Another place in pop history for Elvis, with 1,000th number one

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The Independent Culture

Elvis Presley reached the top of the singles chart for the 20th time last night when his song "One Night" was named the 1000th UK No 1 of all time.

The single, which first reached the top in this country in 1959, was Elvis's second consecutive No 1 after "Jailhouse Rock" headed the charts last week, both hits coming almost 30 years after the death of The King in 1977.

But far from marking a rock 'n' roll revival, Elvis's reappearance in the charts - on the back of a series of 18 of his singles being re-released by Sony to commemorate his life - could herald the beginning of the end for one of pop's most enduring institutions.

A No 1 record - the holy grail of aspiring pop musicians and the pinnacle of many a career - has never been easier to achieve, in numerical terms at least. Singles sales are at an all-time low - 265,000 last week - and "Jailhouse Rock" made No 1 with the fewest sales of any chart-topper in UK history - just 21,262 copies were sold. In the same week, monitored legal downloads overtook sales of CD singles for the first time.

In the years since Al Martino's "Here in My Heart" became the first No 1 in November 1952, pop music spawned one of televisions longest-running shows, Top Of The Pops, and the weekly countdown became a ritual beloved of pop music anoraks and pub quiz compilers everywhere.

"One Night" is Elvis's 20th chart-topper, putting him ahead of the Beatles with 17 No 1 singles (although not Sir Paul MacCartney who has performed on 22) and twice as many as the most successful female artist, Madonna. The song reached No 1 ahead of the Manic Street Preachers' "Empty Souls".

The longest stay at the top of the charts is 16 weeks, a title shared by Bryan Adams' ("Everything I Do) I Do It For You" and Wet Wet Wet's "Love Is All Around". Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" which he recorded to mark the death of the Princess of Wales, remains the best-selling single of all time. One song, "Unchained Melody", has the distinction of reaching the top four times, each in a different version.

But amid the fanfare, pop pundits were predicting the death of the single. "Music is everywhere now, accessible in all kinds of places and on all kinds of formats," Gareth Grundy, the deputy editor of Q magazine, told the BBC. "The single lost its power as a cultural artefact ages ago."