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I See You. I See You!
If, quite shamefully, you have only been paying half-attention then the continuing presence of Dance Monkey by Tones & I at the top of the charts may come as something of a surprise. As noted last week, the single's expected relegation to ACR status has not happened, its rise in streams on the last survey ensuring that the clock is reset and the process of logging a continuous three-week decline begins all over again. And despite the best efforts of everyone else involved, it has still proved impossible for any other single to come close to the level of popularity the Australian singer demonstrates.
So here we are then, enjoying a nine-week Number One single for the first time in almost two years. The last track to defy the odds and spend this long at the top of the charts was God's Plan by Drake which began its epic run in February 2018. Dance Monkey now equals the all-time best chart run by an Australian singer, matching immigrant Olivia Newton-Johns' nine-week run with You're The One That I Want in 1978. One more week at Number One (which is likely if not entirely guaranteed) will mean she has matched the all-time record for a female artist at present held jointly by Whitney Houston (solo) and Rihanna (in collaboration). Here's another fun fact: the last artist to spend as many as nine weeks at the top with their debut chart hit was Paul Anka with Diana - way back in 1957.
And given that it is now a matter of great significance, the streaming total of Dance Monkey last week declined by 2.03%, compared to a singles market overall which was up 1.89%. So that's another "tick" on the ACR clock. Will she "tock" next week? Find out here!
Start Getting Used To Him
What then of the competition? As expected it comes from Lewis Capaldi. Number 19 last week based on just a few day's sales, Before You Go explodes fully into life with a full week of data behind it and charges to Number 2, in the process overtaking his other hit of the moment Bruises which remains locked at Number 6. Without knowing the underlying numbers it has been a fascinating week watching the ding-dong battle taking place at the top of the live streaming tables. The Tones and Capaldi tracks spent most of the week taking it in turns at the top of Spotify's live charts. But as ever, that is only one small piece of the puzzle. Whilst Before You Go has taken the fight to Dance Monkey like no other single has managed in the past two months, the chart sales gap between the two singles was still 13,600. Capaldi is Number 2 behind his Aussie counterpart, but in relative terms, he's still quite a distant one.
Even so, this is a battle which is by no means over. The timing of the release of the Capaldi single suggests that there is a specific plan in place with a possible Christmas Number One the target. We still don't have a formal video, although a lyrics montage appeared online a few days ago. There is more, much more to come from this track. Before You Go has lost the initial skirmish, but you write off its chances of becoming the next Number One single at your peril.
Mike And Teddy Return
Capaldi is at the time of writing the strong favourite to be Christmas Number One, but running him close in the market is the man who four years ago as a relative unknown made an attempt of his own to win the prize and who this week bags the highest new entry of the week. At the end of a year in which he went fully from online cult to mainstream star, Stormzy finally has a new album to unveil. Heralding it is a brand new single Own It which duly smashes into the chart at Number 3. It is the closest you will get to a grime love song, a mellow groove that oozes with class, attitude and Sheeran. What's that? Oh yes, he's back again. Returning the favour which saw Stormzy prop up Take Me Back To London, the ginger wizard joins fellow guest Burna Boy in supplying a verse of his own in is what is a clear attempt to recapture lightning in a bottle.
So yeah, this is a thing. I'll tell you for nothing that Own It won't be Christmas Number One, and in all truth Stormzy singles tend to find their level at the start of their chart life rather than a few weeks in. But assuming it can survive the tsunami of Christmas oldies that tend to wreck the charts in December, the Stormzy/Burna Boy/Sheeran track will be up there with the biggest hits of the season. If nothing else, it is the man's third Top 3 hit of 2019.
Movers And Boxers
Three singles depart the Top 10 this week, the most significant of those being Regard's Ride It which tumbles 4-25 thanks to an ACR reversal. That leaves room for one more new arrival, which perhaps surprisingly is the KSI/Rick Ross and friends track Down Like That which after dipping to Number 22 last week now accelerates to Number 10. That's all thanks to the power of social media more than anything else, and naturally a man whose fame stems mostly from YouTube is in a better position than most to leverage it. Amongst various stunts they pulled throughout the week was one that caused a surge in downloads of the single on Thursday night in the final hours of the survey. This shot the track to the top of the iTunes chart, to the great excitement of those who didn't realise that isn't quite how these things work. Still, a Top 10 hit is a Top 10 hit regardless of how you engineer it. Let's see how quickly they run out of steam next week though.
This week appears to be another of those "rap star drop" weeks as many of the other big movers of the week are from a distinctly urban bent. Exactly one year since he made his chart debut with Airforce (widely credited as the first true drill-based track to reach the Top 40) Lewisham's very own DigDat is back with New Dior which lands at Number 16 first week out. As with all such hits, part of the fun comes in tracking just who has collaborated with who this time around. DigDat was last on the Top 40 back in the summer as a guest on Hardy Caprio's Number 18 hit Guten Tag but this time around he is the lead artist with D-Block Europe in tow. If I could have one Christmas wish it would be for the genre to develop new lyrical themes that move beyond the holy trinity of weapons/pussy/bling and that if you must use GRM Daily to produce videos, get them to change the format up a little. We're at the point where these hits are all starting to blend into one, which for the most dynamic and potentially innovative musical form right now is not a very good look.
