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One Reason To Put This Love On The Line
Whilst it isn't technically true that only your mum and your gran buy albums these days, it doesn't help that entertainingly middle of the road stuff appears to have such an easy path to the top of the charts.
What else can explain the way the owner of the Number One album this week is the popular entertainer (and Radio 2 host) Michael Ball. His new solo album Coming Home To You, released with immaculate timing in the run-up to Mother's Day, soars past the competition to debut at the very top of the charts. In truth, this should come as little surprise. Technically this is merely the icing on the cake after his enormously successful collaborations with Alfie Boe: Together topping the charts for Christmas 2016 and the follow-up Together Again charging to the summit in November 2017. However, most of the talk will be of the way this is Michael Ball's first solo Number One album for almost 27 years. He was last at the top of the charts under his own steam way back in May 1992 with a self-titled release. That album came in the wake of his participation as the United Kingdom entry in the Eurovision Song Contest that year, placing second overall with One Step Out Of Time, although the single itself did not fare so well on the charts, peaking at Number 20. It was one of just four Top 40 hits the singer has enjoyed, although his greatest success remains his chart debut. Love Changes Everything from the musical "Aspects Of Love" charged to Number 2 in February 1989 - and indeed that's a story you can read all about in the new Chart Watch book when it is published in a few weeks time.
Look Back On These Days
Kicking off with talk of albums this week was by no means a ruse to both sneak in a gratuitous plug and feature that alarming charming picture of a man with his dogs. It may also have been a convenient way of opening the column with some activity, given that there is precious little at the very top end of the Official UK Singles chart once again. Someone You Loved from Lewis Capaldi remains unassailable at the top, this now the single's fifth week at Number One. That's longer than any solo male performer since Drake achieved nine weeks with God's Plan this time last year. One place below it, also for the fifth week running, is Giant from Calvin Harris and Rag'n'Bone Man, holding firm at Number 2 for longer than any single since Rudimental's These Days also a year ago.
As ever, it is tempting to blame this top end stagnation on the inevitable slowing of the singles market that the streaming era brought with it, but it is worth noting that the rump of the paid-for sales market is increasingly mirroring the streaming tables and showing enormous reluctance to change. Numbers 1 and 2 on the old-school singles chart have also been static for the last four weeks running, the only difference being a reversal of positions with Giant consistently enjoying the edge over Someone You Loved. There was a chance that some change could have been in the air next week as Giant was teetering on the edge of being relegated to ACR. That now won't happen, the single increases in sales and resets the clock once more.
Happily whilst the Top 2 sit in splendid isolation, there is plenty of interesting movement even inside the rest of the Top 40. This is partially thanks to the laxative effect of ACR putting paid to the chart runs of both 7 Rings and Don’t Call Me Up which crash to 29 and 16 respectively, this loosening of the bowels creating a pleasant vacuum for newer hits to move into. That means a further rise to Number 3 for Tom Walker's Just You And I (giving us an all-male Top 3) whilst Sucker consolidates its position as the biggest Jonas Brothers hit ever with a climb to Number 4. It may sound like the bastard child of Feel It Still, but it is easily the biggest worldwide hit of the moment and it makes perfect sense for it to be enjoying a good chart run on these shores as well.
Location by Dave and Burna Boy is also on the rise, edging up to a new chart home at Number 6. I repeat my previous curiosity as to how this particular cut has become the most popular of the three from the album which charted a fortnight ago, given it has yet to be granted official single status and has no visual video to accompany it. The streams it is enjoying are all audio-based and completely organic.
Bangelz Of Steel
Grime rap also gives us the biggest new hit of the week and indeed the highest new entry for a good few as Fashion Week from Steel Banglez, AJ Tracey and MoStack does a quick smash and grab raid on the charts with a Number 7 opening shot. It is the third chart single for Steel Banglez, aka Londoner Pahuldip Sandhu, the 32-year-old Londoner having first charted in December 2017 with Bad, a track which went on to become a long-running in the new year, even if it failed to progress beyond Number 29. That makes this his biggest hit to date, an honour it also hands to both of his co-rhymers. AJ Tracey beats the Number 18 peak of his own album cut Psych Out! which clambered to Number 18 back in February whilst MoStack had previously topped out at Number 17 in collaboration with Dave on the 2017 single No Words. What does Fashion Week sound like? All the others of its genre, if we are being brutally honest, but it is the hottest British sound of the moment and one which continues to hand chart success to a wide range of up and coming stars. Even if they all eventually appear on each other's tracks in the end.
