UK Albums Chart
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The UK Albums Chart is a list of albums ranked by physical and digital sales in the United Kingdom. It is compiled every week by the Official Charts Company and broadcast on a Sunday on BBC Radio 1 (Top 40), and published in Music Week magazine (Top 75) and on the OCC website (Top 100).
To qualify for the UK albums chart the album must be the correct length and price. It must be more than 3 tracks or 20 minutes long and not be classed as a budget album. A budget album costs between £0.50 and £3.75. Additionally, various artist compilations - which until January 1989 were included in the main album listing - are now listed separately in a compilations chart. Full details of the rules can be found on the Official Charts Company website.1
Though album sales tend to produce more revenue and, over time, act as a greater measure of an artist's success, this chart receives less media attention than the UK Singles Chart, because overall sales of an album are more important than its peak position. Indeed, in recent years, the album chart has been in good health despite fears that music innovations such as MP3 players would threaten the traditional album. 2005 even saw a record number of artist album sales with 126.2 million sold in the UK.2
According to the canon of The Official Charts Company, the official British albums chart is the Melody Maker chart from 8 November 1958 to March 1960 (although the Record Mirror published charts from 28 July 1956 3); the Record Retailer chart from 1960 to 1969; and the Official UK Albums Chart from 1969 on. In the 1970s the new album chart was revealed at 12.45pm on Thursdays on BBC Radio 1, and then moved to 6.05 pm (later 6.30 pm) on Wednesday evenings during the Peter Powell and Bruno Brookes shows. In October 1987 it moved to Monday lunchtimes, during the Gary Davies show, and from April to October 1993 it briefly had its own show from 7.00-8.00 pm on Sunday evenings, introduced by Lynn Parsons. Since October 1993 it has been included in the UK Top 40 show from 4.00-7.00 pm on Sundays. A weekly 'Album Chart' show was licensed out to BBC Radio 2 and presented by Simon Mayo, until it ended on 2 April 2007.
The most successful artists in the charts depends on the criteria used. As of 2005, Queen albums have spent more time on the UK album charts than those of any other musical act,45 followed by The Beatles, Elvis Presley and U2. By most weeks at number one, however, The Beatles lead with a grand total of 174 weeks. The male solo artist with the most weeks at number one is Elvis Presley with a total of 63 weeks. Elvis Presley also holds the record for the most top ten albums.6 Madonna is the most successful female solo recording artist in the U.K. with 12 number one albums, more than any other solo artist, and most weeks at number one on the albums chart, 30 in total (though these tallies includes the Evita film soundtrack which was a cast recording and not strictly a Madonna album).
Queen's Greatest Hits is the best-selling album in UK chart history with 5.86 million copies sold as of February 2012, followed by The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band with 5.04 million copies sold and Abba's Gold (Greatest Hits) with 5.0 million copies sold.7 The longest running number one album, both consecutively and non-consecutively, is the soundtrack of the film South Pacific. It had a consecutive run of seventy weeks from November 1958 to March 1960 (meaning it was number one for the entire year of 1959), and had further runs at the top in 1960 and 1961, making a non-consecutive total of 115 weeks.
The youngest person to top the charts is Scotland's Neil Reid, who after winning Opportunity Knocks topped the charts in 1972 at the age of 12 years 9 months old. The youngest female artist to top the chart is Joss Stone at 17 years and 6 months old with Mind, Body & Soul in 2004.6
The album to spend the most weeks on the charts is Bob Marley & The Wailers' Legend with 762 weeks followed by ABBA's Gold: Greatest Hits, which has spent 503 weeks on the charts. The rest of the top five albums are, in order, Queen's Greatest Hits (496 weeks), Fleetwood Mac's Rumours (478 weeks), Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell (469 weeks), and Bob Marley & The Wailers' Legend (424 weeks).
Though the way sales figures were collected was less precise before 1995, the fastest selling album (first week sales) is Oasis' Be Here Now, selling 663,389 copies in its first week in the UK in August 1997.8
The fastest selling debut albums (first week sales):
- All time highest is Susan Boyle with I Dreamed a Dream, selling 411,820 in the UK, November 2009.
- By a band is Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not by Arctic Monkeys selling 363,735 copies in 2006.
- By a male solo act is Craig David with Born to Do It selling 225,320 copies in 2000.
The X Factor's 2006 runner up, Ray Quinn, became the only solo artist to top the album chart without ever releasing a single, though Led Zeppelin achieved eight consecutive number one albums from 1970 to 1979 without releasing a single in the UK until 1997.
The Rolling Stones have reached no.1 in the album chart during five different decades (1960, 70s, 80s, 90s and then in the 2010s with a deluxe re-release of their 1972 album Exile on Main Street). ABBA have reached the top spot in four consecutive decades, though this was with the same album (Gold) in the 1990s and the 2000s. Elvis Presley has scored UK number-one albums in four different decades (1950s, 60s, 70s and 2000s), though Cliff Richard is the first male solo artist to score UK number-one albums in four consecutive decades (1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s). Kylie Minogue became the first female solo artist to have UK number-one albums in four consecutive decades (1980s, 90s, 2000s and 2010s), and this feat was matched by Madonna in 2012.
The longest number one by a group is Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water which was no.1 for 33 weeks (13 of which were consecutive). The longest consecutive number one by a group was The Beatles' Please Please Me, which held the top spot for a straight 30 weeks. The longest number one by a male solo artist was Elvis Presley with G.I. Blues which stayed at the top for 22 weeks (his Blue Hawaii album was also the longest consecutive number one album for a male artist with 17 weeks). Adele's album 21 has the most weeks at number one by a female solo artist (and by a solo artist of either gender) with 23 weeks, 11 of which were consecutive (which is also a record for a female artist).
- List of best-selling albums by year (UK)
- List of UK Albums Chart Christmas number ones
- List of UK Albums Chart number ones
- UK Singles Chart
- List of albums which have spent the most weeks on the UK Albums Chart
- List of singles which have spent the most weeks on the UK Singles Chart
- Official Charts Company - Album Chart Rules Retrieved on 21 June 2012.
- "Blunt boosts record labels' 2005". BBC. 2008-01-06.
- Warwick, Neil; Kutner, Jon; Brown, Tony (2004). The Complete Book Of The British Charts: Singles and Albums (3rd ed.). London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 1-84449-058-0.
- "Queen top UK album charts league". BBC. 2005-07-04. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
- Queen becomes longest reigning chart act Daily Mail Retrieved February 3, 2011
- "Record Breakers and Trivia : Albums". everyhit.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
- The Official Charts Company - All Time Top 10 Albums (Feb 2012)
- Everyhit.co.uk (UK Album record breakers)
- "Christina Aguilera Makes Music History in the UK". New York Magazine. New York Media LLC. 2010-06-20. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
- Official website
- Music Week Top 75
- EveryHit.com - Archive of Top 40 albums
- The UK Top 40 Compilation Albums at BBC Online