The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

8:35am on Monday, 17th January, 2005:

Singles Chart


Which pop star has pointy ears, lives in the trees and shoots arrows?

Elvish Presley.

Elvis recently got the 1,000th number 1 single of the UK chart ("of all time", as The Independent put it). This was on sales of 30,000 or so copies in a week — barely an eighth of what was required in the chart's glory days.

This is an example of how easy it is for the chart to be manipulated. There have been suggestions as to means by which the system could be modified better to reflect popular music opinion rather than the sales of an outdated format, but these have never got anywhere. The music industry's preference is to factor in airplay, but this leads to situations where artists can top the chart before they've actually released the single.

Here's my idea: when calculating record sales, count copies sold across a 2-week period. If Elvis sells 30K copies of his single this week, 20K next week and 15K the week after, he'd be counted as 30K this week, 50K next week and 35K the week after.

This approach makes it much more difficult to engineer a chart entry straight to number 1, while still broadly reflecting record sales.

A cheque for £1,000 would suffice for this advice, record industry execs.

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).