Pay please! “Last Christmas” – number 1 after 36 years

It’s done! The Christmas classic “Last Christmas”, written by George Michael, made it to number 1 in the British charts for the first time in 36 years. That didn’t happen during the Christmas holidays, but on New Year’s Eve, but you shouldn’t be petty. Even as a New Years hit, the song has its qualities. But how did that happen?

In this section we always present astonishing, impressive, informative and funny figures from the fields of IT, science, art, economy, politics and of course mathematics on Tuesdays.

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Even before Christmas, we covered Last Christmas in this column. Knowledgeable participants of the Heise Forum dealt with the melody, others contributed details about the Swiss mountain landscape in which the associated music video was shot. But nobody expected the song to make it to number 1 on the UK charts. But that is exactly what has happened now. This is a big, remarkable success because when the song was released in 1984 it didn’t make it a number 1 hit. It lasted for weeks then Do They Know It’s Christmas? of Band Aid at the top of the charts.

In order to be able to assess the magnitude of this success, one has to know how the charts are calculated. The basic unit is the single. When a music editor for Music Express first launched the charts in November 1952, he phoned a handful of record stores and asked what the best-selling song was. The process was soon refined, expanded to include more than 50 record stores, and was finally taken over by a company founded specifically for this purpose, which from 1963 became the “Official Charts”. That was important for the bookmakers because of course the British were betting on who would land the next number one hit.

Over the years, the single remained the calculation parameter, even if LPs, CDs and music videos were included in the calculation of the charts. With the launch of Napster in 1999, MP3s were included in the calculation of the charts very early on. Today the calculation is carried out according to the formula 200 + 1200 = 1. 200 paid music streams plus 1200 free streams result in a single sold. With this calculation, “Last Christmas” took first place as a New Year’s hit. Obviously, the slightly wistful song at the final start of Brexit was on so many playlists or was clicked in a festive mood that there was no alternative to the choice of seat. 1500 citizens of the United Kingdom bought the piece by download, nine million times it ran on Dudel platforms like Spotify.

Last Christmas may have been played because they were talking about Christmas and Alexa & Co listened carefully and then presented the good piece. Such a declaration must have disturbed the fine spirits of the German feuilleton, who found gloomy headlines such as “When artificial intelligence celebrates festivals” to report the number 1 hit. This nasty AI just disturbs everything. The artificial monsters have probably also hit the German charts, because Mariah Carey made it to number 1 there, of course with “All I Want For Christmas is You”. No one can have that much bad taste.


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