Music charts, charts.

Analysing 20 years of top 100's

I was curious about how music has changed over the twenty years that I’ve been listening to it. Has the internet increased the amount of music we’re exposed to? Do songs behave differently in the charts because of this?

I collected the last twenty years worth of weekly top 100 songs from UK’s Official Charts, and had a look.


Compared to the 90’s, there are less songs in the charts today and songs stay in the charts longer.

Longer more interesting version:

For each song that was released in the last twenty years I charted the journey it took through the charts to see if there were any obvious macro patterns.

From this graph it’s immediately clear that songs between 2006–2015 (red) spend more weeks in the charts compared to 1996–2005 (blue).

You can see this more clearly with this comparison:

Some songs spend a crazy-long time in the charts. Which songs are they?

Staying Power

These songs from the last 20 years have spent the most weeks in the charts:

  • 166 weeks — CHASING CARS — SNOW PATROL
  • 125 weeks — SEX ON FIRE — KINGS OF LEON
  • 109 weeks — CHANDELIER — SIA
  • 103 weeks — USE SOMEBODY — KINGS OF LEON
  • 102 weeks — POMPEII — BASTILLE
  • 102 weeks — RULE THE WORLD — TAKE THAT

Snow Patrol…! This does make sense, but also… 😐

More or less songs?

Why are songs staying in the charts for longer these days? Are there more or less songs in the top 100 charts now days?

Total number of top 100 charting songs each year.

There’s less.

The total number of songs that got into the charts in 2015 is less than half of what it was 20 years ago, however, we should be careful not to conclude that there’s less songs in the charts because theres actually less songs.

It’s likely there’s many more songs published each year because of the rise of streaming. But has this democratisation also watered down the ‘power’ of all songs? Distributing them far and wide but leaving the charts to those who can afford to promote heavily? Maybe the top 100 charts narrowed it’s genre/selection? Or perhaps our saturated media landscape now has a recirculation effect?

Or maybe music just isn’t what it used to be.

Article first published on 27 October 2016 on