Commentary from the Office: SA Top 40 (18 November 2020)

Download this week's chart here: Aggregated Chart-of-Charts 18xi20.


'Uthando', by Soa Mattrix, SoulfulG and Shaun101, retains the #1 ranking across digital platforms for a second week running. In so doing, it fends off Ariana Grande's 'positions', which comes in at #3. The #2 slot is occupied by the biggest winner in South African digital music consumption this week: Jub Jub's comeback track 'Ndikhokhele'. The remake rockets up 21 positions to take #2, and with an ff-index of 0.005, wasn't far from snatching the top ranking. It also takes honours of being the #1 track on YouTube Music last week, and charted in the top 8 of all sampled platforms. The smart money is on 'Ndikhokhele' taking the top slot of the Aggregated chart next week.

'positions' is marginally closer to #1 despite losing a position on the chart - a prime example of why scoring is just as important as ranking in chart analysis. The difference to last week's index score is 0.009, which pretty much equates to a gain in one mean ranking position across the Top 100. Despite this improvement in popularity, the increased interest in 'Uthando' and 'Ndikhokhele' proved to great for 'positions' to overcome. In other words, despite losing a ranking, 'positions' actually performed better this week than the last.

A similar example of the importance of scoring over ranking is Kelly Khumalo's 'Empini' (#37, ff-index = 0.454). It differs a mere 0.001 from last week, but loses six positions. That is, its popularity with respect to #1 is barely different to last week, despite the loss in six ranks. The track's commercial performance relative to the #1 slot is virtually identical to last week, but other tracks had an even better week.

There was a strong showing for 'John Vuli Gate' (Mapara A Jazz, Ntosh Gazi, Colona) this week, bouncing back from last week's losses to occupy #7. Indeed, 'Ndikhokhele' aside, it was the best performer in the Top 10. 'John Vuli Gate' also improved considerably in terms of ff-index (0.136 last chart versus 0.115 this week; lower index scores are better than high ones).

One of the major questions this week must be, 'Where's Wizkid?' Much to the surprise of the Firefinch team, the Nigerian hotshot has not punched his way into the Top 40 yet. The highest ranked track off the new Made in Lagos album is 'Essence' (ft. Tems), coming in at #44. Gains in ranking in the Top 100 are modest, and losses are large. For example, 'Ginger' (ft. Burna Boy) languishes at #68 after a whopping 24-position loss. 'Blessed' (ft. Damian Marley) lost 12 positions to come in at #78. A number of tracks have dropped out the Top 100 completely, and the average chart position across ten charting tracks is 104 (SD = 41.9). Why?

The losses can be attributed to popularity-by-platform. Wizkid is outrageously popular on Apple Music, but not one any of the other platforms. This is despite the track being available on all sampled platforms (Deezer, YouTube Music, and Spotify, in addition to Apple Music). The algorithm behind the Aggregated Chart-of-Charts punishes tracks heavily if they do not make the Top 100 on any particular platform. All 10 charting tracks from Made in Lagos make the Top 100 on Apple Music, but there is only one ranking less than 100 on any other platform (a #80 on YouTube Music). This points to very important commercial differences between Wizkid's audience, and (say) that of Jub Jub, Master KG, or Mapara A Jazz. 'Ndikhokhele' found itself in the top 8 of every sampled chart, with an average position of #4 (3.75, to be exact; with a narrow SD of 3.1). A similar story is true of all other well-performing tracks on the Top 40. In the Chart-of-Charts, Top 100 performance across all platforms is the key to a high ranking.

New entries this week include 'Indlovu' (DJ Zinhle ft. Loyiso, #35) and 'Therefore I Am' (Billie Eilish, #36). They share an ff-index of 0.452. Their respective average chart positions across the four sampled platforms is 44.0 and 55.0. The Eilish track, however, is barely a week old, and is a new entry on the Top 100 as well. Expect great things from this track, aided by a typically quirky YouTube-launched music video.

Despite the #3 slot taken by 'positions', it was a disappointing week for tracks supporting the Ariana Grande album Positions. '34+35' drops out of the Top 40, while the new entry 'pov' is actually up only three places from its Top 100 slot last week.

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