A few years ago, back in the days of CD singles and ‘Top of the Pops’, a single would be marketed to death in the weeks running up to its release, it would debut at what would nine times out of ten be its peak position, and then make a swift exit from the Top 40 in a matter of weeks.
Over the past couple of years however, in the new digital age, things have taken something of a turn; in that tracks are hanging around for a darn site longer than they used to, and, especially if they’re readily available for download prior to official single release, their journey to a peak chart position is a gradual one, starting low and then gathering momentum as the promotional campaign begins to take effect.
Just take a lil’ look at the current No1 from Flo Rida and previous chart topper ‘We Speak No Americano’ from Yolande Be Cool – records which made good impacts on their first week or two and then slowly rose to No1.
But the section of the pop market that’s heavily reliant on the artists’ fanbases seems to be back-pedalling again slightly. Over the past month new singles from JLS, Ne-Yo, The Wanted and The Saturdays have opened their first week of the release with very strong sales figures, only to see them drop as the week goes on before making a swift exit from the bestseller lists. JLS’ ‘The Club Is Alive’, dismissed by those among us who aren’t diehard fans as utter crap, made an impressive debut with sales of over 80,000, only to plummet to No7 the following week. The Saturdays didn’t even manage to keep their strong opening going for a whole week as they eventually had to settle for a No3 debut. Midweek sales indicate they will scooch down to the bottom end of the Top 10 this week.
Even The Wanted, a brand new band who show all the signs of potentially being really quite good, already have a massive fanbase at their disposal who helped them score a massive No1 hit with ‘All Time Low’. Though their drop-off hasn’t been as severe as that suffered by JLS, it did make a rather large drop from No1 the following week; and this was then echoed this week by Ne-Yo; whose new single ‘Beautiful Monster’ took a 1-5 tumble.
While all this is going on, tracks that have already been available from previously-released albums, such as Eminem’s ‘Love The Way You Lie’ and BOB’s ‘Airplanes’, have been knocking around the business end of the charts for weeks as their widespread appeal becomes more and more apparent.
So is the most popular record the one that makes a strong first-week sales tally but then loses momentum fairly quickly? Or is it the one that hangs around for donkey’s years, even though it might miss out on No1? We’ll have to wait until the bestseller list of the year in a few months’ time.