Just over 20 years ago last month the biggest all-male pop band on the planet suffered what would turn out to be a fatally wounding schism when Robbie Williams departed the original line-up of Take That. It seems only appropriate to bring this up given the arrival on the Official UK Singles chart of the first One Direction single of the post-Zayn era, the celebrated 21st-century boy band heading themselves into the bold new waters of testing fan loyalty as a four-piece.
Happily, for them they do so with something of a flourish, their brand new single Drag Me Down brushing off its lukewarm critical reception to storm straight to Number One. Although the single's commanding sales lead appeared to have slipped badly by the end of the sales survey this week it sits at Number One thanks in no small part by setting for itself a new streaming benchmark. Drag Me Down's tally of 2.03 million plays may be some distance from the biggest single week total ever, but it is significantly the highest number of plays ever achieved by a single in its first week. Given my oft-stated mantra that the streaming market is a beat and a half behind the sales market, it is particularly notable that an act like One Direction can command enough of an audience to ensure it is instantly one of the most played pop records as well as one of the most purchased.
At least for one week anyway. Speculate amongst yourselves just how quickly this record will drop off next week although it still awaits the release of an official video which theoretically could give it a further sales push. For now, it restores One Direction to the top of the charts for the first time since 2013 and becomes their fourth British Number One hit single. A fifth One Direction album is reportedly set to follow - just prior to Christmas if I'm any judge of marketing logic.
Moving up solidly into second place and indeed taking a live sales lead by the time Wednesday rolled around is Calvin Harris and Disciples with How Deep Is Your Love. The three-week-old single thus gives Harris his biggest chart hit since Blame topped the charts 11 months ago.
Elsewhere a lack of strong new releases allows the Top 10 room to breathe and in particular allows Can't Feel My Face by The Weeknd to continue its steady chart rise and leap 17-8. It means the Canadian singer-songwriter now has a second Top 10 hit to his name to follow the 50 Shades Of Grey soundtrack hit Earned It which peaked at Number 4 earlier in the spring. His upcoming second album Beauty Behind The Madness hits stores worldwide on August 28th.
Three singles make strong climbs from lower down the chart into the Top 20 this week. Omen by Disclosure featuring Sam Smith moves 29-13 whilst at Number 17 there is what is effectively a new entry to the Top 10 for Joe Stone with The Party (This Is How We Do It), the single having touched Number 189 last week. After circulating anonymously earlier in the year (with speculation mounting as to just who made the club track) the single was revealed last month as the creation of newcomer Joe Stone. As indicated by the title, the single borrows heavily from the 1995 hit single This Is How We Do It by Montell Jordan, using enough sped up vocals from the original to earn the singer a co-credit on the track. The original was a Number 11 hit just over 20 years ago, which at the very least gives the Joe Stone track a target to beat.
Completing the trio of Top 20 arrivals, Watch Me (Whip Nae Nae) leaps 63-19 for Silento, the novelty single taking time to namecheck and borrow from a large list of hip-hop dance moves of the past - all of which are neatly documented in its accompanying video.
The ever-rising popularity of YouTube vloggers continues to be a source of fascination to a music industry looking to find not only a new source of talent but also to harness the built-in audiences that these men and women automatically command. In the past year or so this has meant the chart arrival of controversial comedian Dapper Laughs (Proper Moist, a minor hit single in 2014) and video game reviewer turned rapper KSI whose single Lamborghini hit Number 30 in April. Now it is the turn of online personality Joe Weller to have his name attached to a chart record. Quite what his creative input into house track Wanna Do exactly was remains an enigma for now but his name value alone has been enough to propel the single to a chart placing of Number 28 this week - although it should be noted that the single was for a brief period a fixture in the Top 10 of the iTunes chart before falling away. This does rather indicate that the value of using YouTube names to promote records is limited. Their following will give you a brief sales burst for sure, but once that is over the records themselves are rather left to flail in the wind.
The sad death of Cilla Black last weekend inevitably prompted a surge of interest in her past (only recently re-evaluated) as a pop singer and a desire for people to see her music return to the charts in tribute. Sadly the support wasn't quite enough to give her a first Top 40 single since 1971, her 1964 Number One hit Anyone Who Had A Heart reaching Number 41 this week. The Bacharach and David-penned song was last on the singles chart in October last year when the screening of a three part mini-series portraying the star's musical roots caused it to pick up sales, hitting Number 47 that time around.
There is slightly better news on the Official UK Albums chart for Cilla, her The Very Best Of hits collection lands at Number 15 this week. It is the highest chart placing yet for the collection, first released in 1983 but re-packaged and re-issued in 2013 to mark her 50th anniversary in show business. First time around this latest version of the album peaked at Number 37, climbing to 26 last autumn again in the wake of the aforementioned TV biopic.
Number One on the chart this week is Marks To Prove It by The Maccabees, the group's fourth album giving them their first ever chart-topper and beating the Number 4 peak of their 2012 offering Given To The Wild.