Italy & The UK Charts

Wed, 01/01/2020 - 10:03
 Luciano Pavarott

John Bensalhia is your resident DJ for the night, as he picks some notable Italian musicians to hit the UK charts...

Italian music artists have enjoyed and continue to enjoy global success with their hits. The UK is no exception, with a slew of Italian acts taking its charts by storm. I've found some notable examples, so here is a countdown of the 10 – in no particular order, but chronological.

Do It Do It Again by Raffaella Carrà

First entered the UK charts: April 1978

Bologna-born Raffaella Carrà multi-tasked her way through the entertainment industry, with dancing, film, TV, and presenting gigs since the 1950s.

Plus a bit of singing too. One of her biggest global hits was called A Far L'Amore Comincia Tu, and was her only venture into the UK charts. The UK version was called Do It Do It Again and made the Top 10 in the Spring of 1978, two years after its original release.

The song was sampled by DJ Bob Sinclar in 2011, with the reworked Far L'Amore becoming a hit again in Italy.

Chi Mai by Ennio Morricone

First entered the UK charts: April 1981

Ennio Morricone's Chi Mai had actually been written 10 years before it made the UK charts. Before its high Top 10 placing, Chi Mai had already been used in the 1971 movie, Maddalena and the same year it made the charts in Le Professionnel.

It was also used in a popular BBC drama starring acclaimed Welsh actor Philip Madoc about The Life And Times Of David Lloyd George. With Morricone's evocative piece striking a chord with viewers across the UK, Chi Mai inevitably raced into the charts to make the Number 2 position.

Together In Electric Dreams by Giorgio Moroder (and Philip Oakey)

First entered the UK charts: September 1984

1984's movie roster included sci-fi romcom Electric Dreams, and while the film achieved cult classic status, it's probably best known for its accompanying hit single.

Italian composer Giorgio Moroder teamed up with The Human League's Philip Oakey to come up with this simple but naggingly catchy song. Together In Electric Dreams remains a fond favourite for the kids and teens who grew up in the '80s. It resulted in a very respectable Number 3 chart position in the UK.

Call Me by Spagna

First entered the UK charts: July 1987

It's no real surprise that Ivana Spagna's breakthrough UK hit did so well, given that its promotional video was shot in the Nottingham and Leicestershire areas.

The peppy dance-based ditty raced to the upper echelons of the UK charts in the Summer of 1987, narrowly missing out on the coveted Number One spot.

Call Me remains Spagna's biggest hit to date, with more minor charting UK entries for Easy Lady and Every Girl And Boy.

Boys (Summertime Love) by Sabrina

First entered the UK charts: February 1988

Know your audience.

Release a Summer-themed single in freezing cold February, and the chances of it going Top 10 are as high as a heatwave in the British Winter.

That's why the initial release of Sabrina Salerno's international smash Boys (Summertime Love) initially struck a chilly note, barely scraping the Top 60. The song had done very well in its native Italy, as well as countries like Spain, Switzerland and France.

The re-release in the Summer of 1988 however, proved to be a massive success, as Sabrina achieved her biggest hit in the UK. Follow-ups including All Of Me and Gringo would also return Sabrina to the charts. UK viewers will have caught both Spagna and Sabrina on recent reruns of Top Of The Pops 1987 and 1988 editions.

Ride On Time by Black Box

First entered the UK charts: August 1989

By the late '80s, dance and house music had started to dominate the UK charts. One of the biggest of the lot was Black Box's Ride On Time, which stormed to Number One in the Autumn of 1989.

Black Box comprised Daniele Davoli, Mirko Limoni, Valerio Semplici, and French model Katrin Quinol. However, Ride On Time wasn't without its share of controversy, when it was found out that the Box had sampled Loleatta Holloway's Love Sensation. A re-recorded version was arranged, with uncredited vocals provided by a pre-M People Heather Small.

Numero Uno by Starlight

First entered the UK charts: August 1989

Coincidentally, Starlight happens to be an early incarnation of Messrs Davoli, Limoni and Semplici. Numero Uno had originally been released the previous year, but with the latest Black Box release hitting the clubs and charts, it was issued again. While it wasn't a Number One like Ride On Time, it was still a Top 10 hit in the Autumn of 1989.

Come on, sing the chorus with me! Ooooo! Hey hey hey hey. Hoo hoo hey huh hey hey. Hoooo hey hey hoooo hey hey. Huh huh huh huh huh huh. Hooooooooooooo!!!! Yeaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!

Moments In Soul by JT and the Big Family

First entered the UK charts: March 1990

With the Italian dance scene in full swing by early 1990, JT and the Big Family came along with this clubby pot pourri. Including Italian producers Bisiach and Mauro Ferrucci, JT and the Big Family had put out Moments In Soul in 1989, but the track didn't make the UK charts until the following Spring.

Based around the Art Of Noise's ethereal Moments In Love, the lone UK hit for JT and the Big Family adds an eclectic mix of samples including Back To Life (However Do You Want Me) by Soul II Soul, Money by The O'Jays and Girl You Know It's True by Milli Vanilli.

Nessun Dorma by Luciano Pavarotti

First entered the UK charts: June 1990

One of the most memorable World Cup tournaments was hosted by Italy in 1990. Watched by more than 26 billion viewers worldwide, the 1990 football event was won by West Germany, with the host nation managing to scoop the bronze place.

A notable aspect of the World Cup that year was Luciano Pavarotti's unforgettable performance of Puccini's Nessun Dorma. Dripping with power and emotion, Pavarotti's unique reading of Nessun Dorma summed up the tournament, reaching out to football fans everywhere.

Including the UK, and while England may have finished fourth, Nessun Dorma raced into the charts that Summer. The soundtrack of countless fan tears (and Gazza blubbing too), Nessun Dorma remained in the UK charts all Summer, earning a decent Top 10 place.

Senza Una Donna by Zucchero (with Paul Young)

First entered the UK charts: March 1991

Zucchero Fornaciari's big UK break came with this smoothie. For Senza Una Donna, Zucchero paired up with British singer Paul Young, and it was a combination that proved to be massively popular. Young's soulful vocals made and effective contrast with Zucchero's unmistakeable gravelly croon. The duet made Number 4 on the UK charts.

This was the first of three UK chart duets. The following year would see Zucchero team up with firstly Randy Crawford for Diamante, and then Luciano Pavarotti for Miserere.