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77% of British artists with a UK number one album this year come from outside London

By | Published on Thursday 29 December 2022

Harry Styles

UK record industry trade group the BPI has been checking out which regions in the country the British artists who topped the albums chart this year come from. That follows the publication of some other BPI figures earlier this year which sought to show that British music isn’t as London-centric as you might think.

Just over three-quarters of the British artists that had a number one album in the UK this year grew up or formed their bands outside of London. And if you split the country up into twelve regions – which people like to do, apparently, these regions in fact – artists from ten of them topped the albums chart this year.

So, hurrah for all that regional diversity. Although, given London accounts for about 13% of the UK’s population, Londoners can still presumably feel pretty smug that about 23% of this year’s number one albums were by artists from the capital.

But did a Londoner make the album that had the longest stint at the top of the albums chart this year? Hell no! Because that was ‘Harry’s House’ by Harry Styles, and he grew up in Holmes Chapel in Cheshire in the North West of England.

Other chart toppers from the North West region include The Wombats (from Liverpool); Liam Gallagher (from Manchester); The 1975 (from Wilmslow, Cheshire); and Blossoms (from Stockport, Greater Manchester).

Conrad Murray, who manages those there Blossoms, as well as Paul Heaton – who was also born in the North West, though is more commonly associated with Yorkshire, where he grew up – says: “As a Manchester-based manager, it’s been evident for a long time that you don’t have to be in the capital to succeed – the artists I represent are testament to that”.

“Blossoms started out a decade ago in Stockport, where they grew up, and have now scored three number one albums, including [this year’s] ‘Ribbon Around The Bomb’. And since the first Housemartins LP back in the Eighties, tellingly called ‘London 0 Hull 4’, Paul Heaton has been living proof of the exceptional music talent that exists across the entire UK. All these years later, alongside his long-time collaborator Jacqui Abbott, he is still making brilliant number one albums”.

Though before you Northerners get almost as smug as the Londoners, please note that – of those twelve regions – it was East England that had the most number one albums this year after London, with new releases from Ed Sheeran (Framlingham, Suffolk); Don Broco (Bedford, Bedfordshire); George Ezra (Hertford, Hertfordshire); Charli XCX (Start Hill, Essex); Olly Murs (Witham, Essex); and Sam Ryder (Chelmsford, Essex).

Says BPI boss Geoff Taylor on all this regional gubbins: “Scoring a number one album is high on the list of ultimate career goals for most artists, but one only a relative few fulfil. However, as the class of 2022 makes so clear, no matter where you are from in the UK, with the right music talent and support this is an achievable dream. From Scotland to the Isle Of Wight off the south coast of England, chart-topping artists came this year from almost every region and nation of the UK”.

“Backed by the investment and support of record labels, this rich spread of artistic excellence is one of the cornerstones of why the UK has flourished as a music superpower for many decades, but we must not take this for granted”, he goes on. “With the global music industry more competitive now than it has ever been and successful artists coming from absolutely everywhere, the talent we are blessed to have needs to be cherished, supported and protected so it can reach its full potential”.

If you’re in the mood for more album stats, the BPI has also been looking at what records have dominated vinyl album sales specifically this year – and the findings of that are here. The BPI’s overall consumption stats for the UK recorded music market in 2022 will follow next week.