Monday, November 14, 2011

New Musical Express published the first British singles chart: November 14, 1952

The British music magazine NME or New Musical Express, launched as a weekly publication on March 7, 1952. On November 14 of that year, it became the first British paper to include a chart of the current singles. The NME chart survived a barrage of competitors over the years, lasting until the early 1990s.

Percy Dickins, the paper’s advertising manager, compiled the first chart by calling roughly 20 shops and asking for lists of their ten best-sellers. Those results were aggregated into a top 12 chart. Al Martino’s “Here in My Heart” topped that first list. On October 1, 1954, the chart expanded to twenty positions.

In 1955, rival publications began compiling charts. The most notable was Record Mirror which started a top 20 chart in October 1955. In April 1956, NME expanded its chart to thirty positions. That same month, Melody Maker began a top ten chart. In February 1958, Dsic launched a top 20 singles chart. In 1960, Record Retailer initiated a top 50 singles chart.

By 1962, Record Mirror stopped its chart, opting to publish the Record Retailer chart instead. Prior to 1969, there was no official chart although NME’s was the most widely recognized. At the time, the BBC released an aggregated chart which compiled lists from NME, Melody Maker, Disc, and later Record Mirror.

In 1969, the BBC and Record Retailer allied to form the first official chart. The British Market Research Bureau chart was established in 1969, they adopted Record Retailer’s charts back to 1960 as the “official charts” and turned to NME for pre-1960 charts. In 1982, the BMRB lost its contract to Gallup who then implemented electronic data as the gathering format instead of the previously used sales diaries. Today the chart is compiled by The Official Charts Company and ranks the top 200 singles in the United Kingdom as determined by downloads and physical sales.

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