The surprise hit of the download era

NewsJuly 9, 2009Unknown source

The surprise hit of the download era

Tim Jonze
The Guardian, Thursday 9 July 2009

We all remember the big hits from the 90s, right? The Bittersweet Symphonies, the Hallelujahs, the Irises and the ... hang on ... Iris? By post-grunge rockers the Goo Goo Dolls? Never heard of it, you might think. But you almost certainly have.

According to download-sales data compiled to mark iTunes UK's fifth birthday last month, the track is the fourth-biggest-selling 90s song. It's shifted more since 2004 than Angels and Wonderwall, despite the fact it missed the top 40 when it was first released in 1998 and only charted at 26 when re-released a year later. The song was a US smash, but how did it get so popular with UK listeners?

It seems as if it's been something of a slow burner. Two years ago, the band's label discovered that the track had been in the UK Top 200 for more than 18 months. This is partly down to its appearance on the soundtrack of City of Angels, a 1998 remake of Wings of Desire starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan. More important, however, is the fact that it's become an extremely popular wedding song, regularly appearing in online charts and polls. You can see why - the slightly overblown rock ballad features lines such as "I just don't want to miss you tonight", reminiscent of Aerosmith's I Don't Want To Miss a Thing (which, incidentally, appears at number three).

The song has been covered in recent years, too, by Ronan Keating and Avril Lavigne. In fact, Lavigne picked it for the first dance at her wedding to Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley in 2006. For lack of a better explanation, we'll just blame them.
The UK's most downloaded tracks

The 1960s
1 The Rolling Stones - Paint It Black
2 Van Morrison - Brown Eyed Girl
3 Johnny Cash - Ring Of Fire
4 Jackson 5 - I Want You Back
5 Elvis Presley - Suspicious Minds

The 1970s
1 Queen - Don't Stop Me Now
2 Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama
3 Tony Christie - Is This The Way To Amarillo
4 Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
5 Stevie Wonder - Superstition

The 1980s
1 The Pogues/Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale of New York
2 Guns N' Roses -Sweet Child O' Mine
3 Survivor - Eye of the Tiger
4 Bon Jovi - Livin' on a Prayer
5 Phil Collins - In the Air Tonight

The 1990s
1 Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah
2 Mariah Carey - All I Want for Christmas
3 Aerosmith - I Don't Want to Miss a Thing
4 Goo Goo Dolls - Iris
5 Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit