National Album Day on 15th October celebrates the art form of the album and this year has “Debut Albums” as its theme. As we build up to the big day, National Album Day today it unveils the biggest-selling debuts by artists across all parts of the UK.
Iconic first releases from stars including Arctic Monkeys, Emeli Sandé, Oasis and Robbie Williams are among the debut albums which are revealed as the most successful by artists from each of the 12 regions and nations of the UK, according to BPI/ERA analysis of Official Charts Company data.
The analysis is compiled from the UK sales and streams collected by Official Charts (who are celebrating 70 Years of the Official Singles Chart this November) and identifies the artist from each region and nation of the UK who has the most successful debut album of all time. In the case of solo artists, it is the region or nation where they grew up, whereas for groups it was where they were formed.
The findings highlight the depth and diversity of music talent and creativity from across the entire UK, with albums recognised including pop, rock, R&B and alternative genre releases.
The research by National Album Day organisers the BPI, the representative voice for independent and major record labels, and ERA, the Entertainment Retailers Association, has been carried out for this fifth edition of National Album Day, which will take place on Saturday, 15th October in association with audio partner Bowers & Wilkins and with BBC Sounds. The annual event celebrates the creativity and artistry that goes into making an album, and the continuing cultural and social importance of this much-loved music format.
In a highly-competitive battle for the biggest debut album by an artist from North West England, Manchester’s Oasis emerge victorious with their 1994 release Definitely Maybe. Beating debuts by artists including The Beatles (Please Please Me), The Stone Roses (The Stone Roses) and Simply Red (Picture Book), the album is BRIT Certified 8x Platinum by the BPI and includes such anthems as Live Forever and Cigarettes & Alcohol.
Released three years after the Oasis album, Robbie Williams’ Life Thru A Lens is the biggest debut by an artist from the West Midlands, having instantly established him as a solo star following his departure from Take That. The Stoke-On-Trent born singer-songwriter’s first album is home to several of his best-loved and most successful hits, including Angels and Let Me Entertain You.
The Yorkshire and the Humber’s long history as a breeding ground for successful bands is reflected by Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys claiming the top debut by an artist from the region with their 2006 release Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. The Mercury Prize winning album beat off releases by artists such as Kaiser Chiefs (Employment), ABC (The Lexicon Of Love) and singer-songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae’s self-titled debut for the accolade. It includes the group’s Official Singles Chart No. 1 hits I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor and When The Sun Goes Down.
BRIT School alumni and The X Factor winner Leona Lewis has the biggest debut album by an artist from Greater London with the 10x Platinum Spirit after narrowly beating off Dido (No Angel) and Spice Girls’ (Spice) first albums. Spirit includes her transatlantic No. 1 hit Bleeding Love, which was the UK’s top single of 2007.
Three other female singer-songwriters each claim the top debut album by an artist from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The biggest debut from Scotland is the 2012 album Our Version Of Events by Emeli Sandé, who grew up in Aberdeenshire. Including the top five hits Heaven, Next To Me and Clown, it beat off debuts by Susan Boyle (I Dreamed A Dream) and Paolo Nutini (These Streets) to the title.
Home to the chart-topping Mercy, Bangor-born Duffy’s Rockferry is the top album by an artist from Wales, having finished comfortably ahead of its nearest challenger, Word Gets Around by Stereophonics. Among the other most successful debuts by Welsh artists are Generation Terrorists by Manic Street Preachers and Voice Of An Angel by Charlotte Church.
The top Northern Ireland debut is Call Off By The Search by Katie Melua who grew up in Belfast, although later moved to London where she attended The BRIT School. Other notable debuts by artists from Northern Ireland include 1977 by Ash and Tourist History by Two Door Cinema Club.
Hampshire singer-songwriter James Blunt has the biggest debut by an artist from the South East, with the 2004 album Back To Bedlam, which includes the global No. 1 hit You’re Beautiful. Released in the same year as the Blunt album, East Sussex band Keane’s Hopes And Fears finished narrowly behind as did Tubular Bells, the iconic 1973 debut from Reading multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield and the first ever album released by Virgin Records.
Along the coast, James Morrison, who grew up in Cornwall, lands the top debut by an artist from the South West of England with the 2006-issued Undiscovered. The album includes his first two UK Top 10 hits, You Give Me Something and Wonderful World. The region’s other top debuts include albums by Bristol’s Massive Attack (Blue Lines) and Portishead (Dummy), and Devon’s Muse (Showbiz)
Growing up in South Cambridgeshire, Sam Smith emerges triumphant with the top debut by an artist from East of England, beating off fellow contemporary superstars Ed Sheeran (+) and George Ezra (Wanted On Voyage). Smith’s 2014 first album In The Lonely Hour includes the No. 1 hits Money On My Mind, Stay With Me and Lay Me Down.
In the East Midlands, Kasabian’s 2004 self-titled album is the region’s top debut and includes the hits L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever) and Cutt Off. Meanwhile, the North East’s top debut belongs to Newcastle upon Tyne duo Lighthouse Family with the 1995 set Ocean Drive, which features their first hit single Lifted.
Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI & BRIT Awards, and Kim Bayley, Chief Executive Entertainment Retailers Association, the organisations behind National Album Day, said jointly: “The special bond that exists between an artist and fan is an intimate journey that usually starts with a debut album that often touches on shared experiences and stories. As this survey shows, it’s a journey rooted across all parts of the UK, typically reflecting local styles and sounds and drawing on cultural reference points that they may have in common.”
Keep track of the National Album Day website for more news and how to get involved.
To continue discovering the UK’s biggest and freshest debut albums, check out the new entries on the Official Albums Chart every week, published Fridays 5.45pm on OfficialCharts.com.