Pick your way through the usual miasma of “the charts are meaningless and don’t matter anymore/streaming has ruined everything” debates that clog up any half-notable music forum these days and a common theme develops. Old farts who hanker for the good old days complain loud and long about the way hits don’t seem to grow from small acorns any more. The perception that hits don’t climb the charts on a regular basis still persists.
But lately that just isn’t true. Whether it is just one of those passing things or symptomatic of a larger trend, but record labels, pluggers and promoters appear to have finally cracked the secret of nurturing tracks from slow burners to smashes. Of course, the biggest hits will always start as they mean to go on, the current No.1 did enter straight at the top after all. But it was also the first single to do so for months.
If you read this week’s Chart Watch UK piece you will have seen me point out the large number of up and coming hits that are steadily moving into their destined permissions. But I thought it would be interesting here to take time out to note the songs in the current Top 10 and just where they began their chart life. Because at any time over the past 20 years or so virtually every one of the Top 10 singles would have arrived there instantly.
Right now? Not so much. Take a look:
1) Starlight. Entered at: 1
2) Baby Entered at: 2
3) Peru Entered at: 28
4) Where Are You Now Entered at: 91
5) Make Me Feel Good Entered at: 66
6) Down Under Entered at: 32
7) Where Did You Go Entered at: 40
8) Overseas Entered at : 8
9) Boyfriend Entered at: 14
10) Go Entered at: 53
That’s just three of this week’s 10 biggest hit singles that began their chart lives actually IN the Top 10. And just one other one started out in the Top 20 from the get-go. Even just a few years ago that would be utterly unheard of.
The charts presently have the kind of growth narrative they haven’t done for literally decades.