We Demand A Re-Run
It was a two-way battle which gripped the nation, one with the potential to set friend against friend and drive a wedge between families. On Thursday night Britain held its breath as the final totals were tallied, and when the result was announced on Friday it was met with shock and dismay from those who had set their heart on a brighter and better future. But there was no escaping the truth. The choice had been made. One Dance by Drake, Wizkid and Kyla overcame the odds once again to spend an astonishing eleventh week at Number One on the Official UK Singles Chart.
Does this need putting in any kind of perspective? 11 consecutive weeks at the top of the British charts is something that has only been achieved by three other records in 54 years of chart history. A total higher than this has only ever happened twice - Everything I Do (I Do It For You) by Bryan Adams which lasted 16 weeks in 1991 and Love Is All Around by Wet Wet Wet which stretched a lead to 15 three years later. And yes, two of those acts are Canadian, we noticed. One Dance is needless to say now the longest running Number One single of the digital era (regarded by the Official Charts Company as post-2004 when digital sales were first tallied, even if they didn't make it to the full singles chart for another year) beating the 10 week reign of Umbrella by Rihanna and Jay-Z in 2007.
At the risk of sounding like an eternally rebuffering stream (stuck records are so 1990s you know) the full story is once again all about the underlying numbers. In paid for sales One Dance actually rallied slightly in chart terms, ranking as the 8th biggest seller of the week this week, up from ninth last week but it otherwise slips to the lowest sales and streams of its chart life to date. Still, a combined total over just over 60,000 copies may well be the lowest for any Number One single since last October but it was still more than any other track in the market. The unlucky loser once again was This Girl by Kungs vs Cookin' On 3 Burners which finished just over 3000 copies behind.
One Dance once again came up on the rails. According to Alan Jones in Music Week the chart race was led by Sigala on Saturday, The Neales (no, really) on Sunday, Kungs on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Drake took the lead for the first time based on Thursdays sales. Although that may be related to the way streaming data lags behind sales returns with the final totals from the likes of Spotify and Apple not apparent until the every end of the chart survey.
Meanwhile the inquests continue as to just why this, let's be honest about this, unexciting run of the mill and hook-free pop record has managed such a strangehold on the market that it is now one of the most successful chart singles of all time. It surely is not insiginificant that One Dance is unique in the modern era in being available for almost three months now but still with no official video available - not even a lyrics clip. That means if you want to listen to the track you have no choice but to turn to one of the streaming services - meaning your play registers for the singles chart. All the other tracks in the market can theoretically lose chart-eligible sales to video views on YouTube and Vimeo etc. The significance of that should not be underestimated.
Nothing Ever Happens
Yet the continuing presence of the Drake track at the top of the charts isn't even the most extraordinary thing about this week's singles chart. On this week's Top 10 there are no less than nine non-movers. Every one of the singles at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10 occupy the same positions they did last week. It is a market stagnation that is utterly without precedent in modern times. A fluke for sure, but to the casual observer (*waves to any checking in*) and indeed to those of us chartwatchers this is eye-popping.
Your Sweet Sweet Buying
So go on, I hear you say. What is the magical record at Number 9 which has done something extraordinary and unique and actually occupies a different position to last week. Step forward Give Me Your Love which duly becomes the fourth straight Top 10 hit single for Sigala. As with its three predecessors this single has traced a rather curious chart path, starting small and insignificant before spurting suddenly into life. These tracks appeal primarily to the dwindling band of singles purchasers it seems. Give Me Your Love has been available as a stream for seven weeks now, had risen as high as Number 91 last week but only now explodes into life now it is available for purchase. With every release the stock of Bruce 'Sigala' Fielder grows and so does the level of talent he is able to attract to appear on his records. Guest starring this time around is no less a figure than John Newman with additional production (and a co-credit of his own) by the even more feted Nile Rodgers. This is now the sixth Top 10 hit single of Newman's career, his first chart hit since Come And Get It reached Number 5 in the summer of 2015. As a song title Give Me Your Love is startlingly popular. The Wikipedia page on the name suggests a list of no less than 33 different compositions that share the title. Surprisingly few have charted in Britain over the years, the Sigala track the third and by far the highest charting of all.
The disparity between the relative market appear of Sigala singles remains startling. The single is the second most purchased of the week but only the 52nd most streamed.
Set Fire To Adele
Now let's be honest, Adele singles at this point in time are surely an exercise in pointlessness. They aren't there to sell any more albums, anyone who is destined to purchase a copy of 25 is someone who simply hasn't got around to making the purchase yet. The chances of anyone hearing a new song of hers on the radio and deciding THAT is the moment to buy a copy are slim. And yet such after the fact Adele records have a habit of doing ever more extraordinary things. Back in 2011 the 'spare' track released from 21 was Set Fire To The Rain. History books and online archives note that the single peaked at Number 11 in the summer of that year, yet the track would go on to be a middle of the road radio staple, spend 48 weeks in total on the Top 75 and at the last count is only a little way short of a million sales (although it seems destined to remain short). So you write any of her music off at your peril. It seems therefore to note that in the weekend she makes a triumphant headline performance at Glastonbury, Adele's latest single Send My Love (To Your New Lover) is tracing an upward trajectory, peaking now at Number 15 after a five week climb. It seems well on its way to ensuring that 25 becomes the first of her three albums to date to spawn three rather than two Top 10 hit singles.
Prisoners Of Paris
With France the focus of the sporting world at the moment it seems entirely appropriate that a band named after a historical Parisian landmark should make a chart return. It has been two and a half years since Bastille last charted with a new studio recording, their cover of Of The Night rounding off a spectacular 2013 when they landed a brace of Top 10 singles and became one of the most charted acts of the year. Their last chart appearance of any kind was with a live mash-up from the 2014 Brits ceremony, their own Pompeii mixed with Rudimental's Waiting All Night, that single reaching Number 21. New single Good Grief makes a reasonably strong showing both on sales and streams and enters the chart this week at Number 25. One suspects it may struggle to make further progress however.
The release agnostic nature of the music market at present and the ability for acts to have more than one record "on the go" as it were can make for some entertaining mix-ups. Such is the fate that befalls Twenty One Pilots, they of Number 12 hit Stressed Out from earlier this year. Their latest single is technically Ride which has been out for a fortnight and lifts itself gently to Number 64 this week. It is however beaten to the punch by Heathens, their contribution to the soundtrack of the movie "Suicide Squad" which is the second highest new entry of the week, arriving on the chart at Number 33.
Does Anybody Buy Albums Any More
The answer to the above question appears indubitably to be "Radiohead fans". Their current album A Moon Shaped Pool was granted a long overdue physical release last week, something which has naturally enough had a dramatic effect on its sales. Now a collectible item as well, the album rockets from its position last week at Number 85 to return to the Number One position it last occupied six weeks ago. Yes, that is one of if not the highest climb to Number One in the history of the album chart, but most album statistics are essentially without significance these days, the chart itself reflecting the dying days of a once mighty format soon to be reduced to little more than a concept rather than the core driver of band and record label profits.