The new UK singles chart: good news and bad news

The spanking new UK chart is out, and it’s a bit of a non-starter really: there’s good news (two Girls Aloud tracks in the chart! Yay!) and bad news (Snow Patrol! Boo!) but the inclusion of downloads is hardly earth-shattering – for now, at least.

The changes to the chart rules are important, though. As of now, downloads can be included at any time – there doesn’t need to be a corresponding physical release – and that means when the digital hold-outs (The Beatles, Radiohead… any others that spring to mind?) finally succumb to the shiny digital future, their catalogues will dominate the charts. A top 40 consisting entirely of Beatles tracks isn’t impossible, and that could make it harder for new artists to get exposure.

Quick tangent: the demographics of downloading are interesting, because where singles are generally bought by The Kids, downloads are generally bought by The Dads. So the changes to the chart rules could turn the top 40 into an aural equivalent of Mojo magazine. Eek!

More worryingly, unlike physical singles downloads aren’t deleted. Those of us old enough to recall the horrors of tracks such as Wet Wet Wet’s Love Is All Around will remember the sheer awfulness of a number one that won’t go away, and the sheer joy when the artist or record company deletes the track and prevents any more fuckwits from buying it. With the new-style chart, it’s entirely possible that the next Everything I Do I Do It For You or Love Is All Around will hang around forever.