Vinyl Records Make Comeback with First UK Chart
Many of us have grown up listening to vinyl, perhaps your own records, or that of your parents or older siblings. Whatever the case may be, listening to vinyl has played an important role for a lot of people, providing the soundtracks to their lives.
There is just something about vinyl. Just think about sliding the PVC disc from its sleeve, gently placing it in the record player, moving the stylus to just the right point, enjoying the unique sound. It’s all part of something that simply can’t be replicated in CDs, MP3s, or YouTube.
Which might be why vinyl has been making a comeback, so much so that the Official Charts Company (OCC) has launched its first official vinyl albums and singles charts in the UK.
As is usually the case when new music technology is released, it was thought that vinyl records would decline and then kind of disappear, which certainly looked like what was going to happen.
But as OCC Chief Executive Martin Talbot points out, vinyl records became popular in the 60s and 70s. A couple of decades later, and vinyl was in decline, especially with the introduction of cassettes. “[They] got right the way down to the bottom,” he said, “and then started climbing back out again.”
And climbing back out it is! By the end of last year, vinyl sales were almost back at the same level they were in 1995, and they’re already up by almost 70% this year. The OCC decided to launch the charts in response to this increase in sales, and in time for Record Store Day, which was on 18 April.
“We have seen specialist music shops start to stock more vinyl. We have seen fashion retailers start to stock vinyl,” he explained. “There are now mail order services where you can get vinyl much more easily than maybe ten years.”
He explained that although it is a niche audience that has been buying vinyl over the past decade or so, more and more diverse groups of people are starting their own record collections. He even cited his 15-year-old daughter and her friends as examples.
And that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. There are people out there buying vinyl because they don’t think any other format compares to the quality of sound. There are others that simply wish to own collectors’ items. Some people simply wish to hang the record cover art on their wall. This was how it was in the past, and this is what is starting to happen again. A happy scenario of “Some Things Never Change”.
According to the first Official Vinyl Singles and Official Vinyl Albums, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds is a favourite amongst vinyl buyers, with it being the biggest-selling vinyl album of the year so far.
The first official number-one album belongs to All Time Low with Future Hearts, which was echoed in the UK album chart broadcast on BBC Radio 1. The vinyl singles chart was topped by Baby Wants to Ride by Underworld vs Heller & Farley.
There are also some classic acts making appearances in these new charts. Led Zeppelin, Prodigy, and Nirvana have all shown up in the album chart, with the Rolling Stones, Beatles and David Bowie (twice) feature in the singles chart.
The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) co-owns the OCC and represents the UK’s recorded music industry. Gennaro Castaldo, Director of Communications at BPI, thinks the new charts make perfect sense.
He explained that the new charts will help BPI to better understand which types of music and which artists are behind the vinyl comeback. “[It] will also help guide a new generation of younger, but emotionally-engaged, fans,” he added, “as they contemplate the vinyl delights that await them.”
The vinyl charts are posted exclusively on the OCC website every Sunday. If you want to check them out (and maybe bookmark them), you can see the Official Vinyl Albums Chart and the Official Vinyl Singles Chart by clicking on their names.