Last night (Wednesday 5th April) saw the BBC Folk Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall. Amongst the big winners were Ry Cooder and Al Stewart, who both picked up Lifetime Achievement Awards and Billy Bragg and Afro Celt Sound System both performed live.

Leading up to the awards, Simon Mayo’s BBC Radio 2 Drivetime programme was broadcast live from the Royal Albert Hall.  In the show, Simon counted down the Top 10 Most Played Folk Songs on BBC Radio 2 - a chart made possible with data from PPL.  The Number 1 track was Yusuf/Cat Stevens’ Wild World - released in 1970, which featured on his fourth album, Tea for the Tillerman. It wasn’t released as a single in the UK, but reached No 11 on the US Billboard chart. Jimmy Cliff released his recording of Wild World in 1970 – produced by Cat Stevens – reaching No 8 in the UK; with Maxi Priest hitting No 5 with his version in 1988. Cat was presented with the Lifetime Achievement honours at the Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2015. Number 2 of the Top 10 Most Played Folk Songs on Radio 2 was Fleet Foxes’ White Winter Hymnal; at No 3 was Bellowhead’s Roll the Woodpile Down; at No 4 was Meet Me On The Corner by Lindisfarne; No 5 was Underneath The Stars by Kate Rusby; at No 6 was River Man by Nick Drake; No 7 was Fisherman’s Blues by The Waterboys; No 8 was Thea Gilmore & Sandy Denny’s London; at No 9 was Streets of London by Ralph McTell and at No 10 was Roll Away Your Stone by Mumford and Sons.

Yusuf/Cat Stevens said: “I’m surprised that we actually pipped to the post all these great folk singers and that it’s still being played. That makes me feel very satisfied and it shows that the song and the meaning is still relevant. Of course it is relevant because wild world is exactly what it is and exactly what we’re living in right now and it’s getting wilder perhaps.”

The Radio 2 Most Played Folk Songs chart was compiled by PPL, based on airplay data reported to PPL by the BBC from 2000 to 2016.  Both the number of plays and total played duration are used to rank the tracks in the charts. PPL is the UK music industry’s collective management organisation (CMO) for tens of thousands of performers and record companies, licensing recorded music in the UK when it is played in public or broadcast. 

You can find the full chart on the BBC Folk Awards homepage here.