On the rare occasion BBC Radio 2's retro chart show Pick Of The Pops ventures into the charts of the turn of the century, they always run into a unique problem. The charts back then moved so fast, breathlessly so with tens of new entries every week and the life of hits measured against that of butterflies, that many of the "hits" they feature struggle for recognition. Only the very biggest songs were around long enough to lodge properly in the memories of even the casual music fan. The archives on this site from that period feature Chart Watch pieces that are often just logs of the new hits of the week, an endless parade of entries.
I used to write those past columns often longing for the days when there were just a handful of new hits a week and everything had time to properly breathe. If only I could have seen the future. The charts of 2019 are a stillwater, almost literally. The new world of streaming has slowed movement down to a crawl. The biggest hits linger for months and the music industry as a whole seems focused on keeping them propping up the rankings for as long as possible rather than moving swiftly onto new product.
It means we end up with weeks like this one. A Top 40 utterly devoid of anything resembling a new entry. This week's hits are the same as last week's hits. As if moving around in the heat takes just too much effort.
So much of the story appears to be "everything is still there". That includes the Number One single on the Official UK Singles chart, as Senorita from Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello enjoys a second consecutive and third total week at the top of the charts. This is now enough to make the sultry track the biggest ever chart hit for the Canadian half of the duo, his only other chart-stopper Stitches having enjoyed just a fortnight at the top in early 2016. Ms Cabello will have to wait a little while longer to surpass her own record, her own Havana was Number One for five weeks in November 2017.
Just below the allegedly real-life pair our other old friends continue to enjoy a stranglehold on musical tastes. Beautiful People just edges out I Don't Care, but both remain locked in place at 2 and 3 respectively. There's a new peak for AJ Tracey's Ladbroke Grove (surely the biggest hit single named after a tube station since Duffy's Warwick Avenue a decade ago) as it climbs to Number 4 and Billie Eilish's reactivated Bad Guy also holds steady at 5.
At least we have a couple of hits brand new to the Top 10. Continuing a chart climb which began way back in May (although it was first released at the back end of last year), 3 Nights from Dominic Fike leaps six places to sit pretty at Number 8. For all our complaining about slow turnover at the top end of the charts, there is still room for a well-crafted hit single to slowly and steadily force its way into contention. 3 Nights has spent 11 weeks on the Top 40, fallen back from an initial peak position twice and yet still rallied to continue to climb, and that's something to sit back and appreciate.
You Still Bring Me
To the joy of everyone tracing its path over the past few weeks, Kygo's remix of Whitney Houston's Higher Love climbs ever higher and edges its way into the Top 10 at the very bottom rung. It is the fourth version of the song to chart and now far and away the highest. Steve Winwood's original made Number 13 in 1986, James Vincent McMorrow reached Number 21 in 2012 (by a strange coincidence just a few weeks before Whitney herself passed away) and Tyler James crept to Number 39 later that same year. Whitney's vocal is taken from her cover which originally featured exclusively on the Japanese release of her 1990 album I'm Your Baby Tonight. It returns the late star to the Top 10 for the first time since she reached Number 6 with Million Dollar Bill at the end of 2009. In truth, this new mix seems to me to be a far more appropriate song for her to have what may well be her last ever Top 10 hit, a snapshot of a time when her voice was crystal-clear and blessed with sparkling joy. A stark contrast to the still distinctive but sadly drug-ravaged shadow of herself as represented by that 2009 hit. This is also Kygo's third Top 10 hit single. His others: Firestone (Number 8 in 2015) and It Ain't Me (Number 7 in 2017). Still no official video you will note.
Chart records were set in America last week, as predicted Old Town Road by Lil Nas X shattered a 25-year-old record and retained its Hot 100 crown for the 17th week, now the longest-running Number One single in Billboard history. Over on these shores, it just fails to equal a record of its own. The public was unimpressed with the stunt of the new Seoul Town Road remix (let's face it, it wasn't very good) and so the single finally exits the Top 10 after a 16 week stay, the drop to Number 13 means it falls short of the seven weeks Luis Fonsi's Despacito spent as a Top 10 single after having been shunted to ACR.
It's status as the anthem of the recently concluded TV series Love Island well established, Joel Corry's club cover Sorry is the highest climber of the week, jumping 17 places to Number 20. One Twitter correspondent wondered if it is the first single whose title and artist rhyme since Hocus Pocus by Focus. I leave that as a debate to those with more time on their hands than I have this week.
Never Decline A Happy Ending
Another upcoming hit of note is Ransom, the debut hit single from American rapper Lil Tecca. The twist here is that the New Yorker is just 16 years old, and he's the latest self-published star to wind up with a viral hit which has turned into a commercial smash way beyond expectations. Not unlike Lil Nas X in fact. Ransom is the kind of American hip-hop track that sits surprisingly comfortably alongside the more familiar British stuff, although the more lavish production gives it away as a transatlantic hit single. Minimalistic is the British way of doing things and the contrast between the two styles is quite stark if you are paying proper attention.
For the record, we should at least note the one "new" Top 40 hit, although it is in fact Little Mix's here today gone tomorrow single Bounce Back which for once lives up to its title and rebounds two places to Number 39. The highest new single of the week is actually at Number 42, Rick Ross's Gold Roses just missing the Top 40. The single features a guest vocal from Drake, this I guess payback for Ross appearing on Mr Graham's Money In The Grave which peaked at Number 13 earlier in the summer.
Does Anyone Still Stream Albums Any More?
Album sales remain in the toilet unless your name is Ed Sheeran. No.6 Collaborations Project remains comfortably Number One on the Official UK Albums chart. Its combined chart sale of just over 41,000 copies is more than three times that of its nearest rival, Lewis Capaldi's Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent which lags behind on 14,000 copies. The highest new entry of the week is Duck from millennium-era heroes The Kaiser Chiefs. That shifted just 11,000 copies in the seven days it was on sale, but that's still enough to make it the third biggest album of the week.