'Unchained Melody' has yet to rival Will Young's first week sales - but it's not all over yet...

GARETH GATES will be Number One this Sunday (March 24) – but it looks increasingly unlikely his cover of ‘UNCHAINED MELODY’ will beat the first week sales record set by his ‘POP IDOL’ rival WILL YOUNG.

Midweek figures based on sales yesterday (March 18) show that Gates is currently on course for a Number One with his debut release, having sold approximately 328,000 singles.

That figure is less than the 385,000 achieved by Young on the first day his single ‘Evergreen’ / ‘Anything Is Possible’ was released (February 25).

A chart expert at HMV in London commented: “The margin is much closer than expected, and it’s not impossible that if

Gareth can sell consistently more during the week and at the weekend, that he can eclipse Will’s record or at least to go through the one million barrier himself. Failing that, he should comfortably pass the 750,000 first week sales of Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know it’s Christmas?’ to become the

second most successful debut single of all time.

“One interesting factor to emerge is a regional bias, which shows Gareth performing far more strongly the further north in the country you go. In cities like Leeds and Newcastle first day sales of ‘Unchained Melody’ are matching those of Will’s ‘Evergreen’. And, of course, there have been incredible scenes in Gareth’s home town of Bradford.”

A spokesperson for Virgin Megastore told NME.COM that despite being behind, the battle is not yet over. She commented: “Although he’s behind now, factors including poor weather could have hampered his sales yesterday. We’ll have a better picture by the end of week.”

For the final chart placings, click back to NME.COM this Sunday (March 24).