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Turbulent Times

December 22, 2012

These days it seems that the charts change very quickly compared to days of yore, so I decided to have a look and see which year was the most turbulent in terms of movement on the UK singles charts. To do this I took the absolute movement (i.e. I took the number of positions moved as a positive no matter if the song was going up or down) of each song each week and added these up. I then counted up the number of songs there were on the chart each week as the size of the chart has varied over the years. New entries were ignored for these purposes.

From this data I was able to calculate the average movement (up or down) of a song on the chart each year. The top 5 most turbulent years are as follows (average movement in brackets):

1997 (8.711)

2007 (8.707)

1980 (8.534)

2008 (8.358)

1995 (8.275)

Looking at it from a decade point of view, the average movement has increased every decade since the chart’s inception in 1952. The average movement each decade is shown below. It should be noted that the smaller charts in the earlier years, and the fact that we have only had 3 years worth of charts in the 2010’ may skew these figures slightly:

1950’s (2.443)

1960’s (4.884)

1970’s (5.956)

1980’s (7.531)

1990’s (7.805)

2000’s (7.842)

2010’s (8.002)

The single biggest movement by a song in 1997 was 46 positions. This happened twice. Firstly on 10 May 1997 when Tricky’s ‘Makes Me Wanna Die’ fell from 29 to 75 and again the following week (13 May 1997) when Gene’s hit ‘Where Are They Now?’ fell from 22 to 68.


The biggest single movement by a song happened on 23 January 2010 when The Glee Cast’s cover of the Journey classic ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ jumped 94 places from 99 to 5. Interestingly it jumped to 1 spot above Journey’s version which was a non mover that week.


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