HITS Daily Double


Over in the U.K., there’s a heated debate going on over the validity of last week’s #1 single, Ellie Goulding’s “River,” which was released via Amazon. More questions have been raised over whether the current Official Chart calculations are fit for purpose.

Joni Mitchell cover “River” hit the top of Friday's Official Singles Chart on 78k combined sales, despite only being available to stream on Amazon (and YouTube) as part of the Amazon Original series of exclusive releases. Those sales were made up of 7.6m audio streams and 902k ad-funded, as pointed out by chart geek James Masterton.

The first gripe that’s been raised is how many of those streams came via requests for Alexa to play Christmas music, or through Amazon's own festive playlists? On three of the streaming service's Christmas themed playlists, Laid Back Christmas, 50 Great Christmas Songs, and Cosy Christmas, “River” is listed within the first 10 tracks. How much of an unfair advantage did Amazon reward its own release with?

The second gripe centres around the OCC’s accelerated stream rule. As part of a drive to help new tracks reach the top of the chart, songs that are older than three years have a permanent accelerated stream ratio of 200:1 (as oppose to 100:1) for premium streams, and 600:1 for ad-funded.

If the chart had been calculated without those rules, Mariah Carey would have finally reached #1 with “All I Want For Christmas Is You” (Sony), matching the position she reached a few weeks ago in the US 25 years after the track's release. A string of older festive tunes would have followed, with “Last Christmas” by Wham at #2. Goulding, however, would have peaked at #38 with “River.”

Will 2020 usher in new chart rules that accelerate streams for tracks played through playlists? As ever, stay tuned.