Out With The Old(ies)
As the image on the front page may have suggested, this week's Official UK Singles chart is what we might call the rubber ball chart as everything rebounds. The reason for this is the wholesale absence of all the Christmas hits, their sales and streams switching from a year-round high point last week to an almost total dead stop this. What that does is pave the way for a massive chart clearout. Of last week's Top 100 singles a full 46 vanish from sight this week. Their replacements number 10 brand new previously uncharted singles (itself an unusually high total) and a full 36 re-entries. That tops even last year's total which saw the new year clear-out amount to 39 new or re-entered singles. So this is a singles chart which has a rather fresher feel to it than we are accustomed to. Although perhaps with one notable exception.
So first of all the boring bit, which no pun intended involved Ed Sheeran topping both singles and albums charts yet again. The combined might of what I guess we now have to call the Perfect Suite means the single is the most-purchased and most-streamed of the week, leaving Ed clear to top the Official UK Singles chart for a fifth consecutive week. He does so with a lead of more than 17,000 chart sales over the Eminem single River (on which he also appears) which rebounds back into second place.
Up Is Where We Go From Here
The wholesale absence from the singles chart of a huge chunk of last week's hits cannot help but make this one of the most upwardly mobile listings you are ever likely to see. Extraordinary as it may sound, there isn't a single faller or even non-mover (save for Sheeran) on the entire Top 100. Every single track featured is either a new entry, a re-entry or a climber. That has freed a number of singles at the higher end of the table to climb to brand new chart peaks. Leading the charge in that respect is Man's Not Hot from Big Shaq which jumps 6-3 to become a Top 3 hit for the first time in its 15 week chart career to date.
Also on the rebound is Clean Bandit's I Miss You which re-scales the Number 6 peak it first achieved on December 7th, a full five weeks ago. There's also a notable climb for its predecessor Symphony which spent the Christmas period benefitting from some of the most subtle promotion possible - the nine-note melody from its chorus being the jingle backing the Christmas idents on BBC One. Any effect that had on its sales and streams during this period was needless to say masked by the presence of the Christmas hits on the chart. Now they are gone, Symphony can reassert itself and so the former Number One single charges back to Number 18, its first Top 40 appearance since August and highest chart placing since it was the Number 17 single on July 6th.
Also reaching new peaks in the Top 10: 17 from MK which bounds 23-7 after first appearing to peak at Number 10 five weeks ago, and grime track Barking from Ramz which becomes a Top 10 hit for the very first time after shooting to Number 8. The rise of Barking is perhaps the most extraordinary one of all and testament to just how far brand new hits had their chart places depressed over the holiday period. Last week Barking was the Number 30 single, a drop of 23 places despite landing its biggest chart sale to date. It increases its sales once more this week by a tiny amount, but even holding steady is enough to ensure it a 22 place chart climb. Ramz is the performing name of 20-year-old Ramone Rochester who spent much of 2017 issuing self-released singles in the hope of landing a musical career before he graduated university in the summer. He has cheerfully noted in interviews that he'd taken a job in a supermarket over the summer to make ends meet before the September release of Barking finally put him on the map.
Jason Tippy Toes
One new year tradition in the British charts used to be the way the post-holiday refresh cleared the way for some of the lesser hits from before the holiday to assert themselves and take full flight. Largely forgotten in the more frantic modern era, it has now started to become part of the calendar once more - just look at the way Craig David's I Know You surges back up the charts to Number 15 to reach a brand new peak after having spent most of December sculling around the Top 30. Mind you, the new year period has always been kind to Craig David - his 2010s comeback having been kicked off two years ago when low-key November release When The Bassline Drops became a pleasantly surprising Top 10 hit in the first weeks of 2016.
This new year effect also works to the benefit of Dave and Mostack's No Words which leaps to Number 17, one place higher than the Number 18 it reached in its first week on the chart way back in the middle of November. There's also a Top 20 debut for Jason Derulo's collaboration with French Montana Tip Toe, a single which has also been available since November and which had until now climbed no higher than Number 30. After being temporarily displaced down to Number 44 last week it now rockets to Number 19, Derulo's second Top 20 hit inside the last 12 months following the Number 6 success of Swalla in early summer 2017.
The big success story of the week was a movie soundtrack - The Greatest Showman doing great post-holiday box office and sending people scurrying to sample its music at home in a similar way to La La Land twelve months ago. The full cast recording album charges up the album chart to Number 4 this week and several of its most popular cuts litter the lower end of the singles chart. Chief amongst them is the track which ranks as the highest new entry of the week: This Is Me credited to Keala Settle and the Greatest Showman Ensemble at Number 28. It is joined by The Greatest Show at Number 40 and Rewrite the Stars at Number 46.
Those latter two singles hand a direct chart credit for the first time to American singer and actor Zac Efron, 11 years after his first ever chart hits. They came thanks to his participation on another musical soundtrack, that of High School Musical. The Number 40 scaled by The Greatest Show matches the chart peak scaled by Gotta Go My Own Way in October 2007, a hit which was credited to characters Gabriella and Troy, or to give them their proper names Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron.
The Greatest Showman soundtrack appears to have been subject to the three singles per artist maximum rule with many of its other cuts starred out from the Top 100, this despite most being "performed" by different credited acts. This is clearly regarding the "cast recording" as the artist rather than the named performers, the same criteria which means the album whilst technically a multi-artist collection is placed on the main artists chart and is not counted as a compilation.
Still Got The Feels For You
There is also a fun Top 40 return for one of the most doggedly persistent singles of the back end of 2017. Feel It Still by rock band Portugal. The Man first charted back in early August but in the 23 weeks since has only made the Top 40 for a single week - creeping to Number 39 on November 2nd in its 13th week on the chart. Dumped down to Number 89 last week, this time around the single surges back to Number 35 to reach what you might regard as a long overdue brand new peak.
We should end this week by noting another long-running chart hit, Ed Sheeran's Shape Of You which marks its 52nd week on release and thus on the charts by charging back up to Number 21, the highest it has been on the chart since the end of July. Its twin release Castle On The Hill is at Number 47 but only has 48 chart weeks to its name, thanks to spending December doing the chart two-step with Galway Girl as the two swap places as Ed's third eligible hit of the moment.
Yes, it is the traditional quiet start to the new year. But just as this time last year, there are a pair of new releases from some very big names indeed heading in this direction. Next time around there should be far, far more to tell.