I’ve noticed recently (as I check up on the UK charts every Friday out of a lifelong habit) that the concept of chart climbing is back… seems like for the first time since the 1970s…?
In the 90s, pop and indie used to tend to go straight in high and then slide out… this was the case until recently… you’d get big hits for weeks at number one and then steadily slip out. Now it seems that songs enter in at around 50 / 60… gain traction and after several weeks, hit their peak. I think this is a good thing - especially stat wise!
more interesting in that a song gradually peaks, rather than peaks on release and then steadily declines. If you’re following the song then you can check on it each week and see how its performing. I suppose if you have no interest in the top 100 then it may not be interesting at all.
Could it be because streaming doesn’t differentiate singles from any other track on an album? So maybe sometimes a track just slowly gains traction, ends up appearing on more playlists etc.
And with viral stuff like the Fleetwood Mac track that probably just takes time to really permeate the mainstream enough to make the charts.
Can’t say I’ve taken any notice of the singles charts since I was…maybe 14 and even the album charts really either tbh. But…they do still appeal in a slight combo of nostalgia and geekiness. I do occasionally take a look at the iTunes chart just out of curiousness. I’m so out of touch with popular music it’s ridiculous, I should just listen to the odd playlist.
The ‘slow climb’ is purely because of streaming and the way songs sort of percolate over time now. It’s very rare for a track to chart high unless it’s a megastar with a huge streaming presence already like Taylor Swift or Ariana.
Back in the 90s/00s it was all about having that first week smash, but now it’s just about getting to as many people as possible - so the more it’s added to playlists, the more people add to their own individual playlists, the more the song gets shared. Artists are able to spread promo like TV appearances out over weeks rather than concentrating on a single period.
You’ll also see this reflected in how singles are released – it’s not uncommon for multiple singles to be swirling around that serve different ‘moods’ perfectly – eg a more upbeat one that’d be good for exercise, or a more chill acoustic one.
Interestingly after 3 weeks of constant chart decline of one track, the streaming ratio is dropped (so rather than 150:1 it becomes 300:1) – this is to stop certain songs hanging around and clogging the charts forever.
So yeah, the charts are weird but interesting. And as much as people can sneer and be all “I don’t look at the charts” it’s absolutely affecting the way albums are made, the way they’re released, and how they’re promoted – even in the non-pop world.
I’m watching the old ones as BBC4 get through them, and it’s currently on 1990. And it’s true that songs generally entered low and gradually climbed… and some songs stuck around for what seemed like forever.