Aggregated Chart-of-Charts: SA Top 40 (6 January 2021) – Happy New Ears!

Download the latest chart: Aggregated Chart-of-Charts 6i21.


Apologies to John Cage for the title! It was a subdued New Year in South Africa, under the shadow of renewed Coronavirus restrictions. This led to a very tightly contested chart. It's Blaq Diamond at the top with 'SummerYoMuthi', narrowly edging out the resurgent 'Blinding Lights' by The Weeknd (a difference of only 0.003 by ff-index, worth less than a third of a chart position). Big Zulu and company feature strongly at #3, with 'Mali Eningi' just 0.009 behind the top spot. On an average week, this would have been good enough for the #2 spot. But this was no average week: the entire Top 40 was covered by an index of 0.454, whereas typically it spans nearer to 0.500. The Top 200 were covered by an index score of 1.459, where as it should have been closer to 1.920 - representing 200 tracks squashed (roughly) into the top 135 to 150 places. (A reminder that the ff-index is a measure of digital popularity across Apple Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, and Deezer.)

There was a strong resurgence for international tracks that were popular earlier in the year. As we have already seen, The Weeknd clocks in at #2, narrowly missing top of the chart. The ubiquitous 'Dance Monkey' is another strong returnee, at #11. SAINt JHN is back up to #15 with 'Roses - Imanbek Remix', Lewis Capaldi's 'Someone You Loved' features strongly at #22, and the omnipresent 'Circles' is back at #25. Similarly, 'Memories' (Maroon5) is in at #27; Dua Lipa's 'Don't Start Now' from the utterly fantastic Future Nostalgia album finds its way to #34; and even Pop Smoke and Drake are back. While it is difficult to know for sure, the resurgence of international artists on SA charts is like the result of streaming service playlisting at the end of the year (retrospective lists in particular). As 2021 settles in, we should see a return of more local and recently-released tracks.

Under-performers include 'John Vuli Gate' (Mapara A Jazz, Ntosh Gazi, Calona; #30); as well as 'WAP' (Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion; #31). The latter is particularly interesting, as other international hits from 2020 featured strongly over Christmas and New Year, while WAP continued its gradual demise on the charts. This is probably much to the pleasure of Mama Nells, however. In a similar fashion, the BTS mega-hit 'Dynamite' fails to make the New Year Top 40, sitting at #52 with an ff-index of 0.573. Also disappointing is the performance of Taylor Swift's 'willow', languishing down at #48; evidently, evermore (as well as the remarkable folklore) hasn't been quite as all-conquering in South Africa as they have been in other parts of the world.

Good news is that sanity has finally prevailed, and Christmas songs by Mariah Carey, WHAM!, and Michael Bublé are tumbling down the charts. One could only hope that they recede into oblivion, but they are sure to reappear at the end of 2021. It is interesting, however, that the amount of Christmas-themed music played by commercial radio stations like 97.4, Smile904, and Kfm doesn't remotely match streaming behaviour. This doubtlessly has to do with the same distribution deals that keep South African radio playlisting lagging two months behind streaming.

You may notice that this week's chart does not feature 'delta-last week' (ΔLW) scores. This is because there has been a change to the algorithm that determines aggregated chart position (and from that, the ff-index and other non-published measures). The algorithm is essentially a weighting formula (as implied by 'aggregate') that assigns various values to chart positions from Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, and Deezer. The changes are in weighting, making the score more accurately aligned with the popularity of respective streaming applications.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *