When the UK’s Official Chart Company, at the instigation of the BBC‘s Asian Network, introduced an official Asian Download Chart in early 2010, this gave a the Asian music scene a new legitimacy and industry presence that had long been missing. We all hear the stories of how bhangra releases were shifting thousands of units in the early 90s but not making the national charts because they were effectively being sold outside of the official loop. The chart also gave music buyers, artists and labels a chance to understand what was really selling and more importantly what their competitive landscape was.
Which brings us on to the current Asian Download Chart No. 1. Naughty Boy‘s rise to fame is the stuff of Danny Boyle or even Hollywood films. He won over £40,000 on the TV game show Deal or No Deal and used the funds to build his own recording studio. He then signed to Virgin Records and in the space of two years had produced the number one selling album of 2012 in the UK. It’s no understatement to say that a large part of the success of Emeli Sandé‘s Our Version of Events is down to him. To top that up, one of his co-written songs was featured as part of the London Olympics opening ceremony and beamed to millions of households around the world.
His production is up there with the best and his success is well deserved but the decision to include his latest single (and current UK Number 1, “La La La“, feat. Sam Smith) in the Asian Download Chart calculations is a mystery. Last November, Naughty Boy scored a Top 10 hit with “Wonder” (featuring Emeli Sandé on vocals); a national Top 40 track like that would have guaranteed an Asian Download chart-topper for a good few weeks, yet the track was excluded from the Asian chart calculations. Why, on this occasion, it was decided by the powers that be to include “La La La” is anyone’s guess. It’s doubtful whether the OCC would have taken this decision independently and it also throws into question the neutrality of the chart when track inclusion/exclusion rules are not applied consistently. The plus side of including it is that it recognises a new and extraordinary talent of British Asian origin; but the negative side is that it’s unfairly detrimental to all the other tracks on the Asian chart because it automatically guarantees the release a 6 – 8 week run at the top of the charts due to its disproportionate number of sales.
As a result, Imran Khan‘s “Satisfya” has the dubious honour of only having had a 1-week run at No. 1 despite it being one of the biggest selling (and most hyped) Asian tracks of the year so far. DJ Dips‘ “Tere Wargi” collaboration with H-Dhami & Garry Sandhu, a chart dynamite threesome, had no chance of reaching the pinnacle with Naughty Boy in the running. In fact, it debuts at No. 2 in this week’s chart. With Naughty Boy having been excluded, it would no doubt have entered at the top.
Next week, one of the most hyped up new vocalists on the scene will also probably also miss out on scoring a No. 1 with his debut; Raj Bains, the latest protégé from the PBN camp. For once, here is a singer that can live up to the hype: Raj Bains can sing. Full stop. There’s minimal or no studio wizardry involved in this one, his vocal is a belter and the his debut single is a broad appeal pop bhangra number and will be around for the good part of the summer, like it or not. No-one would begrudge him a No. 1 but we’re predicting he’ll miss out for the same reasons above.
So if Naughty Boy is included in the Asian Download Chart going forward, expect all his tracks to be chart toppers by default. A few years ago the chart compilers were in a similar predicament with Jay Sean (although the difference there was that Jay Sean was originally a product of the Asian music scene, while Naughty Boy is not); it will be interesting to see how this one plays out, especially with Naughty Boy’s debut solo album due out later this year.
If I were an artist or label aiming for the top spot, I would avoid timing my releases with new Naughty Boy material anytime soon…