British music charts

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The British music charts have been published by the Official Charts Company since the early 1990s , which operated as the CIN (Chart Information Network) until 2001 . They are considered a benchmark for the music market in the UK . Charts have existed since the 1950s.


British single charts exist since November 14, 1952. The New Musical Express then published a list of the twelve best-selling singles, which was created on the basis of a survey of 20 major record dealers; Titles with exactly the same number of sales shared the ranking, so that the first edition of the British charts comprised 15 titles (led by Al Martino's Here In My Heart ). In the following years the list was steadily expanded: to 20 tracks in October 1954, to 30 in April 1956. In November 1958, the first album charts were published by the music magazine Melody Maker , which were considered official until March 1960. The Record Retailer , the predecessor of Music Week , began publishing Top 50 single charts in March 1960 and also created the album charts until 1969. In the 1960s the lists of the individual publications competed with one another; The BBC used its own list in its radio program, which it calculated from several magazines.

In February 1969 the BBC and the Record Retailer merged and outsourced the survey of the single and album charts to an external company. The list of singles initially comprised 50 tracks, in May 1978 it was expanded to 75 tracks. Technical progress made it possible to create the charts within a short time after the end of the sales week (on Saturday); the new charts have been available on Sunday since October 1987 and will be broadcast on the same day by the BBC. Compilations were only removed from the album charts in early 1989.

In the edition of April 17, 2005, paid downloads for the single charts were included for the first time. After initial restrictions, all chargeable downloads have been included since January 1, 2007, regardless of whether they are also available as a single or not. In this respect, strictly speaking, it is no longer a single chart, but rather a “song chart”. The charts for the week ending July 12, 2014 also included music streaming data for the first time in determining the single placements. 100 streaming views were equated to buying a song (sound carrier or digital).

While the BBC's charts broadcast are currently limited to the top 40 for both albums and singles, other sources publish the top 75, the top 100 or even the top 200.


Chart title description
UK Singles Chart The UK Singles Chart is the official chart for UK singles sales. The number of sound carriers sold as well as the download sales and streams are evaluated.
UK albums chart The UK Albums Chart is the official ranking for albums in the UK. Both the sales of sound carriers as well as the number of downloads and streams are taken into account.
The Big Top 40 Show Unofficial single chart posted by the UK's 140 local radio stations. This ranking is influenced by sales on iTunes .
UK download chart These charts are only based on the download figures from official sales providers.
UK streaming chart Calculated from the number of streams within a week from various providers such as Napster , Deezer , Spotify and We7 .
UK R&B chart These charts show the best singles and albums from the genres R&B , rap and hip-hop .
UK rock chart These charts show the best singles and albums from the rock music genre.
UK indie charts Ranking for the best singles and albums from the indie music sector.
UK Dance Chart Ranking for the best singles and albums from the field of dance music .
Scottish Singles Chart Regional ranking. Displays the best selling singles specifically for Scotland .
Scottish Albums Chart Regional ranking. Displays the best selling albums specifically in Scotland

Classic FM introduced both a classical music ranking and the annual Classic FM Hall of Fame . The radio station BBC Radio 3 also introduced a ranking for classical music, which is updated every Tuesday.


