Official Charts History: The 10s

Adele, Calvin Harris, Ed Sheeran and Rihanna rule, as music streaming arrives on the chart for the first time.


Michael Buble's Crazy Love starts the year as the first new Number 1 album of the decade, while Joe McElderry's The Climb is the first new Number 1 single of the decade. 
In March, the Official Charts take a twice-weekly slot on BBC Radio 1 for the first time, with the launch of the Official Chart Update. This comprises “half-time” bulletins for the Official Singles Chart and Official Albums Chart, covering sales from Sunday through to the end of Tuesday. It is unveiled every Wednesday afternoon and the subject of an MTV show each Thursday.

Bringing to an end the biggest holdback of the digital era, The Beatles’ catalogue becomes available on iTunes for the first time in November, pushing a number of their albums into the Top 100 albums in the first week of release.


Adele’s 21 album hits the Number 1 spot in February, on the way to becoming the biggest selling album of the Millennium, with sales of more than 4.7 million copies.

Maroon 5’s collaboration with Christina Aguilera, Moves Like Jagger, spends 7 weeks at Number 2 in the autumn (pipped by singles from Example, Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris, Sak Noel, Pixie Lott, One Direction and Dappy) to become the best-selling Number 2 single of all time (once Wham’s 1984 hit Last Christmas finally topped the chart in 2021).

In December, the Military Wives score the year’s Official Christmas Number 1 with Wherever You Are and, in so doing, become the first recipients of the Official Number 1 Award – a trophy designed to celebrate every new Number 1 in the Official Singles Chart.


In May, the UK’s first Official Streaming Chart is launched, reflecting a growing form of consumption and including data from services including Spotify, Napster and We7.

The first Number 1 is Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe, while Ed Sheeran is named the most-streamed act of 2012 so far.

The 60th anniversary of the Official Singles Chart in November is celebrated through the year via a range of activities, including TV and radio broadcasts, a Parliamentary reception (attended by Number 1 acts Sandie Shaw, Boney M, Soft Cell’s Marc Almond and chart show hosts past and present, Tony Blackburn and Jameela Jamil) and Omnibus’s official book The Million Sellers.

New research by the Official Charts and the BPI estimates that over 3.7 billion singles have been sold during the life of the Official Singles Chart.

Another milestone is celebrated, as Classic FM reaches its 20th anniversary and two decades of broadcasting the Official Classical Chart.


Jameela Jamil is confirmed as the first solo female host of The Official Chart on BBC Radio 1.

19 years after it peaked at Number 9, Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble by PJ & Duncan (aka Ant & Dec) reaches Number 1 on the Official Singles Chart during March, boosted by a performance of the song by the duo on Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway ITV show.

In one of the most controversial chart battles of all time, a campaign to get Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead to Number 1 is launched after the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in April. Their attempt falls short, as the track (taken from 1939 film the Wizard Of Oz) peaks at 2. A rival campaign places I’m In Love With Margaret Thatcher by the Notsensibles at 35.

Among the biggest singles of recent years, Daft Punk’s Get Lucky not only sells a million copies in just 69 days, but becomes the first track to be streamed one million times in a single week during May. By the end of the year, Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines has matched the feat. 

Calvin Harris’s 18 Months sets a new record in August, becoming the first album to generate nine Top 10 singles – they are Thinking About You featuring Ayah Marar, Bounce ft. Kelis, Feel So Close, We Found Love ft. Rihanna, Let's Go ft. Ne-Yo, We'll Be Coming Back ft. Example, Sweet Nothing ft. Florence Welch, Drinking from the Bottle ft. Tinie Tempah and I Need Your Love ft. Ellie Goulding.

Robbie Williams’ Christmas album Swings Both Ways is confirmed as the 1,000th Number 1 album in November 2013 –  it is a fitting winner,  the very first Number 1 album back in July 1956 being  Frank Sinatra’s Songs For Swingin’ Lovers.


Queen’s Greatest Hits becomes the first album to top 6 million sales in the UK. It is one of only three albums to sell 5 million copies in the UK, along with the Abba Gold hits package and The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper.
MTV begins broadcasting the Official Streaming Chart countdown in April, the biggest TV announcement of the chart every week.

