Oh God Save Us
Another week, another set of charts with the same records locked in place at the very top of the market. This week, however, many of them have reached a point where they are starting to set benchmarks. So this is the point where it starts to get very interesting indeed.
What, God's Plan interesting? Well yes, in its own small way it is. The Drake single has now been stranded at the top of the Official UK Singles Chart for nine straight weeks, which puts it in a stratum all of its own. God's Plan is now only the 21st single in the whole of chart history to spend nine weeks or more at Number One. More extraordinarily though he is the first ever act to make the list twice, God's Plan joining his 2016 track One Dance in the list, the latter managing no less than 15 weeks before it was finally deposed.
Ah yes, deposed. That is also what everyone is surely asking. What are the prospects of Drake being deposed from the top of the charts anytime soon? After last week's narrow victory the single has a more comfortable journey to the top of the charts this week, ending up 3,237 chart sales ahead of its closest rival (of which more in a moment). It is next week when things start to get interesting.
God's Plan was discounted on iTunes last week, its price for a download dropped to 59p for the first time since its release. That was almost certainly done with one aim in mind - to boost the overall chart sales of the track as far up as possible. Not just because of last week's close race, but because of the age of the single and the need to have it register a sales increase. And the tactic failed. God's Plan dropped from 48,101 chart sales last week to 45,581 this week. That's the third straight week of sales decline for a single which next week will be 10 weeks old.
10 weeks. That's a detail which matters. Those three consecutive weeks of decline mean that next week, Number One or not, God's Plan will move to ACR and see its streams halve in value relative to its paid for sales. That more or less guarantees a new record at the top of the charts in seven days time. Drake's ninth week will almost certainly be his last.
And It Goes Like This
So what is destined to replace it? I'm kind of hoping it isn't Rudimental's These Days. As part of an all-static Top 4 this week, the single contrives to spend a seventh straight week at Number 2. If you were reading last week you will know that this ensures the single matches the all-time record for consecutive weeks in the chart runners-up slot. Two other singles managed this startling feat: I Swear by All-4-One in 1994 and Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera in 2011. Love Letters In The Sand by Pat Boone also spent seven weeks at Number 2 back in 1957 but that total was made up of three non-consecutive runs. Note that the one thing all these singles have in common is that they peaked at Number 2. If circumstances contrive to propel These Days to the top of the charts next week it will no longer share the record.
The Never Ending Showman
Over on the Official UK Albums chart, there is more record-stretching to deal with. The Greatest Showman soundtrack recording remains as untouchable as the Drake single and now notches up an eleventh consecutive week at Number One. That's enough to equal the 21st-century record set by Adele and 21 back in 2011. In its sights next is the only album in the last 35 years to have a longer uninterrupted run at Number One, Legend from Bob Marley and The Wailers which managed an extended 12 week stay in the summer of 1984.
The reasons behind the extended popularity of The Greatest Showman have been fascinating the people at the Official Charts Company too. This week they've even produced a graphic to show just how it has managed it. Extraordinarily the album has achieved equal measures of popularity amongst the three market sectors used to compile the charts - popular as a physical purchase, popular as a complete digital download but also impressively popular as a streamed album, achieving a consistent level of online plays over a number of weeks. That's more than most mainstream MOR albums manage. Ed Sheeran aside, most album releases have high numbers of streams upon first release before interest wanes in most of their tracks and focus returns to hit singles. Not so the Greatest Showman, as the extended chart run of its singles demonstrates. Incidentally, it has now been two months since we've had a change at the top of either singles or albums charts, the first time this has happened since 1978.
Speaking of Sheeran, he manages to add to his list of fun chart feats this week as well. Divide holds firm at Number 2, three weeks into its second year on release. The album thus celebrates its 52nd week in total as a Top 5 chart record, matching the feat of its predecessor X (which has managed 65 Top 5 weeks to date) and ensuring he is the first artist ever to have two albums to have pulled off the trick. Which when you consider in the long history of the charts only seven artist albums have done this at all, that's quite some going.
