Fly Me To The Moon
Few and far between are the pairs of siblings who have topped the albums chart independently of each other. It isn't that musical talent doesn't run in families - it frequently does - just that it is far more common to see family groupings (The Everlys, The Osmonds, The Carpenters, The Corrs) rather than offspring doing their own thing in their own time. Michael and Janet Jackson are the only pair who readily spring to mind, although there is also a case to be made for the two Armstrong siblings who have each had Number One hits. Dido as a solo star and Rollo as a member of Faithless.
The reason this is topical? This year we have now had two brothers land Number One albums independently of each other. Hard on the heels of Liam Gallagher's solo debut with As You Were comes the third album from Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. Who Built The Moon? was easily the biggest selling album of last week, although much of the entertainment derived from tracking the full totals and discovering which of their pair managed to sell the most in their first week on sale. The result: Noel sold 78,000 copies last week. That's some way down on the 102,000 his little brother managed eight weeks ago.
The promotion of Who Built The Moon has followed what increasingly appears to be a common path for such "adult" oriented releases. A lead single which sounds great on rock-themed radio stations and which was very well received all around but unable to gain much traction explodes briefly into life in the week of the release of its parent album to finally get its head above water. We saw it happen with Liam Gallagher's For What It's Worth which made the Top 40 for the first and only time in the week of the release of his album, and now the pattern repeats with Noel's Holy Mountain which jumps 79-31 to easily eclipse the Number 73 "peak" it scaled when first released back in October. You are still not allowed to compare it to Plastique Bertrand though.
Based on current trends we can expect these to be front-loaded sales of the album with its chart position taking a tumble next week. We can say this with some confidence as for the second week running last week's Number One album crashes a full seven places, Paloma Faith's The Architect plunging 1-8 in exactly the same way Taylor Swift's Reputation did last week. The Swift album continues to sink, dropping out of the Top 10 altogether this week, although its new-found arrival on the streaming services after her self-imposed moratorium expired may well help it to rally next time around.
To Me You Are Perfect
Three weeks out and we are in theory still no nearer learning what will probably be the Christmas Number One single, at least based on this week's Top 40 chart. Working on the presumption that it will almost certainly be whatever track deposes Camila Cabello's Havana from the top of the charts, that mystery is yet to be solved as she spends a fifth week at the summit, clinging on by the small matter of 1,000 chart sales. Five weeks at the top is enough to make the track the third-longest running Number One single of 2017, albeit some distance behind the chart runs of megahits Shape Of You (14 weeks) and Despacito (11 weeks)
The sentimental choice of "next Number One" remains Rita Ora and Anywhere whose appeal grows with every new listen. Sadly she is once more frustrated, spending a third week locked in place at Number 2 in a manner which suggests she might have shot her bolt and missed. Then again, this is exactly what we said about Havana which also spent three weeks frustrated in the runner's up slot before grabbing the crown for an extended period. The steady growth of a streaming hit means that a long run in the Top 3 for any popular hit can be seen as merely the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end.
Yet sentiment be blowed, because deep down we all know Anywhere won't be Number One next week. Instead, that appears to be the destiny of Ed Sheeran and Perfect. The single in its present form finally reaches a brand new peak this week, an appearance on the X Factor semi-final apparently the kick to give the romantic ballad a one place climb to Number 3 to ensure it finally surpasses the peak it first reached as a mere album cut back in March. Yet it seems almost inevitable that it will go higher. After days of wild speculation, Ed finally revealed on Thursday the identity of his duet partner on a brand new 'remix' of the single. No less a figure than Queen Bey herself. The new Beyonce duet hit the virtual stores the day this chart was announced, and although opinion online seemed sharply divided as to whether this improves on the original or ruins it, you cannot really see any other outcome than it soaring to Number One next week. And in the process surely remaining immovable for the next fortnight to top the charts at Christmas.
But since when were the UK charts that predictable? Not these days.
