Unlucky For Us
Now easily the Number One single with the third longest consecutive run at the top in the whole of British chart history, One Dance by Drake featuring Wizkid and Kyla extends its stay at the top of the charts to an incredible thirteen weeks. And still the debate rages on. Is this record really worthy of the classic status its chart performance now affords it, just how on earth has this happened and perhaps most pertinently of all when it is ever going to end?
Number One singles this long running are so rare it is hard to draw any kind of comparisons. Checking back over my old notes to the last time we had a 13 week Number One single in the summer of 1994 (Love Is All Around by Wet Wet Wet) most of the talk by then was of the superlative sale the record had notched up as a result, the Wets single in question by then having charged its way to becoming one of the 20 biggest sellers of all time. No such joy for One Dance which despite its extended run at Number One is for now still only the second biggest seller of the year - set to overtake 7 Years in the not too distant future naturally. Instead it has sold well but not spectacularly, closing off that particular avenue of appreciation. We are simply left scratching our heads at to this freak of nature that is almost threatening to devalue the singles chart in much the same way 13 straight weeks of new Number One singles (such as we witnessed just two years ago) devalues the whole idea of having a Number One single.
So just why has One Dance remained stuck at the top of the charts for so long? Well a quick look at the figures tells you that under normal circumstances it would not have done so. The record had what you would regard as an extended run at the top (4 or 5 weeks) by dint of being just too strong for what was at the time an ordinarily healthy market. But in the last three or four weeks the single has done something rather extraordinary, particularly for a track already so deep into its sales life. It has held firm. Just take a look at the way the numbers have stacked up over the past eight sales periods:
|Lead Over No.2
At the start of this period chart sales of One Dance were dropping like a stone, indeed within five weeks the paid for sales of the single had fallen by more than a half, with its record-breaking streaming totals doing likewise - coming down to normal levels rather than the stratospheric ones before. The declines in sales were in double digits percentage wise, the most dramatic coming three weeks ago when it looked for the first time if the Kungs single was going to pose a genuine threat to the single's chart crown. But then One Dance stopped declining. During the time it has been holding off the challenge from This Girl its paid for sales have actually risen slightly (even with a decline this week they are still higher than they were three weeks ago) whilst the drop in streams has levelled off. Had its decline continued at the rate it was doing so at the start of June then it would have easily been toppled from the top of the charts by now. But that simply hasn't happened. To compound matters this has coincided with what is in my adult experience an unprecedented downtime for new hit singles. The Top 10 singles of this week are by and large the same Top 10 singles as last week. And indeed the week before. And the week before that. Drake has had precisely two sales challengers in the past two months and neither have been up to the job. Nor indeed has anything else released by anyone else. And that my friends is why he has remained precisely where he has for all this time.
Mind you, history does show that extended Number One hits have also coincided with extended rivalries from singles that have ultimately failed to make the grade. In the summer of 1991 Bryan Adams' Everything I Do (I Do It For You) famously had I'm Too Sexy by Right Said Fred knocking on the door at Number 2 for six straight weeks. Three years later All 4 One did one better, spending seven weeks at Number 2 with I Swear, all the while unable to dislodge Love Is All Around by Wet Wet Wet from the top of the charts.
For all those still complaining that streams are a problem and that we should all go back to just registering paid for sales and all will be fine and dandy, consider that the biggest selling single this week (This Girl) sold just 26,000 copies. That's back to 2008 levels, when the singles market was only just starting to haul itself out of its mid-00s trough. The download stores are dying, even though they are still the best barometer of interest in the new.
And What Of The Rest
Based on its momentum of last week, it looked for all the world as if the artist to knock Drake off Number One might eventually be Drake himself, with Rihanna duet Too Good charging into the Top 3. For now that seems unlikely as all of last week's Top 4 singles hold position. The only one of last week's Top 10 singles to make upward movement is Adele's Send My Love (To Your New Lover) which shifts 6-5.
That does however leave room for not one but two new singles to penetrate the Top 10 on the Official UK Singles chart. Leading the pack is Don't Let Me Down by Chainsmokers featuring Daya which climbs nine places to Number 7. That's enough to make it the biggest chart single to date for the New York duo of Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall, hauling past the Number 11 peak of #Selfie from April 2014. The single should serve as an effective soft landing and international introduction for its singer, 17 year old Grace "Daya" Tandon who hails from Pittsburgh and who made her solo American chart breakthrough with the single Hide Away at the tail end of last year.
Enjoying a two place rise is Dancing On My Own, the single from former Britain's Got Talent contender Calum Scott which is rapidly turning into one of the more interesting stories of the summer. A self-produced and self-released single fired into chart contention initially by the power of his social media following, it was enough to get Calum Scott signed to Capitol Records who took the extraordinary view that he had too good a thing going to interfere and so took over the promotion and distribution of his hit single. The single which entered the Top 40, dropped out, returned for a three week run at Number 36, dropped out once more only to return and continue to climb is this week at Number 10, now just two places behind the peak scaled by Robyn's original back in June 2010. Sheer force of will has won the day.
Jones and Jonas
Just missing out on the Top 10 is American rapper Kent Jones whose debut single Don't Mind is at the very least bucking the trend for new music to sink without trace. Since release it has moved 60-39-26 and now to Number 12 with a place in the Top 10 looking likely by this time next week.
Also making great strides is Jonas Blue, he of Fast Car fame and who is now no one hit wonder. His second big chart hit Perfect Strangers has spent four weeks on the cusp of the Top 40 as a streaming only release, exploding into life this week at retail with 22 place rise to now sit at Number 16.
Rising too is another of the big hitmakers from the first part of 2016. Shawn Mendes looked to have misfired with new single Treat You Better after the single fell out of the Top 40 a week after first debuting at Number 31. Not so now, after rebounding two weeks later the track rises for a third straight week to now sit pretty at Number 20.
What's Her Name
Deep into her own chart career Rihanna still has the power to do some quite extraordinary things. As most people are aware she currently occupies two successive places in the Top 5, alongside Drake on Too Good and propping up Calvin Harris on This Is What You Came For. After a full 11 weeks of sculling around the lower reaches what is theoretically her own current single Needed Me finally makes its Top 40 bow with a climb to Number 38. Yet most attention this week has concentrated on her appearance on a hitherto unreleased track, Sledgehammer which is her contribution to the soundtrack of the forthcoming "Star Trek: Beyond" movie and which lands at Number 69 this week. That's now her 55th chart hit in all.
Does Anybody Still Buy Albums Any More
If only they had thought to change their lead singer before. The replacement of Tom Delonge with Matt Skiba appears to have paid divideds for Blink-182 as they land themselves their first ever Number One album this week. New release California steams to the top of the charts, beating their previous career best of Number 4, achieved by Take Off Your Pants And Jacket in 2001. The gap between those chart achievements and indeed the lack of anything resembling a hit single from this new album should give you some clue as to just precisely how relevant the group are to the wider mainstream of music buyers right now, this chart-topping album notwithstanding. Their biggest ever singles success came in March 2000 when second single All The Small Things peaked at Number 2. Finally the most notable golden oldie of the week is Carol King's 1971 classic Tapestry, the subject of her performance in London's Hyde Park last weekend in what was her first concert performance in the capital for more than 30 years. The album duly rockets to Number 32 this week in what is its 130th week as a chart album. It peaked at Number 4 in September 1971, seven weeks after release.