A song written by Estonian artist Kerli becomes UK’s Christmas number one single (video)


“Skyscraper“, a song originally written by the Estonian recording artist Kerli Kõiv with Toby Gad and Lindy Robbins in 2011, and in 2013 re-recorded and sung by British singer Sam Bailey, has become the Christmas No. 1 in the United Kingdom.

Photo by Vespertine aka Brian Ziff

The battle for Christmas number one is traditionally fiercely fought in Britain and the media anticipation in the weeks leading to Christmas is high.

“Skyscraper” was originally co-written and recorded by Kerli, before her songwriting partner Toby Gad offered it to American recording artist Demi Lovato in 2011. It debuted at number ten on the Billboard Hot 100 in July that year. In December 2013, Sam Bailey, the “X Factor series 10″ winner in the UK, released her cover version of “Skyscraper” after she won. On 22 December 2013 it became the UK’s Christmas No. 1 single, with 149,000 copies sold.

According to Kerli, the song was inspired by a picture of the apocalypse, in which the world was in ruins and among collapsed buildings, one skyscraper was still standing.

The song is a ballad and the lyrics speak of staying strong and believing in oneself. Kerli has previously revealed that the song is also personal to her, stating, “I come from a very small place in Eastern Europe, so my whole life has kind of been one big fight to live my dream against all odds. But I think it’s hard to be a human in general – we all have our own struggles and things to overcome. You can hit the lowest low and face the darkest dark, but you can always get back up and get in the light.”

See the official UK Top 40 single chart here.

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Featured video: Kerli talks about writing “Skyscraper”.

Cover photo courtesy of Kerli.

About the author: Estonian World

EstonianWorld is a London-based independent online magazine that writes about cosmopolitan Estonians and their views, ideas, experiences and achievements around the world. We cover Estonia's global successes in technology, business and the arts from a fair and balanced perspective, in a way that is accessible to Estonians and non-Estonians alike.

  • Donald

    So let’s get this straight. Kerli and Toby write a song. Kerli records it with no commercial success. Then, Toby offers it to Demi who records it and makes it successful. Then, Sam does a cover of Demi’s version of the song.

    This is a bit of a stretch to give Kerli so much credit for this. It seems like just about everyone else involved deserves more credit.

    What’s next, some Estonian’s doctor’s girlfriend’s son is neighbours with Peter Higgs and thus deserves credit for the Nobel Prize in physics?

    • Rach

      Wrong. Kerli had to choice to record and release but instead gave it to Demi, Kerli released her own recording as Moonchildren requested it

    • Music lover

      Donald, let’s get you straight first. You clearly misunderstand how the music business works. There is a recording business – singing and recording a song and an album – and then there is a publishing business – being credited for writing these songs. In this case, as the title of the article clearly says – it’s about Kerli WRITING this song, not Kerli singing this song and making it famous. So you have to distinct those two things. Historically, the most successful people in the music industry have been those who could not just sing, but also write their songs. Why? Because a singer could become a very famous with just one hit, but if she or he didn’t write this hit, most of the money that they would earn from this hit, would be by performing it live. Plus some peanuts from the actual record sales. Whereas the actual songwriters would earn from this hit until they “switch their lights off” – provided that they have written a timeless hit. For example, Gerry Rafferty wrote “Baker Street” in the late 70′s – his only hit – but he earned about £80,000 in royalties from it, until he died. So here we go – unless Kerli signed an incredibly stupid contract with her publishers (and I doubt that she did, because she seems to be a smart girl), she will earn from “Skyscraper” until it is played on planet earth. It may well be that she will end up earning more from it than Sam Bailey or Demi Lovato, who might fade into obscurity in few years time. Simply put – when “Skyscraper” is played on a radio in 10 or 20 years time, guess who will earn royalties from it? Bailey? No. Lovato? Nope. Kerli Kõiv? Correct. Because she is officially credited as a songwriter behind this song. And yes, it is a big thing to come from a small town, in a tiny country – which just over 20 years ago wasn’t even on a map – and to write a song which would become a top 10 hit in the US and No. 1 in the UK – two most important countries in the history of rock’n'roll and pop music. So your ridiculous comparison, I’m afraid, does not carry any weight.

  • Dawn

    For goodness sake, Kerli wrote the song…why shouldn’t she get the credit???? Seems to me, Donald, you are just talking about things you know nothing about. No one can have a hit with a crap song…..the song writing is at least 50% of the whole. Some of us believe it is so much more!!