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BBC criticises Official Charts Company, after reclassification knocks Children In Need album out of number one race

By | Published on Friday 8 November 2019

BBC Children In Need - Got It Covered

The boss of the BBC’s Children In Need charity has said that he is “deeply saddened” that the Official Charts Company has chosen to class his organisation’s new ‘Got It Covered’ record as a various artists compilation, making it ineligible for the main albums chart.

Adding insult to injury, that classification was confirmed after the music industry’s chief counters announced on Monday that the fundraising record – released ahead of next week’s Children In Need telethon – was on course to, well, top this week’s main albums chart.

‘Got It Covered’ features various celebrities covering pop hits – so, Olivia Colman singing Portishead’s ‘Glory Box’, David Tennant doing The Proclaimers’ ‘Sunshine On Leith’, that sort of thing – and is on track to be this week’s biggest selling album. It will not now, however, feature at the top of the official UK albums chart, because various artists compilations have their own weekly countdown separate from the main one.

According to current OCC rules, the only compilations allowed in the main album chart are greatest hit outings from single artists, or concert and soundtrack recordings where all the music is performed by a single orchestra or cast.

Those involved with the project would possibly argue that ‘Got It Covered’ meets these requirements, it being a project conceived as a whole rather than a series of individually released tracks lumped together on one record. The BBC Concert Orchestra also features on all eleven tracks, which were recorded by Guy Chambers at Abbey Road Studios.

The OCC initially agreed with this view of the project, until yesterday when it announced that it had decided that – actually – having different vocalists on each song definitely made this record a various artists compilation.

Children In Need chief exec Simon Antrobus said of the decision to list the album in a chart that few people outside of the music industry even know exists: “I’m deeply saddened that the industry has chosen to pull the album from the number one race after announcing it was well on its way to securing the top spot [in the main album chart] this week”.

“‘Got It Covered’ is the result of an inspiring collaboration by some of the UK’s biggest stars in support of disadvantaged children and young people and this very special project has clearly captured the public’s imagination”, he went on. “It’s sad that a charity album solely for the benefit of children should be denied the chance of further promotion and celebration which inevitably would lead to more money being raised”.

In a separate statement, the BBC said: “This is extremely disappointing, we know many of the contributors are also saddened by the news. It’s important to remember what this album is about – helping the lives of disadvantaged children in need. The public have been buying the album in huge volumes and that should be recognised. [The OCC] should think again”.

In its own statement, the OCC stuck by its decision and said: “We understand and sympathise with Children In Need’s concerns that their album will no longer feature in the UK’s artist albums chart. The album is on course to take the number one spot on the compilation albums chart and be the biggest selling album of the week – which is a huge achievement, while raising money for such a deserving cause”.

“‘Got It Covered’ was described to us pre-release as an artist album, but on release it was clear that it was a various artists compilation, as it is widely credited as across retail and music services”, it continued, explaining why it had undergone a change of heart. “We are sorry this fact was not picked up sooner, and we are huge supporters of all the incredible and important work Children In Need do and would urge everyone to continue to go out and buy the album”.

Many of the critics of this decision – including celebrities who sang on the record – have expressed concern that by not appearing in the main album chart, certain shops – particularly supermarkets – will not stock the record after it ceases to be a new release. Although, if it’s flying off the shelves as fast as we’re led to believe, this would seem like an odd decision on the shops’ part. Plus, of course, there’s no better promotion for a release than a good old chart dispute.

The annual Children In Need telethon will be broadcast on BBC One next Friday.