Features

Saturday Deluxe / 2 January 2021


Hey, streamers! Leave our charts alone.

Wham!‘s 1984 single ‘Last Christmas’ is this week’s UK number one. This was confirmed yesterday evening, and since the song is the most famous ‘number two’ (and the biggest selling) of all time in this country, the general mood was one of ‘finally!’

However, at the risk of being called a humbug, I’m rather conflicted by this and feel that a combination of the current chart rules (“reviewed on an ongoing basis by the Official Charts Company in partnership with the music industry”) and passive consumer behaviour has, effectively, rewritten chart history. Let me explain…

‘Last Christmas’ is a brilliant single and is one of the ‘classic’ festive songs. That was obvious the moment it was released in 1984. Wham! / George Michael had already enjoyed three UK number ones that year (‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’, ‘Careless Whisper’ and ‘Freedom’) and it seemed a certainty that ‘Last Christmas’ would follow. Then Band Aid‘s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ happened and ‘Last Christmas’ was famously held at number two for five weeks, as 1984 turned into 1985. It sold over a million copies. This is clear cut. There are no nuances, no grey areas, no questionable interpretation of what a ‘sale’ is. A million people actively went into a shop and paid for a physical single. The end.

Most pop fans of a certain age remember this very well. It’s part of the folklore of 1984 and part of Wham!’s history. Many bands have this. The ‘what ifs’. The ‘could haves’, ‘should haves’. The Beatles‘ 1967 single ‘Penny Lane’/’Strawberry Fields Forever’ (arguably the greatest 45 of all time) deserved to be number one, but Engelbert Humperdinck’s ‘Please Release Me’ kept it off the top spot. This one blip stopped the Fab Four having 18 CONSECUTIVE UK number ones. Ultravox‘s 1981 single ‘Vienna’ should have been number one as well, but Joe Dolce had other ideas.

Life isn’t fair. We know that. These things happen and such quirky events become the pop quiz questions of tomorrow. But as I said earlier, this is history being rewritten. Today, when I look at Wham’s single discography in Wikipedia is now shows a clean sweep of number ones from ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ onwards. Really?

‘Come on’, I hear you cry. Plenty of singles have been re-released and and done well. Queen‘s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ got to number one again in 1991 after Freddie Mercury died. Jackie Wilson‘s ‘Reet Petite’ reached the top spot in 1986 having peaked at number six way back in 1957. What’s the problem?

The problem is that ‘Last Christmas’ hasn’t been reissued. There wasn’t even one of those ‘campaigns’ to try and get it to number one this year. The problem is that the Official Chart Company (OCC) and the music industry’s definition of a ‘sale’ is so weak and meaningless that it creates hit singles – number ones – just because we as a nation decide collectively to listen to a song a bit more than we normally would.

‘Last Christmas’ was streamed 9.2m times last week which sounds like a lot – to be fair, it is a lot – but how is listening to a song a ‘sale’? It’s not. The OCC recognise this and so have determined that a song should be streamed 100* times before it becomes a sale. Hang on, if one stream isn’t a sale, why are 100 streams a sale? Don’t know. It’s just a rule someone invented.

These are paid streams by the way (people who pay £10 a month for Spotify, for example). For unpaid streams to count as a ‘sale’ it requires 600 streams. You only have to listen to the song for over 30 seconds and that is considered a ‘stream’. So if 100 people who have a paid subscription to Spotify all listen to 35 seconds of ‘Last Christmas’ you have one sale. That, apparently, has equal value to one person getting on the bus, going into town and buying the seven-inch single in a picture sleeve.

We are told that 9.2m streams equated to sales of 40,149 for ‘Last Christmas’. It pipped Mariah Carey‘s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ to number one by just 714 sales, apparently. Almost the entire UK top 10 is made up of Christmas classics like Band Aid, Shakin’ Stevens, the Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl… which makes it blindingly obvious that this week’s UK singles chart is defined entirely by people putting a Christmas playlist on their streaming service of choice as they opened their presents or prepared a festive meal. Everyone does that, but should that be allowed to mess around with the charts and re-write chart history?

If you do the ‘math’, you will see that approximately two-thirds of those 9.2m streams must have been unpaid. Not only are those people not paying 79p for the seven-inch single of ‘Last Christmas’, they don’t even want to pay £10 a month for an unlimited amount of music, that includes ‘Last Christmas’!

To put it another way, the rules that currently determine the singles chart allow people who don’t buy physical singles, don’t buy downloads, and don’t actively contribute one single penny towards the streaming that they listen to, to create s significant amount of ‘sales’. Around one quarter of the ‘sales’ (roughly 10,000, equivalent to 6m streams) that have now taken ‘Last Christmas’ to number one, are from these non-contributors. That is nothing short of a joke.

Converting streams into sales may have been reasonable when the singles chart was made up of a combination of physical sales, digital downloads and streams, but now that the singles chart is close to being 100 percent streams, there is a problem. It works in a vacuum, as a measure of the popularity of contemporary releases when compared against each other (e.g. how is Taylor Swift’s new single doing against Billie Eilish’s) but it is not fit for purpose when measuring old songs against past chart performance.

The truth of the matter is that while many hundreds of thousands of people actively wanted to buy ‘Last Christmas’ in late 1984, only 1,555 people wanted to do that at the end of 2020. How do we know this? It’s because that’s exactly how many digital downloads of ‘Last Christmas’ were bought last week (yep, people still do that, it seems). Those figures were published by Music Week, along with the streams. That is the only true, comparable measure. The will of fifteen hundred people have overruled the will of a million people. History is re-written.

Arguably, this very specific issue that only rears its head at Christmas time, but nonetheless, the industry should rethink the rules and perhaps exclude ‘old songs’ from the contemporary UK singles charts. I have a fondness for pop chart history and I don’t like to see it messed with. How many campaigns are we going to see to ‘right wrongs’ and to get old songs to number one?

Loads of people love listening to ‘Last Christmas’ – which is understandable because it’s a great song – but there is something wrong when music industry rules convert passive listening habits (playlists in the background) into chart ‘sales’ that supersede the highly engaged fans of yesteryear who actually put their money where there mouth was and bought the single and created history.

‘Last Christmas’ selling well over a million copies and only getting to number two back in the day has, over time, become a badge of honour. Selling just 1555 units and being declared the UK’s number one (and supposedly ‘surpassing’ the previous achievement) is surely quite the opposite. An embarrassing state of affairs.


*Update: Thanks for those who pointed out that with ‘old songs’ (actually “after 3 consecutive weeks of decline”) something called the Accelerated Chart Ratios (ACR) kicks in, which requires 200 paid or 1200 unpaid for one single ‘sale’. So this would have been the case for ‘Last Christmas’, although the total streams quoted is correct and I don’t think the general thrust of the argument is affected by this.

206 responses to Saturday Deluxe / 2 January 2021

  1. Rod Mas Farquharson says:

    My first copy of Last Christmas came as a Bonus Track of the Russian Bootleg of Listen Without Prejudice, and it felt like a victory because down under here in South America, was pretty difficult to get the song back in early nineties. So Numer one or not, it will be always a favorite of christmas time!

  2. David Bates says:

    It’s nowhere to be found in the Top 100 now this week!

    • Alex Stassi says:

      The first “chart entry” in history to go from Number One to outside the top 100 the following week. Says it all really.

  3. Philip Marshall says:

    Another one here in total agreement with you Paul. When I bought singles on 7″, 12″ or CD I didn’t have to report how many times I played them, that one purchase counted towards its chart placement and that was that. I’m not even sure I’m making a valid argument here but you get my drift. There is something fundamentally wrong in the way the chart is compiled these days and it ruins what used to be an obsession of mine.

  4. Joe Atari says:

    This was totally what I was thinking all December as I watch the chart disentegrate into the soundtrack to a family Christmas dinner, with grandad snoozing on the sofa by 5pm. Whatever people think of what charts these days, and I actually think its better on average than it was 15-20 years ago (boybands? pop idol? crappy novelty hits) having the same old Xmas hits invade the chart every December (when once, auntie would have shoved on Now That’s What I Call Christmas on the stereo) spoils the opportunity for anything except terrible charity singles having a chance. Even though X Factor is pretty much extinct in 2020, is this actually better. I dont mind Little Mix claiming the first proper number one of 2021. That’s how it should be. I’d actually support a band on anything over 10 years being eligible for the singles chart at all. Music has to evolve, without being strangled by stream sales of classics year after year. “Last Christmas” itself is still great though, but it was only one Wham single, and it belongs, chart wise in 1984.

  5. Ved Shadler says:

    Hi all,
    I kind of agree with everyone . Firstly thank you Paul as you have expressed what bothered me most about the charts. Personally I just think they need to separate the chart rule changes eras and keep those achievements intact and restart count at the start of new chart rules. So Last Christmas would be a singular number one on its own and rightly deserved based on current rules but not counting towards their previous string of number 1s because they were achieved under different rules. I also just miss when a single was a single, none of this album cut tracks. Like a single is what is sent to radio, there is a video, mixes, digital or physical formats. Perhaps first of all the charts needs to be only formal singles. Ok 1 or 2 entries per artist that are formal singles. These days I mostly look at charts to see what the folks are listening to, discover new artists and songs. It’s annoying when 3 -4 artists have debuted their whole album there and half their songs are just meh. It would be nice to separate album tracks into its own chart. Just like how we have dance, club etc, most streamed, most searched etc etc sometimes meaningless but yet still relevant in their own way. Song/video stream is more about stats, likes and views albeit a few seconds and I am guilty of it but that is how they measure it I guess and I am ok with a chart that tells me what’s popularly streamed or viewed online but I also wish there was a proper formal singles chart with restrictions on being a proper current release (within last few months, sent to radio, club, video, available to stream, ringtone, remixes, artist promoted etc.) Can I whine some more?

  6. martin farnworth says:

    I agree it is a bit of a farce although I suspect most of people are older music fans complaining on chart rules are not streaming songs in the Top 10 generally speaking although this i think is less true in the past week with all the old Christmas songs.
    The singles chart was dead back in the mid 2000s and something had to be done. It’s become more and more irrelevant and homogenised as many established acts quickly disappeared from it. I don’t know anyone who cares for it whatsoever. I suppose Wham deserves its place as its deemed the most popular song that week, albeit due to questionable rules to put it simply. Not convinced it should be excluded because of it’s age.

  7. Mark says:

    Not a single album released in 2020 sold enough to get platinum status!

    Music listening soared during lockdown https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-55528392

  8. Jocke Gunnarsson says:

    As a “chart nerd” I agree with you Paul. Every week I take a look the current charts (albums and singles, or “singles”) of UK and my native Sweden and sometimes the Billboard Charts. I also, for nostalgic reasons, check out the UK charts from 25-55 years ago. So this week I check out the charts from the first week of 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991 and 1996. Very nerdy but also lots of fun. I’m not that interested in including charts after 2000 as there is so much dance/techno/boy bands etc. that I hardly remember while the list’s from especially from the 60’s and 70’s are filled with classic stuff (plus the Humperdincks…). My biggest problem with the current charts isn’t all the christmas songs though. It’s when Taylor Swift, Katy Perry or some rapper release a new album and suddenly have 6,8 or 10 songs on the “singles” chart.

  9. stuart plummer says:

    great article Paul,
    The term sales should only ever be used when it is an actual sale of an album or single, in physical or downloaded format…streaming is play counting and as you point out, you only have to listen to 30/40 seconds for that to count..!
    I must have listened to some of my records/cd’s thousands of times, they don’t count for extra sales…

  10. dazzler says:

    Well written, Paul. I can’t agree more. As a chart archivist of your generation I share the same feelings. The day Last Christmas reached the UK number 1 spot might enter history as the day the music charts died.

  11. James Pigg says:

    The problem is it isn’t 1984 anymore, it is 2021. The world has moved on, as has the way people listen to and digest their music.
    I’m the same age as you Paul and definitely lament the absence of a proper chart. But I can’t really see what can be done about it.
    I guess the world will move on again eventually and streaming one day will be as passe as buying a 7″ single in WH Smith.
    Something new will emerge and hopefully whatever that is it will mean a level playing field for the artists and charts that mean something.
    Until then I’m gonna stick on my Wham! Japanese greatest hits CD and turn it up!
    Which reminds me Paul – will 2021 finally be the year you announce you will be curating a Wham box set complete with every 12″ remix and b-side? I bloody hope so!

