Is the Hump sunk before singing a note at Eurovision?


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The Independent Culture

If Engelbert Humperdinck can't rally the "grey vote", what chance does he have of Eurovision glory?

With just days to go before the veteran singer represents the United Kingdom in Azerbaijan, his song "Love Will Set You Free" has crashed out of the Top 75 with sales of just 3,442 .

Music industry experts say that long-term fans of the 76-year-old crooner have found the new-fangled method of downloading too great an obstacle to purchase his new track.

And while the single did enter the physical music charts at No 1 – giving the Hump his first chart-topper in 45 years – high street success no longer equates to commercial gain. Humperdinck's single topped the charts with just 1,911 CD sales because digital downloads now account for 99.7 per cent of the UK singles market. The rest of the Top 200 sold 88 CD singles combined.

Older fans searching for the song have found that most retailers no longer stock CD singles, a format close to obsolescence.

Despite extensive promotion across television and radio, Humperdinck's song fell from 64 to 76 in the Official Singles Chart on Sunday. HMV, which is stocking the CD, said it was selling around 500 copies a week to hardcore "Humpers".

A spokesman for HMV said: "CD singles now only tend to sell well around particular events, such as the X-Factor Christmas single but the cult appeal of Eurovision means that there will always be some collectors out there that will want a physical version. In Engelbert's case there are quite a few older fans, including a few mums, perhaps, who are coming into our stores."

More CDs will be pressed if Humperdinck, pressed into service when Jason Donovan declined an approach, upsets the odds on Saturday and triumphs in Baku, where the UK entry has been selected to sing first.

The UK is seeking its first victory since 1997, after a series of voting humiliations. This year's favourite is the Swedish entry "Euphoria", sung by Loreen, which rhymes "infinity" with "divinity". Montenegro's hopes were pinned on "Euro Neuro", a Balkan "turbo-funk" plea to solve the debt crisis, by Rambo Amadeus. The song, which features the lyrics "Give me chance to refinance... don't be dogmatic, you need to become pragmatic", offers "optimism" and "nudism" as a solution.

Humpers in numbers

3,442 Total sales to date of Humperdinck's euro entry Love Will Set You Free.

760 The latest Official Singles Chart position of the song.

99.7% Percentage of the UK singles market taken up by digital downloads.