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This Is The Only Chart That Counts
The flaw in the new "first look" chart show that Radio One broadcasts on a Sunday evening was obvious from the start. It is based on the tiniest snapshot of sales, and even fewer streams, with the inevitable result in that it presents a wholly distorted picture of the way the market is set to develop over the course of the week. That flaw was thrown into sharp relief this week, the "first look" presenting to the nation a potential new Number One which ended up nowhere near the summit.
Instead at the top of the tree on the Official UK Singles chart once more is Senorita from Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, meaning we can make beard jokes for yet another week. That is the single's third in a row and fourth in total. It's overall chart sales remain strong if unspectacular and indeed the track posts its lowest total to date at a shade under 59,000 sales. There's no reason why something else cannot come along and shift it out of the way, just that for now there is nothing in a position to do so. So, as a result, we have an all-static Top 3 for the second week running, with Ed Sheeran's Beautiful People and I Don't Care (both former Number One singles themselves)holding firm at 2 and 3 respectively.
It means the highest new entry of the week, at one stage predicted for a Number One debut has to content itself with a slide into your DMs at Number 4. Extraordinarily it is still less than a year since Ariana Grande released her album before last, Sweetener. In the intervening period you will note she has also put out a follow-up, topped the charts three times and broken all-time streaming records in the process. Hence the appearance this week of yet another brand-new single not only raised a few eyebrows but also caused a few shoulders of critics to sag in weariness.
Take heart though, for this new single Boyfriend doesn’t necessarily mean there is yet another collection of new material on the way for the white-hot American superstar. The track is actually more of a vehicle for collaborators Social House on whose extended play release it actually appears. Michael Foster and Charles Anderson are clearly being manoeuvred into position as the next big thing in American pop music, having served an apprenticeship writing songs for a number of other acts. Most notably they worked extensively with Ariana on her thank u, next album, and have songwriting credits on both the title track and 7 Rings. Hence Boyfriend is a case of her returning the favour and giving them a leg-up as credited artists on a major chart hit for the first time – even if the rules of engagement mean she is still the first-credited act.
But the headline really is that the single was not the Number One hit everyone was expecting, although it is still Ariana's 14th Top 10 chart single and her fourth in 2019 alone. She remains singles chart dynamite, even if breaching the Ed Sheeran-shaped dam was surprisingly beyond her this time around. She is surely the first ever act to chart singles about girlfriends and boyfriends within a few months of each other in the same calendar year.
Not The One From Steps
Also brand new in the Top 10 is Manchester's Aitch, better known to his mum as Harrison Armstrong. Taste (Make It Shake) is his first chart hit as a lead (and indeed solo) artist, it seems almost needless to say that the previous ones have always been as the collaborator on other people's singles. One of those just happens to be a current chart hit – the Young T and Bugsey hit Strike A Pose which as if in sympathy lifts itself to a brand new peak of Number 18 after spending the past two locked in place at Number 20.
Still Don't Care
Ed Sheeran's three permitted hits under the appropriately named "Ed Sheeran rule" continue to confound chartwatchers. Cross Me exits the singles chart this week, or rather it is "starred out" as its sales have dipped below those of the third-biggest Sheeran hit of the week. Hence the reappearance after two weeks away of the Stormzy collaboration Take Me Back To London which made Number 3 in the week of the release of the No.6 Collaborations Project album only to vanish immediately afterward when other singles outsold it. We shouldn't really have to be bogged down with the minutiae of chart regulations, but how else to account for the single magically reappearing at Number 14?
With My Little Eye
There's a spectacular-looking rebound for Krept & Konan's I Spy, a track which entered the charts at Number 18 three weeks ago only to turn out to be (initially) a one-week wonder, diving to the bottom end of the Top 40 in short order. The single gets a shot in the arm this week from a new remix which augments the already crowded track with new vocal takes from Bugzy Malone, RV, SL, Abra Cadabra, Morrison, and Snap Capone. Because it isn't a rap hit unless you’ve invited every single one of your mates to take part.
From the category of "dance-pop hits we hope will grow further" comes the Jax Jones and Bebe Rexha collaboration Harder which finally breaks into the Top 40 after four weeks of steady growth, a new entry this week at Number 36. Jax Jones has enjoyed three Top 20 hits already in 2019, most recently alongside Jess Glynne on the underrated One Touch. Rexha lands in the British Top 40 for the first time since her contribution to Rita Ora's famously misfiring Number 22 hit Girls. Her aim is surely a return to the Top 10 for the first time in two years, her last chart run that high being her appearance on Louis Tomlinson's Back To You in summer 2017.
Over on the albums chart Ed is still top *zzz* but the highest new entry of the week is the debut album from Mabel, High Expectations landing at Number 3 and even outgunning Drake's new Care Package compilation of odds and sods which slides in at Number 4. Agonisingly Mabel lands one place shy of emulating her mother's best-ever albums chart performance – Neneh Cherry's Raw Like Sushi opened its chart account at Number 2 in May 1989 and indeed was still a Top 10 album exactly 30 years ago this week. Rather confusingly several of the tracks on Mabel's High Expectations also appear in mostly the same form on her 2017 mixtape Ivy To Roses which rises to Number 44 on the album chart this week. Your final fun fact for the week comes courtesy of Music Week which notes that High Expectations is the biggest-selling cassette of the week, having been snapped up by 51 people.