  12. Chris Balfour says:

    I’m not too bothered to be honest. People bought physical music formats in the olden times as they liked it. That meant it was popular and that is no different to people streaming because they like music now. The split up version of the charts is available for people that can be bothered to check it out.

  13. Pete says:

    I’ve scanned through many of the comments and it’s been an interesting read but I’m surprised no-one has commented on the issue of self-perpetuating playlists and the stagnation it causes in the charts. That is, something gets added to a “chart/hits/popular” playlist, it then charts highly, remains on a “charts/hits/popular” playlist because it’s in “the charts”, remains in the charts because it remains in the “charts/hits/popular” playlist. And repeat and repeat and repeat. This appears to be why so many tracks remain the charts for whole years nowadays and why the top of the chart is so unbelievably stagnant with very little movement (2020 has had the fewest no.2s in chart history because everything that gets to no.1 these days just slips marginally down the charts. It’s a mess but I honestly don’t know how the OCC sort it out.

    • SimonH says:

      Really interesting point which leads onto the whole issue of music being made with an eye on making it into a playlist, that can involve all kinds of influence on making the music fit certain criteria such as short intros etc…
      Again a reflection of music consumption becoming more like a utility that you turn on and off like a tap!

  14. Jan wouter says:

    Spot on Paul!
    Scrap the singles chart if it’s not based on sales
    Oh how I long for the days when we were waiting for the charts to be published: Sunday was then an all important day on my calendar
    The excitement has all gone these days

  15. Blue Mountain says:

    Not sure if it has been mentioned already but the BPI has just put out a report on music consumption in 2020 – https://www.bpi.co.uk/news-analysis/fans-turn-to-music-to-get-through-2020-as-a-new-wave-of-artists-fuels-streaming-growth/ It mentions that physical is more important than streaming for the album charts, at least for the number 1. It also says that 139 billion streams is equivalent to 155 million CD sales. I somehow doubt there is the same equivalence when the record companies are paying artists. Maybe a sale for the purposes of the charts should be the same as a sale for the purposes of paying the artist.

  16. Geoff D2 says:

    Perhaps someone else made this comment … another problem with relying on streams is who created the playlist that most people use. Playlists set up by Spotify (or another streaming service) include the usual suspects like Last Christmas and All I Want … and will be played more as they are always on these playlists and usually near the top

  17. Ken says:

    Thanks for pointing out the corruption of all these 21st Century pop charts and expressing what most of us music fans think.These charts all became meaningless the moment they were changed from recording real purchasing preferences to mere popularity streaming.I have long been disillusioned with the way the internet and the reduction of the physical sales of actual manufuctured products has warped and distorted how the popularity of singles and Lp’s is being recorded. Change and reform is definitely needed,especially when actual music careers of talented people can be harmed just because their music offerings are failing to reach chart positions in these meaningless charts that their financial backers demand as proof of popularity.So inaccurate charts can have harmful real world effects.

  18. Mathew Lauren says:

    “Streams are not sales and no amount of mucking around with conversion ratios is ever going to make it so.” (P. Sinclair)

    I think that says it all. Well done, Paul!

    Cheers,

    ml

  19. Terry Settle says:

    Streams are like counting radio plays in the Olsen days. Physical sales or downloads is the only way. Saying that the charts have lost their shine.

  20. The Thorn says:

    I fully agree. And, on a similar note, an artist shouldn’t have a #1 single if they piggy-backed on someone else’s work. Collaborations are one thing, but only the main artist should register the win.

    At this point, instead of putting full albums worth of material, releasing tons of singles, artists simply have to show up on someone’s else track to can rack up a chart hit. It’s uninspiring and unfair.

    No wonder all past records are being broken. Sheesh.

  21. Eric Generic says:

    Paul, I completely agree with everything you’ve said in your post. Absolutely spot-on, Paul.

    This nonsense drives me nuts!

    EG.

  22. Sven says:

    I like your argumentation, Paul, but have another idea.
    In Germany, as far as I remember, there is/was a rule that sales of older songs do not count anymore once the song has fallen below number 50 AND reached 9 weeks in the charts or so.

    In other words, this rule meant that:
    – a song which never reached position 50 or higher could, theoretically, remain for ages in the charts.
    – a song which reached position 50 or higher left the charts once it falls out of the top 50 provided it had already spent 9 or so weeks in the charts

    What could be suggested is that only songs qualify for the singles charts that have a dedicated release date and come up with an individual promo campaign (e.g. music video), to make sure album-only tracks are not counted, and that tracks are counted for a maximum of x weeks once they haven fallen below top 50 or so.

  23. Randy Metro says:

    Maybe the charts should be tossed and let die. What does #1 versus #2 mean? Especially now. I often read that T.Rex singles Truck On Tyke and Teenage Dream were failures because they “only” reached #12 & #13. Whereas – in hindsight – artists are considered successful when they’ve had several top #20 singles or several top #40 singles. What is the difference between “top” and “several #20 singles? Ride A White Swan charted #2 while Clive Dunn’s Grandad took the #1 spot. Unless you’re British, who remembers Grandad? Those same successful T.Rex singles did not chart in the USA at all, unless you count Ride A White Swan charting at #76 in the US (who knew?).

    I’ve never understood the charts as a measure of what? Success? Profit? Sales? downloads, streaming, supermarket “muzak” background pleasure listening? I have no alternate suggestion to measure success except chart numbers.

    I may be missing the whole point here or maybe not. #1 versus #2 doesn’t mean anything to me. #1 / #2 Last Christmas will always be a popular song. How often do you hear #1 Grandad? #6 The Laughing Gnome rewrote it’s own history going from no charting to #6 on re-release. I’m sure a lot of #7 charters are miffed with that one. How high did Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer chart? #48 in the US.

    Are are gold & platinum records measured? Physical, downloads, streams?

    • Klaus says:

      @Randy Metro:

      thanks for making me aware of the song “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”.

      As I’m German i’ve never heard of it before. Checked it out on Spotify and had quite a laugh… I especially enjoyed the version by Blackfoot.

  24. DiscoAdam says:

    I just played the re-issue 12″ vinyl of New Order’s Blue Monday and it inspired me to comment Paul. Charts should separately count only physical product sales or -paid for- digital downloads. Streaming should never be included in the same chart. Steaming means nothing versus a real product sale. It is a crime against generations of musicians who sold us physical product, because we loved the music so much we wanted to own it, to count a ‘stream’ as if it were a real sale. I intend to die weighted down with CDs and records and even some cassettes [bought Kylie’s Disco on cassette and the new HURTS Faith on cassette and Sophie Ellis Bextor’s Kitchen Disco greatest hits on cassette too in 2020!]. Long live physical music!

  25. Wayne k says:

    I agree whole heartedly. None of these are like the other nor will they ever be either in terms of making a living for the artist or sales itself. Streaming is inexpensive and I love it but it isn’t a viable model,for income for artists.

  26. Fredpsotman says:

    What a great article Paul, my sister in law [a lifelong George fan] was deflated when i showed her this brilliant piece.
    For me personally the charts ended when physical product stopped being issued a few years ago, as a Madonna single collector since the beginning for instance, I have had to make do with cd promos or bootleg versions …..

  27. Andrew Abley says:

    Great article Paul and leading to a great debate.
    The real issue is “data” and the use of data. More in this world of ours, we find data is used /interrupted to provide a perceived outcome such as “No 1 this week”. Indeed, the response alluded to this Last Christmas “got” to Number 1 but “Everything she wants ” remains at No 2 ” is correct in some peoples view, highlights the data challenge. How IMO can anyone split Last Christmas/Everything she wants………………. !!!!! it is a double A sided single and a physical item end of, you didn’t have to like both sides but it was what you purchased and be definition they were equal partners.
    I think music charts are classic disconnect in “data” or to be more accurate the accounting of “consumption” v “purchase/ownership” and what is defined as “real” use of an item or product in the new “age” of big data. Indeed “LadBaby” is the classic oxymoron in the world of big data.
    Many of us will have our Christmas play list, mine is all physical purchases a combination of vinyl and cd. Albums or releases which are Christmas centric such as Sufan Stevens Songs for Christmas, Luther Vandross and Alexander O’Neil reappear every year on my play list at this time of year. These don’t hit the play list at any other time of the year. The key to this is I choose to actively consume these songs and they are something I have previously purchases. Streaming as many points out is quiet often “passive” and you get what you are fed and much like “payola”, chart outlet shops can and will be manipulated by record companies Maria and Sony been an example.

    It doesn’t surprise me as such that “newer” Christmas songs are more “popular/consumed” and makes me wonder what happened to Slade, Wizard, Bowie and Bing? They seem to have disappeared from the lists / charts at Christmas in the new digital world.

  28. Jason Brown says:

    The conversation about ‘representing the most popular songs that week’ is wholly valid.
    Ditto methods of reflecting the consumption of the day.

    The thing is, though : ‘back in the day’, you had to buy the song. Make a concious choice / selection. Even a download, same thing applies. A concious choice to purchase. No-one can make you buy a track / album.

    I agree chart manipulation has always been a thing (airplay, format restrictions, payola, etc) which is why the Radio One / Official chart show I (and I suspect others) valued – it was sales only (and even then, there had been suspicions i.e Rod Stewart / The Pistols in ’77). Yes, sales can be hyped, discounted, etc – but people still have to choose to purchase. Even if you’d bought a single for your Mum’s birthday, it was still a choice (Once Upon A Long Ago
    was that single, ironically).

    Streaming in the currently popular medium, no doubt. But the fact that a playlist can allow streams of songs which are not consciously picked / selected to be counted to the ‘most popular’ selection for that week is simply not, however you address it, an apples to apples comparison with the past.

    If streams that are actively selected /chosen only are counted, then that is getting to a fairer comparison with the past whilst reflecting modern technology. The issue about paying for it will still be present (and personally, I still buy downloads of individual tracks, and all my albums physically).

    As John Vickers said earlier, the individual charts are there, and published. But the focus is always on ‘the weekly number one’ as a single entity, when it just isn’t the same currency as before. Thus why we have conversations like this.

  29. Quatrmass says:

    A paid download is a sale, for sure.

    But I’ve always thought of subscription streams as much the same as listening to the radio (and, sure enough, radio plays used to be factored into US chart positions… maybe they still are). Shame artists don’t get paid the same as they do for radio plays.

    Unpaid streams? Basically the same as taping the song off the radio (or a friend’s copy). Ridiculous.

  30. David Bates says:

    It also now overtakes Pet Shop Boys as most #1 by a duo. Which, let’s face it, isn’t really fair on the Petties is it?

  31. John says:

    I think that OCC should find a way to limit the weeks that streaming from a certain device counts to the chart.In the old days the consumer did not buy a copy of his favorite record each week for months or years.There were 2 or 3 chart eligible formats.So we did not purchase the same single for a period of more than 4 or 6 weeks. It is not fair that if a person listens to a certain track 100 times for 52 weeks, this to count as a ” sale “. After 8 or 10 weeks if you listen to a track from the same device (PC or phone), these streams should not count as sale. So if more people decide to listen to this track, this would show its popularity for an extended period of time.This would be a way to make the charts more interesting again, because more singles (or tracks) would have a chance to enter the higher places.

  32. ed says:

    Much of this discussion is missing the key philosophical point of defining what a #1 single should actually represent. Surely a song should be #1 if it is the most popular song that week. Over the years there have been many ways to quantify that and just as many ways that labels have sought to game the system. But surely we can all agree that a #1 single should be the most popular song that week? Given how many people chose to listen to Last Christmas (and chose it over other Christmas songs which naturally charted lower) I’d challenge anyone to assert that there actually was a more popular song that week?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Two points on this.

      Firstly: Did people choose to listen to ‘Last Christmas’ or was it just on loads of Christmas playlists? The very fact that Mariah Carey streams were virtually identical to (actually slightly higher than) Last Christmas suggests it was as a result of playlists.

      Secondly: I actually have no problem with a ‘popularity’ chart, based largely on streaming. Fine, let’s do it. But the OCC and the industry insist on saying that the number one song of the week got their with “sales” of x amount. Last Christmas was number one with ‘sales’ of 40,149. It got there thanks to the “sales momentum” during the last week. This is total nonsense and I fail to see how anyone can defend it.

      • Prince Fan says:

        Just ask them to change it to “popularity momentum”. All this fuss about a No.1 single is OTT. It’s a good song, it’s a poular song and Andrew Ridgley is happy and says that GM would be proud.

