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Jul 1

Charts – 30 June 2017

Posted on Saturday, July 1, 2017 by Paul in Music

There are rule changes coming to the chart next week.  Because if the compilers wanted to make a case for them, they couldn’t have wished for a more helpful chart than this one.  It’s dull as ditchwater.

1.  Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber – “Despacito”

Returning to number one for a seventh week, after being interrupted by Artists For Grenfell (which drops to three).  So, let’s talk about those rule changes.

If you regularly get as far as reading beyond the break in these posts, it won’t have escaped your notice that the chart has slowed to a crawl, and that it’s becoming commonplace for even B-list album releases to swamp the charts with individual tracks.  This is worrying the compilers, partly because there seems to be a general instinctive reaction that the chart shouldn’t behave like this, but also because it undermines the real function of the charts – in the sense that it’s the function that persuades the industry to bankroll the chart – which is to promote new records (or at least a certain type of new record).  To do that, the chart has to hold people’s attention, and actually feature new music.  If the number of new entries slows to a crawl, and if nobody’s paying attention anyway because the chart is so dull, you’ve got a problem.

On the other hand, for the chart to serve its real, promotional function, it also has to be credible in its ostensible function, which is to serve as an objective measure of popularity – traditionally measured by sales.  And so, starting next week, we have two new rules designed to try and split the difference.

First, artists will be limited to three tracks in the chart.  This only applies to the lead artist credit; “featuring” listings don’t count.  The aim, obviously, is to put a stop to albums swamping the singles chart.  This one is fairly defensible.  It amounts to saying that when lots of tracks from the same album are all getting streamed at once, that should count to the album chart, and only the stand-out tracks should register on the singles chart.  But look out for the ructions when somebody A-list dies and most of the commemorative buys vanish into the chart ether.

The second rule is more convoluted.  Basically, they’re going to down-weight the streams of older tracks.  This will kick in once a track has been out for ten weeks and has been in decline for three weeks.  So you’re talking about tracks which have been out for a while, plus they’re a month past their peak.  For the most part, these are the tracks that are on their way down the chart but taking their sweet time about it.  The aim is to get rid of them more quickly, in order to make more space for new stuff.

Obviously, this is a bit more controversial, because it’s fairly explicit chart engineering.  But you can still make a case for it.  The problem with using streams for the singles chart, as we’ve discovered over the last couple of years, is that once something is a big hit, it tends to linger on playlists forever.  By the time a record is old enough to get caught by this rule, there’s a good chance that you’re dealing in repeat plays from people who’ve been listening to the track for weeks already.  This sort of thing never got picked up by a pure sales chart, and you can make an argument that it’s not really what the singles chart is looking for.  But it’s still a big departure from the established notion that the chart is an objective barometer of popularity.

Anyway.  This week’s chart offers a lot of modest climbers, for what that may be worth.  “Wild Thoughts” by DJ Khaled featuring Rihanna & Bryson Tiller moves 3-2.  “Mama” by Jonas Blue featuring William Singe goes 6-5, giving Jonas a third top 5 hit.  “Power” by Little Mix from 10 to 9.  “Your Song” by Rita Ora from 11 to 10 (which is nice, because it’s quite good).  “Pretty Girl” by Maggie Lindemann rebounds to a new peak of 12 in its seventh week on chart.  “Crying in the Club” by Camila Cabello has moved 23-23-20-18.  “Came Here For Love” by Sigala featuring Ella Eyre has gone 26-23-19.  It would take a heroic effort to find any of these incremental climbs especially dramatic.

22.  Drake – “Signs”

This week’s highest new entry!  It’s a new Drake single, not a track from “More Life” – which only came out at the end of March.  Officially, this is a collaboration with Louis Vuitton to promote their Men’s Spring-Summer 2018 Fashion Show.  This is, supposedly, a song inspired by the collection.  Seriously, that’s how Louis Vuitton are promoting it.  If so, the collection has inspired Drake to make a record not altogether unlike something that might have been left off his recent album.

