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UK singles chart hits have become shorter and slower since it began 70 years ago

The UK singles chart is 70 years old today and since Al Martino had the first No1 in 1952 hits have become shorter and slower, research shows.

The chart is more likely to have a diverse line-up of performers, but once-familiar elements, such as key changes and fades, have almost completely disappeared,

Experts analysed all of the 1,404 releases to reach No1, from Here In My Heart by Al Martino, to the latest, Anti-Hero by Taylor Swift.

While some things have hardly changed – females are still outnumbered by male and mixed acts – more hits are in minor keys and time signatures are increasingly four beats in a bar.

Key changes were used on 43% of No1s in 1953, but are now incredibly rare, with just one example in the past nine years – the 2020 cover of You’ll Never Walk Alone by Michael Ball and Captain Tom Moore.

Fade-outs are also out of fashion, from appearing on 93% of No1 in 1971 and 100% in 1983, to none at all in 2011 and on only 23 since then. There have only been 13 No1s this century with time signatures in anything other than a strict four beats in a bar.

Played back-to-back, the 1,404 No1, including double A-sides, take almost 85 hours to listen to in full.

Chart analyst and historian James Masterton said: “Many changes are due to the advance of technology, which has upended previous ways of working in music production and composition.”