      • Graeme says:

        The whole idea of including streams is ludicrous, as I previously stated. Physical plus download sales may well be insignificant in comparison but it’s the only way. How, for example, can someone listening to Last Christmas for, say, 10 times over the Christmas period count towards a chart position and the 10 times I listened to the same song on my music system(s) not count, purely because I had previously bought the song? That is another reason why it is impractical to include streams in any shape or form because you cannot say it’s the song being listened to most without full listening stats from every household!!! It’s similar to including radio plays – as someone pointed out they were at one point used in the US but the only way to get back to anything resembling a proper chart nowadays is to include sales only. Streaming has ruined the music industry in more than one way. If you were to BUY the rights to stream individual songs, now that would be different. Would you pay a one off, say, 10p to ‘purchase’ a track stream for life? Is that really too much to ask? It would also give artists a much better, if still ridiculously low, income (pardon the pun) stream.

        It’s too late. The charts are dead.

  33. Phil W. says:

    Your principal concern about actual “sales” seems to be a slight red herring. The official definition of the singles charts today is: “ The Official UK Top 40 chart is compiled by the Official Charts Company, based on official sales of sales of downloads, CD, vinyl, audio streams and video streams. ” It isn’t claiming that it was pure sales that derive the final number. Yes, the algorithm is that x streams is artificially factored to y sales, but the definition shows the component parts.

    When looking back at the charts from the golden age of a million singles, let’s remember that for a time in the 1980s, the singles charts were determined NOT by actual total sales, but by the sales in only 250 “chart return” designated stores. Interestingly enough, shopping in such stores was a different experience to marching into whichever Main Street store would offer a 7” single for £1.49 or whatever, to popping into, say, “Lullaby of Broadway”, a small independent store in West Ealing (London, W13), would see a treasure trove of special versions e.g. coloured vinyl, double disc, free 5 track cassette version, double 12” version etc. etc. All of which I still have copies of and can name if required!

    The times have changed so the methodology for counting has had to change. It isn’t perfect, but it never was. Journalists will always look for the easy and catchy headline, that’s the only thing that won’t change!

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      You are missing the point Phil. We know that the ‘main’ singles chart is an amalgam of actual sales, streams, digital downloads etc. but the point is it is dominated to such an extent by streams that it has become meaningless. I’m sure at some point ‘consumption’ was made up of a third streams, a third downloads and a third actual physical sales, and in that scenario ‘converting’ streams into sales makes sense because ‘sales’ was still the dominant driver. Now that it’s 90% streams for most of the chart it is borderline ludicrous to convert these into ‘sales’ using their method and say “here is the overall sales chart”. Last Christmas had 40k ‘sales’ of which in reality there was only 1555. They are saying, “we have virtually no sales, but because that doesn’t sound very good we are going to pretend streams are sales and hope you don’t notice”. Music Week’s twitter post earlier in the week spoke of a “sales momentum” for Last Christmas!! The language is totally ridiculous and misleading.

  34. Ed says:

    A fascinating article and you definitely raise some good points. I’ve been a chart fan for many years and whilst I still keep an eye on the charts there is very little in the chart each week I actually listen to . I don’t think streaming is the same as buying but I also don’t think we should be going backwards as a sales chart at this point would be embarrassing by announcing a no.1 that sold a few hundred copies . The Christmas no.1 week is about the only chart week now that has any interesting chart action so if you now remove all the Christmas songs all were left with is the usual Ed sheeran action . It’s a difficult one as in a way it has ruined a fascinating chart record but on the other hand wham getting another no.1 is surely not a bad thing ? I suspect given the fact that Mariah and wham having now both finally got to no.1 the rules are likely to reviewed again . I honestly don’t think George Michael if he was still alive would have been unhappy getting another no.1 . The charts are no longer what they were and they never will be again

  35. John Vickers says:

    Excellent article, Paul, and a good subject to start off the New Year with! I understand your pr0blem with ‘rewriting history’ and I agree that plays are not sales. As someone who grew up in the ‘60s and still has an entire series of “The Guinness Book of Hit Singles”, I certainly regret the demise of the charts as we once knew them but I also understand the continuing need for a way of measuring the popularity of today’s songs. Having read your article and everyone’s comments, I think that the most relevant points are the following, with the final one providing some comfort!

    Jerome: I think it’s reasonable for the music industry (and thus, the charts) to try their best to stay current and reflect people’s current, actual listening habits, which is what they are doing by factoring the current streaming ratios the way that they do.

    Adam W: There are already [separate charts], have been forever. Take your pick:
    Physical: https://www.officialcharts.com/charts/physical-singles-chart/
    Downloads: https://www.officialcharts.com/charts/singles-downloads-chart/
    Streaming: https://www.officialcharts.com/charts/audio-streaming-chart/

    Jeff Schumacher: The Wikipedia page for Wham!’s discography (Singles) now shows a peak of #2 for the double A-Side “Everything She Wants/Last Christmas”. If you go down to “Last Christmas” – re-issue & re-entry positions, that’s the only place it shows the #1 peak.

    Matt Wells: The problem isn’t with the chart company, it’s not even with streaming, it’s the reporting of the story that’s the problem.

  36. Jeremy says:

    Of all those golden oldie Christmas hits which clogged up the UK charts last week thanks to the bluetooth streaming generation, only one (as far as I know) has recently been re-released as a ‘new’ physical single. Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas is You’ was reissued in 2019 as a 5-track cd single in the USA. Given the increasing rarity of cd single releases in the last couple of years, this was a nice Christmas gift to her enduring cd-buying fans. It would be good to see more of these oldie Christmas songs reissued as cd singles in the future. At least that way the charts would reflect some level of actual physical sales.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I can’t believe Sony haven’t done this with Last Christmas. That white 7″ was as dull as ditchwater.

  37. Inner Space says:

    Great article, Paul.
    Everything you said was spot on.
    Couldn`t agree with you more.

    Now…..Last Christmas finally making it to the no.1 spot in an alternate reality (because, frankly this is what it really is) just got me think what would 1984 – as my favorite year in music ever – be like in my own alternate chart reality……

    David Austin would indeed become the biggest star of 1984 – as announced by George on the Cheggers Plays Pop June 84 edition – look it up on YouTube) and his mega smash hit single Turn To Gold would enter the singles charts at no.1 easily and would not drop 77 places in the following week……:)

    At the time being, unfortunately, I still have to live with knowing it only entered the chart at no.100 with the highest position being no. 68…….:(

  38. blink says:

    If the US can have Black Music (Hip Hop and R&B), Country and Pop charts, then I don’t see why we cannot separate between actual sales (physical and download) and streaming charts…

    For me personally the charts have become meaningless as nothing sells in any relevant quantities and whatever gets streamed is just the current latest crap no one cares for a month later, probably mostly by people who do not care one way or another what plays in the background.

    Heck, given the numbers Wham could have become number one because of some randomly generated Christmas playlists rather than an actual choice by the listeners.

  39. richard says:

    The charts should reflect the most popular song of the week even if its a song from 1984. It is what people wanted to listen to. Congrats to Wham.

  40. Well, there is one fair way of doing it that would perfectly reflect things: an artist revenue chart. Sales, paid streams, free streams 7″s, 12″s, etc all count for exactly as much as the share of revenue that the label and publishers pay the artist & writers.

    Somehow I can’t see the BPI going for that though!

  41. O(+> Peter B says:

    Actually, the singles charts should be based on how much in royalties an artist receives for the track that week. Artists don’t receive much from streams. This could level out the playing field and hopefully encourage streaming services to pay more to artists (rather than to Royal family members for podcasts).

  42. O(+> Peter B says:

    The “hit parade” was once based on sales of sheet music, before records became available and popular. Times change. I get the point of this article, but I think including streams in the pop charts is appropriate as this is how music is largely listened to now, especially with younger people. Including streams may not accurately reflect sales but it does reflect what the popular songs of the time are.
    Altogether now: “you need a mop and a bucket for this wet…”

  43. Burt says:

    Absolutely spot on. All this current bollox is streaming makes the Charts completely irrelevant to me, it means absolutely nothing. For proof of this re Ed Sheehan & his dominance of the charts & every track on his album of the time ( what ever it was called ) purely because of streaming “Sales”. Total nonsense.

    However, “Last Christmas” . No matter what’s it’s chart position by whatever means will always be excellent & always welcome in my life!

    Personally. I mourn the days of the CD Single & chance to get new songs , live songs, demos etc when you had to leave your house to actually buy it, ie , you didn’t just “Click”, you Q’d & parted with money to buy it AND, the artist got paid properly. Far out eh?

  44. CJ says:

    I think the record companies have really messed up the concept of music “sales” and how we even have access to music. If 30 seconds of streaming counts as an actual stream, then I have “streamed” hundreds of songs that I absolutely hated because I decided to “sample” the music before deciding to purchase it or not.

    But the record companies have been messing with music collectors for decades now for the sake of manipulating charts. In the US, back in the era of “Ice Ice Baby,” the record company decided to recall and delete the physical single to “force” people to buy the album. In the end, Vanilla Ice got a #1 album out of it, but people who just wanted the single may not have opted to buy the full length album if the option of a single had been available. Then illegal downloading came along, and the record companies scrambled to “deal” with this, but they opted not only to sue services like Napster and Limewire, they also started phasing out actual physical singles. Our local record store used to have an entire wall dedicated to CD singles, and within about two years, there wasn’t enough stock even available to keep it filled. People were still asking about singles, but they weren’t available to buy, and people who didn’t want to pay for the entire album turned to downloads (many of them illegal).

    Now, it feels like the record companies are on a mission to destroy physical albums as well. Some albums don’t even come out as physical product anymore. Millions of CDs and LPs are still being sold, but the constant “common wisdom” you keep hearing in the press is that the physical album is “dead.” Compare sales of physical albums to books, though, and it’s still a thriving market. But retailers are phasing out their floor space for other products now. The FYE we have locally is now about 80% Funko Pops, t-shirts, action figures and other swag. There’s literally half an aisle of CDs in the back, and the company doesn’t even bother to send them new releases on street date anymore.

    I’ve finally started just buying the bulk of my physical albums from Amazon at this point, because there is literally no local option for getting them. I know I’m not the only one, because every time I’m at the store, I overhear at least one person ask if some CD is in stock, and they leave empty handed, which reinforces the idea that physical media isn’t valued anymore. Customers reluctantly convert to downloads and streaming because they can’t get what they are looking for. Best Buy has completely stopped carrying CDs in their stores. Department stores have cut their CD sections back to small racks with only the most recent releases on them, and they don’t restock a title once it’s sold out, so if you don’t get one of the first 10 copies they stock, then you’re not getting it from a store. As far as an actual, dedicated store that specializes in physical media goes, I have to drive about an hour and a half to get to one. I still make the trip every month or so, but it’s not feasible for just popping in on new release day every week.

    Record companies have killed the idea of an album having an “era” to it. I remember the excitement of the lead single coming out before the album, then the album, and then, over the course of a year or so, the follow-up singles. What’s the b-side? How are the remixes? None of that seems to exist anymore. This has killed much of the collectibility of music buying. An album comes out, has its initial run for a few weeks, and then everyone moves on to the next thing.

    Record companies, of all things, have taught us that music is disposable. Why bother owning it? And, especially, why bother with an entire album? Just download the track that’s on the radio, if you really MUST have it. Otherwise, just stream it.

    The collectors suffer, and so do the artists. The record companies make plenty of money off downloads and streaming–it’s just a matter of putting up a file and letting people copy it over and over again. They don’t have to worry about manufacturing anything, and they still charge about the same amount of money for the download as you would have paid for the physical product, but with no overhead. And I doubt the artists are getting more of a share out of this.

    I think the whole thing is very sad. The excitement has gone out of everything. I miss b-sides. I even miss buying 11 copies of an album because every region had a different bonus track.

    And in the end, it’s not like having a streaming subscription means you have access to the music forever. One day, you log in, and the album isn’t hosted by the service anymore. Hell, if you’re a Kanye West fan, and you liked The Life of Pablo when it came out, the album changed again a week later, and then again a week after that, because Kanye kept changing it, so you couldn’t even get attached to a specific version of the album.

    I don’t care if I sound like someone griping about how “things were better back in my day.” We’ve devalued music and we’ve decreased artists’ abilities to make money off their recorded music. Imagine what the Beatles’ legacy would be like if they had needed to keep going on tour just to make any money, instead of being able to focus solely on recording new music and making some of the greatest albums of all time. A record is meant to be something that endures–it is a record of the coming together of artists to create something. A physical product has a chance of enduring. A file that disappears with the hitting of a delete key is not a “record” of anything. Archeologists are not going to be able to study Spotify in 200 years. But they will still have our CDs and LPs and even our shitty cassettes.

