AN EXCITING TWO-WAY BATTLE TO BE TOP OF THE OFFICIAL UK SINGLES CHART trumpeted the midweek chart update last week. Except that it was actually nothing of the kind and there was indeed a third contender, one which appeared at one stage to be well out of the running but which in the end had the kind of staying power its two immediate rivals did not.
And you know what? I'm extremely glad it turned out that way. Prayer In C by Lilly Wood (along with the able assistance of Robin Schulz) is such a significant track, such a defining moment in the soundtrack of this summer, that it would actually have been a huge shame for it to have become just the latest in a long line of one week Number One hits, the song's moment of glory restricted to that one epic first week on sale. Fate (and its continuing strong sales) has decreed otherwise and so the global smash hit sits proudly at the top of the charts for a second straight week at Number One.
Leading the way at the midweek stage but ultimately relegated into an unlucky second place is Won't Look Back, the latest release from producer Duke Dumont and who was looking to make it a perfect 3 out of 3 for chart-topping new entries hard on the heels of Need U (100%) in 2013 and I Got U earlier this year. Unlike his last two hits, the vocalist on Won't Look Back is uncredited on the single, leading to some speculation as to just whose impressive pipes grace the track. Dumont himself revealed all earlier this week by publicly thanking Bristolian singer Yolanda Quartey who has in the past occasionally performed with Massive Attack and more recently has worked as lead singer of cult soul group Phantom Limb.
So hearty commiserations to The Script who at one stage during the week were themselves the biggest selling act of the moment but were eventually out-sold and out-streamed by other singles, leaving their new track Superheroes to debut at a rather lower than expected Number 3. The track is the first official single from the Irish group's forthcoming fourth album No Sound Without Silence although confusingly it is the second to chart after album cut It's Not Right For You appeared at Number 49 at the start of August as one of two instant gratification tracks currently available from the album. Superheroes duly becomes their third Top 3 hit single and their biggest hit since Hall of Fame hit Number One back in 2012.
Making pleasing progress up the Top 10 this week are the two singles which climbed there seven days ago. Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora's Black Widow moves 7-4 to become the highest charting single yet for the Australian rapper - at least as lead artist. She can, of course, claim a Number One single thanks to her cameo on Ariana Grande's Problem earlier this summer. Meanwhile, Sam Smith moves 9-5 with his latest single I'm Not The Only One, this in the same week that his album In The Lonely Hour returns to the top of the album chart with a 5-1 climb.
The arrival of the third highest new entry of the week is inevitably tinged with sadness, the debut of Ugly Heart by G.R.L. at Number 11 naturally overshadowed by the tragic death this weekend of member Simone Battle. The track is the first single by the group, originally intended to be a reboot of the Pussycat Dolls but subsequently re-tooled into a brand new act, but it actually marks their first chart appearance thanks to their guest role on Pitbull's Wild Wild Love single which peaked at Number 6 back in May. Ugly Heart might well have passed with little comment but for this week's tragedy. It is such a barnstorming and exciting pop record that it deserves far better and it is a sad irony that its notability its boosted by the tragic passing of a performer who clearly had a great deal more to offer.
Also new to the Top 40 this week, Pushing On by Oliver $ and Jimi Jules, the club track apparently not as big a commercial prospect as some, and also George Ezra with Blame It On Me which moves 43-27 and becomes his second Top 40 hit single as a follow-up to Budapest.
Notably NOT on the Top 40 this week is Idina Menzel's Let It Go which finally dips 36-44 to end a continuous run which in the end totalled a massive 33 weeks, and all without ever reaching the Top 10. The Frozen single is currently one of the 10 biggest sellers of the year, a position it is unlikely to maintain unless by some chance an X Factor performance over the coming months sends it soaring. Meanwhile Happy dips to Number 32 this week, hitting its lowest chart placing since its very first week as a chart single on December 7th 2013 when it registered at Number 71. When the Official Charts Company next publishes the updated list of the biggest selling singles of all time the Pharrell Williams track will almost certainly have taken its place as one of the all-time Top 10, the first track to break into the elite since 1997. I don’t have access to its full sales tally but dead reckoning puts it at just over 1.8 million copies and thus close to becoming only the eighth single in British chart history to sell 2 million copies. Whilst its now steady decline suggests this may be some way away, once more it should be noted that someone doing the song on X Factor (it is already the soundtrack to the Talk Talk sponsorship bumpers on the show) seems more or less an inevitability.
Speaking of X Factor, the auditions shows have already given sales bumps to some of the songs featured, most notably Say Something by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera which re-appeared at Number 56 last week in the immediate aftermath of the series debut and is unlucky not to re-enter the Top 40 this week at Number 41. Meanwhile, the weekend just gone saw one hopeful put in a perfect rendition of Waves which may well account for the 23-20 move by the Mr Probz track on this chart and its status (at the time of writing) as a Top 20 track on iTunes.
Finally this week, another potential Number One hit makes its UK chart debut this week despite its idiotically delayed sales release still being some weeks away. Meghan Trainor's All About That Bass hit the streaming services two weeks ago and by dint of being the 32nd most listened to track of the week makes its singles chart debut at Number 75. No trouble [it's TREBLE you deaf fool].