Meet the new chart, same as the old chart

With much fanfare, the official UK download chart has arrived – and it reflects the hip, cutting edge nature of digital music fans. Which is why, er, Westlife is at number one.

1 (new) ‘Flying Without Wings’ – Westlife BMG
2 (new) ‘Blazin Day’ Blazin Squad Warner
3 (new) ‘She Will Be Loved’ Maroon 5 BMG
4 (new) ‘Lola’s Theme’ Shapeshifters EMI
5 (new) ‘American Idiot’ Green Day Warner
6 (new) ‘This Love’ Maroon 5 BMG
7 (new) ‘Dry Your Eyes’ Streets Warner
8 (new) ‘Bedshaped’ Keane Universal
9 (new) ‘Laura’ Scissor Sisters Universal
10 (new) ‘Apocalypse Please’ Muse Warner
11 (new) ‘Sick and Tired’ Anastacia Sony
12 (new) ‘Dumb’ 411 Sony
13 (new) ‘Everybody’s Changing’ Keane Universal
14 (new) ‘Left Outside Alone’ Anastacia Sony
15 (new) ‘My Happy Ending’ Avril Lavigne BMG
16 (new) ‘Guns Don’t Kill People Rappers Do’ Goldie Lookin’ Chain Warner
17 (new) ‘Single’ Natasha Bedingfield BMG
18 (new) ‘Harder To Breathe’ Maroon 5 BMG
19 (new) ‘Hey Ya’ Outkast BMG
20 (new) ‘Sunshine’ Twista Warner
[copied and pasted from No Rock]

An interesting note in the small print:

The Official UK Download Chart is based on the most popular, legally downloaded tracks in the UK. It’s compiled from the sale of permanently owned single track downloads and doesn’t include streamed downloads, subscriptions or free downloads.

Of course, the chart has to have strict eligibility criteria or it’s too easily corrupted, but even then its criteria are particularly tight – for example, by ruling out subscription downloads it knocks most of Napster’s sales out of the window. So what we’re left with is a chart that doesn’t reflect what people are legally downloading (let alone actually downloading); but one that reflects what people are buying from iTunes and the various OD2 services.

By comparison, here’s what Big Champagne reckons is the global, file sharing top 10:

1: Nelly, My Place
2: Maroon 5, She will be loved
3: Lil’ Flip, Sunshine
4: Houston, I like that
5: Kevin Lyttle, Turn Me On
6: Clara, Goodies
7: Linkin Park, Breaking The Habit
8: Mase, Welcome Back
9: Kanye West, Jesus Walks
10: Juvenile, Slow Motion

Westlife are conspicuous by their absence.

Update, 8.30am

Westlife’s dominance of the download chart is interesting; as Matt Wells writes in Media Guardian [free registration required]:

A number of high profile artists, including Westlife, released their singles exclusively on the internet last week in an attempt to top the new chart.

Which explains why a five year old song is number one. If a similar strategy is adopted by other artists in coming weeks, the chart’s likely to become distinctly old-fashioned: for now, The Beatles back catalogue isn’t available legally online. If it were to be released in dribs and drabs with a suitably hefty marketing budget, The Beatles could top the download charts for eternity…