    Climbing off my soap box now.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Great comment! Thanks…

    • SimonH says:

      You’ve articulated my feelings, and described a similar experience to mine, very well.
      One of the best posts I’ve read on SDE, thanks.

      • Craig Hedges says:

        Record companies have a long history of burying their heads in the sand. When the Compact disc was launched in 1983, none of the record labels were interested. But when they realised that if they killed the vinyl record it would mean they could get the public to re-buy their music collection. They even came up with a magic word ‘Remastered’. In order to do this they started to degrade the quality of vinyl records making them quieter with more surface noise. When cds took off record companies thought all their Christmases had come at once. Then in 1989 Sony electronics bought the CBS label in multimillion pound deal and in the years that followed every record label got swallowed up, which has led to the music industry being just a small part of the 3 big media empires. Look up how much money Sony music makes compared to the rest of their businesses and you wonder why they even bother. At the start of the millennium record companies thought they were invincible, they could keep re issuing classic album. Then Bang the bubble burst.

    • WayneUK says:

      What you say is so true. Best comments love seen in ages. These music companies should take note of this whole thread. They are the ones killing physical music, not the general public.

    • dave says:

      very well put sir

  45. StevieT says:

    The charts for a long time have been a complete farce. Last week’s number one is this week’s 78. I haven’t bothered to check where Macca lll is on the album chart. I did actually think Liam Gallagher’s song should have fared better, it was on the radio loads. In the 60s and 70s the charts really meant something, although there was obviously corruption on a high level. But at least the charts were not based on how many times a single was played once you got it home!

  46. StevieT says:

    Firstly, Happy New Year Paul, and everybody.
    Secondly, yes Paul, PL/SFF just HAS to be the greatest 45 ever.
    Thirdly, if for example a track is streamed 10 million times, and another track is purchased 50 thousand times, it does not mean the first track is more popular. The purchased track will be played many times.

  47. Garax says:

    I find this article a bit bizarre to be honest – the charts have always been iffy. Payolla – and any number of ruses – formats wars (Hi McCartney iii!) what have you. It’s as much true that Wham are No.1 this week as anyone else.

  48. Chumil says:

    According to Wikipedia the single “Living in a Ghost Town” by The Rolling Stones reached the number one spot in Germany due to physical sales alone. On 3 July 2020, “Living in a Ghost Town” topped the German singles chart, after several different special editions were released for the song, making the Rolling Stones the oldest artists ever to reach number one on the chart and giving them the longest-running gap between two number-one singles in Germany, following on from ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ reaching number one in 1968. Streaming numbers were not higher than they were for the past few weeks due to the placement in for the German Charts being purely sales-dependent; it does not depend on the number of streams.

    I don’t know if Germany is the only country in the world where the charts entirely depends on physical sales alone. But rewriting history is of course always a problem, no matter if it’s being popcharts history or anything else historycally.

  49. jason h says:

    Three Christmases ago, a bunch of mates and I registered the UK’s biggest-selling Christmas single during Christmas week. We were stuck behind The Charlatans – but theirs wasn’t a Christmas song.

    To the best of my knowledge we were absolutely nowhere within the Top 500 singles chart, while being #2 on the Physical Singles Chart. That’s because we did sod all business digitally – 99% of our sales were on 7″.

    On balance I think I took more satisfaction from knowing that what we achieved was through real people handing over real money in exchange for a real piece of vinyl – just like it used to be during all those classic years of Christmas chart battles. I can’t imagine taking any joy from knowing success was down to virtually zero sales, merely a measure of one arbitrary form of “consuming” music whilst ignoring all other listening methods. Every time a needle is dropped again onto one of the singles we sold that year, is that recounted for the chart? No, of course it isn’t – so why on earth should “Alexa, play some xmas music” be eligible? It’s beyond farcical.

  50. johnny says:

    Hi Paul, Have you got the 2020 book “Can’t Slow Down: How 1984 Became Pop’s Blockbuster Year” by Michaelangelo Matos? Sounds like it would be right up your street…

    Thank for the article, and Happy New Year

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Reading it at the moment? :)

    • BillyD says:

      Thanks for the heads up!
      Went over to Amazon, as we have no local book stores, and they said the Kindle ebook version would be an alternative. No it’s not. That’s much like an overpriced mp3…
      So if I get it from the library which chart would that count on?

    • Troy says:

      Whoa! Thanks for mentioning this. Ordered.

  51. Ben Cook says:

    Also, just because you don’t like modern music doesn’t mean the chart is irrelevant. Broaden your horizons. There’s still good songs out there making the chart.

    • Stan Butler says:

      Ben, you’ve totally missed the point of Paul’s article. It was nothing to do with the standard of modern music; it was about streaming. There was precious little new music in last week’s charts and that is entirely down to the artificial method of compiling the chart based overwhelmingly on streams.
      Never has the singles chart looked so moribund. Why would anyone bother releasing a single in December anymore, bar a duff novelty charity song?
      I suspect we will never see an original Christmas classic top the charts ever again.

  52. Ben Cook says:

    I think what a lot of people are basically calling for is for the “official chart” to end, have a line drawn under it and start again with non-canon separate charts. As if the music died in 2015.

    But it didn’t. And whilst today’s kids might be less interested in the charts, they’re still into chart music. Although I agree there are problems with the formulation, I think it would be a shame to end nearly 70 years of history and not be able to call something an official #1.

    In some ways the chart is more reflective of popularity than it has ever been – think about the huge numbers of streams we’re talking about. It might be less effort to play a song on a phone that you haven’t paid for, but that’s the world we’re living in now. It’s not fair to suggest that unless you’ve paid for a hard copy of a song you don’t care about it or your taste isn’t important enough to register a say in the chart.

  53. Jim says:

    Totally agree with Paul, and in fact the Singles chart should be sales only, with a separate streaming chart. It’s a ridiculous situation when an artist like Kylie for example, struggles to make the Top 50 singles chart but her songs are the biggest selling physical releases of the week. Insanity.

  54. Scott says:

    Anything to keep Mariah Carey from the Number One spot is good

  55. Ben Cook says:

    Your argument about the sales being too low for it to mean anything doesn’t really work because nothing apart from occasional charity singles sell in any number these days.

    And it’s not fair to imply that because nobody wanted to or could be bothered to pay for it means that no one cares. If you have a Spotify subscription why would you pay for a download? There is no reason to. It’s a different world.

    However I do agree that old Christmas songs shouldn’t be allowed in the chart. We do not need the chart to tell us that people listen to Christmas songs at Christmas.

    I would also prefer that “passive” playlist streams didn’t count

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      What I’m saying is that if actual sales are so low – around 3 percent in Wham!’s case – why are we trying to ‘convert’ streams to sales? It’s like the tail wagging the dog. Have a streaming chart, have an actual sales chart (based on downloads and physical sales) and be done with it. In terms of paying, I was referring to people who don’t even want to pay £10 for a Spotify subscription. Like that’s bad value. If you stream but don’t value it enough to be worth a tenner a month, then in my mind, you don’t value music.

      • Ben Cook says:

        I agree they should stop *calling* them sales – and stop adding streams to running total sales of classic songs because a world where Mr Brightside has “sold” over 2 million copies doesn’t make sense.

        But apart from occasional oddities like at Christmas, the chart still largely reflects popularity in the same way it always has. If anything a song that has been streamed 10 million times in a week is surely more popular than one that sold 50,000 copies.

        They don’t need to bin the chart – just make some tweaks.

  56. Paul Wren says:

    Your article is spot on. I ignore the charts for the reasons you outlined – we all know it’s nonsense and getting worked up about it will achieve very little.

  57. Cornelius says:

    I have no idea the amount artists are paid for their songs per stream. I listen to music on Spotify and if i love what I stream then I go and buy it on a physical format. Call me old fashioned but i like to own the music that I love. That’s if it’s available on a physical format……. !

  58. Jerome says:

    tl; dr: Old man yells at cloud.

    I understand the point that you are trying to make but I think it’s reasonable for the music industry (and thus, the charts) to try their best to stay current and reflect people’s current, actual listening habits, which is what they are doing by factoring the current streaming ratios they way that they do. “Last Christmas” is number one this week based on the way that people consume music NOW, which is streaming.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      In that case, call it the streaming chart, and stop pretending streams can be ‘magically’ and meaningfully turned into ‘sales’.

  59. Darren Gardner says:

    Is it true that 200 streams count as one sale? Sure I read that somewhere. How are artists supposed to make any money from their songs. Obviously touring would normally be the answer to that but in these Covid times that is impossible. I know from experience that relying on streaming for an income is a no go as my band The Elephant Movie has made about tuppence from our song ‘Kites’. Still, it is nice seeing a song of ours on spotify, amazon, etc

  60. Cornelius says:

    Back in 2000, a ‘physical’ song release was highly unlikely to chart in the Top10 if it wasn’t stocked in Woolworths, the biggest singles retailer of the day. That was a bad situation. Of course, there were exceptions, usually a dance or independent release, which didn’t feature in the regular retail outlets. By 2002, Woolworths was only stocking 9 new single releases each week. Which highlighted the decline of the 7″ and cd age. That’s the state of play. It was worse 18-19 years ago when a High Street retailer determined chart success. Nowadays, a song is there to buy whether it’s re-released or not. And Christmas, more than any other time of year, is testament to the reality of consumer spending in music. Which is fairer than whether or not Woolworths stocked the release or not.

  61. Poptones says:

    It happens. Should I Stay Or Should I Go was a Number 1 in 1991 after being used in a Levi’s commercial. Only Clash song to hit No1. And 5 years after they disbanded.

    I never really cared about singles charts but I truly miss the 7’’ singles era. Nowadays 7’’ singles are usually priced between £5 and £10. Crazy prices for singles.

    Just like labels did for LPs (vinyl + download card), I wish they mass produced 7’’ singles again and at a decent price.
    I’m quite sure people would buy 7’’ singles again if they were priced £1 or £2 (with a download code) and you could find them everywhere (record stores, supermarkets and online).

    About streaming, it’s quite silly to count streams. If 200 paid streams is equal to one physical purchase, when you have 80,000 people going to Wembley for let’s say a Coldplay show, a football/rugby match and they play Last Christmas or any other song to entertain the fans before the main event then it should be equal to 800 physical purchases of the songs according to that streaming chart rule. Pretty stupid.

  62. Simon says:

    I’ve not read all the comments above so forgive me if others have already said this. There seems to have been no mention of the other chart record broken yesterday, that of yhd biggest dall from no. 1. Don’t Stop Me Eatin’ may also be the first no. 1 single to spend a single week in the charts.

    • KevinK says:

      The biggest fall from the top was in July 2018 when the football World Cup interest took Three Lions back to Number One (thanks, of course to streaming). It plummeted from number 1 to number 97 the week after England were knocked out of the tournament.
      Wham! are likely to break that record next week though.

  63. Chris says:

    The charts of today when compared to the 80s do seem absurd, given that some sold by the tens of thousand or hundreds of thousand back then. Important to remember who watches the charts though – various promoters and festival bookers will leverage a top five album placement regardless of the fact it could just equate to a few thousand sales. This is one of the reasons we have seen a return to the multi release now in a suite of colours.
    Don’t care either way about the Xmas chart – never been one for the music lovers.

  64. Jeff Schumacher says:

    The Wikipedia page for Wham!’s discography (Singles) now shows a peak of #2 for the double A-Side “Everything She Wants/Last Christmas”. If you go down to “Last Christmas” – re-issue & re-entry positions, that’s the only place it shows the #1 peak. Times are different today, as double A-Sides don’t exist, and songs are counted individually. “Everything She Wants” didn’t get the streams “Last Christmas” did in 2020, so it makes sense that only the latter should receive #1 status.

    Now comes the new campaign…”Everything She Wants” for #1 in 2021! LOL

  65. Nick Love says:

    I think they should be two contemptuous charts, a physical sales chart and a streaming chart, so people, like Takeshi 6ix9ine for a maple, can still brag about dominating charts without selling a single physical copy while Paul McCartney can still crank out number 1’s on the physical chart. For true fame hounds who want to dominate both, it will only encourage them to make physical media more widely available which will benefit readers of this site. No not conversions, no more vacuums, just two charts that represent raw data.

