By now you'll have heard about the to and fro cut and thrust around Owl City's UK number one, following its American success. On one level, it's more explicable over here for the simple reasons that a) we seem to like undominant electro at the moment and b) The Postal Service have never been very well known in Britain. (The number one single fails to be massively groundbreakingly original? Who'd have ever known.)
There's another issue at work here, though, and it folds back into something that's been going on for a year or two now. The record Fireflies replaced at number one was Replay by Iyaz, which was involved in a scrap in week of release with Riverside by Sidney Samson. At that statement, we can't imagine we were the only people looking blankly at it. Maybe our perception has been warped by nearly five years esconsed in the self-perpetuating bubble of blogland, but these don't seem to be records that escaped the Radio 1 A-list into the wider world, something you'd have expected of any chart topper a couple of years ago.
Indeed modern pop, starved of televisual oxygen - when did The Box drop its Television You Control USP? - and consequently precision targeted at its audience, seems to be missing a strata altogether. While a regenerated pop scene is always a useful thing, seeing names like 30H!3, Taio Cruz and Chipmunk suddenly appearing at the top with little wider trailing. Even something as big as N-Dubz would still, we venture, be more famous to most over the age of 16 as the band of the bloke in the hat who had a sideline as a Never Mind The Buzzcocks punchbag.
What that means is complaining about the state of the singles chart is a false economy. Whether you take the download long tail or the death of Top Of The Pops as your starting point, it's not that it's getting sucked dry of interest, it's that its audience is getting exponentially younger. It's young people, not even Lambrini girls or men in vans, that chart music matters to now, and if we're to keep the industry alive in some way that should turn out to be a positive boon.