Lead Singles - Commercial Comparison

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Drico One
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Lead Singles - Commercial Comparison

#1 Post by Drico One »

As some of you may know, some enthusiasts at the UK Mix forum recently got their hands on the actual chart data used by Gallup to compile the UK singles chart in the 1980s and early 1990s. What's interesting is that it revealed for the first time the estimated weekly sales of each single along with its chart position (which was, obviously, already in the public domain).

From a Pet Shop Boys perspective, this throws some light on just how well the imperial singles sold - and allows us to measure the magnitude of commercial decline that heralded the end of the imperial phase.

First week panel sales for each lead single up to and including Behaviour:

It's a sin - 1,695
Domino dancing - 1,601
So hard - 2,207

These figures can be multiplied by 17 to get the estimated market sales - the number of actual sales in record shops.

What's interesting here is So hard significantly outsold the other two in week 1 and was close to half the sales of that week's number 1 while It's a sin and Domino dancing were being outsold by their weeks' number 1s at a ratio of nearly 4:1.

It's alright, which was not a lead single but was released after what seemed like an eternity without a Pet Shop Boys single, outsold It's a sin and Domino dancing in week 1 as well, with 1,776 panel sales. Domino dancing was slightly unlucky in that an extra 28 panel sales - some 476 actual sales - would have pushed it into the chart at number 7 rather than 9. It's a sin, meanwhile, tripled its sales in week 2 to pip The Firm to top spot, while Domino dancing's sales increase in week 2 was only of a magnitude of 50% and its third week sales were less than its first as it fell back from 7 to 9.

As would be expected, Left to my own devices sold fewer copies than Domino dancing in its first two weeks - 1,473 and 2,077 panel sales, respectively - despite charting higher at 7 and then 4. It would have gone in at 6 had it sold another 154 copies. It started to outsell Domino dancing in its third week and its sales decline was more gradual. Yet, it fell to 11 on its third week while Domino dancing fell to 9 on its. This simply reflects that different weeks are busier than others and if a band is selling pretty much the same number of singles at any time of year - as PSBs, in general, were - then you get some anomalies.

It's alright's second week sales were very similar to those of Left to my own devices - at 2,003 panel sales. Another 305 actual sales in week 2 would have made it a number 4 hit. Its third week sales were, again, almost identical to those of its two predecessors.

Heart didn't actually sell many records to get to number 1. It entered the chart at 7 with 1,502 panel sales. It got to number 1 on only 2,639 panel sales and increased to 3,253 in week 3 - its highest. Domino dancing's second week panel sales were not that far behind at 2,491 - albeit in a much more competitive week.

What other nerdery has been uncovered?

Well, What have I done to deserve this? sold marginally more in its third week than Heart did in its biggest week. It had 1,706 panel sales in week 1 and 2,983 in its second. It was never going to challenge Rick Astley, however. Rent peaked in week 2 with 1,679 panel sales to reach number 8. As might be expected of a third single, it opened with a relatively modest 1,056 panel sales. Its third week was better than its first, but it still fell to 14.

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Re: Lead Singles - Commercial Comparison

#2 Post by Drico One »

Week 1 Panel Sales

1. Always on my mind - 4 - (1987) 2,395
2. So hard - 4 - (1990) 2,207
3. It's alright - 5 - (1989) 1,776
4. What have I done to deserve this? - 10 - (1987) 1,706
5. It's a sin - 5 - (1987) 1,695
6. Domino dancing - 9 - (1988) 1,601
7. Heart - 7 - (1988) 1,502
8. Where the streets have no name (Can't take my eyes off you)/How can you expect to be taken seriously? - 7 - (1991) - 1,501
9. Left to my own devices - 9 - (1988) 1,473
10. Rent - 17 - (1987) 1,056
11. Suburbia - 23 - (1986) 805
12. Opportunities - 29 - (1986) 583
13. Being boring - 36 - (1990) 447


Week 2 Panel Sales

1. Always on my mind - 1 - (1987) 5,157
2. It's a sin - 1 - (1987) 4,999
3. What have I done to deserve this? - 2 - (1987) 2,983
4. Heart - 1 - (1988) 2,639
5. Domino dancing - 7 - (1988) 2,491
6. So hard - 5 - (1990) 2,316
7. Where the streets have no name (Can't take my eyes off you)/How can you expect to be taken seriously? - 4 - (1991) - 2,156
8. Left to my own devices - 4 - (1988) 2,077
9. It's alright - 5 - (1989) 2,003
10. Rent - 8 - (1987) 1,679
11. Suburbia - 10 - (1986) 1,663
12. Opportunities - 17 - (1986) 874
13. Being boring - 20 - (1990) 686