  66. Gisabun says:

    Anything other than paying specifically for a song should not be counted in the charts – plain and simple.
    Those streamed [either free or a monthly all you can listen subscription] should have their own chart[s].
    If the song Sirius by the Alan Parsons Project [off Eye In The Sky] was used in a TV show or a movie or a commercial and people started to stream it all over the world, how can you consider that a single? The record label never released it as one.

  67. AdamW says:

    Also, all the old KLF singles were finally released for digital purchase and for streaming yesterday. A return to #1 for “Doctorin’ The Tardis” after 30+ years would be… something.

  68. Dave H says:

    Charts mean absolutely nothing today. They in no way equate to those in the past. I know the US charts did have a radio play aspect but I think in the past the sales were at least representative. I don’t stream or download. I still buy music properly and am proud of that and the fact that artists do hopefully benefit from that purchase

    I do sometimes check out music on YouTube, particularly new or unfamiliar artists, but I don’t class that as sales or that I even like the music. It is at best research. If I find something I like I will buy it, with money! Anything else does not count in my book. No more than hearing something on the radio or in a supermarket.

    This is also why the Paul McCartney chart issue is so irritating. Paul may think he has a number one record but in reality it means nothing. Not only was a lot of that multiple purchases which should be disallowed, a lot of it was fixed to get purchases in a very narrow window of time, hence the massive drop in week 2. It is all meaningless. I have no idea what the answer is, but in essence it doesn’t mean popularity in the same way as it used to. 9 million streams is meaningless in the scenario detailed in your article. Actual sales are in reality so low that they effectively are not much above zero. 1555? Old ladies in church coffee mornings sell more mince pies than that! 1555 probably does not even pay for the admin of counting the 1555 let alone pay the artist.

    Time to retire the concept I think.

  69. Victoria says:

    I have very mixed feelings on this. As Mariah and George Michael fan it is nice to see them at number 1. Mariah in particular has been peaking in the top 5, often at number 2, since the download era began in 2007-ish. Ironically both Mariah and Wham also released physical copies last year only to get to number this year instead (I suspect some residual copies may be knocking around).

    The problem of course is that downloads still kept the chart as a sales chart which does seem the best way to measure popularity. It seems that most listeners use streaming so passively that its more akin to adding a radio element like in the US charts.

    It’s not just the old songs which potentially benefit from playlisting, its my understanding that a low placement on the New Music Friday playlist practically guarantees a new song low chart performance. It’s one of my sadnesses that acts with large fanbases who will tend to download the single, like Mariah, Kylie, Madonna, Pet Shop Boys etc no longer have any chance of charting well with a new track and have become ‘legacy acts’ no matter how good the material. It’s a long way from the day when a Cher or a Tina Turner could have a big comeback.

    But if you based the chart solely on sales you’d have something so dismally low it’s got no legitimacy at all. I believe a couple of weeks ago the song adopted by a Scottish football team was the best selling download, but it wasn’t even enough to make the top 75. Ladbaby presumably charted so highly initially based on sales because most people only seem to be invested in him for the charity element- the following week he’s at no 78 because the record has no replay value. That’s more dismal than the X Factor Xmas number one days- at least most of those songs hung around for a few weeks.

    IF OCC want to continue including streaming, than a old song that is suddenly popular like a Christmas one, or Three Lions, is as legitimate as anything else. Either the chart reflects ‘what’s popular’ via streaming or it doesn’t. While I like her, how many of Ariana’s ‘sales’ for her recent 7 (?) week number one were based on playlists of the current big hits? I suspect a lot. So where do you draw the line. I suspect there must be a way to ban playlist plays but I suspect the record labels aren’t invested in that because it gets them their hits 50 weeks of the year.

    Old songs are already penalised by ACR yet this week the highest charting ‘new’ song was the excellent Little Mix single, Sweet Melody. That suggests an apathy about new music from streaming consumers. Apparently in the past week streaming consumers haven’t listened to Taylor Swift, Little Mix, Ed Sheeran, Ariana etc even half as much as a succession of old Christmas classics. That, I would’ve thought, is the biggest problem they music industry has.

    I spend a fortune on new physical music product year on year, but I’m pushing 40, not who the music industry is really targetting (although I surely qualify as the ‘£50 quid woman’). Mariah and Wham getting number 1s gave the chart more publicity in the last couple of weeks than its had all year. It’s the other 50 weeks of the year where the problem lies.

  70. Mike B says:

    For me it’s a technological issue why the charts are currently skewed. I bought 1000’s of 7 inch, 12 inch and CD singles between ‘Under The Moon Of Love’ in 1976 and Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ in 2000 and something.

    I’d have bought recent songs by Miley Cyrus, Dua Lipa, Bruce Springsteen and Sophie Ellis Bextor if they’d been available on CD singles. I’m stuck in my ways, as downloading and streaming aren’t for me, but I wonder if there’s a sizeable chunk of former music buyers like me who no longer buy because the format is no longer available.

    Using streaming for the charts makes the most sense, but as you say Paul it’s no longer a ‘sales’ chart as it was in 1984. So if it is a chart reflecting what people are hearing (and probably not buying), why aren’t radio/TV/film/advert and all media ‘streams’ included?

    I saw Sophie Ellis Bextor on Graham Norton the other night – why doesn’t that count as a ‘stream’? I hear nearly all my new music on Radio 2, so why don’t they get included in the charts?

    If the charts are supposed to reflect what the nation is listening to, then I’d say it’s currently a bit broken.

  71. kid992 says:

    Totally agree. You know the charts are in trouble when the sales chart Christmas No 1 is about sausage rolls and the No 2 is a protest song about the Prime Minister that can’t be played on the radio(defeats the point of a protest song). Neither of them appear to have been released on any physical format whatsoever as far as I can see, but are No 1 and No 2 in the sales charts which includes CD singles and vinyl singles by virtue of that fact that a few people paid for the download.

    Amazingly the Official Charts Company got three national news stories from the Xmas charts. Mariah Carey finally getting her Xmas record to number one, Ladbaby’s third Xmas number one(big as the Beatles blah blah} and now Wham finally getting their Xmas record to number one.

    Quite good for them really considering what might have happened if that No 2 record had been No 1

  72. Fogarrach says:

    One question Paul, what’s a bus?

    That aside can you allow me to agree with you 100% whilst being delighted that last Christmas made number 1 at last (despite not being designated a single)
    I was working from well before dawn each day throughout the festive period. And somehow there was a radio playing Christmas songs. Every time last Christmas was played it was received with enthusiasm from everyone who heard it. It’s as good as many of the songs we say are great Christmas songs, it is so much more than that.

    It would be lovely if George was around and teasing and pleasing us with new stuff.

    It is lovely to see last Christmas make number one.

    (All that being said, George and and Andrew, xmas song is a one off. If the charts are to remain relevant they have to more clearly reflect the actual purchase experience better than they currently do)

  73. Ant Prr says:

    I Googled what is now the new best selling singke not to reach number one.
    It was Moves Like Jagger followed by Wonderwall.
    Interestingly (IMHO) however the next after them was Blue Monday.
    Because I wasn’t sure if these were in order, (turns out they were), I found another list which had Blue Monday much lower down (replaced by John Legend’s “All Of Me”.)
    Turns out the first list was from 2014 so it looks like all the paid for singles are going to have their genuine sales rendered worthless soon enough by streaming.
    Sigh.

    • CAB says:

      Mmmm… Blue Monday never reached number one. There were chart shenanigans back in those days too – not all sales were counted for the charts. I worked as a YTS in a tiny independent record shop when Blue Monday was released. We had a stack of them on a shelf behind the till because they sold so frequently it wasn’t worth racking them in the store room. The sales just went on and on and on for months. It was the same with Pink Floyd’s The Wall (even in 1983) – I think we sold a box of 50 a week.

  74. AdamW says:

    In the US there has always been a non-sales component to the singles chart. Prior to the streaming era, that was only radio, but even so, there were semi-arbitrary formulas that determined Hot 100 placements. (They were even more arbitrary prior to the SoundScan era, since physical sales were estimated then, too.)

    The charts have to follow consumption patterns in order to represent the most popular songs, so if most people “consume” music via streaming than via sales or radio, then that has to “count” somehow. I do think the US counting all the album tracks when a new popular streaming album comes out is absurd, and those times Drake and Taylor Swift have placed all their album tracks on the singles chart is ridiculous. Just recently, the 37-second intro song to Kid Cudi’s latest album became the “shortest charting song” in Hot 100 history; I mean, really? So I’m for adding guardrails to that system (top 3 songs only, a limit on free streams counting, etc.).

    I’m also against rewriting history, as it’s impossible to compare eras that are this different. The issue here, though, is whoever edited Wham!’s wiki page isn’t accurately representing the single’s history, not that the song didn’t hit #1 in 2020, because it did. If Wikipedia represented each year’s placement separately it would be far more accurate than what’s there now. Maybe someone with that knowledge can edit it. :-)

  75. Eric says:

    Intersting points. We have the new way vs the old one. Can we go further and remember also that back in time, staying at n 1 or pushing massive sales was done with multiple formats, making buyers, or collectors, or just new buyers because of an attractive format, increase the sales and so making the charts.
    Then came the rules of number of formats elligeable, or duration of cd single less than 18 min if i remember.
    To be clear, not sure that buyers of the same record in diff variations listened to all of them, thought the sale of the item matched the charts ( like nowdays streaming)
    So, it seems that all the time, charts were a bit twisted and influenced with marketing.
    But i get your point Paul, and agree, charts should concern songs of the moment, it should be easy to make charts of oldies but goodies including for singles physical reissues and streams , same for lps.
    Happy new year everyone

  76. Craig Hedges says:

    Paul which sleeve is in the scan of this article? the 1984 version didn’t have a bar code.
    Why doesn’t Sony put out either a blu ray of the 4K video with all the multiple versions of the single or a cd single with the 1984 version, 1985 version, pudding mix, instrumental and the other mix which was only on a Japanese single.
    Also just noticed George has a ring on his wedding finger.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I think it’s from the back of the white 7″ from last year, or the year before…

      • Craig Hedges says:

        Thanks, I became a bit obsessed with bar codes after cataloging all my vinyl on Discogs this year, its a lot easier just scanning a code. Top tip for others – enter the catalogue number instead of the artist or title if there is no bar code, it makes it a lot quicker. Going through my collection I noticed the introduction of bar codes took place quite slowly between 1983 and 1987.

        • BillyD says:

          Scanning the barcodes is the cheater way. Sure there aren’t usually many variations for a cd, but with records there can be quite a few. Checking the matrix can reveal if you’ve hit the jackpot with a rare pressing or just a standard issue all within the same barcode. All records aren’t made the same just cause they have the same jacket. Generally, pre-barcode, some records had initial pressings that could involve 5, 10, 20 or more pressing plants. If it was a very popular record you can spend a while trying to nail your copy. Or find out yours isn’t even listed which will create another variable.
          I have spent serious time going through my collection and cataloging most of my records. Yes, it still continues. Then I’ll start on the cds which may be easier.

          Top tip for others – enter the catalogue number that appears on the actual disc. Some albums have more than one and the number on the sleeve may not match the label. Sometimes a record is reissued using a new catalogue number but pressed with an old stamper. Be sure to check the dead wax!
          Some record jackets have a sticker with a new catalogue number over the old, but with a new pressing inside.
          Music collecting can be very rewarding and frustrating at the same time.

          Btw, Craig, it only took you a year to catalogue?

  77. Jason Brown says:

    The key phrase here is ‘the charts’. What is ‘the charts’? The desire to have a simple, single number one song each week. That has a cachet, still. Other positions don’t, these days. Tracks routinely hang around for months now. Playlists left to play in the background, still adding to the ‘figures’. It really is a different game now.

    There should be a streaming chart – all forms (paid, unpaid, YouTube etc) and a sales chart (physical, downloads, minimum purchase price). But I suspect that’ll never fly, because which one is the legitimate one? The arguments will be endless…

    As several have said above, there should have been a clear demarcation at some point to split the singles chart into before and after (and their is precedent for this : the UK albums chart were split in ’88/89, so compilation albums had their own chart. Albums such as Dirty Dancing OST had a history before the split – and a fresh history after. It was a clean break, and history was respected.

    Have there been any albums that have gotten to no. 1 purely by streaming? I’m sure there are, but these days, across the country, tastes and genres, the Album chart is I would argue a better indication / cross reference of the nations tastes as a whole in any given week. Though with less physical product being produced, over time, that will ultimately fade too.

    Happy New Year to all!!