In one of the biggest changes to the Official Singles Chart in its history, streaming is added to the rundown from July – 100 streams equating to 1 single/download sale. Among the services polled are Spotify, Deezer, Napster, O2 Tracks and many others.

The combination of her first shows for 35 years and a series of BBC4 documentaries help Kate Bush become the first female to score eight albums simultaneously in the Official Albums Top 40 in August. They are The Whole Story, Hounds of Love, 50 Words For Snow, The Kick Inside, The Sensual World, The Dreaming, Never For Ever and Lionheart. The Director’s Cut, The Red Shoes and Aeriel chart elsewhere in the Top 100 too. 

As the 10th anniversary of the Official Download Chart is confirmed in September, Pharrell Williams’ Happy is confirmed as the biggest selling download of all time in the UK – he features on three in the all-time Official Top 10, with Happy joined by Get Lucky and Blurred Lines, all of which sold more than 1 million units in less than 12 months.

The year ends with both Ed Sheeran's X and Sam Smith's In The Lonely Hour classified as million-selling albums in the UK. Smith's release also becomes the only album to top 1m sales in both the UK and US.


The Official Albums Chart follows on from changes to the Official Singles Chart, reflecting streams for the first time, alongside sales of album on CD, vinyl and download, from the end of February.

January sees Clara Amfo take over from Jameela Jamil as host of BBC Radio 1’s The Official Chart show, a position she is to hold until June when the music industry’s shift to a Friday release day for music sees the show move to a new slot on Friday afternoons (4pm-5.45pm), with Greg James as the new Official Chart host. The move to Friday heralds a new show, the Official Chart Update, giving an update on the weekly chart race every Wednesday afternoon.

The biggest single of 2015 is the enormous Uptown Funk. First charting at the end of December the previous year, the collaboration between Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars spends seven weeks at Number 1 and 39 weeks in the Top 40, finally dropping out in October 2015.

But it is Adele’s year overall; Hello breaks records on its release, ahead of the release of the album 25 just before Christmas. The lead single, Hello notched opening week chart units of 333,000 (made up from 259,000 downloads and 7.32m streams, almost doubling the previous record held by Justin Bieber’s What Do You Mean?).

The album, 25, ends up being the biggest of the year by some distance. Released in November, it racks up 2.496m sales in the two months to the end of the year, including 800,307 sales in its first week alone. It’s sales speed records are unparalleled since, passing 1m sales after 10 days and 2m sales after 29 days. In comparison, 21 took 13 weeks to reach the same milestone.

Adele’s 25 is also one of the last big albums to be held back from streaming services. While the Official Albums Chart admitted streams in February 2015, 25 doesn’t become available to stream until seven months after release, in June 2016.

The albums market is a healthy one for UK artists, Ed Sheeran’s X finishing the year as the second biggest album, Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour finishing in third place – both released in 2014.


In February, the first Official Trending Chart is published, in its regular weekly slot of Tuesday morning. A year later, it is confirmed that 80% of the tracks which have topped the chart have gone on to become a Top 10 hit, some 59% would reach the Top 5.

Drake’s One Dance hits the Number 1 spot in April, remaining in place for 15 weeks to put it level with Wet Wet Wet’s Love Is All Around from 1994 – at that point, the second longest unbroken stint at the top of the Official Singles Chart. Notching 142 million streams and 530,000 downloads, it becomes the biggest single of the year.

The biggest selling single of the year is Lukas Graham’s Seven Years, which spends five weeks at Number 1 with combined chart sales of 1.49 million.

The domination of One Dance, Seven Years and Clean Bandit’s Rockabye (which tops the chart for nine weeks) means 2016 sees just 10 Official Number 1 Singles, the lowest number of modern times.

For the second year running Adele’s 25 is the biggest album of the year, surpassing a lifetime total of 3m sales by the end of December. With Coldplay’s 2015 release A Head Full Of Dreams in second place for 2016, the biggest selling album released in 2016 is Alfie Boe & Michael Ball’s Together.


The biggest change for the Official Charts Company team is the move to begin compiling the Irish music charts in January, under a new partnership with Ireland’s music association Irma (Irish Recorded Music Association).

