Crossed The Rubicon
Over the past 20 years or so as the music business has steadily transitioned to brand new formats and exciting new ways of consuming recorded sound the UK charts have noted many different watershed moments. The first Number One to not be available on 7-inch, the first with no vinyl release, the first hits with no physical version at all. They all came and went. Then came the streaming era and over the past two years we've noted moments such as the first hits to chart on streams alone and the first Number One single to reach the top without selling the most copies. It is some considerable time since Drake's One Dance was the most-purchased single in the nation but for the past two weeks it has clocked up another even more notable achievement. Topping the charts whilst not even being in the Top 10 of the old fashioned sales chart.
This week as you may well have already gathered the epic-charting single spends a fourteenth week in its immovable place at Number One whilst at the same time only being the 14th most bought track in the country. For those who cling to the outdated notion that sales are still the ultimate barometer of the popularity of a piece of pop music this is naturally enough horrific. But to be at Number 14 would not represent the true picture of the popularity of this record. It is still being played and listened to by more people than any other release right now.
Onto numbers: One Dance was purchased 12,171 times last week, a quite significant drop compared to the last month when its purchases have remained constant at the 13,000 level. Streaming points are down as well, to 42,555 equating to just over 4.2m plays. Simply put the 'pause' in the single's decline which has been so notable for the past three weeks is now well and truly over. A total sale of 54,726 represents a decline of just over 7% over last week. The implication here is clear, the public appetite for the record is on the wane again, indeed Alan Jones did his own sums this week in Music Week and notes that One Dance has sold just 44% more than the Number 10 single this week, the smallest such margin in the whole of the 21st century to date. This is nearly over and would have been this week had any other release had just enough momentum to step up to the plate.
For now the Canadian star edges closer to the record books. 14 consecutive weeks at the top of the charts is just two short of the all-time record set by Bryan Adams in 1991. I don't think there are many who expected that to be challenged in their lifetimes. Yet here we are.
Could Have Been A Contender
So whilst the very top of the Official UK Singles chart is closed off to, well, just about everyone we have something of a changing of the guard just below. The becalming of recent weeks comes to an end as a number of newer singles, all of which we've flagged up as having upward momentum over the past few weeks, all move into place to challenge the incumbent. Leading the charge is Don't Let Me Down from the Chainsmokers and Daya which leaps 7-2 to confirm its status as far and away their biggest hit ever. One place behind is Jonas Blue who flies 16-3 with Perfect Strangers to land a second Top 3 hit this year whislt at Number 4 is Calum Scott flying 10-4 with Dancing On My Own and in the process eclisping the peak of the original version from Robyn.
Also breaking the glass ceiling is Kent Jones with Don't Mind which lifts 12-10. The times they are a-changing.
Nicebloke Is Back
Down at Number 23 we have the increasingly rare sight of a brand new release entering the Top 30 in its first week on sale. The lucky man? None other than Olly Murs whose reward for being the hardest working man in pop music (is there any radio station which hasn't been graced by his presence on air? He even guest hosts on the one I work for at times and that doesn't even play music) is a new entry at Number 23 with You Don't Know Love. This now his 16th Top 40 hit single since his debut in 2010 and is the first track to be taken from what will be his fifth studio album, set for an all too well timed release towards the end of this year. The only note of caution I'd sound is that the former X Factor star (who now naturally has transcended his origins on the show, despite being co-host last year) is essentially a legacy act, appealing primarily to the declining constituency of fans who still purchase music. To that end You Don't Know Love is actually the 8th most-purchased track this week, its rather more depressed overall chart placing thanks to the fact that it is only Number 52 on the rather more important streaming tables. If it is to end up as yet another smash hit single following this early promise, you suspect it may suffer a dive in fortunes over the next couple of weeks. Although as Calum Scott has shown, exiting the Top 40 altogether (twice) is no barrier any more to becoming a success.
Another act who coincidentally made their debut back in 2010 is Selena Gomez and it is a good week to be her as she lands not one but two Top 40 hits. Leading the charge at Number 30 is We Don't Talk Anymore, her duet with Charlie Puth who here lands his fourth Top 40 hit and the first of 2016. Just behind is Gomez' own Kill 'Em With Kindness which sits at Number 35. It is the follow-up to Hands To Myself which reached Number 14 earlier in the spring.
Mo Money Mo Problems
For those amused by such things there is a potentially confusing chart race about to develop between two acts with more or less identical names. Only if you are not paying attention of course. Making her solo Top 40 debut this week at Number 28 is Danish electropop singer MØ with Final Song. The first single from her second studio album it is only her second chart appearance in this country of any kind, although the first was admittedly rather a biggy thanks to her presence on Major Lazer's Number 2 hit Lean On from last year. A little lower down and unlucky not to have reached the Top 40 themselves are M.O., the all-British female trio formed from the ashes of Mini Viva and Duchess and who have been a name to drop for the past couple of years thanks to a series of well received independently released singles. Their new track What Do You Think Of? is the first fully promoted release from their new deal with Polydor records and there are high hopes for it to give them a breakthrough and fill a rather frustratingly large pop void. As long as nobody thinks they are Norwegian of course.
Does Anyone Buy Albums Anymore?
Winners of the race on the Official UK Albums chart are Biffy Clyro whose hard work promoting Ellipsis sees them land their second Number One album as it holds off Adele in second place. Their only other release to top the charts was Opposites in 2013. A full 15 years after the release of their debut Since I Left You eclectic producers Avalanches return in triumph with a second as Wildflower enters at Number 10. The other most interesting new release of the week is the eagerly-awaited Nothing's Real from major label signing Shura. She lands at Number 13 to a joyous reception from her online followers. Mainstream audiences will be scratching their heads and wondering "who?" given that despite this being one of the best pop debuts of the year she does so without the benefit of a chart single of any kind. That's madness really when you consider just how good she actually is.