  78. Simon says:

    Alan “Fluff” Freeman, Disc Jockey of ‘Pick of The Pops’. Will be turning in his grave…

  79. Chris Squires says:

    IMHO a single that is eligible for the chart shouldn’t be allowed to even be called a single if there is not either / both of a) a physical single that is able to be bought with a minimum run of something like 500 / 1,000 copies and / or b) an officially released and sanctioned video accompanying the single release.

    I know it’s old fashioned and who wants to buy a 7″ single or CD single under the age of 40 BUT it would mean that only singles that are meant as singles would be counted…. alternatively an artist upon releasing an album can nominate up to two singles.

    I know it’s all nonsense but the greater brains than I should think of something to create a chart of people’s listening preferences. Something played as part of a playlist shouldn’t count at all.

    I Must have added to the possibility of The Waitresses hitting the Top 10 again as I heard Chriistmas Wrapping loads without knowingly ever having played it.

  80. WayneUK says:

    The charts have been meaningless for years now. I bought Whams last Christmas back in 1984.lt surely has to be more exciting buying a physical copy of something than just asking Alexa to play it isn’t it? I, as lm sure most on here have spent many many hours in record shops back in the day. It’s what got me into town on a Saturday morning. The anticipation of what you might find. That alas is all gone now, l loved it and am sure everyone on here did too. I feel the youth of today have missed out on something there. Charts mean nothing. Haven’t done for years, l haven’t looked at them since the late 90s, because by then music as we know it was coming to an end. The lnternet was starting to take over

  81. Matt Wells says:

    The problem isn’t with the chart company, it’s not even with streaming, it’s the reporting of the story that’s the problem.

    The OCC have to report the charts, as that’s what they have always done. It’s not their fault that the way we consume music is done differently now.

    In reality those who remember the charts for what they were when we bought music, listened to the top 40 on Sunday and watched TOTPs still care about the history of the physical sales chart, but to the majority of current day consumers of music the charts in any format are meaningless.

    My two eighteen year olds couldn’t care less who is number one or even in the charts, they have never physically bought any music, both subscribe to Spotify and you tube and consume music that way. Both would have ‘streamed’ Last Christmas, but couldnt care less what position it reaches in the charts. I continue to consume and buy music like I have always done. Regardless of the charts…

    So I think that the reporting of news that Wham ‘finally’ get to number one is not essentially telling the story right…

    But that would get in the way of a good story when good news is in shorter supply these days

  82. Shawn C. says:

    I want to start by saying I adore the site and I love physical music (primarily vinyl)…however, there is also a very clear bias against streaming music on SDE. Not at all surprising – when a site is focused on deluxe editions of physical music, fans of physical music are those who will frequent it.But I think it is important to recognize we are a biased sample who are not really representative of the general population.

    Yes, the charts have changed. Those who buy physical music are now a minority. Hell, even those who “buy” digital music are a minority. Personally though I still buy physical music, I primarily listen (and subscribe to) Apple Music. Even when I purchase physical copies, if the album/song is on Apple, I add it to my library so that I can listen to it on my phone and computer.

    Do I miss some of the old days? Going to Tower Records, browsing the collection, finding some long sought after import and buying it? Of course I do. I still remember going nuts over finding a copy of Alphaville’s “Prostitute” in a Border’s in Chicago one fateful year. Hard to replace that feeling. But, on the other hand, I can now carry millions of songs around in my pocket and, for the most part, listen to whatever I want, music from all over the world, whenever I want to. It is amazing! I don’t care about compression, lossless audio, etc…Apple Music sounds fine to me. It, and Spotify, also sound fine to most others.

    As far as charts….digital music allows for tracking of popularity of songs that we never possessed before. Previously, as Paul says, a single would be reissued and folks would go out and buy it and we’d count them up and figure out which sold more and voila there’s our chart. We don’t have to do that anymore. Not to mention, the whole model of “buying” singles or albums individually is gone. Even digitally it lasted for a while, but subscription models have changed all of that.

    I also want to point out that not all charts were historically based on sales. I worked in radio for a number of years and there were numerous charts that were based on radio airplay – folks would count the number of radio stations playing a single and the number of times they were playing it per hour, per day etc. No-one “paid” for that music. The labels sent it to to us for free and we played it. Obviously the listeners didn’t pay for it. Who didn’t sit at home and tape music off the radio onto a cassette back in the 80s? Come on, you know you did.

    That world is gone. Sure we can lament it if we want and we can shake our fists and state “back in my day ‘Last Christmas’ wouldn’t have been number one,” but I find that more embarrassing than the current state of affairs. Just my opinion, obviously.

  83. Chris S says:

    No amount of streams should ever equal a sale.
    A sale is a sale, and only actual sales should be counted.

  84. J cooper says:

    I don’t think the figures you use are correct…. as these songs are over three years old they’re on permanent acr so have to work twice as hard as the newer songs to earn their place. 200 plays for a subscriber and 1200 plays for an ad funded account. I think it’s a consumption chart now rather than a sales chart now and is very interesting to observe.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      You are right, I think. My mistake, although the 9.2m streams is correct, and it doesn’t really change the general thrust of the argument.

  85. Philip Gauntlett says:

    I’m still irked that Please Please Me is not an official no 1 when it was considered so at the time. There were music charts prior to 1952 but these aren’t taken into account now as they weren’t based on actual record sales. On that basis a line should have been drawn under the ‘record sales’ chart about ten years ago and a new one started which would have avoided unfair comparisons and dubious record breaking e.g. Biebers record number of songs in the US charts supposedly trumping the Beatles 1964 achievement.

  86. Otto says:

    In the end, when an creators of the song are payed it’s a sale in these days. I’m fine with that.
    Sure it’s not the same as in the past, these numbers don’t compare to the commitment and for that Wham! didn’t sell better than when it was released and ended up on number 2. If someone is claiming that it shows they don’t know what they are talking about.

  87. Steve says:

    Artists still release ‘singles’ just not all physically. And the kids still get excited about it. My daughter rushed downstairs to watch the new Harry Styles video on New Years Day, arguably his 6th single (accompanied by a video from Fine Line) which reminded me of the excited I had (and still do) for releases.

    So if I were in charge of the charts, I think these ‘single releases’ should nominated as such by the record companies and then be eligible for the charts via streaming or downloading or buying from a shop.
    Exclude random album steams, so no more Ed Sheeran filling the top 10.
    Exclude old songs, unless officially rereleased as a single perhaps last years white vinyl Last Christmas would have counted as a rerelease along with the video restoration.
    It would bring back some meaning to the charts along with a bit of competitiveness.

  88. David Reilly says:

    To everyone here saying there’s no “real” singles chart anymore and, also, re the argument of “Alexa play…”, there actually IS a chart based purely on sales, which therefore, is the equivalent of what anyone over, say, 30 would understand as being “the chart”. It’s here https://www.officialcharts.com/charts/singles-sales-chart/20201225/7509/ THIS is the REAL chart based on what people have actually, consciously shelled out for. There us no question that streaming has completely and utterly destroyed the value of music – if you take the view that those who stream are/were actually interested in music in the first place? Or might it be that the vast majority of them are people who maybe bought a couple of albums a year and listened mostly via radio, to whom the advent of streaming is a godsend because they can choose to be spooonfed by an algorithm that doesn’t give the shit between record chat you get from a radio DJ?

  89. Harcourt Fenton Mudd says:

    You are preaching to the choir, Reverend Sinclair!

    If we carry it further: how many of Sir Paul’s 30,000 “sales” that rocketed his new LP to no.1 were streams and how many physical sales?

    . . . Streams for albums also appear to be included in album charts and have their own befuddling arbitrary “sales” methodology applied thus:

    “The [album] charts will use a methodology which aims to reflect the popularity of the album as a whole, instead of just the most popular singles on the record.
    All track streams will be counted with the top performing two songs to be ‘down-weighted’ in line with the average of the next 10. The streams will then be added together and divided by 1,000, with the result added to the physical sales of the album on CD, vinyl and digital.”

    It all becomes meaningless.
    The singles chart is defunct.
    Maybe the album chart is too.

    The most fascinating or valuable “chart” i have seen was the one here on SDE whereby folk posted their favourite releases of the year.

    Mind you…. If the Christmas single that go to #5 this year had got to no1 that would have really been something! That was a ditty I streamed but did not buy…. probably one of the 10 songs I did stream in the whole year.

  90. Tom Walsh says:

    Agree 100 per cent with Paul about the meaningless “No1” status of the song now. As for those saying that nobody would buy a download when you can stream a track, I often download individual singles from artists that I like as a means to support them..don’t they earn more from downloads?

  91. Craig Hedges says:

    The chart should be split pre and post streaming. As a Beatles fan it’s ridiculous hearing that one of today’s ‘stars’ has broken a chart record set by the Fab Four and then try to argue that it’s makes them better.
    I noticed over Christmas that when I asked my smart device to play my selected Christmas playlist it would start to “accidentally” play Mariah Carey’s song, which isn’t on my list. How many of these chart counted streams are accidents? i.e paid for by Sony music?

  92. StephendC says:

    So good to see someone put into words what I have felt for ages!

    The chart should reflect sales of a product, pure and simple.

    You don’t get this nonsense with other products.

    As soon as streams came in it became pointless and non-comparable. Every week when the Official Charts Company declare another record breaker I just snort in derision. I am glad I am not alone.

  93. Richard S says:

    I think the charts stopped being a thing for me back in about 1990 when I went to Uni. But, I guess including streaming is some kind of way of recognising what people are collectively listening to on those “outlets”. If music companies are indeed paying for those songs to be pushed in some way, is that so much different from the advertising, play-listing and general marketing shenanigans of the past?

  94. Dave S. says:

    Whilst queuing for RSD this year I ended up next to a guy that used to work in one of the areas main record shops used to collect sales data for the charts. Record company reps would flood them with free stuff, giveaways etc to drive up the sales figures. One in particular he remembered was Bros who was going nowhere until the record company dumped huge amounts of stock in to the store to give away to drive the numbers up to “buy” their no. 1 slot.

    There are now charts for just about every music genre and country, pick a band and a song and it probably tops one somewhere.

    We should definitely separate paid from unpaid, and streamed from direct sales….then everyone can be at number 1 somewhere! But seriously, they do need separating for clarity.

  95. Phil says:

    It’s also no longer a ‘singles chart’ because:
    a) singles no longer really exist as a concept
    b) album tracks have just as much chance of appearing in it

    It’s the ‘top songs’ chart – the ‘olden days’ equivalent would have been to go around counting how many times people were actually playing the 7” singles that they had bought (or which album tracks they kept playing on repeat).

  96. ioannis says:

    Strange times indeed. techology runs with the speed of the light. And untill we make some rules is already late and we have make new ones.that is obvious everywhere . Social media is a good example. I dont think young people care anyway . Who is really buy albums and listen to them? How many top 10 hits would have micheal,madge,whitney,george when they released their massive albums with the same chart rules? but as i said ,i dont think anyone under 40 really cares. The big question of course is: who is gonna remember rihanna,justin bieber , dua, taylor ,drake in 2050? Even if some of them are really talened, i thing nobody.

  97. Marc Sutton says:

    An excellent article Paul which I totally agree with and to prove your point on how fickle the “sales” figures are I for one have never known a song go straight to number 1 (Baby Stop Me Eating) at Christmas and drop to number 78 in the second week!! Farcicle.

  98. Patrick Gleeson says:

    I 100% agree Paul. A sale is a transaction between the artist and consumer for a specific item, be it download, 7”, CD, vinyl etc. Streaming is passively listening to music without having purchased said item. The subscription paid is for the service provided (irrespective of the artist / song) , not the specific track.

  99. Col. says:

    Is that the biggest drop for a number 1 to spend One week at no.1 then go down 77 places? I’d say it probably is. Charts mean nothing now. Complete farce and nonsense. 7 out of the top 10 this week are ‘old’ songs only there because of streams/downloads. I know there is no real physical charts anymore as very few get released physically.

    Good to see the Christmas song by Jess Glynne to get a physical release on 7″ AND CD. What next Vienna, Welcome to the Pleaseuredome and other ‘no.2’ hits of the past to finally get to the top? I know ladbaby is a charity single but just to release a song 1 week before Christmas Day for 3 years running just to get the Christmas Number one and then the next week the song falls off the face of the earth makes the charts more of a joke than when Cowell was continually number one with his drivel. Then the stupid ding dong witch thing and Rage Against The Machine campaigns as well. Just scrap it or have a download chart on it’s own.

    No shops to go in and buy them? No problem, plenty of online retailers to get physical items from. Put the charts in ROOM 101 and close the hatch!

