David Bowie’s rush-released “Where Are We Now” may currently sit at No. 1 on iTunes’ U.K. Top Singles list and figure prominently in download sales worldwide, but it is currently set to miss out on the Official Charts Company’s chart on Sunday, as it contravenes OCC rules.
“Now” does not feature in the company’s current “midweek” sales data because it is linked to pre-orders of Bowie’s “The Next Day” album, due in March. An OCC statement says: “Owing to chart rules which are agreed in partnership with U.K. record companies and retailers, data relating to the David Bowie single ‘Where Are We Now’ cannot currently be counted towards the official singles charts, as the release is linked to an album pre-order promotion and it is not possible to distinguish album sales from track sales from the retail data received.
“Should it become possible in the future for regular track sales to be distinguished from album pre-order incentive purchases, then these sales can be counted towards the chart.”
Bowie’s most recent appearance in the top 40 of the U.K. singles chart came when “Everyone Says ‘Hi'” reached No. 20 in 2002.
The surprise appearance of the track yesterday (Tuesday) morning was greeted with wall-to-wall media coverage, almost all of it positive. The London Times ran a cover story leading to a double page spread on pages 4 and 5 of the newspaper, and “Now” was immediately A-listed on both BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music.
The Times quoted producer Tony Visconti describing “The Next Day” as “a rock album. There are songs on there that could fill stadiums. We recorded it live, with David on keyboards and guitar. Lyrically it’s a wide gamut. Some songs are personal, looking back; others are observational.”
Observers marvelled that the track’s release remained a secret until almost the moment of its appearance. Bowie’s son, film director Duncan Jones, tweeted on Monday: “Heh heh heh…I know something you don’t know.”
As for “Where Are We Now’s” chart fortunes in the United States, things are different. Instant-gratification tracks tied to iTunes album pre-orders are reported as sales by iTunes to Nielsen SoundScan, and in turn, to Billboard’s sales charts. The song is also available to purchase as a stand-alone track.
Label sources suggest that “Where Are We Now” might sell between 30,000 to 40,000 downloads in the U.S. in the tracking week ending Jan. 13. That number will include sales generated by pre-orders of the iTunes edition of the album.
With that sales sum, and its airplay only just starting to gain traction, it’s unlikely the song will debut on the overall Billboard Hot 100. Bowie has logged 26 entries on the Hot 100, including two No. 1s (“Fame” and “Let’s Dance”). He last visited the chart in 1997 with “I’m Afraid of Americans” (No. 66).
Though “Where Are We Now” may not hit the Hot 100 next week, the tune could reach the top 25 on the Rock Digital Songs chart.
With additional reporting by Keith Caulfield in Los Angeles.