When The Sun Shines We Shine Together
Well, thank goodness for that. After what appears to be and (perhaps to a certain extent) is indeed an eternity we have a brand new Number One single on the Official UK Charts. After a patient wait, during which time it spent three straight weeks holding firm at Number 2, Wild Thoughts ascends a single rung to take DJ Khaled along with collaborators Rihanna and Bryson Tiller to the very top.
So it is that the single adds to the chart statistics of the relevant acts involved. For DJ Khaled, the musical veteran who until last year required no fingers at all to count his chart hits, this is his second Number One single in quick succession. His last major hit I'm The One had the honour of being the last Number One single before the Despacito era kicked in and indeed is still merrily burning away just outside the Top 10, holding firm this week at Number 12. For lead singer Rihanna, however, this is far and away the biggest triumph. Wild Thoughts is officially her ninth Number One single in the UK, making her only the tenth act in chart history to achieve as many chart-topping hits. That's now level with both Abba and The Spice Girls for Number One singles and in terms of female stars puts her second only to Madonna who can boast 13 in her name. Mind you, this ninth chart-topper has been some time coming. Wild Thoughts takes her to Number One for the first time since 2013 when her duet with Eminem on The Monster spent a week at the summit in November that year. It is in conjunction with Eminem of course that Rihanna owns what was (maybe until this week) one of the strangest statistical anomalies in recent chart history, their 2010 collaboration Love The Way You Lie landing the honours of the biggest selling single that year whilst only ever peaking at Number 2 on the charts. Rihanna's ninth Number One single appears at the top exactly ten years to the week that her very first - Umbrella - was reaching the end of an epic Number One run of its own. The first single of the 21st century to reach double figures when it enjoyed ten weeks at the top of the UK charts.
Honourable mention must also go to the man whose original work inspired Wild Thoughts namely guitarist Carlos Santana. The single is based almost entirely around the melody of his 2000 Top 10 hit Maria Maria. Although as some commenters pointed out when the single first charted, his overall contribution to the creation of Maria Maria was incidental at best with the single as much a vehicle for producer Wyclef Jean and his then proteges The Project G&B as it was the legendary guitarist himself. Maria Maria at the time boasted no less than seven songwriting credits, with Wild Thoughts boosting that total to 11 thanks to the addition of the names of Khaled, Rihanna, Tiller and one Jahron Anthony Braithwaite, best known to music fans as rapper PartyNextDoor.
Don't Step In The Invisible Elephant Dun...too late
Having given the official Number One single its due glory, we do now have to note a unique anomaly. Because in pure sales or streams terms Wild Thoughts is not the biggest single of the week. Not by any metric. Number One on the sales rankings and Number One on the unadjusted streaming charts remains Luis Fonsi's Despacito. So why is that single only Number 2 this week? Simple - after three weeks of straight decline and being over 9 weeks old the single has been moved onto the Accelerated Chart Ratio and the value its streams contribute to its sales tally for the Official UK Singles chart chopped in half. Large though the lead of the single was, the ratio reduction was just one step too far, at least for this week. And so down it goes.
Now of course, in theory, this was always possible and was perhaps inevitable at some point. It is just that I don't think anyone truly expected this to arise just three weeks into the new chart era. Just as Ed Sheeran's Thinking Out Loud shattered the historical link between actual sales and the Number One position when it topped the charts thanks to the boost given by its streams, so now it is Wild Thoughts which writes its own small piece of chart history by becoming the first ever Number One hit to be top of neither sales nor streaming tables.
Naturally, this will cause many a knitted brow amongst the enjoyably intense people who regard themselves as chart purists and believe that technology and progress should be ignored in favour of the chart "AS IT ALWAYS WAS IN MY DAY", particularly given the way this has affected the Number One single. But the truth of the matter is you cannot just bend the rules on a whim. The whole idea of the Accelerated Chart Ratio was to acknowledge the way the most popular hits enter a long tail of streaming consumption while still at a market-leading level and to stop them distorting the traditionally dynamically changing singles chart as a result. That follows whether your extended streaming life is keeping you at 21, 11 or even Number One. The days of the UK charts being a pure representation of a single market are gone forever. It is now an amalgam of different metrics of music popularity governed by a formula. And under the terms of that formula this week Despacito is not the Number One single. Wild Thoughts is, Which is how history will record it.
Those looking for a fun twist should note that there is still an outside chance things might correct themselves once more next week. The chart sales gap between 1 and 2 this week was just under 5,000 copies despite the difference in streaming ratios applied to each. If it receives even the tiniest of uplifts over the next seven days, it would be foolish to rule out the possibility of Despacito climbing back to Number One. Despite having a handicap over just about every other single in the Top 10. Now that indeed would be a story.
