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i Editor's Letter: Does being top of the charts matter nowadays?

 

If modern life began on 5 October 1962 when The Beatles' first single "Love Me Do" and the first Bond movie Dr No were released on the same day, then not too far behind was the launch of the pop charts, the 50th anniversary of which is much celebrated this week. The constant in my generation's lives were Top Of The Pops, which we all watched and disparaged, and the fact that our parents hated our music, no matter what it was.

Oh, the thrill of that countdown music as Alan "Fluff" Freeman counted down to No 1. And what joy to rush to Our Price Records the next day to buy a new single. Remember that glorious period in the 1980s when we were obsessed with the 12-inch. "Blue Monday"? "Tainted Love"? "Bela Lugosi's Dead"? Tunes!

Conventional wisdom runs that charts don't matter as much today. I certainly no longer know what the No 1 is. But then our parents never knew either. True, it doesn't matter half as much to teens as it used to, but that doesn't mean it doesn't matter at all. The charts were always geared towards teenage girls: 1970s' Bay City Rollers or 1980s' Bros is 2012's The Wanted or JLS. And, forget all that nonsense about it only needing 20,000 sales to get to No 1. There were around 178 million singles downloads in 2011 (some of them not even by Adele), a record for the fourth year in succession. True, album sales dipped again to 113 million. But, let's be honest, record companies ripped us off for years selling albums stuffed with lame fillers. Things weren't always better back in the day. They were just different. Oh, who am I trying to kid? This week's No 1? "Little Things" by One Direction. No, me neither. Farewell, pop pickers.

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