Not long ago, Britain's singles chart resembled a scene from "Speed."

Like music biz equivalents of Keanu Reeves' character in that movie, executives offered frenzied theories about how to halt the runaway bus that the chart had become.

Now, only 20 months after compiler the Official U.K. Charts Co. (OCC) first included download sales, it's clear that digital has come to the rescue. The result, Universal Music U.K.'s Vertigo label manager Clive Cawley says, is "the most honest singles chart we've had for 20 years."

OCC data shows the top 20 tracks in its weekly singles chart published Aug. 3 had amassed a total of 169 weeks on the OCC top 75-averaging 8.45 weeks per song. That compares with 98 weeks for the top 20 one year before, or just 4.9 weeks per track.

And in the same week in the pre-digital days of August 2004, the top 20 singles had amassed only 80 weeks-four apiece.

Labels welcome the change. Previously, Cawley says, "you'd build all your momentum up to a release date, slam all your money on week one, your record would shoot in at No. 7-and the next week it'd be No. 35."

Now...

Click here for the full story, including how retailers and radio programmers are using the new chart, what the OCC thinks is the ultimate impact of the new methodology, and more.