The first No. 1 on Britain’s much-heralded new “combined” singles chart, which yesterday (April 17) added download sales to those of physical releases for the first time, was the same as the last “traditional” chart-topper. Tony Christie’s “(Is This the Way to) Amarillo” (UMTV) started a fifth week at the summit, and is now the first single to spend five consecutive weeks at No. 1 since Black Eyed Peas’ “Where Is the Love” in October/November 2003.
The new chart methodology almost doubles the size of the singles market “overnight,” since in the first quarter of this year, download sales in the U.K. totaled 4.5 million, according to trade body the British Phonographic Industry, while physical sales were 5.8 million.
Considerable controversy has surrounded the launch of the new system by the Official U.K. Charts Company, with representatives of the independent sector alleging that indie labels were not yet accurately represented and that the chart was open to manipulation because major record companies could “buy back” downloadable tracks in sufficient quantities to improve their chart placements.
Last Thursday, indie trade organization the Association of Independent Music issued a letter to the Office of Fair Trading requesting an urgent intervention in the launch of the new chart. “AIM welcomes the further legitimization of downloads by inclusion in the singles chart,” it said in a statement, “once the supply chain is suitably developed, appropriate monitoring systems are in place and independent labels are able to compete on a level playing field.”
Christie’s single would also have been No. 1 on the physical-only chart. He sold 64,339 physical units and 4,661 downloads, for a total of exactly 69,000. Razorlight’s “Somewhere Else” (Vertigo), a new entry at No. 2 overall, was also in the position it would have occupied on the traditional survey.
All but two singles in the combined top 40 are available in both formats, but artists with strong download bases score over those without them in some cases: Kings Of Leon’s “Kings of the Rodeo” (Hand Me Down/Sony BMG) has the notoriety of becoming the first single to miss out on a top 40 placement because of the new methodology, ranking at No. 41 overall instead of a physical-only No. 37.
“1, 2 Step” (LaFace/Sony BMG) by Ciara featuring Missy Elliott entered at No. 3, following Ciara’s No. 1 U.K. success with “Goodies” in January, while Elvis Presley’s “The Wonder of You” (RCA/Sony BMG) opened at No. 4. The dance crossover “So Much Love To Give” (All Around The World) by Freeloaders featuring the Real Thing entered at No. 9. The track contains a sample from 1970s soul-pop hitmakers the Real Thing’s minor 1977 U.K. hit, “Love’s Such a Wonderful Thing.”
On the U.K. album chart, Basement Jaxx scored its first No. 1 with “Singles” (XL Recordings), which climbed from No. 3 in its fourth chart week.
U.S. rapper Akon’s “Trouble” (Universal) continued its impressive progress, which over the last four weeks has run 31-16-5-2. Garbage enjoyed a No. 4 entry with “Bleed Like Me” (Warner Bros.), and there was a No. 6 debut for “The Collection” (Epic), a new anthology of the impressive hit catalog of rock’n’roll revivalist Shakin’ Stevens, who had his British chart heyday in the 1980s with four No. 1s and 11 other top 10 hits.
The pan-European charts show Moby’s “Hotel” (Mute) regaining the top spot on the European Top 100 Albums tally, while Mario’s “Let Me Love You” (J/Sony BMG) spends a third week at No. 1 on the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles survey.