There was a time, namely in the days before music streaming service Spotify, when getting a track — just one — in the top 10 was deemed a major career achievement.
On Friday, British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran learned that he has not one, not even two, but a record-breaking nine songs in the U.K.’s official top 10 singles chart. And if that wasn’t enough, he has 16 in the top 20.
They’re all off his new album, ÷ (pronounced Divide), which released earlier this month. And yes, it has 16 tracks on it, otherwise he’d likely have even more songs in the top 20.
Speaking to BBC Radio 1’s Greg James about his remarkable chart takeover that sees Shape of You in the number 1 slot, 26-year-old Sheeran said, “I never expected to have nine songs in the top 10 ever in my life. I don’t know if something has gone wrong, but I’m definitely very happy about it.”
Nothing has technically gone wrong, but some chart-watchers have been criticizing the list is being compiled ever since the system was changed in 2014 to take into account not just record sales but also streams on services like Spotify.
Three years ago, 100 streams counted as one sale, but as streaming sites grew in popularity some claimed it skewed the results against emerging artists. With that in mind, the Official Charts Company, which operates the chart, recently upped its “one sale” figure to 150 streams, though with Sheeran’s domination of the chart this week, some may want to see further changes.
However, Martin Talbot of the Official Charts Company said he was reluctant to alter the setup without careful analysis, telling the BBC, “We will review chart methodologies to see if there is something we could or should change … We shouldn’t, and won’t, rush to any knee-jerk actions.”
The Brit also set a new record for the most concurrently charting songs on Billboard + Twitter Top Tracks (a weekly ranking of the most shared and/or mentioned songs on Twitter in the U.S.) with 13 songs in the top 50, while Shape of You currently sits atop Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
Sheeran’s ÷ album sold 672,000 copies in the U.K in its first week, making it the fastest-selling album by a male artist there. Only Adele’s 25 and Be Here Now by Oasis sold more in their first seven days of release.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering who ruined Sheeran’s chance of a clean sweep of the top 10, it was The Chainsmokers and Coldplay with Something Just Like This at number 7. But hey, there’s always this Friday’s chart ….
By Trevor Mogg