Number 26 is “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons, climbing ten.  And then we have this week’s other new entry, because yes, there are but two…

28.  Liv’n’G – “Smile For Bradley”

Bradley Lowery is a six-year old football fan who is dying of cancer.  This is a fundraiser single for child cancer charities, and yes, those are his classmates singing in the last bit of the video.  It’s a cover version of “Smile”, which started life as the romantic theme from the soundtrack of Modern Times, the 1936 Charlie Chaplin film.  Chaplin himself is officially credited as the composer (though there’s some dispute about how far the collaborators should have got a co-credit).  The lyrics were added in the Nat King Cole version, which reached number 2 in 1954.  Surprisingly, this seems to be the first version to chart since then.

Nothing more to note on the singles chart.  Over on the albums, Glastonbury is shifting some back copies.

  • “÷” by Ed Sheeran is back at 1, for a fourth run, and a twelfth week in total.
  • A 20th anniversary re-issue of “OK Computer” by Radiohead is 2.  Number 1 on release, of course.  The biggest hits from that album was “Paranoid Android”, which got to number 3, but I prefer “No Surprises”.
  • “Evolve” by Imagine Dragons at 3, which is their third top 3 album.  We’ve had the single already.
  • “Best of You”“Greatest Hits” by the Foo Fighters re-enters at 6, which is Glastonbury.  Their biggest hit single was , which made number 4 in 2005.  The album has been out since 2009.
  • Purple Rain OST” by Prince & The Revolution at 7, and I have no idea what that’s about.  It also reached number 7 on its release in 1984, though it made number 4 last year.
  • “Timeless – The All-Time Greatest Hits” by The Bee Gees at 9, which is another Glastonbury affair.  Here’s their 1967 debut “New York Mining Disaster 1941”.  It made number 12.
  • “Grateful” by DJ Khaled at 10.  His second top ten album, after “Major Key” last year.  We’ve had the current single.
  • “Live At Carnegie Hall – An Acoustic Evening” by Joe Bonamassa at 30.  Self-explanatory live album.  Here’s “Drive”.

Bring on the comments

  1. Paul F says:

    There was a deluxe reissue of Purple Rain out this week.

  2. Paul says:

    Ah, that would explain it.

  3. SanityOrMadness says:

    What they could do is make it a Money chart rather than a Sales chart – or, at least, weight streams to match the amount of money a single stream gives an artist (or, more realistically, record company) as a %age of the amount they get from a sale. So if they get 10p from a download, and 0.001p from a stream, that would be a 1:1000 ratio rather than 1:150 or 1:300…

  4. SanityOrMadness says:

    Sorry, 1:10000. Dropped a zero, there.

  5. SanityOrMadness says:

    Further possible thoughts, after some extra thought:

    Rather than have a flat sales:stream ratio, curve the stream ratio per account so that it peaks with, say, the fifth play and then sharply declines thereafter, so that after the nth play, that account no longer contributes to chart placement (gameable to an extent, but so is buying multiple copies).

    Or just plain say “sales contribute X%, streams contribute Y%” rather than have a fixed sales:streams ratio, so the top seller gets an index number and all other sales are a %age of that, same with streams, and then you add the indices together to make the chart.

    Also, is there a reason radio plays aren’t counted, as in the US? When it was a pure sales chart that was one thing, but post-streams…

  6. Joseph says:

    “But it’s still a big departure from the established notion that the chart is an objective barometer of popularity.”

    When most folks were buying actual 45s or, I suppose cassingles or CD-singles, there was a similar behavior of playing the same songs for years, but this obviously wasn’t captured by the sales chart. It seems bizarre to me still that streams should be included at all. Streaming is really much closer to the radio than to buying records, even if in fact the changes in mediation have blurred the lines. But there’s also a trackable behavior that should be registered somewhere, to reflect popularity. Streaming should have its own chart. Integrating it into the sales chart was bound to be a distortion.

  7. Paul says:

    The problem with that is that the sales market is in terminal decline as the market shifts to streaming. If you keep the two charts separate (and separate versions are published, for those who are interested), then the end result would simply be a tipping point where everyone decided that the streaming chart was the one that really counted.

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