Second 'Pop Idol' reaches No1 in charts

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Gareth Gates became the youngest British solo artist to top the charts yesterday, proving that the Pop Idol phenomenon continues to exert a grip over the British record-buying public.

Taking over from Will Young, the winner of the television talent show, Gates, 17, took "Unchained Melody" to number one. In different styles and standards of quality, the song has also been a best-seller for Sir Jimmy Young, the Righteous Brothers and the television pairing of Robson and Jerome.

Simon Cowell, one of the Pop Idols judges, who signed Gates to his BMG record label, was also behind the Robson and Jerome success in 1995. David Roberts, editor of the book British Hit Singles, said: "It is now the only song to have been taken to number one by four different artists on four separate occasions – and Simon Cowell has been behind two of them."

Gates is believed to have sold about 900,000 copies of the single. Young sold 1.1 million copies of the single "Anything is Possible/Evergreen" in its first week of release, achieving the fastest-selling debut ever. He has now fallen to second place in the charts after three weeks at the top. George Michael's comeback single "Freeek!" only managed to reach number seven.

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