If It Looks Like A Duck And Talks Like A Duck
Henceforth this shall be known as "doing a Bieber", in honour of the extended chart run of Justin Bieber's multifarious hits at the turn of the year, but in particular Love Yourself which loitered nearer the top of the charts than its sales would suggest thanks to what were at the time unheard of levels of streams.
For the past two weeks it has been Drake's turn to do a Bieber. His hit single One Dance peaked at the ever-diminishing sales counter some time ago but it continues to be far and away the most played track in the nation and as such it seems unimpeachable at the top of the Official UK Singles chart. So it proves this week, as despite early midweek flashes suggesting that Justin Timberlake's high profile TV performance last weekend (of which more in a moment) would be the catalyst to send him to the top of the charts it instead falls to One Dance to once more sit supreme at the top. A sixth straight week at Number One makes it the longest running Number One single since Uptown Funk traced a similarly extended six week path at the top of the market at the start of 2015.
As ever the devil is in the details. One Dance tops the chart with its smallest margin yet, besting Timberlake by just 6,000 sales. Yet precious few of these were actual 'sales' in the traditional sense. The single managed 105,000 chart sales of which a full 75,000 were accounted for by its 7.5 million streams. The truth of the matter is that the Number One single this week was purchased by a mere 30,000 people last week.
Drake is actually the winner of this week's chart race in every sense of the word. After a fortnight as an Apple Music exclusive his album Views finally went platform agnostic and was available for streaming anywhere you chose. This has inevitably had a dramatic effect on both the album's chart performance and indeed that of its tracks other than the three already available singles. Views climbs back to Number One and in the process shatters the record set only a few weeks ago by Beyonce with the highest number of streams - 12,000 - for a Number One album to date. That's still short of the all-time record held by Justin Bieber who managed 20,000 album plays for Purpose albeit in a week when it did not actually top the charts itself.
But that is nothing compared to the dramatic effect the availability of Spotify streams has had on all Drake's other available tracks. Take a look at these moves and you'll believe a Drake can fly:
Too Good (featuring Rihanna) - 23-8
Controlla - 39-19
Pop Style - 52-43
With You - 75-55
Feel No Ways - 120-62
Hotline Bling - 78-65
Grammys - 136-68
Hype - 140-70
U With Me - 129-72
Childs Play - 148-77
Still Here - 141-78
9 - 174-84
Fire & Desire - 154-88
Keep The Family Close - 198-90
Weston Road Flows - 192-93
Redemption - 190-99
Counting other older tracks and collaborations as well Drake can in fact boast 19 of this week's Top 100 singles. That's more than he managed in the week the album was first released and indeed more than anyone else has managed so far in this mad, crazy year.
Can't Stop The Voting
So sorry about that Justin T, this was really supposed to be your week. As mentioned above Can't Stop The Feeling experienced a huge boost of its own this week thanks to Justin Timberlake's performance as the first (but by no means the last) music superstar to perform as the interval act at last weekend's Eurovision Song Contest. That meant a willing audience of millions ready to fall in love with the made for summer track and so with a total chart sale of just short of 100,000 sales (of which a full 67,000 were paid for downloads, the second week running JT has topped the actual 'sales' chart) the single eases its way into second place and surely has to be in prime position to overhaul the rapping Canadian above next week.
Theoretically this should have been Eurovision week overall on the UK Singles chart, especially as the competition final was for the first time screened near the start of the sales week rather than a few hours before the end. In contrast to previous years however the impact of the contest on the sales chart has been limited. The only true winner as far as British record buyers are concerned was the Swedish entry If I Were Sorry by Frans which jumps 189-61, although you have to wonder how many others might have made the cut if there weren't so many Drake tracks gumming things up rather. The UK entry You're Not Alone from former The Voice UK contestants Joe & Jake limps to Number 81, which does at least help to explain just why it performed so poorly in the national voting on the night. If British audiences don't like it enough to buy or stream it, just why should people in other countries bother to vote for it either?
Oh yes, and the winner? 1944 by Jamala from Ukraine sold just under 3,000 copies and is at Number 289 according to Music Week.
The Third Coming
Now, when was the last time the weekend iTunes leader found itself struggling to make the Top 40 by the end of Thursday? Such was the fate that befell All For One by the reformed Stone Roses which was unveiled last week to the kind of reception which would have seen it branded the second coming, but for the fact the band had already done that joke with their limply received second album back in 1994. Nonetheless a brand new single from the seminal and influential Manchester band, their first new material of any kind in over two decades, was always going to be a big deal - at least if you are a music journalist. In truth though it was only the older generation who cared and indeed given the way sales and streams of the new single tailed off so dramatically as the week wore on, the fact that the single charts at Number 17 is almost entirely thanks to the large surge of sales it experienced over the course of the weekend. This is at least a chart position comparable to their last single release of new material, Begging You made Number 15 in November 1995. Their last chart single of any kind came with a 1999 re-release of the classic Fools Gold, that single reaching Number 25 in March that year.
Better things were expected too of the debut single from Reggie & Bollie, the happy go lucky reggae pop pairing who steamrollered their way to second place in last year's X Factor competition, very much through personality and force of will rather than their actual performing talents. Their debut single is New Girl which didn't perform so badly sales-wise but with a lack of streams can only reach Number 26.
The ability of choirmaster Gareth Malone to turn his amateur proteges into singles stars is well documented, but this time around he appears to have hit a wall. The Invictus Games Choir featuring injured servicemen and women were the subject of his latest TV documentary, coinciding with the sports festival of the same name. Their single Flesh And Blood (an original composition) debuts at a lowly Number 29, although it should be noted that the single is actually Number 4 on paid for sales. Hard on the heels of the failure of Disturbed's Sound Of Silence to match its Top 10 sales success, this is once more proof positive that streams are king where the singles chart is concerned. No plays, no chart position. It now really is that simple.