lou Reed himself – starred in an iconic version of his ‘Perfect Day’.
Such was the public demand and interest in the advert though, that the BBC bowed to demand and released it as that year’s single for Children in Need. Hitting the top of the UK charts twice either side of Christmas that year, it sold over a million copies – although, perhaps due to rights wranglings, it remains unavailable to stream or download 20 years on from release. But hey – any excuse to bring the video out!
2. S CLUB 7 – ‘Never Had a Dream Come True’ (2000, #1)
The first Children in Need appeal of the new millennium saw one of pop’s – and the BBC’s Children’s shows – biggest stars take up the baton for that year. Having already scored a string of hits to their name with ‘Bring It All Back’ and ‘Reach’, and a hit TV series in Miami 7 and L.A 7, the S Clubbers raced to the top of the charts that year with the stunning Cathy Dennis penned power ballad ‘Never Had a Dream Come True’.
Such was the success of the single – it stayed in the top 10 for two months, and was also a top 10 smash on the Billboard charts in America – that they were invited back to record for the appeal again in 2001, resulting in another chart topper with ‘Have You Ever’. And 13 years later, of course, was where they made their much talked about reunion performance on the 2014 appeal – even if it proved to be short lived.
3. JLS – ‘Love You More’ (2010, #1)
Marvin, Oritsé, JB and Aston were quite simply the biggest boyband on the planet at the time they were chosen to record the single for the 2010 appeal. The second single from their ‘Outta This World’ album, ‘Love You More’ was a soulful, showstopping pop R&B ballad that the boys wrote with Toby Gad, writer of huge hits for the likes of Beyoncé and Pixie Lott.
Arguably one of the finest singles they ever released, JB from the band also showcased his piano playing skills when they performed this on the night of the 2010 appeal to a rapturous reception – and their fourth number one single it duly became.
4. EMMA BUNTON – ‘Downtown’ (2006, #3)
Just a year before she rejoined her Spice Girl colleagues for the 2007 appeal single ‘Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)’, the former Baby Spice released the single that arguably, she was born to record – a cover of Petula Clark’s 60s pop classic ‘Downtown’.
Coupled with a video featuring her fellow stars of Strictly Come Dancing that she was competing in at the time – wearing a maid’s outfit that was just the right side of saucy – Emma more than did it justice and was duly rewarded with a top 3 smash.
5. GIRLS ALOUD – ‘Something New’ (2012, #2)
Having topped the charts in 2004 with their cover of The Pretenders’ ‘I’ll Stand By You’ for the appeal, you’d be forgiven for thinking that, like S Club before them, Girls Aloud would strike twice with the 2012 single – that also doubled up as their comeback track after a three year break.
They hadn’t however, reckoned on releasing the same week as Olly Murs’ mammoth hit ‘Troublemaker’, which beat ‘Something New’ to the top, but no matter. This fiery and frenetic dance floor filler still reached #2, and not only raised plenty of pounds for Pudsey, but also remains one of their finest singles.
The BBC Children in Need live telethon is on BBC One tonight from 7pm. To make a donation or find out more, head to www.bbc.co.uk/pudsey.