The album chart has always held a strangely magnetic charm for me. Flawed though it may be, there is still no better gauge of a new release’s popularity with the people – all the people, not just the ones who read music blogs.
Since I use The Pop Cop as a platform to publicise talented artists who are often underappreciated or have a cult following (such a conveniently indeterminate phrase, don’t you think?), some folk might think it futile to analyse where such music fits in the mainstream.
However, I disagree and I’m sure I wasn’t alone in having my faith restored in the Woman and Man In The Street’s taste when a band as exquisite as The National entered the UK charts at No.5 this summer with their fifth album High Violet after more than a decade of incremental career blossoming.
Of course, some musicians are quick to point out they couldn’t care less about the charts. Especially those who don’t sell enough records to be in them.
Given that independent stores Love Music in Glasgow, Avalanche Records in Edinburgh, One Up in Aberdeen and Apollo Music in Paisley as well as the big chains like Fopp and HMV are all chart return record outlets (i.e. their sales count towards the official charts), the musical mood of Scotland can be accurately reflected in numerical form.
But the thing I’m most fascinated about is what record buyers in Scotland think of Scottish albums, so I decided to do some investigating to find out where every Scottish album released this year charted, both in the UK and in Scotland (yes, we have our own charts).
My starting point was The Official Charts Company, who publish the UK’s top 100 albums and Scotland’s top 40 albums every week. However, as you will soon see, many Scottish albums didn’t make it that high so I had to dig a little deeper. This led me to UK Charts Plus, who publish the UK’s top 200 albums and Scotland’s top 75 albums on a subscription-only basis.
The results of my findings are below. Only 20 new albums featuring Scottish artists have charted in 2010 and all of them charted higher in Scotland than they did in the UK as a whole, except ‘supergroup’ Tired Pony (who admittedly contain just one Scottish member) whose placing was identical.
There were four artists who entered the Scottish chart but failed to make the UK one – The Boy Who Trapped The Sun, The Xcerts, Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Broken Records. To put that into context, The Official Charts Company told me that it takes as little as 900 sales to make the UK’s top 200.
Six Scots reached Scotland’s top 10 – Sharleen Spiteri (4), Frightened Rabbit (10), Amy Macdonald (2), Teenage Fanclub (4), KT Tunstall (2) and Belle & Sebastian (4). However, half of those didn’t make the UK’s top 10 – Sharleen Spiteri (13), Frightened Rabbit (61) and Teenage Fanclub (30).
The charts also show how far the popularity of some artists has nosedived. In 2006, Sandi Thom’s first album debuted at No.1 in the UK and went on to sell over 700,000 copies worldwide. This year, her third album entered the chart at 118 (UK) and 63 (Scotland). The Fratellis’ two albums both made the UK’s top five, but Codeine Velvet Club’s record entered at 118 (UK) and 50 (Scotland). Travis have had five albums in the UK’s top 10, yet Fran Healy’s solo album limped in at 76 (UK) and 33 (Scotland).
Here are the placings in full, click on the graphics to enlarge if need be:
N.B. Albums released this year by other Scottish artists who enjoy decent profiles such as The Unwinding Hours, Emma Pollock, Meursault, Tommy Reilly and Kid Canaveral were nowhere to be seen in either chart.
Click here to find out more about UK Charts Plus subscriptions.
The National – Terrible Love (Alternate Version)
November 26, Academy, Glasgow (sold out)