Is Gary Numan no longer electric?
Gary Numan is one of the most famous creators of electronic music. Since 1979, when his band Tubeway Army’s Are Friends Electric? spent four weeks at No 1, he has been routinely described as an “electronic pioneer” and a Google search for “Numan electronic” produces 526,000 results.
However, this doesn’t satisfy US chart company Billboard, who have decreed that his new album, Savage (Songs From A Broken World), does not qualify for their dance/electronic chart, even though 95% of it was produced by electronic instruments. According to producer Ade Fenton, Savage’s 51 channels of synthesisers and electronic drums make it the “most electronic” of the four albums he and Numan have worked on. The album’s classification as rock/alternative means that Numan has missed out on an almost certain dance/electronic No 1, instead having to settle for a rather more lowly rock/alternative No 22.
In an email, a Billboard executive informed the Numan camp that the company is trying to keep the dance/electronic chart closer to the former, so: “Sonically, the Numan album just does not fit in there.”
Equally, the email explained that he isn’t the only electronic artist who no longer qualifies. The rock/alternative tag has been similarly applied to other synth acts including Depeche Mode and LCD Soundsystem.
So what does an electronic artist have to do to top the US dance/electronic chart? Be electronic dance music act Calvin Harris, sat at No 1, despite selling less than Numan. “Savage is the most electronic album I’ve made since The Pleasure Principle in 1979, which arguably kickstarted the entire genre,” says Numan. “So to be excluded is almost unbelievable.” Still, if he needs consoling, Savage entered the British album chart at No 2, his highest new entry for 38 years.