I Can't Fight This Feeling Any Longer
Long time readers of this column will be aware there is a theme I often refer back to, the idea that certain acts can without warning slip into "legacy" mode. Overtaken by changing circumstances, rapid switches in musical tastes or, as we have also seen over the past decade or so, changes in technology which mean you are stranded with a diminishing audience tied to an older format. One moment you are the biggest star in the country, the next your new album is all but disregarded.
Credit should, therefore, go to the rare breed of chart acts who seem capable of riding out any storm and perhaps most importantly remaining relevant, even to new generations of music fans. Take Calvin Harris, for instance, the Scotsman having made his chart debut as a DJ and producer just over ten years ago right at the dawn of the fully digital era and when music's dominant sound appeared to be that of an autotuned mush. He quickly grew into his own as a performer and a creator of some of the most memorable pop-dance records of his generation. Within a year he was making records that would soar to the top of the charts with ease, and developing such a reputation that acts of the calibre of Rihanna were lining up to work with him.
It would have been all too easy to presume, however, that the wheels had come off of late. At risk of being abandoned by the new wave of pop fans for whom the digital stream is the primary form of consumption, he could so easily have been left behind as one of the aforementioned legacy act, stranded with the diminishing audience still wedded to the digital download. What didn't help was the initial ill-conceived promotional tactic for his latest album Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1 which was supposed to see each of its tracks released as singles in turn, allowing the collection to be built up piecemeal. When tracks such as Heatstroke and Rollin had perfunctory and low-peaking chart runs this was quickly abandoned. The album was scheduled for an early summer release and all promotional focus switched to the most outstanding track of the bunch: Feels. Faith in the bubbly ska-flavoured and achingly summery track this week has been well rewarded. After an eight week climb, the single finally deposes Despacito from the top of the charts and returns Calvin Harris to Number One on the Official UK Singles chart for the first time in three years.
You'll Catch Your Death Dressed Like That
For the first time in what seems like ages, we can have fun with a Number One single that is utterly dripping with statistics. Let's start with the producer-performer himself. Feels is the eighth Number One in total to give direct credit to Calvin Harris. That's enough to put him level on the all-time list with acts of the calibre of Oasis and The Rolling Stones. What is slightly more complicated is the way the Official Charts Company have noted him has having had more Number One hits than any solo British male save for Cliff Richard (way ahead on 14). It may sound churlish but this is stretching the definition of "solo" just a little, given that only two of Harris' Number One hits were credited to him as the sole performer (I'm Not Alone in 2009 and Summer in 2014). The rest all gave due weight to the numerous guest singers and rappers with whom he has collaborated over the years, and indeed one of those - the aforementioned Rihanna - was a big enough name to command top billing, relegating our hero to support.
There are other British men whose chart-topping feats - for now - exceed that of Calvin Harris. Robbie Williams, for example, can claim seven as a credited solo performer, plus a further seven as a member of Take That. George Michael also topped the charts seven times as a credited performer during his lifetime, with four more to his name as a member of Wham! That's before we've reached the likes of McCartney, Lennon and Harrison who together were Number One 17 times as members of The Beatles and who all had further chart-toppers in their own name following the group's demise (sorry Ringo).
So proper credit where it is due, eight Number One singles (over a nine year period to boot) is a hugely impressive total for any star: British, male or otherwise. But he's some way down the list of most successful British male performers whether or not you count his superstar help.
One final curiosity though, this is the first Calvin Harris chart-topper not to debut at the top in its first week. He's never before had to sit and watch a single steadily climb the charts to the very top in this manner.
Clap Along If You Feels
So what of Calvin Harris' celebrity friends on Feels? Well, there are three, all of whom add to or create their own chart feats. The male lead is one Pharrell Williams, here landing his fourth Number One hit single in the UK. Of those, only one is truly a solo performance - 2014's epoch-making Happy. His other two were 2013 collaborations, first as the voice of Daft Punk's Get Lucky and then assisting Robin Thicke on Blurred Lines.
Also appearing in a prominent role is Katy Perry, this single surely too giving her career a valuable shot in the arm as she struggled to stay relevant in the streaming age despite singles of the quality of Chained To The Rhythm. Feels returns her to the top of the UK charts for the first time since Roar topped the pile in September 2013 and is her fifth Number One hit in total - albeit her first as a secondary and featured star.