    Macca was at it too, releasing 11 different coloured vinyl versions of McCartney iii just to get the Album Christmas No.1 spot for one week. Most of those were purchased before anyone had heard any of the songs. tbh for a near 80 year old with a noticeable changing singing voice it’s not a bad effort. Would it have got to No.1 with just a few CD and Vinyl version releases? We’ll never know!

  100. Danny says:

    when was the last time the top 40 meant anything and anyone cared? I love new music and listen to tonnes of it, but nothing that ever troubles the charts. The charts have long split from music of any substance – music that is meant for more than just fleeting commercial appeal – a long time ago. In all honesty thats been the way as long as i can remember, back to the 80;s infact. There were brief scenes which propelled some noteworthy tracks in the top40 – punk, madchester, britpop, grunge, but by in large its been a waste ground of taste. Probably the decline happened the day the Archies hit no1 (joke) Look around and there all sorts of brilliant scenes and new bands and artists popping up – none of them are on radio one or feature in the charts. My point being is the top 40 hasnt been a mountain to be proud of reaching the summit of for a VERY long time. Sad but true (imo)

  101. Mike says:

    U.K. charts are a joke. I don’t even understand them or follow them anymore. I just but what I like and listen to what I like.

  102. Jakob Rehlinger says:

    The Billboard charts were always made up of a combination of single sales and radio airplay, which in a way is similar to passive playlist in the background streams. As radio charts and song rotations where often the result of networking and outright bribery and not phone-in requests as the industry liked to lead the public to believe. The charts have always been a bit of smoke and mirrors. But, yes, more transparently ludicrous now.

    Anyhow, I have to say it’s still impressive “Last Christmas” got to #1 with so many people actively avoiding it to win Whamageddon. Ha!

    • Jess says:

      You win Whamageddon if you get to 23:59 on Christmas Eve without hearing it. The streams that got it to #1 were from Christmas Day onwards.

  103. Michel Banen says:

    I don’t stream anything. The only digital content I listen to are the tracks I BUY on iTunes. And I absolutely prefer a hard copy of an album over streaming of iTunes. Older albums are often cheaper to buy on CD than as an iTunes album !

    As long as people don’t per per stream, a stream should not be counted as a ‘sale’. Excellent article !!!

  104. Kauwgompie says:

    Interesting article. You criticize the definition of a sale but you don’t offer a solution. And a solution is not that simple in a streaming world.

    For starters, imho all streams are paid. The difference between a £10 monthly membership and listening for free are the commercials. So the commercials pay for the stream even if you don’t. Where the money for a stream comes from, you or a commercial, shouldn’t matter much as it relates to converting it into a sale for top 40 purposes. Not sure why the OCC decided there is a difference between paid & “free” streams as it relates to what makes up a sale but at least they count them both.

    Another problem here is what’s the alternative to streaming? You actually can’t get on a bus, drive to town and buy a physical single because there aren’t any physical singles to buy. There simply is no alternative to streaming. Yes you can download the song and pay for it but obviously no one does that if you can stream it for no money out of your pocket. And if you have a £10 monthly streaming subscription, you really are not going to pay for a download. So yes, the will of 1500 downloading people was overruled by millions of streams. Rightfully so imho because charts should reflect the most popular songs.

    This all boils down to the rules that someone invented that make up a sale. Physical singles are not sold anymore so the chart folks had to make up rules to keep the charts going without physical singles. If physical songs are not sold, paid downloads are dead and streams and radio plays is all you got, then it is what it is. If an old song gets streamed more, then that song makes it into the charts. Let’s flip it around, why should only new songs have the right to make it into the charts in a world where no physical singles are sold? If Last Christmas is the most streamed song, then good for Wham!. Then Michael Bublé or so should write a better Christmas song and get it to number 1 but until then, Last Christmas makes it into the charts.

    The only solution, albeit a weak one, is to caveat the chart and say it was a streaming chart, not a physical sales chart. So when physical singles were sold, Wham made it to nr 2. In the new streaming charts, Wham made it to nr 1. But at the end of the day, they’ll say Last Christmas was a nr 1 single.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I used the word ‘actively’ when taking about non-payers. Yes, the industry earns money via ads, but the consumer doesn’t pay themselves, personally, and therefore by definition doesn’t value the music. Last Christmas can be top of a streaming chart, fine. But the history books shouldn’t show that is was #1 in the sales chart. It had virtually no actual ‘sales’. All the other sales are effectively an invention of the industry.

  105. Prince Fan says:

    Some people here really are still stuck in 1984! The charts have been meaningless for years. Physical singles are few and far between and why buy and download a song when it’s a lot easier to stream it?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      If you are going to post a comment like “Some people here really are still stuck in 1984!” then please at least digest the points being made in the article and come back with something constructive. No one is criticising streaming as a way to listen to music, per se. It’s about how that the industry turns that into ‘sales’.

      • Prince Fan says:

        Stating that the single charts is meaningless is a valid comment. The OCC is flogging a horse that died more than a decade ago.

  106. Rare Glam says:

    I completely agree Paul. However, I think where we are at with the so called charts is a transitory phase, prefiguring their ultimate demise. In another ten years, this issue will be seen to have been an end game for the charts. At the moment with how streaming effects the their history, you are right and it needs calling out.

    Speaking as a two-legged dinosaur, I remember well walking a two hour round trip from my estate to the local WH Smiths in the town centre of Brighton in 1973 as a 14 year-old to buy a copy of Slade’s then No.1 ‘Come On Feel The Noize’ single. I had just enough to buy the record but not to pay the bus fare either way. Only to find on arrival that it had ‘sold out’ and I had to make the same round trip (again on foot) the following week once it been re-stocked.

    I always chuckle at this memory when I see comments on Youtube after a song by whoever, asking for the perfectly easily and cheaply available whole album to be uploaded in addition. It seems like a natural millinnial default thing to do for some people. Often accompanied by ‘I’ve been searching on Youtube for this title for ages..’ Yet you can buy it on Amazon for a fiver or so!

  107. Andrew M says:

    Brilliant article. You know what we should do? To prove how ridiculous this situation is and get some publicity for the site at the same time?

    We should choose a song that didn’t get to number one (I vote Vienna) and run a campaign. We should all stream it on repeat and see if we can get it to number one, this proving this whole farce for what it is.

    • Jess says:

      We should do it next Christmas for Fairytale Of New York, one of the most famous #2s ever and a much loved Christmas song.

  108. Guy says:

    On BBC6music this morning they said that many of the ‘streams’ were in fact the result of people saying “Alexa (or similar speaker’s name) play Christmas music” as they unwrapped their prezzies or sat around the Christmas dinner table.

    In other words, hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of ‘Last Christmas’ streams counted towards the total even though the song wasn’t specifically requested!

    Time to bin the charts. Few people care now.

    • blaahh says:

      Which is why Jess Glynne and Justin Bieber are 3 and 4 as Amazon prioritise them as exclusives in the Play Alexa scenario. Its payola… Good article Paul, there are many ironies in the situation but the big one for me is effectively we have an ‘airplay’ chart affected by payola, which was everything Gallup fought against in the 80s.

      The album chart is just filled up with greatest hits streaming, which doesn’t really prove anything as it becomes the equivalent of aural wallpaper, the antithesis of music enjoyment.

    • BillyD says:

      Perhaps chart streamings should only be included if they are searched for not part of a playlist or randomly generated. At least that would mean a person really wanted to hear a particular track.

      If I chose to listen to radio (I don’t) everything I heard can be counted toward airplay charts in the US even though I may only like one song. Thankfully I’m not subjected to radio very often, but plenty of establishments have their own custom soundtracks that loop throughout the day. Should these limited playlists be included on the charts? After all these are legitimate listener “impressions” whether liked or not.

      Face it, even with streaming the charts can be rigged. Bots can tirelessly play 30 seconds of a song. And quite a few times streams have been added to tallies for the right price.

  109. FROM MARS says:

    Never Mind Rewriting Chart History.. How About Rewriting Songs.

    Welcome, 2021.

  110. -SG- says:

    Happy New year Paul… when I read the news about Last Christmas I wondered what you might write about it.
    It’s a slippery slope, I think the point is “Last Christmas” was the most listened to song according to the rules, and in reality, it was everywhere this Christmas, even in the USA. One could guess then it generated the most income for the industry via royalties and advertisements, though I thought for sure this was going to be Mariah’s year…. so for that sake Last Christmas was the top song of the moment, not relevant to UK charts but it is much more popular now at Christmas here in the USA than it was 1984, I don’t think I ever heard the song on the radio back then now I hear it all of the time by Wham! and others. In a blasé world I think the prevailing consensus is going out and buying the song is not even cool anymore it is perhaps even silly, this year, even dangerous.
    Streaming does put music in a kind of vacuum, it becomes a self perpetuated echo that is driven by past behavior and corporate puppet masters. Unlike the past, you might be challenged by a skillful DJ or aggressive advertising campaign. There was a dynamic that one could argue is missing now as music becomes more of a passive and somewhat solitary behavior. But I’m sure that there are loads of people who would disagree. I think in reality the 60’s through say 2003 was an anomaly even dare I say a renaissance, and that new music does not hold the same cultural significance it did when it was something that was actively sought out and valued, and was part of a cultural ritual, music has been losing that cultural relevance for nearly two decades or more as the past often competes with the present. The memorabilia left behind by old singles leaves a reminder to a different time and different tastes. Without anything based in reality, streaming songs is as ephemeral as the water flowing down a stream. There will be little to remind anyone of something of today’s popular music once the files are no longer available or something goes out of popular consciousness and perhaps that is what a lot of it deserves. Perhaps classic pop music will become like classical music and people in 100 years will listen fondly to Queen, Fleetwood Mac David Bowie and The Beatles, like one would listen to Mozart today.

  111. Michael Khalsa says:

    I’m sorry Paul this is my favourite band & I have to disagree. Mariah Carey got to number one in the USA 2019 with her Christmas song. People were happy for her & no one doubted that it wasn’t deserved.

    I still don’t fully understand how ‘The Power Of Love’ by Frankie Goes To Hollywood got to number one in 1984. Was it released the week before Wham! & Do They Know It’s Christmas? And were those released on the same day?

    This is Wham!’s 7th No 1 on the UK or US charts. 18th if you combine Wham! & George Michael. Incredible. And far more than any of their British contemporaries.

    I hope that this means more Wham! & George Michael things available. Wham! deserve to expanded editions of their 3 albums & for all of these to be available on vinyl. They also should have a photography/memorabilia book with a nice publishing company. They were easily the best British pop act of their generation.

    • FROM MARS says:

      The Power Of Love has a particular trajectory, in the context of the last four decades.

      Number One in 1984 (multiple formats in excelsis) – A Christmas scrap for all times !

      Number One in 2012 (Download Days / Department Store CD Single)

      Number Four in 2018 (watershed moment for Prospero, dropping the POS CD single and perhaps, the ball)

    • Barnaby Dickenson says:

      Yes. FGTH’s The Power of Love was released two weeks before Wham! and Band Aid. Although Band Aid was a late entrant in the chart race, ZTT (Frankie’s label) will have known that they had to get out ahead of Wham! as they were unlikely to outsell them. It was also important to Frankie to get that third No.1 as they would then have the equal best start to a career with their first three singles going to number one (along with Gerry and the Pacemakers), a record that was much discussed at the time. The Power of Love entered the charts at No.3, as I recall, knocked Jim Diamond off No.1 the next week, thus securing that all important third No.1. Had Wham! released Last Christmas one week earlier they would have gone straight in at No.1 and deprived FGTH of their record equalling number one. There you go. They managed it 36 years later…

      • FROM MARS says:

        Gerry / Frankie / LardBaby.

        Damn..

        • Other ‘first 3 singles got to number one’ acts include Jive Bunny And The Mastermixers, Spice Girls, Aqua and Westlife (and if you bend the rules a bit, George Michael as a solo artist, and Will Young / Gareth Gates as they had 2 solo number ones each then a duet together at number one).

  112. Henrik says:

    Brilliantly put together piece Paul and of course COMPLETELY agree with you.

  113. Colin Harper says:

    I would agree with everything you say, Paul, except for the flaw at the basis of your argument: history is not ‘being rewritten’, it is being added to.