This Is Real Love
Based on the small sample of a Twitter poll I ran during the course of last week, the consensus seems to be that the final Number One of the year will either be Ed or Rita. But that isn't to say there isn't room for a dark horse to emerge. You never know, that could even be Clean Bandit. I Miss You may have been their slowest starting single for two years, but the track has more than made up for it since. This week the Julia Michaels sung track fulfils what was clearly its initial destiny and reaches the Top 10 for the first time with an 11-6 climb. That's enough to make it the sixth successive Clean Bandit single to reach the Top 10, a run stretching back to the release of Real Love three years ago. For Julia Michaels it is her second such single, and one which instantly becomes her highest charting to date, soaring past the Number 10 peak scaled by Issues in the spring.
Also new to the Top 10 is the enormously catchy 17 from MK which jumps 16-10. It now ranks as the highest charting single of his 23 year chart career, beating the Number 12 peak of Always from 2014, that single a remix of a track he first put out in 1995.
Take It To The Next Level Baby, Do You Dare?
The highest new entry of the week arrives at what is a comparatively lofty (at least in the present climate) Number 11. Naked is the latest step on the comeback trail for former X Factor champion James Arthur, one which began just over a year ago when Say You Won't Let Go propelled him back to the top of the charts for the first time since his career-opening Impossible in the wake of his victory in the 2012 series. Now firmly a part of the Syco family again after being initially dropped for being an utter bell end, his performance on the X Factor semi final show seemed to be the final shot of redemption and his reward is to have one of the most-purchased singles of the week and his second Top 20 hit of the year (this effectively the follow-up to the Rudimental hit Sun Comes Up on which he supplies vocals).
There is a point to highlighting once again James Arthur's X Factor connection, for his continuing and indeed renewed career proves there is always a way back for even the most hopeless case. This may be some consolation to the man who is about to be succeeded as reigning X Factor champion Matt Terry. His album Trouble was released this week, and despite some worry that it wasn't even going to make the Top 40 it manages to sneak in at Number 29. Although he's still without a second solo Top 40 hit to his name.
At least he got to release an album. 2015 winner Louisa Johnson still hasn't.
Ain't Giving Up
It hardly seems fair to lump Craig David into the "comeback" category given that his return from the chart wilderness occurred almost two years ago with When The Bassline Drops and he has hardly been away since. However, his brand new single I Know You does gift a chart return to guest performers Bastille, their first Top 40 hit since Good Grief reached Number 13 in August 2016 - and this following the failure of their own single World Gone Mad to progress beyond Number 66 three weeks ago. The follow-up to David's Heartline, it lands at Number 25, just one place below the chart peak of its predecessor and is the set up for the release of his seventh studio album The Time Is Now which is scheduled for a January release.
Be Very Very Afraid
So that's really all I have for this week and yes, in seven days time we, in theory, should be all about Perfect Duet and the bases loaded for Christmas Number One. Yet as last year proved if there is any time of year which has the capacity to demonstrate that all we think we know about the charts is wrong it is the holiday season. The huge wild card could still be the huge raft of Christmas classics which are already starting to pepper the lower end of the listings. All I Want For Christmas Is You is already up to Number 22 this week, Last Christmas pokes its nose in at Number 29 and Fairytale Of New York can perhaps consider itself unlucky to only be at Number 55. But a glance at the live Spotify tables suggests something extraordinary took place the moment we hit advent. It is almost as if it isn't just the shops which have sprung into Christmas mode already. The most played track in the UK on Spotify on Friday, December 1st wasn't Rockstar (as it has been for the past two months or so). It wasn't even Perfect. It was the aforementioned Mariah Carey track, dominating the streaming tables in a manner which last year did not happen until right at the death. A week ago I was rubbishing the idea that these songs would make enough of an impact to hold sway over the Christmas Top 40. Right now I wonder if everything I know is wrong. Again.
Sheeran and Beyonce be damned. Things are about to get interesting.