Going For Some Songs
The most notable gainer on the Official UK Singles chart this week is George Ezra. Continuing to rub my face in my cynicism about it ever becoming a hit record, Paradise takes a well-deserved leap from 12 to 5 this week as the only new single to penetrate the Top 10. This is now his third Top 10 hit single and the second biggest, just shy of the Number 3 peak scaled by his debut hit Budapest in 2014.
Also on the rise in strident fashion, but stopping just short of the Top 10 is Bebe Rexha's Meant To Be which vaults eight places to Number 12 whilst one place behind are Sigala and Paloma Faith, the Number 13 placing for Lullaby consolidating its status as Paloma's biggest hit single since Changing topped the charts in September 2014.
The highest new entry of the week is a single so beautifully and unabashedly outrageous it makes you want to cry. Comedian David Burd only started rapping as a means to gain attention for his other projects, but quickly discovered he could tap into a rich vein of amusement by creating an outrageous persona. Thus Lil' Dicky was born, a project which has spawned a number of online viral videos in the past but which has now gone mainstream in a big way. Freaky Friday, inspired by the Disney movie of the same name, sees Lil' Dicky swap bodies with guest star Chris Brown, the track detailing the wickedly funny and outrageously incorrect ways in which the pair come to terms with their situation. To recount any of the lyrics would be to spoil all the jokes and take away the voyage of discovery for anyone who has not yet heard the track. Suffice it to say it is the funniest, cleverest comedy urban record you will have heard all year. And that's even taking Man's Not Hot into account. Freaky Friday lands with a bang at Number 16. Precisely where it goes from here is the big question, but even this moment is worth savouring for what it is.
I Have Questions
Amongst the biggest new album releases of the week (relatively speaking, given that no new album these days is a "big" release) was ? (Question Mark) from XXXtentacion, the first of what we are told is three offerings from him this year and which charges to Number 3 behind the immovable forces of Ed Sheeran and The Greatest Showman. Like most hip-hop albums this was a release which enjoyed more than its fair share of streams, hence a strong singles chart impact for its three permitted lead artist tracks. Leading the way is the rapper's existing hit Sad which rebounds to Number 20. Hard on its heels is the second highest new entry of the week Moonlight landing at Number 31 and finally, album cut The Remedy For A Broken Heart at Number 53. There are four other cuts from the album also 'selling' in sufficient numbers to rank as Top 100 singles but all are starred out.
The streaming point is one well worth making, and there is no way of doing so without doing what amounts to a straightforward cut and paste from Alan Jones' comments in Music Week this week. There are many hip-hop acts whose albums would be all but invisible if only paid for sales were taken into account. Take Drake's More Life album for example. The Number 31 album this week, it registers 2,467 chart sales. Just 81 of those were purchased copies. All the rest were as a result of tallying up streams of its most popular tracks.
No Word Of A Lie
I told you to keep an eye out for it. Love Lies from Khalid and Normani continues to ease its way up the charts, rising to Number 24 this week to reach a brand new peak. The single takes on an extra significance this week with the news that Fifth Harmony have decided that for now, their future lies as solo artists, paving the way for a One Direction-esque flood of solo singles from the former X Factor USA entrants. Camila Cabello aside, the fact that Normani is ahead of the curve and has this 'solo' hit to her name already puts her in pole position perhaps to be the next breakout star from the group.
Seeing as we've brought up X Factor, it is worth noting the fortunes of two former winners of the show on the charts this week. Almost ten years on from her victory on the show, someone still has faith in Alexandra Burke as a singing performer. Hard on the heels of a career revival, thanks to her Strictly Come Dancing performances, her third album The Truth Is… came out this week but despite a fair amount of mainstream attention and daytime TV appearances from the star, the album can only shift just over 3,000 copies to sit at Number 16. Meanwhile, 2015 winner Louisa Johnson has yet to even release her debut album, an unheard of situation for any previous winner of the show. The latest attempt to relaunch comes in the shape of her Christina Aguilera-aping single Yes which is going to require some work to kick it into life. It begins its chart run for now at Number 65. Oh yes, and we are apparently supposed to just call her "Louisa" now. Like her Twitter handle.