Tuesday, April 19, 2005


On the historic occasion of the downloads being added to the physical sales chart, The Times decided they needed to explain to their readership what was going on:

TEENAGE girls relaxed their grip on the pop charts yesterday as rockers and clubbers soared up the first rundown that combines downloads with CD singles.

The sightings of the likes of The Alarm and Status Quo enjoying Indian summers in the singles charts recently - not to mention the Block of Elvis - would suggest teenage girls have long since given up their control of the charts. And clubbers are about to get their tastes reflected fairly for the first time - that's good, as it's not like the last ten years has seen the top ten cluttered up with songs constructed mainly out of the hookline from a 70s classic and some sweat, is it?

The British music industry has hailed the “All New Singles Chart” as the saviour of the hit parade, which evolved from sheet music and 78s but has become increasingly irrelevant after the downloading-induced collapse of CD sales.

By "The British music industry", of course, they mean the press offices of the literally several companies which control the business.

Although the Top 40 entered a new digital era, the most popular song across CD and downloads, was Is This the Way to Amarillo? the revived hit by Tony Christie, the 61-year-old crooner. The new chart included sales from 25 leading online retailers including iTunes, Napster, myCokemusic and Woolworths. At a stroke the addition of downloads doubled the volume of the singles market. There were 383,000 single-track downloads sold last week, compared with 393,000 physical singles.

"across CD and downloads" should read "even taking downloads into account."

The Official UK Charts Company (OCC) said that the new rundown would be more representative of Britain’s musical tastes. About 90 per cent of downloaders are male and over the age of 25, so they dilute the impact of the adolescent girls who traditionally secured the top spots for the latest manufactured boy bands.

But replacing a chart which shows what mainly young girls are buying with a chart which shows what mainly older blokes are buying surely doesn't represent Britain's musical tastes any more accurately? It'll perhaps reflect more fairly the songs that people are most prepared to pay for, but that doesn't actually have very much to do with the musical tastes of the country - something that the chart has never done, otherwise Dvorak's A New World Sympathy and Abba would always be in the top ten.

Razorlight, the NME- endorsed rock band favoured by students, enjoyed their biggest hit yet. Somewhere Else entered the chart at No 2 — the band’s website had directed fans to the iTunes music store.

NME-endorsed? Get with the programme, boys - the NME annoints, it doesn't endorse. We love the implication that without the inclusion of downloads Razorlight would have been nowhere, rather than, erm, at number three - which would still have been their biggest hit ever.

Gorillaz, the animated hip-hop band created by Damon Albarn, Blur’s singer, were the greatest beneficiaries of the new countdown. Their Feel Good Inc single soared from No 197 to land with a bang at No 22 as a result of its appearance as an iTunes download several weeks before its official release as a CD single.

In other words, the download sold more than a single that doesn't (quite - thanks, Simon) exist.

Basement Jaxx, a dance act preferred by older clubgoers, saw their Oh My Gosh single boomerang back into the Top 30 on the back of download sales. Dance music is a popular iPod choice, often as an accompaniment to a gym session.

See? It's not just flim-flam, there's sociology, too.

Stereophonics, the Welsh rockers, scored the top-selling download of the year with Dakota. The song would have dropped out of the chart on CD sales alone but instead enjoyed a seventh week in the Top 40 — an early sign that genuine hits will have more longevity in the rundown.

We're not quite sure why when the Stereophonics has a top ten record, it's a "genuine" hit, but when a boyband does, in some way that isn't a genuine hit at all.

Eleven tracks are marginally higher owing to their download popularity.

Some songs marginally higher in the chart. A brave new world.


Simon said...

Why are so many media outlets shocked that a much-publicised record selling 70,000 physical copies this week is number one?

Anyway, a proper single sales top 40 has emerged, and there's a few things of interest: Razorlight's iTunes friendliness saw them rocket to number 2 from, um, number 2; McFly should have had another top 10 week, Interpol enter at 17 rather than 19, those clubbing kids bought Juliet into the top 20 (actual chart position: 24), Daft Punk entering at 27 sounds much better for them than 32 and all the lower new entries lost positions, but none more so than the Kings Of Leon, whose entry position from King Of The Rodeo got shunted from 37 to 41. An EMI act (Gorillaz) exploiting a chart loophole to make a BMG act miss out on the top 40? Hmmm.

M.C. Glammer said...

If songs dropping out of the charts are going to start boomeranging back in, how's that going to affect Now That's What I Call Squeezing Every Penny singles compilations? Perhaps they should start counting those, too.

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