Week 3 Panel Sales

1. Always on my mind - 1 - (1987) 6,601
2. It's a sin - 1 - (1987) 5,333
3. What have I done to deserve this? - 2 - (1987) 3,389
4. Heart - 1 - (1988) 3,253
5. Suburbia - 8 - (1986) 1,969
6. Left to my own devices - 11 - (1988) 1,636
7. Domino dancing - 9 - (1988) 1,573
8. It's alright - 7 - (1989) 1,543
9. Where the streets have no name (Can't take my eyes off you)/How can you expect to be taken seriously? - 6 - (1991) - 1,455
10. So hard - 9 - (1990) 1,375
11. Rent - 14 - (1987) 1,285
12. Opportunities - 11 - (1986) 1,277
13. Being boring - 26 - (1990) 692


TOTAL Estimated Retail Sales (Units)

1. Always on my mind - 1 - (1987-1988) 508,792 (393,737 + 115,056)
2. It's a sin - 1 - (1987-1988) 456,297 (448,647 + 7,650)
3. West End girls - 1 - (1985-1986) 434,673 (228,701 + 205,972)

4. Heart - 1 - (1988) 266,033
5. What have I done to deserve this? - 2 - (1987-1988) 257,159 (251,022 + 6,137)

6. Suburbia - 8 - (1986-1987) 172,346 (166,549 + 5,797)
7. Domino dancing - 7 - (1988) 147,475
8. Left to my own devices - 4 - (1988-1989) 146,710 (131,410 + 15,300)
9. It's alright - 5 - (1989) 143,344
10. So hard - 4 - (1990) 134,504

11. Opportunities - 11 - (1986) 106,114
12. Rent - 8 - (1987-1988) 105,927 (97,631 + 8,296)
13. Love comes quickly - 19 - (1986) 97,342
14. Being boring - 20 - (1990) 46,138
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Re: Lead Singles - Commercial Comparison

#3 Post by Meebabi »

Interesting. Thanks Drico!

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Re: Lead Singles - Commercial Comparison

#4 Post by moxlox »

Very interesting. I'd be further interested to see a similar analysis for Very era singles, including comparison to imperial phase singles like Its a Sin and Always on my Mind.
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Re: Lead Singles - Commercial Comparison

#5 Post by Nickname »

Thanks Drico, very interesting.

It's a pity we don't have sales results from each single all around the world.

Anyway, there are many other forms to know the popularity of any of theses songs nowadays.

I wanted to create a Top 10 of the most famous songs from PSB all over the world and I create this list, trying to explain the position of every songs of the ranking.

You can find it here:
http://petshopboys-forum.com/viewtopic. ... af#p622646

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Re: Lead Singles - Commercial Comparison

#6 Post by TallThinMan »

Thanks Drico, that's really interesting. It would be nice to have the panel data for 'West End girls' for completeness.

As I find it easier to work with data like this visually I took the liberty of breaking out Excel...

Panel Sales

Image

Estimated Retail Sales

Image
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Re: Lead Singles - Commercial Comparison

#7 Post by Drico One »

Lovely work, TTM.

So hard's second week panel sales were 2,316, so I've updated the data above. It lost its number 4 spot to Status Quo by 816 actual sales.

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Re: Lead Singles - Commercial Comparison

#8 Post by raggatwin »

Losing out to Status Quo.....swizzled....
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Re: Lead Singles - Commercial Comparison

#9 Post by Drico One »

TallThinMan wrote: Sun 18 Feb 2024, 6:41 pm Thanks Drico, that's really interesting. It would be nice to have the panel data for 'West End girls' for completeness.
I can dig it up. The problem with that, though, is it isn't really comparable to their other singles in that they were not yet an established act, so their week 1 and week 2 sales are actually miniscule and provide little value in this discussion. Then the question is do we consider their first week in the top 200 as their week 1 panel sales figure or their first week in the top 40?

