You Gotta Not Stream
As we have become used to this year, a Number One single once there at the top of the market can be relied upon to entrench itself for a number of weeks. Little Mix's Shout Out To My Ex is no exception, holding firm for a third week at the top of the Official UK Singles Chart, the single duly matching the chart run of last year's Black Magic to become their joint longest-running Number One single to date. That makes it the seventh Number One in succession to clock up at least three weeks at the top. A run without precedent in chart history. What is most intriguing though is that the Little Mix track lost its streaming crown this week, edged out instead by the record which preceded it at the top of the charts, James Arthur's Say You Won't Let Go.
In a sense this is understandable, the James Arthur track inevitably receiving a boost from streams of all the tracks from his new album Back From The Edge which duly and perhaps inevitably debuts at the top of that table to hand him his first ever Number One album. Even so, the (possibly brief) demise of the Little Mix track is something of a trend-bucker. We are used to seeing singles sustain their place at the top end of the charts as their streaming numbers linger on even once their sales have topped out. Shout Out To My Ex remains the most-purchased track of the week by some distance and it is these numbers which have given them the edge over James Arthur and sustained them at the top.
Little Mix can also boast a second chart entry this week, thanks to the availability of album track You Gotta Not as a promotional single. With less attention paid to it the track debuts at Number 61 to whet the appetite for their new album.
Below the gruesome X Factor twosome lie Clean Bandit who shoot 7-3 (Sales: 2, Streams: 7) with Rockabye. This is only their third Top 3 single and the first not to feature a vocal turn from Jess Glynne, the other two naturally enough being Rather Be and Real Love which peaked at 1 and 2 respectively in 2014. Rockabye singers Sean Paul and Anne-Marie still don't have a chart credit, meaning that this is extraordinarily Sean Paul's second uncredited Top 3 single of the year, hard on the heels of Sia's Cheap Thrills on whose most popular mix he featured despite the video featuring the Paul-less album cut and the singles chart following suit.
Cast your minds back to last spring. One week in the middle of April one of two new releases by Drake landed on the singles chart. One Dance was an otherwise unobtrusive arrival at Number 21 following a Wednesday release. The next week it was top of the charts and things were never the same again.
Well last week the Canadian star attempted a similar stunt, dropping new track Fake Love midweek and watched it glide in at Number 37. One week later and with a full seven days of sales and streams the single isn't quite a Number One but nonetheless rockets with some determination to Number 10 (Sales: 18, Streams: 5). He's moved on quickly from the Views album, this track instead set to feature on that most post-modern of musical concepts the Playlist, a compilation entitled More Life featuring both his own tracks and those of other artists on his OVO Sound label. What is possibly more extraordinary is that the single has a video available, something One Dance was never afforded during the whole of its chart run. You can judge for yourself whether this actually impacts the chart prospects of this new release, given that any YouTube plays (like the one you are about to watch now) won't impact its streaming data. Keep an open mind though, whilst much of the frustration with One Dance's 15 weeks at the top of the charts was due to its overwhelming "meh" factor, this new hit is actually a fine candidate for the "quite good" classification pile, and so if it climbs further this will not be entirely unwelcome. Note however the startling disparity between his status on the two chart tables. Drake is a streaming star first and foremost. What he sells is almost secondary.
X Factor Magic
It being that time of year there are precious few upwardly mobile chart singles this week which don't have some kind of X Factor link. Leading the way is Bruno Mars who as ever graced the stage of the show with some style last weekend and is rewarded with an 11-6 bounce (Sales: 4, Streams: 14) for current hit 24K Magic, taking the track to a brand new peak as it surpasses the Number 9 it entered at three weeks ago. Which once more demonstrates why the Week 1 mindset is now utterly invalid for chart analysis. Although it also shows that X Factor viewers still purchase singles, his streaming chart position is actually lower than last week. However Bruno Mars was not the most significant act to appear on the live X Factor shows last weekend.
Tears On The Ground
Might I be so bold as to point out that not reaching the top of the charts last December was the best thing that could have happened to 2015 X Factor winner Louisa Johnson? Not so much symptomatic of the declining influence of the series as a demonstration of just how not even a TV-promoted star can fly to the top without some cranked up streaming action, much was made of the way her winner's single Forever Young crashed out at Number 9 to make her the first ever X Factor victor not to find themselves at Number One in the immediate aftermath of their coronation.
But that was actually a gift. When an X Factor winner tops the charts first time out we naturally expect them to repeat the trick at the first opportunity. For those who do - such as Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke and Little Mix etc. - it is indeed the first step on an extended period of success. Those who do not - Joe McElderry, Matt Cardle, even James Arthur - are immediately stuck with the stench of failure and have an uphill struggle to retain credibility from that moment on. An X Factor winner can be as much of a curse as it is a blessing. Who could argue that One Direction benefitted from being sold worldwide on their own merits rather than being forever branded X Factor champions?
My point is that Louisa Johnson might as well not have won the contest for all the good it did her. Which is good as it means we are left to judge her music on its own merits. Even more inspired was the fact that her first chart appearance since her win was as the singer on someone else's track, her role on Clean Bandit's Tears meant she had both the kudos of appearing on an achingly cool club hit as well as remaining in the public eye. However it is now time for her to do her own thing.
Her own thing is the track So Good with which she took to the X Factor results show last weekend. A week 1 mindset might judge her harshly, for surely no other returning champion in history has had to watch their debut single proper enter the charts at a 'mere' Number 20 (Sales: 7, Streams: 52(!)). But we don't care about Week 1 any more. So best to see what transpires from this point on. I'd love this to be a huge chart success. She has a fantastic voice and the song itself is a suitably epic Ed Drewett-penned mid-tempo grower which deserves to be considered on its own merits, and not just as the first single from an X Factor winner. But you see it doesn't matter if this doesn't make Number One. She no longer has that level of expectation, and that's not a bad thing at all.
Slotting in just below Louisa is a returning Jonas Blue, here with his third hit of the year following Fast Car and Perfect Strangers. New single By Your Side debuts comfortably at Number 21 (Sales: 8, Streams: 41) and there is no reason not to presume this won't have the momentum to land him another Top 10 hit.
Oh yes momentum, there are enough singles this week with plenty of that to go around. Two new Top 10 arrivals (even if one is a re-entry) and a brace of others making progress up the Top 20 - Maroon 5's Don't Wanna Know up 17-11 (Sales: 10, Streams: 15) and Galantis/Hook & Slug's Love On Me moving 27-18 (Sales: 13, Streams: 22).
Meanwhile at the very base end of the Top 40 at Number 32 is the first appearance after a two month climb of the single which could well be set to annoy everyone from now until well after Christmas. Crank It from Kideko and George Kwali is the kind of dance/pop hit you have to be less than 21 to truly appreciate but which almost certainly now has momentum of its own on its side. The single marks an all too rare return to the charts for dancehall legend Sweetie Irie whose voice is much in evidence on the track. He made his chart debut as far back as 1990 guesting on the minor Aswad hit Smile, but his last chart appearance was in 2001 when along with Ed Case he reached Number 29 with Who hard on the heels of the pair having transformed the Gorillaz track Clint Eastwood into its memorable hit remix. Crank It is Irie's best chance for years of finally landing a huge mainstream chart hit.