Happy 70th birthday to the UK’s Official Singles Chart!

It's our party and we'll post some new chart stats if we want to.

The Official Singles Chart marks its 70th birthday today (November 14 2022) by unveiling a new all-time statistical survey, based on Official Charts Company data, spanning seven decades of the UK’s favourite music.  

It was on Friday November 14, 1952 that the very first UK singles chart was published in the New Musical Express, the results of a rudimentary survey of 20 record shops by the music paper’s advertising manager Percy Dickins.

In the decades since that first chart was published, the Official Singles Chart has become an institution – chronicling the musical tastes and cultural moments in Britain every week. It is now a vast and sophisticated weekly operation polling thousands of physical retailers, digital download stores and streaming platforms daily, with the Official Chart as we know it today continuing to be broadcast on BBC Radio 1.

New data released today by the Official Charts Company can reveal that:

  • A total of 4.55 billion singles, 683 billion audio streams and 128 billion video streams (811 billion total streams) have been consumed in the UK.

  • 1,404 singles have reached the Official Number 1 spot, from Al Martino’s Here In My Heart, to reigning chart topper Taylor Swift’s Anti-Hero which has so far reigned for three consecutive weeks, with a fourth incoming. 

  • In 2022 it takes on average just under 7 million streams to land a UK Number 1 single (6.82 million).

  • 179 singles have reached 1 million sales, the biggest of them all being Sir Elton John’s Something About The Way You Look Tonight / Candle In The Wind 1997 on 4.94 million sales. The latest single to be crowned a million seller is Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, her first to top 1m sales in the UK 

  • 132 singles have been streamed more than 200 million times, the most streamed single of all time being Lewis Capaldi’s Someone You Loved, with 562 million streams to its name (480m audio streams and 81 million video streams). 

The sales and streaming survey shows how music consumption has shifted over the years, with sales growing through the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, taking off again via the digital music explosion in the early part of the new century (the first legitimate download stores kicking off in 2004), reaching an extraordinary peak of 1.26bn sales in the Tens, the biggest decade in history for singles sales – reaching twice the level of any previous decade. Since then, streaming has exploded and has reached record levels in the Twenties.


The explosion of streams means that the constant flow of million sellers has now all but halted. At the time of the Official Singles Chart’s 60th anniversary in 2012, some 123 singles had reached the million landmark – Taylor Swift’s achievement in passing 1m sales with Shake It Off this year (her career first UK million-seller) brings the all-time total to 179.

This total is unlikely to grow much further, with streams now dominating (audio / video streams account for 98.6% of the singles market in 2022).

Official Charts Company chief executive Martin Talbot says, “this new survey hammers home just how much music listening and buying the Official Singles Chart has seen across the past eight decades – and just how much music the British public has enjoyed in that time.  

“The Official Singles Chart was born just a few months after Queen Elizabeth took the throne, on the day of then Prince Charles’ (now King Charles III) fourth birthday. Since that time, from the era pre-rock & roll right up to the present day, there is barely a facet of life that hasn’t changed – and the Official Singles Chart has been there to chronicle it all.” 

Discover The Official Chart In Numbers

Calling all pop nerds! Watch below to learn how many streams it takes to score a Number 1 single in 2022, who holds the record for the fastest-selling debut single of all time, what’s the best-selling song never to reach Number 1, who owns the most-streamed song of all time, and lots more.

UK singles sales and streams by decade 

Decade

Sales

Audio streams

Video streams

All streams

Total No 1s

Official Biggest Single Of The Decade

1950s

280m

-

-

-

94

n/a

1960s

450m

-

-

-

186

She Loves You - The Beatles

1970s

540m

-

-

-

168

Mull Of Kintyre/Girls School - Wings

1980s

640m

-

-

-

190

Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid

1990s

620m

-

-

-

206

Something About The Way… /Candle In The Wind 97 - Elton John

2000s

683m

-

-

-

274

Anything Is Possible / Evergreen - Will Young

2010s

1.26bn

320bn

97bn

417bn

242

Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran

2020s*

72m

362bn

32bn

394bn

44

Bad Habits - Ed Sheeran

©2022 Official Charts Company. All rights reserved.

King of Streaming! Lewis Capaldi reacts to Someone You Loved becoming UK's most-streamed song EVER

As the Official Singles Chart turns 70, Lewis Capaldi woke up to the news from Official Charts that his song Someone You Loved has now overtaken Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You to become the UK’s official most-streamed song of all time, according to Official Charts Company data.

Having amassed a staggering 562 million streams (UK audio and video streams combined) to pull off the chart feat, the newly crowned ‘king of streaming’, sporting an inflatable crown and holding a special edition matte black Number 1 Award gift from the Official Charts Company for the momentous occasion, told OfficialCharts.com:

“I’m the streaming king! In the UK! On this particular song! I feel huge, I feel massive, I feel my loins expanding as I become more and more aware of the reality of my coronation as the king of music. Thank you. A very large accolade that I will now shoulder for the rest of my life, or until Ed Sheeran releases his next album…”

Read more about Lewis' record-breaking achievement and our exclusive interview with him here.