Nevertheless, for purposes beyond that comparison, here is the chart run of West End girls and its associated panel sales:

Week 1: # 113 with 38 panel sales
Week 2: # 80 with 110 panel sales
Week 3: # 59 with 190 panel sales
Week 4: # 40 with 376 panel sales
Week 5: # 23 with 748 panel sales
Week 6: # 9 with 1,502 panel sales
Week 7: # 5 with 2,777 panel sales
Week 8: # 4 with 4,620 panel sales
Week 9: # 3 with 3,092 panel sales
Week 10: # 1 with 2,041 panel sales
Week 11: # 1 with 3,479 panel sales
Week 12: # 3 with 2,902 panel sales
Week 13: # 7 with 1,369 panel sales
Week 14: #23 with 675 panel sales
Week 15: #38 with 350 panel sales

Then it left the top 40 and the remaining sales are very minor.

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Re: Lead Singles - Commercial Comparison

#10 Post by Drico One »

raggatwin wrote: Sun 18 Feb 2024, 7:13 pm Losing out to Status Quo.....swizzled....
And the Anniversary Waltz at that. :roll:
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Re: Lead Singles - Commercial Comparison

#11 Post by Drico One »

I left out Love comes quickly for similar reasons, but here are its panel sales:

Week 1: # 52 with 213 panel sales
Week 2: # 31 with 504 panel sales
Week 3: # 21 with 794 panel sales
Week 4: # 19 with 1,059 panel sales
Week 5: # 19 with 1,081 panel sales
Week 6: # 21 with 677 panel sales
Week 7: # 30 with 427 panel sales
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Re: Lead Singles - Commercial Comparison

#12 Post by Patrick Bateman »

Drico One wrote: Sun 18 Feb 2024, 7:21 pm
And the Anniversary Waltz at that. :roll:
Most appearances on Top of the Pops though, which shows what a behemoth ver Quo were in the charts. They were also highly resilient: The Anniversary Waltz (Part 1) is very much their Where the Streets Have No Name, released in response to the previous two singles and their companion album tanking. It was their final top ten single though, peaking at number two and the imaginatively titled The Anniversary Waltz (Part 2) would only get to number 16 later that year.

Diminishing returns set in, but despite the Bannister Reforms, they would continue to have minor hits until their final Top 40 entry in 2007 with It's Christmas Time. Spookily that got to number 40, meaning both PSB and ver Quo's last Top 40 hit was a Christmas song that occupied that position.

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Re: Lead Singles - Commercial Comparison

#13 Post by Drico One »

So hard's week 3 sales were poor by their standards: 1,375. I have updated the table above. Clearly, the shock drop after one week despite two excellent sales weeks affected its week 3 performance. In pure sales terms, only three PSB singles outperformed it over the first 14 days.
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Re: Lead Singles - Commercial Comparison

#14 Post by billjermaine »

Drico One wrote: Mon 19 Feb 2024, 8:35 pm So hard's week 3 sales were poor by their standards: 1,375. I have updated the table above. Clearly, the shock drop after one week despite two excellent sales weeks affected its week 3 performance. In pure sales terms, only three PSB singles outperformed it over the first 14 days.
Wasn't it around this time the follow-up 2nd remix package (to try to offset the plummet) became a regular thing? From memory PSB were a bit late with their KLF .. but I may be wrong (I was relying on imports in Australia).

I remember So hard being a massive drought breaker at the time and grabbing hold of it like it was pure heroin. It had been their longest absence ever between releases (15 months), and felt way longer considering It's alright, a song we’d already been well familiar with for 9 months, was all that bridged the gap between Nov 88 and Sep 90.

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Re: Lead Singles - Commercial Comparison

#15 Post by Drico One »

Being boring's notorious chart entry at 36 in November 1990 came on the back of panel sales of 447, a paltry figure. Basically, it was estimated to have sold 7,500 copies in its first week. The second single from the previous album, Left to my own devices, had sold three times as many copies in its first week two years earlier. For added ignominy, Bombalurina and Timmy Mallett entered five places higher...

I never thought Being boring was single material at the time. At least not in a commercial sense. While they were obviously older, greyer, balder and more established, I also think the fact that the single version of Being boring was really just an edit rather than a significantly remixed offering damaged its commercial potential. This was the first PSB single - released after its parent album - that did not get a noticeable facelift since Opportunities. It really just sounded like a shorter version of the album opener, a bit like Loneliness is today. Compared to Suburbia, Rent, Heart, Left to my own devices, and It's alright - all dramatically different to their album versions - this seemed a bit lazy and disinterested. It was probably just them being practical. Why change perfection?

Of course, I loved the CD single with its evocative, aspirational artwork - replete with Zelda quote - and the b-side. Holding it was like having an invitation to a secret world in one's hands. I still think it's their most perfect single in that sense - but it was never a hit in a million years to my 18-year-old ears.

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