  • Elvis Presley had the most number one hits : 21 of his titles reached number one, three of them as a re-release in 2005. The group with the most number one titles are the Beatles (17), the most successful singer is Madonna (13), the most successful The women's group are the Spice Girls (9). Elvis Presley had more top ten hits than any other artist (76).
  • Elvis Presley had the most number-one album as a solo artist . 40 years after Presley's death, The Wonder of You landed as the 13th album at number 1 on the British album charts in 2016.
  • The first number one was Here In My Heart by Al Martino in 1952.
  • The most successful performers without a number one hit are Depeche Mode , who (as of April 2015) had 42 top 40 successes, but never reached number one.
  • Whigfield succeeded - disregarding Al Martino as the very first number one - as the first debutante, the direct entry to number one (1994 with Saturday Night ).
  • The duo Gnarls Barkley with Crazy made it to number one in April 2006 as the first performers only through downloads . Without a break, they were only replaced by Sandi Thom after nine weeks .
  • Cliff Richard had the most top 40 hits , a total of 122 (November 2007). He has sold a total of 21 million singles, more than any other.
  • Michael Jackson posthumously set the record for most simultaneous top 40 hits : In the issue of July 5, 2009 there were 13 titles, two of which were in the top ten. (The record was previously held by Elvis Presley, who in November 1957 - and thus during his lifetime - had seven titles in the top 30.)
  • Naomi Campbell and Shaquille O'Neal are among the “most unsuccessful” performers in the top 40 (that is, they were only there for a week and only in 40th place) .
  • The best-selling single is Candle in the Wind '97 by Elton John from 1997. The single was recorded in memory of the late Lady Diana .
  • The longest at number one was I Believe by Frankie Laine in 1953, but with interruptions. The longest without a break in first place, namely 16 weeks, was Bryan Adams with (Everything I Do) I Do It for You in 1991.
  • The biggest jump within the Top 40 was achieved in 2008 with two titles: P! Nk with So What from 38 to 1 and TI feat. Rihanna with Live Your Life from 39 to 2 (37 places each). So What also made the biggest jump to number one within the top 40 (other number one titles, however, made even bigger leaps, namely within the top 75 or top 200).
  • The biggest fall within the top 40 was experienced by Wham! : Last Christmas slipped from 2 out of the TOP 100 in 2018. McFly and Elvis Presley suffered the biggest fall from first place - from 1 to 20 : McFly 2007 with Baby's Coming Back / Transylvania , Presley 2005 with One Night / I Got Stung ( however, Presley's single, a re-release of a number one hit from 1959, had a limited number pressed, McFly's single not).
  • The longest in the top 40 was Frank Sinatra with My Way , 75 weeks from 1969 to 1971.
  • Rihanna is the first female artist to have had a number one hit in the UK charts 6 years in a row ( Umbrella (2007), Take a Bow (2008), Run This Town (2009), Only Girl (In the World) (2010 ), What's My Name? (2011), Diamonds (2012)) and the second artist in total after Elvis Presley .
  • Rihanna is the first female artist to have three top 10 hits in the UK in 50 years. Vera Lynn had previously achieved this with numerous hits in 1952.
  • On May 22, 2011, Lady Gaga set a record in the British singles charts: She is the first solo artist since Ruby Murray in 1955 to be in the top 20 with four singles at the same time, namely Born This Way , Judas , The Edge of Glory and Hair .
  • On January 8, 2016, Justin Bieber became the first solo artist to occupy the top three positions in the British singles chart at the same time: Love Yourself at number 1, Sorry at number 2 and What Do You Mean? in 3rd place.
  • On January 13, 2017, Ed Sheeran succeeded for the first time with two songs at the same time at number 1 and 2 of the single charts. On March 10, 2017, he was represented with 16 titles in the TOP 20. With the exception of places 7, 16, 17 and 20, he took all other places.
  • Tom Moore was the oldest performer at the top of the singles charts in April 2020 at the age of 99 and celebrated his 100th birthday in this position. He released You'll Never Walk Alone with Michael Ball and The NHS Voices of Care Choir.

Non-English language titles in the UK Top 40

In the British singles charts, music in English dominates. This is explained by the fact that local artists mostly sing in their native English; at the same time, artists who publish internationally also usually record their titles in English.

Nevertheless, numerous non-English titles made it into the Top 40 in the past. These often came from well-known artists who also sing internationally in their mother tongue ( e.g. Nessun dorma , in Italian by Luciano Pavarotti , Pour que tu m'aimes encore , in French by Celine Dion , or Begin the Beguine , in Spanish by Julio Iglesias ). European (holiday) hits (such as Lambada in Portuguese from Kaoma or Macarena in Spanish from Los del Río ) also made it to the chart. With A Prince Among Islands by Capercaillie and An Ubhal As Airde (The Highest Apple) by Runrig , there were also top 40 titles in Scottish Gaelic .

In addition, there were top 40 titles in the UK that were at least partially sung in German:

  • Wooden Heart by Elvis Presley contained parts of the folk song Muss i denn, muss i denn zum Städttele and reached number one;
  • The Schaumburg fairy tale singers achieved second place under the name Obernkirchen Children's Choir in 1954 with the song The Happy Wanderer . Despite the English title, it was a version of My father was a wanderer sung entirely in German .
  • Autobahn von Kraftwerk (1975) achieved 11th place as a completely German-language piece of music. Another title of the band, Expo 2000 , contained both English and German and reached 27th place in 1999;
  • Rock Me Amadeus by Falco (1986) was mostly in German with an English refrain and reached number one;
  • The boat of U 96 (1992) contained, albeit with very little text, some German words;
  • I'm a Foreigner from Pop Will Eat Itself (1994) was entirely in English with the exception of the title line;
  • Oh Mein Papa by Eddie Calvert (1954) and Das Glockenspiel by Schiller (2001) were instrumental pieces and only had a German title;
  • Rammstein had several smaller hits from 2002 to 2005 (Ich will , Feuer frei , Amerika and Keine Lust) .

