Wandering The Archives

With almost 1600 articles to choose from in the Chart Watch UK archive, it can be a little hard to track down some of the more fascinating moments of chart history covered herein. So here are some particularly special moments to help you along the way.

Welcome to the Chart Watch archive pages.


First posted back in the days of text-based newsgroups, the column has appeared in numerous online publications during its lifetime.

November 1992 - June 1995 : Posted to usenet, mainly rec.music.misc and rec.music.info

July 1995 - December 2003 : Dotmusic.com

January 2004 - April 2008 : Yahoo! Launch UK

May 2008 - September 2011 : Yahoo! Music UK & Ireland

November 2011 - May 2016 : Top40.About.com

June 2016 - March 2020 : chart-watch.uk

March 2020 - November 2021 : musicweek.com

December 2021 - date : chart-watch.uk

These pages contain the near-complete archive of James' past chart commentaries, from the early days as a (mostly) weekly posting on usenet newsgroups through to the independently published ones in this site. The sole exceptions are the weekly Chart Analysis columns produced for Music Week magazine in 2020 and 2021 which for the moment remain the copyright of Future Publishing and can only be read by subscribers to their site. They will feature here only when it is appropriate for them to do so.

Select your year of interest from the menu at the top of the page, or simply dive in from the suggested links below.

A word of warning: each column was written for the online audience for that particular week and most were never intended as a matter of historical record. They represented the state of play on the UK music charts as it was viewed at the time. History may well have since taken a different view. Where it is necessary to offer clarification or just to correct moments when I was clearly talking bollocks you will find a [jarring editorial intervention] from the modern day James Masterton.

Note that these archives are sourced from my original notes which may not always correspond to what was edited to go online. In particular, there was a period around the turn of the decade when I was in the habit of correcting previously unnoticed errors and glitches on the live version of the column using Yahoo!'s own content management system. Consequently, those changes never made it back to my own archives. Where you stumble across something which was completely inaccurate, even then, please just presume for simplicity that I am the definitively incorrect word on the matter.

Superstar Debuts

Over the years Chart Warch UK has documented the singles chart debuts of a large number of modern-day chart superstars. They include:

Ariana GrandeRita Ora, Ed Sheeran, Olly Murs, Justin BieberTaylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Adele, Calvin Harris, Arctic Monkeys, Rihanna, Kanye West, Kings Of Leon, Sean Paul, Elbow, Nelly, Coldplay, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez, Eminem, Britney Spears, Destiny's Child, Usher, Missy Elliott, Jay-Z, Daft Punk, The Spice GirlsThe Verve, Boyzone, R Kelly, Snoop Dogg, Radiohead

Famous Chart Battles

August 1995: The Battle Of Britpop

November 1999: Ginger v Baby

August 2000: Posh Spice v Sophie Ellis-Bextor

December 2002: Popstars - The Rivals

December 2009: Rage Against Joe McElderry

Record Numbers Of New Entries

The period around the turn of the millennium saw chart turnover rocket like never before, each week an almost frantic blizzard of new entries. During the life of Chart Watch the all-time record for Top 40 new entries has been broken three times. These charts were:

September 1995: 18 brand new entries (a chart in 1992 had seen 17 new songs and one climb from outside)

November 1995: 19 brand new entries

May 1997: 20 brand new entries

Watersheds And Other Historic Moments

December 1993: Mr Blobby does something nobody has for 25 years

October 1998: The entire Top 5 are new entries

March 2001: Hear'Say kick off the reality TV era

March 2002: Pop Idol winner Will Young sells a million singles in a week

April 2005: Downloads are counted for the very first time

April 2006: Gnarls Barkley top the charts without selling a single physical copy

January 2007: The digital revolution is complete

July 2009: Michael Jackson dies

July 2014: Digital streams are counted for the first time

December 2014: Ed Sheeran tops the charts despite not being the week's biggest seller

January 2016: Justin Bieber dominates the Top 3

March 2017: Ed Sheeran breaks the charts and has nine of the week's Top 10 singles

January 2020: Ellie Goulding releases a Christmas song exclusively on Amazon and strange things happen.