The Subheading Nobody Reads
No change at the top of the Official UK Singles chart this week, and if you were expecting anything different then you really cannot have been paying proper attention. For possibly the first time ever we have a Drake Number One which is a true grower, a track whose appeal becomes more apparent the more you hear it. Combine that with the #kekechallenge meme which has gifted the world endless online videos of people falling out of moving cars, and you have the circumstances which ensure In My Feelings is solidly immovable at the top of the charts.
Although there was once more a ding-dong battle between In My Feelings and Shotgun for the honour of being the most-purchased track of the week, the sudden surge in purchases enjoyed by the Drake track last week turned out to be a one-week wonder. That all makes me wonder just what took place on the last chart, given that paid for sales of In My Feelings have dropped back to the same level they were a fortnight ago, hovering around the 12,000 mark. It all makes last week's total of 31,000 look a strange outlier.
Erratic purchases notwithstanding, it is still the utter domination of the streaming market which sealed Drake’s place at Number One again. In My Feelings managed a quarter of a million plays a day on Spotify alone (compared to half a million for George Ezra’s Shotgun), the kind of numbers which make distinctions between paid and freemium streams almost irrelevant. However, the upward momentum of the track stalls for now, this the first week In My Feelings has posted fewer chart sales than last time. Panic not, you suspect the long overdue arrival of an official video will almost certainly give the single a renewed boost, just as it did for God's Plan back in the spring.
They Could Be Brothers
Mention DJ Khaled and what do you think of? Quite probably his cameo “WHY AM I YELLING?” in the penultimate moments of Lil Dicky’s Number One single Freaky Friday. Which is a shame, given that last summer he was the man behind two of the more memorable Number One singles of 2017, first of all, I’m The One and then most notably of all Wild Thoughts, whose brief moment of glory dragged both Rihanna and the sound of Carlos Santana back to the top of the charts.
A year on and he is back once again, something which was by no means a given following the failure of his first single release of 2018 Top Off to climb higher than Number 41, this in spite of cameo roles from both Jay-Z and Beyonce. Returning him to the upper end of the singles chart are the men who helped make I’m The One such a success last year, as Justin Bieber, Chance The Rapper and Quavo are all present and correct on No Brainer. For all that, I can’t help but see this new offering as a slight disappointment compared to the triumphs of the past. No Brainer comes across as just another late 2010s rap/R&B fusion with little that makes you sit up and appreciate its brilliance.
But what do I know anyway? The single opened with a bang and ended up on more playlists than you could count during the course of the week. It smashes into the singles chart at Number 4 to give DJ KHAL.. sorry, DJ Khaled, Chance The Rapper and Quavo each their third Top 10 hits and Bieber himself his 16th. No Brainer is Justin Bieber’s seventh Top 10 single in eight chart appearances, and indeed if we disregard album cuts polluting the timeline and focus on “official” singles only, this is Justin Bieber’s 11th straight Top 10 single, dating back to the release of Skrillex and Diplo’s Where Are U Now in April 2015. Which in truth was arguably the moment Bieber matured from annoying teenage pop brat to one of the coolest pop performers on the planet.
All Good Things Come
There’s an eerie sense of calm befalling the rest of the Top 10, the only single to exit is Drake’s Don’t Matter To Me (tumbling 7-13) and all the rest either remain where they are or shift position by just a single place. Assuming the glass ceiling can be shattered any time soon, there are plenty of other upcoming hits vying to take their place. Two are singles I flagged up last week, 6ix9ine’s Fefe which soars 35-17 and Loud Luxury’s Body which doesn’t make quite as spectacular a leap, but still makes waves with a 26-19 climb. Sympathies I think have to go to Juice WRLD who holds firm at Number 12 with Lucid Dreams, just as it looked as if the track might finally be on the verge of breaking into the Top 10. At ten weeks old, the track is now susceptible to a move to ACR although its strong climb last week (when it leapt 19-17) means the clock has a couple of weeks left to run if it doesn’t get reset once more in the meantime.
On The Upside
The honour of the second highest climb of the week (is that an honour?) goes to the 17 place jump enjoyed by Eastside from Benny Blanco and the obligatory cast of friends. A newcomer to the Top 40 last week at Number 40, the single now sits pretty at Number 23. Co-vocalists on the single are Halsey and Khalid. The former is enjoying her second chart hit of the year following the G-Easy single Him And I which never quite lived up to the expectations of its extensive airplay and stalled at Number 22.
Soundtrack fever continues to dominate the Official UK Albums chart with three in the Top 5 for the second week running. Needless to say Mamma Mia - Here We Go Again is the runaway leader once more, The Greatest Showman in second and the first Mamma Mia film lagging behind at Number 5. For those with an interest in these things, this is apparently the first time the Top 5 albums have featured three soundtracks two weeks running for the first time since January 1966.
Meanwhile the individual cuts from the “MM2” album continue to play singles chart hokey-cokey with each other. The three that qualify this week are Lilly James’ When I Kissed The Teacher (apparently set to be the breakout hit single from the soundtrack with a jump to Number 44), Why Did It Have To Be Me at Number 48 and another Lily James performance Andante Andante at Number 61. Intriguingly all three are from the lesser-starred end of the Andersson/Ulvaeus songbook, Abba songs of varying familiarity but none of which were ever hit singles for the group themselves. I’m slightly thrilled to see Andante Andante there myself, as it has always been one of my favourite Abba “deep cuts”.
Contrary to midweek flashes these are the only three cuts from the Mamma Mia-related albums on the singles chart. There was brief confusion midweek when a fourth cut appeared to be considered chart eligible, thanks to Dancing Queen appearing in both the first and second movies. This was subsequently starred out, sidestepping a neat issue of two musical movies with a common set of core themes breaking the chart rules completely.
That’s really all there is to say this week, the summer break having had an effect on the pop charts as well as everything else. Next week should be more interesting though, a slew of exciting new hits have appeared on the horizon. How many make a strong first-week breakthrough remains to be seen though. See you next time.