This week on the Official UK Singles Chart, Justin Bieber performs every single one of the Top 3.
I was tempted to dress that up a little, to drench the feat in superlatives or to try to provide some kind of clever context. But what would the point be? It is a level of chart domination and a clean sweep of the week's top sellers that is utterly without precedent in the 63 year history of the published charts in Britain. Number 3 this week is former Number One single What Do You Mean, last at the top of the chart on October 22nd, and here reaching its highest position since. Number 2 is another former Number One Sorry, here in its 11th straight week as a Top 3 hit single whilst at the very top is reigning champion Love Yourself with its second straight and fifth total week at Number One.
Inevitably the grumbles come that this is all a direct consequence of the inclusion of streaming data for singles chart compilation, and indeed the Top 3 on the main singles chart does indeed mirror exactly the Top 3 most streamed this week as well. This is however to overlook the continuing way Justin Bieber is dominating the old fashioned sales market too, both Love Yourself and Sorry far and away the most purchased tracks of the week. The only track of his with its chart placing inflated by the boost from streaming points is the third, What Do You Mean having long peaked at retail and indeed this week only the 12th most bought single. But go figure, for comparison purposes the sales only chart is fast becoming an anachronism. In order to be a hit record at the present time you have to be strong both in paid for sales and online streams in tandem. Nobody else at the present time is able to do so in the same manner as Bieber and so it is with good reason that he once more writes himself firmly into the annals of chart history.
Not that the British Top 10 is totally becalmed. The faint ripples of the new order of 2016 are starting to show themselves with two new arrivals into the upper reaches. Leading the charge is the Maroon 5-esque Stitches by Shawn Mendes, a poster child for the new era of slow smouldering hits, his single having first been released over six months ago and which made its first chart appearance back at the start of October last year. Having now been climbing for the past seven weeks in a row the single this week leaps to Number 4 and at the time of writing is steadily eating large chunks out of what has previously been Justin Bieber's unassailable sales lead.
Also emerging from a long and slow gestation is 99 Souls' Girl Is Mine, a track which made its debut as a Soundcloud upload and which first charted in mid-November following a much anticipated commercial release. The track is a clever mash-up of two past R&B classics, Girl by Destiny's Child and The Boy Is Mine by Brandy and Monica and indeed is made with the co-operation of both acts, Beyonce giving her blessing for her original vocals to be re-used whilst Brandy has re-sung the chorus to change the gender of her original performance. Having crept gently into the charts over the Christmas period the club smash this week makes a five place climb to land at Number 10.
Music fans with long memories will note that this is by no means the first time The Boy Is Mine has been subject to the mash-up treatment, featuring heavily on the rather less classily made The Ladyboy Is Mine from Stuntmasterz which meshed the vocals from the original with the melody of Lady by Modjo. By a strange coincidence this also peaked at Number 10 in March 2001.
The death of any musical legend inevitably prompts a swelling of interest in their back catalogue and in this day and age inevitably the potential chart return of their most famous recordings. This generally happens organically but this week a group of dedicated Motorhead fans elected to stage a social media campaign to propel Ace Of Spades as high up the chart as possible as a tribute to Ian "Lemmy" Kilminster who passed away over Christmas. Their stated aim of reaching the top of the charts was naturally never going to be fulfilled, but some intensive attempts at chart rigging have at least propelled the rock classic to Number 13 to give the track its highest chart placing ever. First released in October 1980 the raucous chunk of heavy metal peaked at Number 15 on that chart run, returning to the Top 30 in the summer of 1993 when the combination of a jaw-dropping remix and a Pot Noodle commercial saw it climb to Number 23. Despite being the band's signature song it is still by no means their biggest chart hit, thank honour going to the St Valentine's Day Massacre EP, a collaboration with Girlschool which hit Number 5 in early 1981.
Down the lower end of the Top 40 the ripples of change become waves, with five new singles arriving between 21 and 40. None are more notable than When The Bassline Drops which rises to Number 36 this week after five weeks knocking on the door. It gives former British soul golden boy Craig David his first Top 40 hit single since February 2008.
On the Official UK Albums chart there is nothing new to tell, although 25 survived a midweek scare from Elvis and If I Can Dream to spend a seventh straight week at Number One. One more and Adele has matched the run of Ed Sheeran's X in 2014, although a certain Mr D.Bowie stands a better chance than anyone since its release of bringing that run to an end - for the moment.
Finally it is worth noting that there is one other piece of singles chart history made this week, albeit a less visible one. As expected the Christmas Number One Bridge Over You is nowhere to be found in the Top 100 this week, exiting the published chart after just a two week run to officially become the least charted Number One single in history. Oddly enough the previous record holder was another Gareth Malone-created choir, his all-star outfit whose charity single Wake Me Up lasted just three weeks on the chart in November 2014. It is hard to conceive this record ever now being broken again - but then again until today it was hard to conceive of any artist occupying every single one of the Top 3 chart positions. May we continue to live in interesting times.