In which things go off the chart

Distressing news this week, that Juicy Couture – purveyors of the tracksuits we’d previously thought were the 21st century’s biggest battle between comfort and aesthetics, until adults started wearing babygros – is closing all its US stores. You can almost hear velour fans everywhere wailing in anguish. Listen very carefully; it’s quite muffled. 

But we’ll cope without Juicy, because in exchange we are getting back another vestige of the olden days. The pop charts are going to matter again.

The music industry having finally caught up with the internet, online streaming via services such as Spotify will count towards the UK singles charts for the first time from next month. Whether it’s a wise move for the future of the industry or another way to fiddle artists our of their income (or both) remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say it’ll diversify the Top 40 for the better.  

I say that as someone who has, I’ve just discovered, basically no idea what is in the Top 40. “Let’s see how many artists we can guess from this week’s chart,” I announce to my boyfriend, and we set about making a list.

I kick things off with One Direction. Obviously One Direction will be in the charts. In fact the chart is probably at least a third One Direction these days, I reason, because when we unwittingly got on a sweaty Metropolitan Line tube coming from Wembley the other Saturday night, it contained more frenzied pre-teen girls with ‘1D’ written in biro on their foreheads than I thought were left of the entire music-buying public.

“Lana Del Ray,” says my boyfriend, because he has seen her on a poster recently.

“Paloma Faith,” I say. I know she has a single out because Radio 2 plays it once every four minutes. Likewise Sam Smith, who is nothing to do with the cheap pubs (I checked).

“Um. Rihanna?” he ventures, and I laugh in a patronising fashion before sheepishly writing down, “Coldplay.”

“Do Mumford and Sons have an album out?”

“No. Don’t be silly.”

“Is there a band that sounds a bit like Mumford and Sons who has an album out?”

I write it down. 

Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry go on the list for good measure. By the time we reach Gary Barlow, it is clear that we have exhausted our knowledge of current music – not as people who listen to obscure bands that haven’t got famous yet, but as people who most recently listened to a self-compiled playlist called ‘Whistling’, made up of songs that all have whistling in them (it has Colonel Bogey and two different versions of Mr Bojangles on it – and yes, it is awesome).

 I check the Top 40 to see how many we’ve guessed right. Four.

Now it seems our options are either to make some effort and re-familiarise ourselves with the hit parade, or give up and see how many repeat plays it takes to get Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard back in the charts instead. Here’s to the democracy of the internet.