British artists make history with clean sweep of top 10 singles of 2022

Harry Styles - Handout/Getty Images Europe
Harry Styles - Handout/Getty Images Europe

British artists have made history with a clean sweep of the year’s best-selling singles.

For the first time since records began, the top 10 for 2022 was an entirely homegrown affair, featuring major stars such as Harry Styles and Ed Sheeran plus newer, breakthrough acts.

The chart includes Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush, which found a new lease of life after it was included in the Netflix show Stranger Things, introducing the song to a new generation.

Other songs in the chart enjoyed prolonged success thanks to their popularity on TikTok, sometimes months or years after they were first released.

Industry experts said the pandemic had helped to drive interest in British music, with fans listening in ever greater numbers and discovering new artists.

UK record labels also invested £500 million in talent in 2021, including marketing and promotion - more than double the figure for 2016.

 Kate Bush - Pete Still/Redferns
Kate Bush - Pete Still/Redferns

The list was released by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and topped by the Harry Styles hit As It Was, which was streamed 108 million times in 2022.

Ed Sheeran makes three appearances in the list, with his solo singles Bad Habits and Shivers, and with Peru, a collaboration with Fireboy DML.

Fourth on the list is Cat Burns, a Brit School alumnus from Streatham, south London. The young singer-songwriter originally released her single, Go, in 2020 but it became a chart hit last year following its success on TikTok.

One song in the top 20, Tom Odell’s Another Love, was released a decade ago but also built a new audience thanks to TikTok.

'Fantastic news to kick off the New Year'

The figures from the BPI were welcomed by Michelle Donelan, the Culture Secretary, who said: “This clean sweep of the UK singles chart by British artists demonstrates the depth of creative talent we have.

“Everyone on the list has the ability to capture people’s imagination and I would like to congratulate each of them on the achievement. It is amazing to see the breadth of talent from young artists like Ed Sheeran to music legend Kate Bush, showcasing the very best of British.

“This is fantastic news to kick off the New Year and we will carry on backing our artists and musicians so they can continue this success through 2023 and beyond.”

Ed Sheeran also made the top 10 - Dave J Hogan/Getty Images Europe
Ed Sheeran also made the top 10 - Dave J Hogan/Getty Images Europe

Several songs on the list were released pre-2022. A BPI spokesman explained: “Streaming success is all about endurance and longevity with tracks building up their stream counts over many weeks, months and years, whereas in the days of vinyl, cassette and CD singles, a hit could achieve most of their sales in just a few weeks.”

First time British artists make clean sweep

One of the biggest hits by a US artist in 2022 was Anti-Hero by Taylor Swift, which spent six weeks at number one - but it was not released until October, so had less than three months to build its streaming numbers.

This is the first time that British artists have made a clean sweep of the top 10 since year-end sales charts were first compiled in 1970.

One of the most successful years for British music was 1984, the first time that five singles by domestic artists sold one million copies in a calendar year: Do They Know It’s Christmas? By Band Aid, Last Christmas by Wham!, Careless Whisper by George Michael, and Relax and Two Tribes by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

But that year’s chart also featured two huge US hits, Hello by Lionel Richie and the Ghostbusters theme by Ray Parker Jr.

In 1995, when Britpop was at its peak, only six of the top 10 biggest-sellers were British.

While total streaming numbers for 2022 broke through the 150 billion mark for the first time, vinyl sales also reached their highest level since 1990 with 5.5 million copies sold.

Where once vinyl sales were dominated by back catalogue titles, last year eight of the top 10 albums were new releases, including records from Taylor Swift, Arctic Monkeys and Liam Gallagher.

More than 11 million CDs were sold last year - a drop of 19 per cent on 2021 - while cassettes continued to enjoy a mini-revival with sales of 195,000, up five per cent on the previous year.