Richard’s first Christmas album in nearly two decades currently behind Stormzy’s This Is What I Mean
Richard, 82, praised Stormzy, 29, as ‘the most popular artist of the decade’. Photograph: Shutterstock
https://www.theguardian.com-Nadia Khomami Arts and culture correspondent
One is the Peter Pan of pop, the other is the king of UK hip-hop. But despite the decades between them, Cliff Richard and Stormzy, two of Britain’s most successful artists – with fanbases that couldn’t be more different – are going head to head in this week’s charts.
Richard said he was “happy” he was able to compete with Stormzy as he nears his 65th year in music. The 82-year-old praised the 29-year-old grime star as “the most popular artist of the decade” as they competed for this Friday’s No 1 album slot.
Richard’s first new Christmas album in 19 years, Christmas With Cliff, currently sits just behind This Is What I Mean, the third album from Stormzy, in the midweek charts.
Appearing on This Morning, he said: “Nothing ever seemed to be possible in the early days. We were written off as one-hit wonders. We lived from day to day.
“When I was told that I had had a top five album in eight consecutive decades, in fact my feet have not touched the ground since, because you can’t plan that.
“Next year is my 65th year and here I am in the charts with the most popular artist of the decade and I am able to still compete. So I am just really happy about it.”
Richard said he didn’t “know Stormzy at all”, adding: “I was going to say: ‘May the best man win’, but I am not saying it just in case he does win.”
The singer, who is the third top-selling artist in UK singles chart history, behind the Beatles and Elvis Presley, will be back on the road in 2023 as part of his Blue Sapphire tour, but has limited the number of dates due to concerns around his voice.
“We are only doing about eight shows, I think. I think the days of me going on tour for six months are way behind me … It is so terrifying to be on tour for lengths of time because you never know what day you are going to wake up and that’s not going to work,” he said, pointing to his vocal cords.
Christmas With Cliff features 13 Christmas classics and new festive songs. Richard has previously enjoyed UK chart success with Mistletoe And Wine, which bagged the coveted Christmas No 1 slot in 1988, and Saviour’s Day in 1990. In 1960, with backing band The Shadows, the song I Love You was the Christmas No 1.
Stormzy recently said processing personal issues and relationships for his new album had felt “therapeutic”. His last album, Heavy is the Head, went to No 1, and was released after he became the first black solo British headliner at Glastonbury.
Birthplace: Lucknow, former British India
Nickname: The Peter Pan of pop.
UK No 1s: 14, third-placed behind only Elvis and the Beatles (but the same as Westlife).
Biggest hits: Mistletoe & Wine, The Young Ones and Summer Holiday.
Relationships: Never married, but has dated Australian dancer Delia Wicks and tennis star Sue Barker in the past.
Famous outfits: More famous for getting his kit off … he went topless for his annual calendar every year until recently.
Political interventions: Famously allowed then-prime minister Tony Blair and his family to use his Sugar Hill Estate in Barbados.
Nickname: More than you can count, including Big Mike (his real name is Michael Omari), The Problem, Stiff Chocolate and Wicked Skengman.
UK No 1s: Three.
Biggest hits: Vossi Bop, Shut Up and histwo with Ed Sheeran.
Famous relationships: Stormzy dated TV presenter Maya Jama before the pair split in 2019.
Famous outfits: A bulletproof vest emblazoned with the union jack flag, designed by Banksy for his Glastonbury performance.
Political interventions: Had a No 1 single containing the lyrics “Fuck Boris”, has called the UK “definitely racist”.