By any level analysis, this has been a breath-taking few weeks for any avid watcher of the UK charts. We've had record-breaking streams for singles, new standards set for chart domination and record weekly sales for individual albums as Adele and Justin Bieber trade headlines between them.
This week the wheel turns once more as Bieber steps back into the spotlight and becomes the first living act in 52 years to replace himself at Number One.
American readers may be forgiven for going "so what", given that across the Atlantic this is still a rare feat but by no means unusual, Nelly, Boyz II Men, Ja Rule and most recently The Weeknd have all turned the trick in recent years. On the Official UK Singles chart this has happened just three times before - The Beatles at the height of Beatlemania in 1963, John Lennon in the aftermath of his death in early 1981 and Elvis Presley thanks to a weekly programme of re-issues in the dying weeks of the pre-digital singles chart in early 2005. To that list we can also add The Shadows who technically pulled off the trick three times in the early 1960s with their own singles succeeding those of Cliff Richard on which they were credited musicians, but that's an argument for another forum.
Justin Bieber is therefore unique in the modern era in being a living, active recording artist whose recordings are simply so overwhelmingly popular (both in terms of sales and streams) that he is able to land Number One single after Number One single. So it is that Sorry'two-weekk run at the top comes to an end for now, overtaken for this week at least by his own Love Yourself. The Ed Sheeran-penned track isn't formally a single, simply far and away the most popular of all the tracks on his current album Purpose and it has now written Justin Bieber into British chart history forever.
Love Yourself is Bieber's third Number One single in rapid succession, a fact that itself is rather notable. Counting from the first week of What Do You Mean's three runs at Number One he has managed a hat-trick of chart-toppers in just 14 weeks. This is once more a record for a living act, beating out the 19 weeks it took Westlife to land their 2nd, 3rd and 4th Number One hits in 1999. The only other two acts to have pulled off the trick faster had both passed away beforehand -the aforementioned Elvis Presley in 2005 and John Lennon in 1981. Elvis' three Number Ones in a row came in the space of four weeks, the closest anyone has come to an unprecedented triple. John Lennon's three Number One hits in 1980/81 were broken up by a two week run for There's No-One Quite Like Grandma by the St Winifred's School Choir although it should be noted that one of those weeks was a 'ghost' chart, a repeat of the previous week as the British charts did not update over the Christmas/New Year period in those days.
In terms of sequential Number One hits Bieber doesn't quite hold the record, Love Yourself his third of the last seven singles to top the UK charts. That's one more than the 3 in 6 achieved by Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers in 1989 and two more than George Michael who sang on 3 out of 5 chart-toppers during the summer of 1984 (albeit as lead singer of Wham! for two of these).
Both Love Yourself and Sorry remain far and away the most streamed tracks of the moment, with 5.97m and 5.5m respectively. Lest anyone complains too loudly, let's note that the two tracks are also among the most purchased of the week, occupying first and third places on the sales chart as well. Two years ago Justin Bieber was releasing a single a week to widespread public indifference. Right now he's the most famous pop star on the planet, so much so that this column could easily be all about him.
Except that it isn't all about him, because there are other things to talk about. Last week I noted the rather low key debut of Grace and G-Eazy's modern day take on the Lesley Gore classic You Don't Own Me. In a moment that probably wasn't quite as serendipitous as it may first appear X Factor front-runner Lauren Murray performed the same arrangement of the song for her second performance on the show last weekend - inevitably sparking into life a chart record which had hitherto been largely ignored. The result is a flying leap up the charts, the Grace single resting this week at Number 5, the biggest selling single of the week not to be performed by Justin Bieber or Adele. Not entirely coincidentally Lauren Murray's other performance last week was of Firestone, as originally sung for Kygo by Australian singer Conrad Sewell - brother of Grace. To complete the circle of fate, the original version of You Don't Own Me although a flop in the UK was a Number 2 hit in America in early 1964. It was prevented from topping the Billboard charts by The Beatles just as they were becoming the first group in American chart history to replace themselves at Number One.
X Factor is also responsible for the other big singles chart move of the week. Sigma's epic Coming Home has been out for almost a month now but had been showing little sign of becoming the production duo's fifth straight hit single, peaking at Number 45 - or so it seemed. It was just that last weekend it was the turn of X Factor judge Rita Ora to take to the stage on the results show and as the guest singer on Coming Home needless to say this was the song she performed. As a result the single takes off, not quite in the same manner as the Grace track but with enough momentum to take it to Number 15, landing Sigma their fifth Top 20 hit in a row - and all without yet having released an album. That's finally out this week by the way.
The Official UK Album chart remains Adele's for the rest of the year. During the week 25 became the fastest million-seller in UK chart history, crossing the threshold in just 10 days. The album sold a further 439,000 copies to add to the 800,000 it shifted in its first week. Still the demand shows no sign of relenting.
Finally, as if you weren't only too aware that the big day is approaching, the first holiday hit of the season arrives on this week's Top 40. Inevitably it is Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You which charts at Number 35 to become a Top 40 hit single for the ninth year in a row.