In March, it is confirmed that MTV are to start broadcasting the Official Trending Chart every week, a year after the chart launched in February 2016.

This is to become the year of Ed Sheeran. The Suffolk-based singer-songwriter claims the biggest album of the year (in the form of ÷) and the biggest single of the year (in the form of Shape Of You).

Sheeran’s ÷ album ends the year with combined chart sales of 2.7m, including an opening week of 672,000 – the biggest first week in history for a solo male and the third biggest of all, behind only Adele’s 25 and Oasis’s Be Here Now. This total is made up from 1.7m physical sales, 428,000 downloads and 595,000 album streams.

In achieving 19 non-consecutive weeks at Number 1, ÷ hits the top spot on seven separate occasions, a record among solo male artists. Also, on its release, the album’s tracks dominated the Official Singles Chart like no album before or since - all 16 of its tracks chart concurrently in the Official Singles Chart Top 20.

Partly prompted by this (and to avoid any further similar chart domination), the rules of the Official Singles Chart are amended in July, with artists henceforth allowed only three tracks in the Top 100 in any given week.

Shape Of You is comfortably the biggest single of the year, notching 787,000 sales and 248m streams during the year. It is Number 1 for 14 weeks (13 of them consecutive) and holds a Top 40 position for a total of 49 weeks, dropping out just two weeks before Christmas. The second biggest single of the year is Despacito by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber, which finishes runner up as biggest selling and most streamed single.

By December, it is confirmed that streaming now accounts for 50.4% of all music consumption in the UK, based on Official Charts Company data – for the first time, a landmark 1.5 billion streams are recorded in one week during December.


Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa claim the biggest single of the year, with One Kiss, which spends eight weeks at Number 1 thanks to 152m streams (video and audio) and 244,000 downloads. Close behind is Drake’s God’s Plan, which wins based on weeks at the summit, with nine weeks at the top of the Official Singles Chart.

There is no contest on the albums market though, with movie soundtrack The Greatest Showman notching 1.6m chart sales, physical sales contributing 51% of its total. It is the biggest seller and most streamed album of the year, retains the Number 1 spot for 28 non-consecutive weeks (from January 2018 to January 2019), and remains in the Top 20 for 100 weeks. It also spawns five Top 40 hits in the Official Singles Chart, including This Is Me, which peaks at Number 3 and is the most downloaded single of the year.

Of the albums released in 2018, George Ezra’s Staying At Tamara’s is the biggest, with chart units of 691,000 and becomes the second biggest album of 2018.

In June, Scott Mills becomes the new host of The Official Chart on BBC Radio One, a role he is to hold for more than four years to become the longest standing host since Mark Goodier (from April 1995 to November 2002).

A month later, in July, the Official Singles Chart admits video streams for the first time. The most streamed video of 2018 by the end of the year is Girls Like You by Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B.

The year concludes with the arrival of a new chart star, in the form of Ladbaby. The YouTube sensations’ We Built This City becomes their first Christmas Number 1.


The breakthrough talent of 2019 is Glasgow’s own Lewis Capaldi who spends seven weeks at number 1 in March and April with Someone You Loved, which is the biggest single of the year racking up 228m streams. Three more of his songs finish in the year-end Top 40.

The longest standing Number 1 of the year is Tones & I’s Dance Monkey, which holds at the summit for 11 weeks, becoming the longest spell at the top for a female act in chart history. It is only the eighth biggest track of the year by sales and streams however.

Lewis Capaldi’s debut album Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent is the year’s biggest album, topping the chart for six weeks and racking up 641,000 chart units, including 250,000 physical sales.

Billie Eilish also arrives on the scene, her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? making her the youngest female artist to achieve an Official Number 1 album (aged 17 years, three months and 18 days).

The second biggest album of the year is Ed Sheeran’s No 6 Collaborations Project, racking up 568,000 chart sales (including 125,000 in its first week).

In July, BBC Radio One starts broadcasting The Official Chart: First Look every Sunday as a taster of the race to come over the week to come – hosted by Cel Spellman and Katie Thistleton. The Official Albums Chart Update continues to be announced every Monday afternoon.

By the end of the year, the number of audio streams consumed by UK music fans tops 100bn for the first time, reaching 114.2bn streams for the year as a whole.

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