Music chart includes downloads but Christie still finds way to No 1

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The Independent Culture

Tony Christie's re-release of "(Is This The Way To ) Amarillo" remained at the top of the first singles chart to include downloads yesterday.

Tony Christie's re-release of "(Is This The Way To ) Amarillo" remained at the top of the first singles chart to include downloads yesterday.

Basement Jaxx, Gorillaz and the Sterephonics all had reason to welcome the cyber-inclusion, entering the charts on the basis of downloads.

The Official Charts Company said the decision to include legal downloads for the first time nearly doubled the total singles sold to just under 800,000.

Download sales make up 49 per cent of the new singles market and comprise nearly 15 per cent of the total Top 40 sales.

The decision to include downloads was taken because of a boom in legal download sales in 2004. The charts, which are based on information from more than 5,500 retailers from major record chains to supermarkets, now take into account sales from more than 20 legitimate download sites including iTunes, Napster, MSN.co.uk, Mycokemusic.com, Big Noise and HMV.co.uk.

"Feel Good Inc", the latest release from Gorillaz, the animated band created by the Blur frontman Damon Albarn, climbed 175 places to enter the charts at number 22, as a result of the inclusion of downloads.

The Basement Jaxx single "Oh My Gosh" rose from 45 to 27, while the Stereophonics' "Dakota" climbed from 46 to 34.

In the new combined charts, 11 tracks are higher in the rankings than they would have been on shop-only sales. Three records dropped out of the charts as a result of download sales - "Kings of the Rodeo" by Kings of Leon, "Star To Fall" by Cabin Crew and "Back To Basics" by Shapeshifters.

The director of the Official Charts Company, Omar Maskatiya, said: "The compilation process for this week's chart went without a hitch, despite the huge technical challenges of producing a combined chart.

The new chart is a significant landmark for us because it acknowledges how the Official Charts are evolving to reflect how music lovers consume music."

Not everyone is happy about the new combined charts, however. The Association of Independent Music has called on the Office of Fair Trading to halt the changes, because they argue that downloads do not fairly represent singles from independent record companies.

The Official Charts Company, which has dismissed the claim as unfounded, said there were eight "indie" records in yesterday's chart - one more than there would have been before downloads were included.

The charts company also dismissed claims that the new system is open to rigging. "There are processes in place that we are quite confident with," said an OCC spokesman. "We regularly remove any suspicious sales."

Download sales have risen from 20,000 a week a year ago to 300,000 now, bucking the trend for shop-bought releases. The singles market in Britain has been in decline for about five years.

Vinyl versus virtual

Last offical chart without downloads (10 April)

1. Tony Christie ft Peter Kay, '(Is This The Way To) Amarillo'
2. Elvis Presley, 'Crying In The Chapel'
3. Mario, 'Let Me Love You'
4. 50 Cent, 'Candy Shop'
5. Will Smith, 'Switch'
6. Mariah Carey, 'It's Like That'
7. Garbage, 'Why Do You Love Me'
8. Mcfly, 'All About You'
9. Lemar, 'Time To Grow'
10. Melanie C, 'Next Best Superstar'

The new top 10 (17 April)

1. Tony Christie, '(Is This The Way To) Amarillo'
2. Razorlight, 'Somewhere Else'
3. Ciara ft Missy Elliott, '12 Step'
4. Elvis Presley, 'The Wonder Of You'
5. Will Smith, 'Switch'
6. Mario, 'Let Me Love You'
7. 50 Cent, 'Candy Shop'
8. Mariah Carey, 'It's Like That'
9. Freeloaders, 'So Much Love To Give'
10. Gwen Stefani ft Eve, 'Rich Girl'

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