Last but not least there is rapper Big Sean whose spoken interlude arrives just as everyone was relaxing into the song (and who, naturally, is edited out of the version you hear on certain commercial radio networks in what remains an ongoing head-scratcher). Now five years into his own chart career Feels is only his second appearance on a Top 20, never mind Top 10, hit single and naturally enough is his first ever appearance at Number One. Prior to this hit his most successful chart appearance had been as a guest on Jessie J's 2013 hit Wild which reached Number 5.
That's Why Darling, It's Incredible
There's also a new peak this week for French Montana's Unforgettable which also had a part to play in the chart race this week, ascending to a brand new peak of Number 2. This is all the more extraordinary when you consider this is now the single's 14th week as a Top 10 hit. Prior to today, the track's peak had been Number 3, a position it has occupied five times - including a four-week run which ended last week when it slipped a place to Number 4.
There are also Top 10 climbs for Dua Lipa, for whom New Rules is now her biggest ever chart hit at Number 5 and Rudimental and James Arthur with Sun Comes Up at Number 6. We now have three former and current X Factor winners in the Top 10 as well. Joining James Arthur and a still powerful Little Mix is reigning champion Matt Terry whose grafted-on contribution to Enrique Iglesias' Subeme La Radio helps it to a two place rise and a place at Number 10 this week. This, in turn, is Iglesias Jnr's first Top 10 hit single in this country for some time, his biggest hit single since I'm A Freak reached Number 4 in March 2014.
Re-writing the Script
The most significant chart move of the week is the 31-17 rise of Rain by The Script which finally takes off after four weeks around, this after it actually dropped out of the Top 40 in its second week on sale and online. This is, however, one move that isn't quite what it appears. Rain has been subject to heavy discounting at retail, a price point which has seen it occupy a high position in the iTunes live charts for most of the week and indeed it ranks as the 4th most-purchased track of the week. A glance at the audio streams chart (which, remember, is still ranking hits in strict order of popularity rather than the varying ratios applied across the main singles chart) it is only the 55th most-played single of the last seven days. The Script appear to be a fine example of the kind of legacy act that Calvin Harris managed to avoid being - their appeal tied tightly to fans of an obsolete and dying music format.
Offers Coming Over The Phone
There was a huge outpouring of love for American country and western star Glen Campbell this week, his death at the age of 81 coming seven years after he was diagnosed with Altzheimer's Disease following which he set out on a farewell tour and recorded one final album Adios. Released last April, his farewell set of recordings (all made back in 2012 before his mental faculties declined too far) had made Number 3, but in the wake of his death, the collection has soared back up the charts, hitting a new peak this week of Number 2. His passing also prompted new sales and streams of some of his most famous hit singles, of which the highest charting is Wichita Lineman at Number 98, the song originally a Number 7 hit for the star back in 1969. His last original chart hit was a more recent work than most care to remember, the singer re-recording his famous song Rhinestone Cowboy in collaboration with British producers Rikki and Daz and which reached Number 12 in November 2002.
All Good Things As Ever
There are three brand new arrivals to the Top 40, albeit right down at the very end. One is a single we noted last week, Charli XCX's Boys creeping up seven places to Number 35 to give the star her seventh such hit single over the last four years. She is joined by Duke Dumont and Gorgon City who move 41-36 with Real Life but perhaps most entertainingly of all Martin Garrix & Troye Sivan whose collaboration on There For You reaches a brand new peak of Number 40 in what is now its 11th week on the chart. The single had previously spent a fortnight stalled at Number 41 only to fall back. It is at the very least the first ever Top 40 hit single for the Australian vlogger-cum-actor Sivan, his only other chart appearance to date being his own Wild which crept to Number 62 in September 2015.
How Far I'll Go? Birmingham, not Geneva
I won't pretend I can offer a coherent explanation as to why [commenters suggest it is the arrival of the movie on satellite channels], but there has been an upswing in interest in some of the songs from the Disney animated movie Moana of late, this despite the movie having been and gone from cinemas and available on disc since April. This has resulted in an appearance at Number 55 this week of the version of centrepiece song How Far I'll Go sung by Moana actress herself Auli'i Cravalho. It arrives a little over six months after the "pop" version of the song from the closing credits as performed by Alessia Cara peaked at Number 49. There is, alas, no Top 100 appearance for now for You're Welcome as performed by Dwayne Johnson, although it is the 69th most-purchased song of the week this week. That's a shame, for it would have returned the Samoan-descended actor to the charts for the first time since in his former guise as wrestler The Rock he reached Number 3 as a performer on Wyclef Jean's It Doesn't Matter - almost 17 years ago.