A few other titles had individual German words in the text, for example Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick by Ian Dury and the Blockheads (1978, “I love you”), Dr Mabuse from Propaganda (1984, “no return for you”), Girls & Boys from Blur (1994, “you are very beautiful”) or Revol from the Manic Street Preachers (1994, “Lebensraum, Kulturkampf, raus, raus”).

In addition, a number of German titles were recorded in English by the original artists, such as 99 Red Balloons ( 99 Luftballons ) by Nena or A Little Peace ( A little peace ) by Nicole , both of which reached number one on the hit list. The Münchener Freiheit came under the name of Freiheit with Keeping the Dream Alive ( As long as you can still live dreams ) at number 14. The group Trio reached second place in the British single charts with the English version of Da Da Da . Other English versions made the top 75 but missed the top 40, e.g. Ba-Ba-Bankrobbery (Ba-Ba-Bank robbery) of the First General Uncertainty under EAV to 63.

With a "double A-side" The Model ( The model ) and Computer Love (Computer Love) reached power plant in 1981 to first place in the UK Top 40. power plant pieces Pocket Calculator (calculator) , and The Robots (Robot) also reached as Title recorded entirely in English the UK Top 40. Showroom Dummies (mannequins) from 1982 was released as a single version only in English and in the United Kingdom and reached 25th place there.

Changes in the music scene

Charting in the UK has changed over the past few decades. While a title started at the lower end of the top forty in the 1980s, there were regular newcomers to the top ten from the early 1990s. Newcomers in first place were also more and more frequent, in 1999 for every other week. Newcomers often had to accept significant placement losses in the following week; In the hit list of January 23, 2005, a record was set in this regard: One Night by Elvis Presley fell from first to twentieth place within a week. One reason for this development can be found in changes in marketing and buying behavior.

With the inclusion of Internet downloads in 2005 and other rule changes, chart activity has calmed down significantly compared to the 1990s. In the spring and summer of 2008 there were around five newcomers to the weekly top 40 (mostly around ten in the previous decade), and individual titles are developing into long-running hits that stay in the top 40 for half a year. However, newcomers to number one are still common, if not as often as in the past.

Another change in the chart process through the inclusion of downloads is that older titles manage to re-enter the charts even though they have not been republished. This happens, for example, after screenings on television (in 2008, for example, Mint Royale and Singing in the Rain on the TV show Britain's Got Talent ). Taking downloads into account also enables music consumers to exert specific influence, as the charts of December 20, 2009 showed: The winner of the talent show X-Factor (2009 Joe McElderry with The Climb ) was not number one at Christmas, as in previous years Rage Against the Machine , titled Killing in the Name . This was preceded by a call from a Facebook group that called for the Rage title to be bought online in order to specifically prevent another Christmas number one from an X-Factor winner.

As of 2010, music streaming became increasingly popular around the world, and music industry contracts with ad-financed providers like YouTube and subscription providers like Spotify meant that it got a significant share of the music market's sales. On May 19, 2012, the Official Chart Company published an Official Streaming Chart (Top 40) for the first time . After the USA and Germany switched to including streaming data in the official single charts in early 2014, and streaming views in Great Britain had risen by 160% within a year and a half, the OCC followed suit in July 2014.

The UK Top 40 on radio and television

The single charts form the main part of the Radio One Chart Show , which can be heard on BBC Radio 1 on Sunday afternoons . Most of the bottom 20 titles are played there and the first 20 complete. The list was also considered the basis for the successful television show Top of the Pops .

In addition to the top 40, there are also expanded formats in which the 100 or 200 most successful singles and albums are determined. However, these are more of interest to those who work professionally with music (editorial offices, industry).

Annual hits

Every year a top 40 is created from the sales (and for some years also the downloads) for the past year. The list gives an overview of the year number one titles since 1990.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Who We Are - How the Official Charts are compiled. Retrieved May 22, 2020 .
  3. ( Memento of the original from May 27, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Rob Copsey: Ed Sheeran scores biggest comeback since Adele, smashing TWO Official Chart records. The Official UK Charts Company , January 13, 2017, accessed January 16, 2017 .
  5. .html Retrieved April 30, 2020
  6. Lauren Kreisler: UK's Official Singles Chart to include streaming data for first time . Official Charts Company, June 22, 2014
  7. End of Year Singles Chart (archive from 1952) at Official Charts