Viewing The Pink
Hey, at least it has a video out the gate. Pink's Walk Me Home didn't at first, a state of affairs which may have contributed to the track sinking back after its initial entry at Number 8 over a month ago. Well, guess what, Walk Me Home now does have a video to its name, and it is no coincidence at all that this week it enjoys a reversal of chart fortunes and climbs back to Number 9.
Also back in the Top 10 is another surprisingly enduring rap hit, Options from NSG and Tion Wayne climbs a place to sit at the Number 10 position it occupied three weeks ago. Now 12 weeks old, the single has spent all but one of these in the Top 20, a run which seems set to be extended after it escaped being relegated to ACR this week by the skin of its teeth.
Good Things Come
Down in the Top 20 there's room to celebrate some of the singles we've been cheering on in these pages for the past couple of weeks as they all start to make good on their promise. Unlucky not to make the Top 10 this week is Boasty which instead has to be content with a 22-11 jump. Just one more leap is needed to make it Wiley's first Top 10 single for six years.
Talk by Khalid appears to be one of those singles destined never to quite make the Top 10, but it is still hanging in there. Just like the Pink single, it has benefitted in the past fortnight from finally having its video released and that has also contributed to a small rise in its chart fortunes. Now seven weeks old, the single has never charted lower than Number 20 and this week enjoys a brand new peak of its own with a two-place rise to Number 12.
Up 2 places also is Sigrid's Don't Feel Like Crying, now a Number 13 hit and just three places shy of the Number 10 peak of her last big hit Strangers. Marshmello and Chvrches soar 23-14 with Here With Me - this a single still with only a lyric video to its name which suggests it still has the potential to go higher, but it is Ava Max who has the highest climber of the week. So Am I enjoys a 30-18 rise, meaning it overtakes the chart placing of its predecessor Sweet But Psycho for the first time since release.
We also have a second new entry at Number 19, and rather entertainingly the second big British rap smash hit of the week. Now just so we are clear, Keisha & Becky is the name of the song, whilst Russ & Tion Wayne are the performers of the track. Why this is only Number 19 and Fashion Week is a Top 10 single is not a question I feel qualified to answer, but these singles are what they are. Tion Wayne you will note can boast side by side chart hits this week, thanks to his appearance on the NSG single. It is only the 40-45 dip of the Swarmz single Bally which prevents him from being in the strange position of appearing as the guest performer on three different Top 40 hits. As for Russ, this is, of course, his second hit single of 2019, the direct follow-up to Gun Lean which enjoyed a meteoric chart run in the new year when it became a cult success and shot to Number 9.
Didn't I Make You Feel
Some clever marketing which saw it plugged as a pre-roll advert in a great many YouTube tracks over the last week has propelled the next big smash hit in waiting Piece Of Your Heart by Meduza to a strong chart position, the sultry club track rocketing to Number 32 to reach the Top 40 for the first time. It has been a slow build to this point, the track enjoying its first radio airplay as far back as last summer, its commercial release not arriving until this February. But as we have seen so often of late, good things come to those who wait, and this record is a very good thing indeed. The debut single from the production trio is the kind of absorbing track that burrows its way into your brain and in a manner which suggests it is going to be around for some time to come. No video yet, but at least the "official audio" upload gives us something to look at.
Squeezing It Dry
George Ezra's now year-old Staying At Tamara's album arguably is in no need of any more hit singles to sustain it commercially, the collection once again a Top 5 record in its 53rd week on the chart, all but three of which have been spent in the Top 10. Undaunted, he and his label are still trying for hits with the result that Pretty Shining People is currently being pushed as a single. One of the album cuts that first charted a year ago, when it reached Number 54, the track was formally reset as a promoted single and re-entered the charts at Number 41 last week. This week it edges up three places, not much admittedly but still enough to make it Ezra's sixth Top 40 hit single and the fourth in total from his second album. Given I bemoaned the failure of the third single from his debut, the breezy Listen To The Man, to climb any higher than Number 41 we should hardly complain at this relentless plugging by one of the biggest stars of the last year, although the fact that Shotgun still outshoots it at Number 31 this week suggests it will be an uphill struggle to turn this particular cut into a hit the size of its predecessors.