It seemed only fair to ask the Official Charts Company themselves for their views on what is, after all, a particularly noteworthy event. A spokesman for the compilers told me on Friday evening:
"Despacito is being treated the same as all tracks under the new chart rules, which were introduced earlier this month to support new music and ensure the chart remains fast-moving and dynamic. "This week it makes way for a new Number 1 single, Wild Thoughts by DJ Khaled Ft Rihanna / Tiller. Congratulations to DJ Khaled!"
"...and Coke please barman"
A change at the top of the charts (irrespective of how it came about) is pretty much the only action of note inside the Top 10, leaving other contenders inside the Top 20 to make eerily slow and almost zombie-like progress towards the upper end of the chart. It means a new peak of Number 13 for Camila Cabello's Crying In The Club, and a 2 place climb for Miley Cyrus' still rather lovely Malibu which has now achieved a remarkable second wind since the rules changed. Miley has climbed from a previous low point of Number 24 to now sit at its highest position since it first peaked at Number 11 back at the end of May.
Also on the up inside the Top 20: Sun Comes Up from Rudimental and James Arthur (16), Know No Better from Major Lazer (17), There's Nothin' Holding Me Back from Shawn Mendes (18). Perhaps entertainingly there is also Ed Sheeran's still evergreen Shape Of You which has shown its own two fingers to a ratio change and is refusing to fall off people's playlists or go gently into the good night from the singles chart. He climbs back to Number 19 to make the Top 20 for the first time since the rule changes forced it out.
Climber of the week though has to go to the single at Number 20, Thunder now giving American rock band Imagine Dragons their first Top 20 hit as lead act since Demons peaked at Number 13 over four years ago. The group have form in releasing hit singles which take their sweet time to reach the top of the mountain. Their most famous hit single Radioactive first entered the Top 40 just before Christmas 2012 but did not climb to its ultimate Number 12 chart peak until April the following year - a full 20 weeks later. Thunder, by contrast, has taken a rather zippy 12 weeks to get this far.
I'm Not Moving
It has been almost three years since the last Script album. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. Hence there will be many eyes on the Irish group's brand new single just to see if the absence has affected their ability to reach the Top 10 with consummate ease. For now, it makes a steady start, Rain landing the honours of being the highest new entry of the week at Number 26. Distinctly a Script single with the lilting vocals of Danny O'Donoghue as comfortingly present as ever. The group have never been afraid to innovate (their biggest ever hit single after all being the Number One hit Hall Of Fame with will.i.am in tow - the product of Danny's stint as a judge on one of the original BBC airings of The Voice UK) but listening to the new single will inspire wry smiles in many a casual observer. That chopped acoustic guitar rhythm. Lifted straight out of Ed Sheeran's bag of tricks and indeed Shape Of You isn't it? As I say, keep an eye on this one. The group have had four Top 10 singles to date. No real reason why this single shouldn't join them. But it has its work cut out to get under people's skin.
Let's Hear It For The Girls
A trio of females make up the next few chart new entries. As expected once it had a full week of sales under its belt Demi Lovato's Sorry Not Sorry makes a 69-27 leap. Selena Gomez is brand new at Number 33 with Fetish - what I'm presuming is a promotional single to gift her a second hit of the moment to join Bad Liar which reaches a new chart peak of its own at Number 21. Flying the flag for Britain is Dua Lipa with New Rules which accelerates from its Number 75 entry last week to sit at Number 36 this time around.
But the reward for the most patient climb of the week goes to Bestie by Yungen featuring Yxng Bane. The debut chart hit from the up and coming grime star has spent a number of weeks on release but finally made the Top 40 a fortnight ago, one of many singles to benefit directly from the clearing of the decks down below prompted by the new chart rules. Sitting at Number 55 last week the single oozes up to Number 36 to make the erstwhile CJ Brooks a chart star at long last. It also gives him a fame beyond a rather notable public spat with fellow grime star Chip earlier this year, which briefly caused both men and the names of their mothers to be trending in certain places on Twitter.
Vamp It Up
Pop-rock band The Vamps may have opened their chart career with five straight Top 10 singles but they appear of late to have vanished into a black hole of fan appeal, their music playing directly to a loyal audience and the rest of the public be damned. That may have prevented their last charted single Middle Of The Night from climbing any higher than the Number 44 it scaled in its first week on release, but the group are rewarded by this loyalty with their first ever Number One album as Night & Day becomes the latest in a long line of records to most probably borrow the Number One position from Ed Sheeran. Just 29,000 copies were enough to take it to the top of the charts, a triumph of targeted marketing by the label (be honest, did you even know they had an album out?) - but it is all the excuse the group needed to celebrate with a trophy anyway.