One year seems to be a sensible timescale for these things. Robbie Williams waited 12 months after his Take That departure before releasing a solo record, Geri Halliwell spreading her wings 9 months after quitting the Spice Girls although Brian McFadden landed at the top of the charts under his own steam just six months after departing Westlife.
This week former One Direction star Zayn Malik stops the clock at 11 months and charts in some style with his first ever solo release just shy of a year since he shocked the world by announcing his was quitting the most popular pop group of the century so far. Now styled bombastically as ZAYN he charges straight to the top of the charts with his debut single Pillowtalk, a startlingly adult record both in terms of its slow jam R&B musical style and its lyrical content which is peppered with the kind of naughty words you normally only expect to hear from Cheryl Ferna.. sorry, CHERYL. This is in short a record which is quite possibly not Number One on the Official UK Singles Chart thanks to its musical merits but simply because it is a solo single from a former One Direction star and so as a result was going to have widespread and instantaneous appeal.
It hardly requires me to point out the irony of him leapfrogging his former bandmates who tumble to Number 9 with History. Destined surely to be a one week wonder at the top of the charts it will be nonetheless interesting to see how Pillowtalk fares over the next few weeks. Will it behave in the same manner as One Direction singles and find a more natural regular sales and streams level lower down the chart, or will it be a genuine flash in the pan and be gone within a month?
A Number One single could well have been Rihanna's for the taking, but for her insistence on playing cute with the release date of her latest cut Work and letting it have a two day sales run for last week's chart survey. Its first full seven days on sale see the single soar to Number 4, for now one short of the peak of FourFiveSeconds which began its extended chart run more or less exactly a year ago this week. Parent album Anti is rather less enthusiastically received following the interminable wait for its release, landing at what for her is an unusually lowly Number 7. It brings to an end her run of three straight Number One albums but at the very least has beaten the Number 9 peak of 2009's Rated R which spent its one and only week in the Top 10 at that position in March 2010.
Danish soul-pop outfit Lukas Graham are the next new arrivals inside the singles chart Top 10 with 7 Years climbing 18 places to rest at Number 6. Those with half an eye on the live charts will note that this is the single that moved into pole position towards the end of the week although it lags a little way behind in the streaming race. Nonetheless a move towards the very top end of the singles chart seems a racing certainty next week so keep an eye out.
It has been threatening, ever since its first crept inside the Top 40 around Christmastime but this week Craig David and Big Narstie's When The Bassline Drops finally pays off the anticipation with a four place climb to Number 10. The British star's return to chart prominence has been universally greeted as a very welcome comeback, the man who at the turn of the century became one of the youngest singers ever to land two Number One hits saw his career plunge off a cliff a decade ago and his rise back to prominence is the culmination of a great deal of patience and hard work. When The Bassline Drops is now his first Top 10 hit since Hot Stuff (Let's Dance) reached Number 7 in 2007, a single which topically enough looked to David Bowie for inspiration.
Craig David's triumph is to the detriment of the could not miss pairing of Little Mix and Jason Derulo as their track Secret Love Song bumps on the glass ceiling with a one place rise to Number 11. The single is in severe danger of being overtaken by Derulo's own solo release Get Ugly which rises 25-17. We should however note that this week is the first since September 3rd last year that What Do You Mean by Justin Bieber has not been a Top 10 single as it slips to Number 13.
Former Swedish talent show winner Zara Larsson narrowly misses out on having side by side Top 20 singles of her own, her solo British chart debut Lush Life rises 27-19 just as the MNEK single Never Forget You on which she appears dips to Number 21.
To locate the second highest new entry of the week behind Za..sorry ZAYN we have to look as low as Number 23 as Drake's current American smash Summer Sixteen makes its British chart bow. It is the first confirmed single from forthcoming album Views From The 6.
David Bowie remains at the top of the Official UK Album chart although his final album doesn't, as Blackstar dips to Number 2. Instead it is replaced by hits collection The Best Of Bowie which finally reaches Number One 13 years 2 months and 27 days after it first charted. It is far and away the slowest climb to the top of the charts in history although as a hits collection rather than a recording of original songs it is hard to lay on too many superlatives in that sense. In any event it is Number One deeper into its sales life than any album since Gold - The Greatest Hits by Abba topped the album chart for a fourth time in August 2008 a full sixteen years after its first release.
Perhaps more significantly Bowie replaces himself at Number One on the album chart, the first artist to do so since the similarly deceased Michael Jackson in the summer of 2009. Although not an impossible trick for a living and active act to perform it has only been done three times in chart history, the acts in question being The Beatles (twice), Bob Dylan and Mike Oldfield.