    History is very rarely ‘rewritten’ – it’s a common term that is almost always used wildly and incorrectly. Only if something perceived as X in the past is revealed much later to have been actually Y could one say history was ‘rewritten’ – in that a past ‘certainty’ was overturned with new facts. For instance, if someone discovered a load of old receipts down the back of a sofa that proved that ‘Last Christmas’ outsold Band Aid one week, and the Official Chart people accepted that, then THAT would result in something one might call ‘history being rewritten.

    All that has happened here is that Wham! had a No.2 for five weeks in 1984/5 and in 2020/1 it reappeared as a No.1. (The number of people ‘buying’ it or the rules of the chart compiling in those era are caveats to that headline, of interest to buffs like us but probably not to pub quizzers…)

    So it seems to me, Paul, that the only thing really bothering you is the way the Wikipedia entry on Wham! has presented this.

    ‘Something is wroing on Wikipedia?!?’ – I really wouldn’t lose sleep over that! :-)

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I take your point Colin… but I’d say the charts and the rules and definitions of what constitutes a ‘sale’ these days are so absurd that Last Christmas should never have been #1 in 2020. The rules make it far to easy for that to happen. As Guy in this thread says, many of the ‘streams’ were in fact the result of people saying “Alexa, play Christmas music”. A valid and amazing achievement (selling 1m+ copies of a physical single in 1984/5) is being superseded and to a degree blemished by a system in 2020 that allows a song to cruise to #1 almost without anyone even thinking directly about that song, never mind going out and buying it.

  114. Robert Plunkett says:

    Great article. I’ve been thinking the same myself but one positive of streaming is that it measures what people are listening to rather than what people buy. People could buy a CD but only listen to it once.

    • BillyD says:

      But…people make money from a cd sale, however small an amount that may be.
      It could sit on your shelf forever, but it represents a physical unit sold and perhaps a blip on a sales chart.

      Nobody makes anything from 1 stream of an album that you might never play again and would never bother any chart.

      What bothers me is looking for an album and finding it is only available digitally. Yes, I have all manner of devices capable of playing this music but it is not convenient. I can’t search for music on my phone while driving. Changing a cd is far easier cause I’ve been doing it for years and don’t even have to look what I’m doing.

  115. Michael Evans says:

    Paul, I really wish the BPI and Official Charts company would read this. Streams should not count for chart placings. Fantastic article.

  116. Alan Jones says:

    Great to see my original 12” purchase from Virgin Megastore Tottenham Court Road and my favourite Wham! song “Everything She Wants” finally sitting at the top of the hit parade. Well it was a double A side pop pickers!

  117. Paul Taylor says:

    It’s been a joke for a long time, but became defunct in my view when Ed Sheeran tracks from ‘Divide’ occupied 17 slots in the Top 20 because of downloads/streams of the individual album tracks.
    That’s another anomaly that needs addressed but never will be.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I think they did adjust that and now “A maximum of three singles within the Top 100 by the same artist will be chart eligible.”

  118. David J says:

    So, a pointless formula determines a sale??
    As you point out this is now blurring the real and the dreamt up! Like most who read your daily posts the charts have been irrelevant for years.

    Maybe we get all SDE readers to ‘stream’ *Gary Glitter back in the charts, just to see the BBC squirm !!

    * I am of course being facetious

    • Randall B says:

      Well since The KLF have now officially started to release some of their songs on streaming services, we could all stream Doctorin The Tradis which sampled Gary Glitter, the Doctor Who theme and The Sweet. I know it has been number one before but if I recalled correctly the BBC wasn’t really happy about the use of one of their programs themes being used in such a way and I wonder if anyone would dare mention that a Gary Glitter song was sampled for this track? Or if we want to bring a song to number one that didn’t get to that spot the first time round then there is always Justified And Ancient featuring Tammy Wynette.

  119. MARK LEVY says:

    Last Christmas was re-issued as a physical single a couple of years ago I think it was on White Vinyl. I got a copy of it.

    • Paul Taylor says:

      Mark, I think Paul means for this festive season. I got the white one last year too, very nice package.

  120. EamonnMooney says:

    That certain Christmas songs do better than others is also determined by the streaming companies and the playlists they push out for lazy streamers who cant be bothered to look for their own favourites. Mariah Wham Shaky Elton Pogues. Every year, top 10.

    Look at America and how ridiculous the situation is there. Where a stream counts for both the singles and album chart the streaming of McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime pushed McCartney II back into the album charts. Nobody is buying that album and the song is only a bonus track on it.

  121. Phil says:

    Totally agree – the singles chart history and records should have been locked at about 2010 and restarted from that point (in the same way as football history seems to have been reset in 1992). We’re now not comparing like for like in any way.
    One pedantic point though – would The Beatles not have had 18 consecutive number ones?

  122. Raf says:

    Seriously? There is a lot of truth to it, but … write about it with the song Wham and not with the song Mariah Carey …? Seriously? But those are the rules. Did you not mind that Maria took 1st place with much lower sales?

  123. Paul English says:

    So with 1,555 downloads, how does Last Christmas compare with other songs? Surely it should be possible to isolate the figures for downloads / physical sales only.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Mariah Carey got 761 downloads. Here total sales were apparently 714 less than Last Christmas! I think on a normal week most downloads for an ‘average’ song would be close to zero, wouldn’t they?

      • Paul English says:

        Downloads = sales so if you strip out all the streaming weighting / scores, then surely it’s reached #1 on its own merits. Not a high bar, admittedly as download figures are generally poor…..

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          Downloads are definitely sales. The problem is there was only 1555 sales in the last week. The streams = sales rule was invented so that current day streams could be weighted to join current day physical sales and current day download data, for a meaning overall statistic. However hardly any singles get released physically any more and hardly anyone downloads. Therefore the ‘sales’ figures have no real meaning and are definitely not fit for purpose when comparing with sales data of 36 years ago. In summary, by saying “it finally got to number one” we are lead to believe it did ‘better’ than it did in 1984 when nothing could be further from the truth.

        • KevinK says:

          Downloads and vinyl/CD/cassettes all count as sales. Without streaming, Last Christmas was only the 9th best seller of the week: https://www.officialcharts.com/charts/singles-sales-chart/
          “Last Christmas” was, of course, the number one on the physical sales chart last Christmas! https://www.officialcharts.com/charts/physical-singles-chart/20191220/1/

          • Paul Sinclair says:

            I’m amazed Last Christmas was as high as #9 on the sales chart. Outside those 1555 downloads, how are people buying it? Is this from sales of the ‘Last Christmas’ soundtrack, or what? Are people *still* buying Wham’s ‘The Final’ all these years later?

          • John Blutarski says:

            Following your link KevinK: Until now, I didn’t realise, there is a song in your UK charts called “Boris Johnson Is A Fucking C**t”. I

            I totally agree with your conclusion, Paul. I also Read somewhere that record companies and artists nowadays pay to be on populair playlists, just as in the past they plugged songs tot be on the radio

  124. Dave says:

    It is a real problem- when (here in the US) a new album debuts and all ten (or more!) tracks from it hit the top 100- it makes the chart sort of meaningless, especially when those same streams are counted on the album chart. The fact that say Drake has more Top 100 hits than the Beatles is a joke- he releases an album and all 20 cuts makes the top 100 for a week, that is nothing like charting singles after single for years.

    Granted, the charts do reflect both sales and what people are listening to (at least here in the US the charts have always included “radio” play, so why not streams too? We don’t pay for radio here)

  125. Darren says:

    Totally agree Paul. If the measure was simply how many times something is “played” Last Christmas would have been no.1 many times over.

    I think it’s time to decouple the old singles chart history with the modern streaming measure as separate charts completely and stop this nonsense measure of a “sale”

    I have three teenagers and they have never bought physical product in their lifetime. The singles chart has no meaning to them at all but they all love music. The singles chart lost its relevance for me during the mid 2000’s when it became that peculiar mix of downloads, streams and physical cd single sales. Orson being a low point.

  126. Graeme says:

    Indeed. It’s absolutely ludicrous in my opinion too but perhaps that’s just because we are from a certain era?
    Maybe a campaign should be started to completely ban streams from the charts. That may have – although unlikely, granted – a positive effect on the physical and digital sales of records too. Which would be good for a floundering industry. There surely must be a percentage of the streaming generation that would pay the small fee to purchase a track in order for it to make an impression on the charts. Alternatively, maybe people, apart from us oldies, just don’t care anymore.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      If you banned streams from the charts there wouldn’t be any charts! Measuring streams against streams if fine, and having some kind of yardstick to turn streams into ‘sales’ – when single sales were made up of physical, downloads and streams – was also necessary, if arguably arbitrary and imperfect. But that need – for singles – has almost disappeared and the very concept of a ‘sale’ is now meaningless. No one gives a shit how many ‘sales’ Taylor Swift gets with a new ‘single’ because it’s more or less zero. It’s virtually all streams.

  127. Steven Roberts says:

    The ‘singles’ chart is completely pointless nowadays, because hardly anybody actually releases physical singles any more. What was the highest-selling physical single for the past week? I’d love to know.

    Personally, I’m struggling to remember the last time I actually walked into a record store and actually bought a 7″/12″ or CD single – and it’s not for lack of wanting to, because I used to buy them regularly.

    Five years? 10, maybe?

  128. KevinK says:

    I agree with just about all of that – the charts have been pretty much meaningless since streaming was included a few years ago.
    Regarding the “maths” … the industry does rethink the rules and attempts to disadvantage the ‘old songs’ from the charts. A couple of years ago (partly as a reaction to the annual influx of Christmas songs into the Top 40) they introduced the Accelerated Chart Ratio (ACR) whereby singles over three years old – or that are over 10 weeks old and with falling sales – require double the number of streams to make one sale. For “Last Christmas” and all the other festive favourites from the past on ACR, it needs 200 paid or 1200 unpaid streams to equal one sale.

  129. Kenny says:

    Don’t know what the fuss is about. To 99% of music fans the “charts” are irrelevant. The only people who get excited about them these days are the press and Auntie Beeb. NEXT!!!

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      The singles chart is irrelevant and it’s fine when they are in their own little bubble doing their thing, and we can just ignore them. But when they start messing with history of pop that’s when it gets messy and that’s what this article is about.

  130. Alan B says:

    Agree 100% Paul. I lost interest in the Singles Chart years ago when physical sales first got superseded by downloads and then subsequently streams. And I’ve never understood the obsession with “The Christmas Number 1” especially in the press. The Press aren’t interested in who is Number 1 on the other 51 weeks of the year. Any record getting to number 1 on any other week is just as valid. Well it was when we had proper physical charts. I’m sounding like an fuddy duddy LOL

  131. SimonH says:

    Agree, this is meaningless when judged against what the chart once was. Another indicator of the changing relationship we have with music. What ‘commitment’ is there in a partial listen to a stream? Compare that to the old world of a journey to a shop and parting with money over the counter…
    I’m not saying things were uniformly better, but there has been a fundamental change and this re writing of history is one example.

  132. Denis Woods says:

    I agree 100%. It is part of pop history.

  133. Stephen says:

    Agree with you but have a feeling we will be the last “generation” to care about charts and chart positions.
    If no one cares about them, they won’t be looked after

  134. Jim Edwards says:

    What a sad, sad day. One of my favourite No. 2 singles is now a crappy No. 1 streamed single. Bah humbug!

  135. philce3k says:

    Happy New Year, Paul. I completely agree.

    I have been moaning for years now that the charts is meaningless ‘these days’. Music has become completely devalued and most seem to think it should be free (how that works in practice is a mystery!) I saw Tim Lovejoy once say on Sunday morning TV (in industrial level ignorance) that he thinks we shouldn’t have to pay for music!!! Funnily enough I don’t think he should be paid to talk shit to a TV camera. And if he’s serious, then so am I.

    And it’s all so abstract now and we don’t even have TV shows, like TOTP or CDUK or the Chart Show or whatever, to make it clear what is actually going on. I don’t think I have known what the Number One single was in over a decade…… and to add insult to injury I don’t even care!

    I sat up in bed last night and spontaneously dished out £38 on physical music product in the early hours of the morning. I am perversely a little proud of that.

    I am now, officially, my parents! :-D

    • SimonH says:

      Love that I don’t know who he is:)
      Great comment, you weren’t alone, I spent £30 on CDs last night, long may it continue,
      I have Amazon music HD but it’s just not the same for me…too ephemeral.

  136. Rich E says:

    Totally agree Paul. For me the charts, as more or less accurate reflectors of sales, tastes and history need to be defined as starting in 1952 and ending in, well, I’ll leave that for others to debate.

    I lost interest when singles entering at number one became the norm and not something exceptional.

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