Pass The Lip Balm
A six-week snog, who would have thought it.
STILL no change at the top of the Official UK Singles chart means a sixth consecutive week at Number One for the entwined tandem of Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa with One Kiss. That is enough to ensure the single matches the record we have been tracking for the past few weeks, matching the six week total Number One stay of We Found Love on which Harris was credited as a featured artist. The Dumphries-born producer and performer now enjoys the honour of performing on the longest-running Number One single by a Scottish act for almost 24 years. Not since Love Is All Around by Wet Wet Wet spent 15 weeks at the top of the charts in the summer of 1994 has any act from north of the border spent as many as six straight weeks at the top of the charts.
We should note that the actual singing on One Kiss is done by the London-born Kosovan Dua Lipa so it doesn't truly count as a wholly Scottish single. The single is already far and away the highest charting hit of her career, with her only solo Number One New Rules having only enjoyed a fortnight at the top of the charts last year.
One Kiss has enjoyed a long spell at the top of the charts for the same reason so many other singles like it have done so recently - effectively becoming "stranded" at the top with streaming numbers far in excess of the competition that it just isn't possible for anyone to come close, as one glance at the tables on the stats page will indicate. That isn't to say One Kiss has had things all its own way, as the single it deposed - Nice For What by Drake - has continued to match it step by step as far as streams are concerned. The difference maker here is in paid-for sales, an area in which all Drake singles struggle. One Kiss, on the other hand, has remained a huge (in relative terms) seller and has been Number One in pre-2015 terms for five of the six weeks it has spent at the top of the main singles listing. Indeed here comes my favourite stat of the week. The streaming "sales" of One Kiss this week are exactly the same number (41,357) as the total combined chart sale of the Drake track, whilst the gap in chart sales between the two singles this week is exactly the same number (13,067) as number of paid-for sales enjoyed by One Kiss. Spooky!
The only other track to better One Kiss in pure sales terms during that time? Ariana Grande's still compelling No Tears Left To Cry which is still the undisputed champion of what you might call the second tier of chart hits at the moment. It spends a third week lodged firm at Number 3, following on from its fortnight at Number 2. It is her first hit single to spend longer than three weeks in the Top 3.
Move Damn You, Move
So for those keeping track that is an all-static Top 3 for the third week in a row, although we are spared the sight of a second straight static Top 5 thanks to some moves lower down. This is due in part to the ACR relegation of Lil' Dicky's Freaky Friday which takes a corresponding 4-15 tumble, clearing the way for Anne-Marie to ascend a place with 2002 to claim a new chart peak after three weeks locked firmly at Number 5. Climbing to the place she has vacated are Banx & Ranx with Ansaphone, the single now landing vocalist Ella Eyre her first Top 5 hit single since the DJ Fresh track Gravity reached Number 4 in February 2015.
Time To Say Grace
In an ever-changing world, it is nice to know that there are some things you can always rely on. And a new Clean Bandit single making a big chart splash upon release is always one of them. That said, we wondered if the classical and dance fusion act were going off the boil a little when their last single I Miss You only opened its chart account at Number 28 last November, fears which were laid to rest when the single embarked on a mazy chart run which saw it eventually peak at Number 4 in the new year following a seven-week run in the Top 10.
The group claim they are "almost there" with a long-overdue second album but in the meantime, we get to enjoy the latest in a long series of standalone singles the trio have released over the past couple of years. Solo is everything we have now come to expect from a Clean Bandit single, although this is more of a club banger than any of their more recent work, the track comes complete with a compelling reggaeton vibe and without the strident percussion which made I Miss You sometimes so headache-inducing.
Clean Bandit's continuing presence at the top of the guest singer food chain means that vocals on Solo are supplied by no less a star than Demi Lovato, here making her first Top 40 appearance since Sorry Not Sorry reached Number 9 last September. The timing of the single is all kinds of fun, arriving as it does at a time when two former Clean Bandit collaborators in the shape of Anne-Marie and Jess Glynne have solo Top 10 hits of their own.
The single becomes the second Clean Bandit single in a row not to open its chart career actually inside the Top 10, but its Number 12 entry position is enough to make it more or less a given that it will join some of the group's other pop masterpieces in the upper reaches in short order. Particularly given the way the single has arrived ahead of its official video, the appearance of which will almost certainly give it a boost. The group remain the greatest pop act in Britain right now with a unique public image as well, the diffident Patterson brothers appearing to be continually bewildered that their bedroom productions have made them so famous whilst de-facto frontwoman Grace lives the dream as a pop goddess in a world far removed from her classical training. And with this record, they sound like they are having fun once more.
Girls From Behind
Solo is frustratingly the only fresh and upcoming hit single in the higher end of the chart this week. Some of last week's hot prospects make steady progress, but only slowly for now. If You're Over Me from Years & Years rises 38-24 as the chart's highest climber whilst Selena Gomez' smash hit in waiting Back To You enjoys a ten-place lift to Number 29. There is a rather eyebrow-raising reverse for Rita Ora and company's all-star Girls track which actually goes into reverse with a 22-25 drop. Just like the Clean Bandit single though, the track is still without a video so you suspect that nobody is panicking just yet.
The next Top 40 arrival of note is that of a single which has been hanging around for a while but whose chance appeared to have all but vanished. Leave A Light On by Tom Walker has been charting since the start of January but its highest chart peak before today was a close but no cigar Number 41 which it scaled in mid-February. But that was before the track was featured in a series of TV adverts for the Sony Bravia and the renewed interest has ignited sales and streams of the track, propelling it to a new peak of Number 35 and into the Top 40 for the first time.
As Feel It Still has already proven this year, if a hit single is your destiny then it doesn't really matter how long it takes. For that reason, I'm watching with interest the chart performance of No Roots by Alice Merton. The White Stripes soundalike track has been buzzing around the bottom end of the Top 100 since April but only now has started to pick up airplay on stations such as Absolute and Virgin. It is still awaiting proper takeoff, and indeed this week's Number 60 position is eight places below the peak it last scaled three weeks ago. Perhaps it just needs a TV advert.
Unlucky not to make the Top 40 this week are K-pop sensations BTS who instead reach Number 42 with their second chart single Fake Love. It coincides with their third chart album Love Yourself: Tear becoming their first ever Top 10 recording as it enters at Number 8 on the Official UK Albums chart. They are notably the first ever Korean act to have a Top 10 album in this country. Meanwhile, at the top The Greatest Showman is Number One again, this now its 16th total week at the top of the charts. Saturday Night Fever's modern-day record is now looking within its sights.
I Give It Three Years
Easily the biggest event of the week in the United Kingdom was the Royal Wedding, the union of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle which took place in Windsor on Saturday. It is possibly the last event you would expect to have had a knock-on impact on the charts - but that is precisely what took place here.
The most high profile surge of interest was to the benefit of teenage cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason who performed three numbers, amongst them Sicilienne, during the ceremony. As chance would have it this was one of the tracks on his album Inspiration which is already the biggest selling classical album release in 2018 and which first charted at Number 18 upon release in February. In the immediate aftermath of the weekend the album charged back up the sales rankings and this week sits at Number 11.
Why is that significant? Because that now makes it the highest charting album by a solo cellist ever, surpassing the previous record holder Julian Lloyd-Webber who reached Number 15 with his Lloyd-Webber Plays Lloyd-Webber collection of his brother's compositions in 1990.
It has become a tradition for the recordings of Royal Wedding ceremonies to be released as commemorative albums. Back in 1981 the official album of the wedding of Harry's Parents - Prince Charles and the then Lady Diana Spencer - famously reached Number One for a fortnight during August of that year. Such an event is unlikely to ever occur again, not least because such albums of spoken word and musical performances are judged to be multi-artist compilations and are relegated from the main chart. Nonetheless, a digital edition of Harry and Meghans "original soundtrack" was released in short order during the week, ahead of a full physical release shortly. Those digital sales were enough to propel it to Number 56 on the compilations chart, but there was also enough interest in the Kingdom Choir's gospel rendition of the old Ben E. King hit Stand By Me to ensure the track sold enough to chart at Number 94 on the singles chart. The previous "edition" of Royal Wedding - The Official Album for Harry's brother's wedding came out in 2011 (duh) and would peak at Number 4 on the compilation chart.
New Music Friday is increasingly a thing amongst pop aficionados online, the delivery of hot new tracks at the end of each working week an enjoyable way of passing the time. Yet ensuring singles make a Week 1 impact is becoming harder and harder it seems. This week was a more heavily loaded release schedule than normal, yet as we have seen only the Clean Bandit single made any kind of impact. Just glance at the bottom end of the Top 100, as it is littered with new entries from some very well known names indeed - Big Shaq, Sigrid, Pharrell, Celine Dion and even Christina Aguilera (duetting with Demi Lovato no less). For sure nobody in the industry is working to the kind of Week 1 mindset they have done for a generation, but just once in a while, you long for the kind of week when the fresh and new dominates in large numbers rather than winking apologetically into existence.
Oh yes, and paid-for sales remain in freefall. Music Week reports that this week's total sale of 940,716 is the lowest since November 2005.