Everybody Hit The Floor
I appear to have been studiously avoiding it for the past few weeks, so let's correct that now. Climbing the chart for the sixth week in a row is Pump It Up from Brighton-based producer Endor. In keeping with what has become quite a theme of late, this club hit has a delightfully retro flavour to it, sounding for all the world like it has walked straight out of the charts of 1995. Perhaps this proves that somehow the old favourites always work the best, and so Pump It Up is a dizzy mix of electrifying basslines, intoxicating synth drops and of course the party-friendly chant of its title. The single is this week Number 21 with plenty of life left in it to pump its chart position still further.
One For The Dads
A similarly thrilling head to head battle ensued on the albums chart this week, ironically from acts whose fame dates back to the millennium. Heading the queue were Coldplay who maintain their 100% strike rate with studio albums as their eighth such release Everyday Life eased neatly to the top of the charts. That has had a knock-on benefit for its lead single Orphans which returns to the Top 40 at Number 27. Robbie's album is *shudder* a festive release, entitled A Christmas Present. It is the latest in a series of albums to sell remarkably well on "collectable" special cassette editions, Robbie we are told selling nearly 10,000 copies (or if you like nearly 15% of its weekly total) on good old fashioned reel to reel. As you might expect there's a story behind that headline. Cassettes were sold as part of a merchandise bundle on his website, the twist being only the tapes were signed. Regardless of how it did it, the last album to sell that many tapes in a week was Now! 52 way back in July 2002. But then Christmas is a very weird time anyway. How else to account for the Number 12 entry of In The Swing Of It by husband and wife duo Martin & Shirlie (he Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet, she one half of Wham! backing singers Pepsi & Shirlie). No wonder their son, radio presenter Roman Kemp, has gone to hide in Australia for a few weeks.
Party Over There
More singles now. Every dog has its day, so the saying goes, and so naturally, every guest star eventually gets their own chance to shine. Canadian singer and rapper PartyNextDoor has featured on two Top 40 hits in the past - Major Lazer's Run Up (Number 20 in February 2017) and ZAYN's Still Got Time (Number 24 in April that same year). Now he steps to the fore for the very first time with his debut chart hit as the lead artist, Loyal landing at Number 31. He has long been associated with fellow countryman Drake, appearing on many of his past album cuts so it makes perfect sense that this hit single also features Mr Graham in tow. Admittedly this means the track is all but indistinguishable from one of Drake's own hits, but he has been quiet long enough for familiarity to not quite breed the contempt it was close to doing before. It is still a winning formula, and it is back here once again.
Go Away Mary
Want more? There's still more to talk about. It pains me to do so given it is, you know STILL NOVEMBER and everything, but that blasted All I Want For Christmas Is You single is back once again for what is now the 13th year in succession. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Mariah Carey's evergreen hit once more sticks two fingers up to the permanent ACR status that every golden oldie enjoys and enters the Top 40 at Number 34. It serves as a pertinent reminder that the tidal wave of holiday hits is about to tip chart form on its head and make it incredibly hard for brand new hits to enjoy any kind of traction, at least until early January. As well as Wham!'s Last Christmas which is also well on its way to hit status at Number 43 there are new entries on the Top 100 for festive favourites at numbers 71, 77, 79, 82 and 87 with plenty more to come. I'm still in two minds about how to cover all of this given that recounting a tedious list of equally tedious Christmas songs will be just as uninteresting as Grinch-like whining about their presence. But the charts are about to get knackered up badly by all of this, and there is very little way around it. Be warned: the final chart of the year will be based on sales and streams tracked between Friday 20th and Thursday 26th December. Actual "proper" hit singles will be few and far between in that one.
Hoping against hope that they somehow survive the cut are Ziezie and Aitch, makers of recent hit single Buss Down and who return (with credits reversed this time) with new single French Kisses which is a new entry at Number 35. It would have sat prettily alongside their previous collaborative hit but for the fact that the aforementioned Buss Down suffered an ACR crash of its own this week, dipping 21-51.
It isn't every day that the soundtrack of a new Disney animated movie (particularly a sequel) will cause a chart stir, but then again "Frozen II" is no ordinary movie. Back in 2014 the original became one of the studio's most spectacular successes in years. The soundtrack to the film spawned a number of hit singles but not least of all Let It Go as performed by Idina Menzel and which peaked at Number 11 in an epic chart run which coincided with the arrival of the streaming era and as a result lasted almost the entire year. The Frozen II soundtrack spawns four new chart hits of its own this week, but the biggest of them all is Into The Unknown which charts at Number 36. The track marks the chart return of not only actress Idina Menzel but also Norwegian singer Aurora who enjoys her second-ever Top 40 hit, four years after her version of Oasis' Half The World Away formed the soundtrack to the 2015 John Lewis Christmas advert and reached Number 11. For Menzel herself, this is her fourth UK Top 40 hit all told. As well as fellow Frozen soundtrack hit For The First Time In Forever which made Number 38 she also sneaked in as Michael Buble's co-star on his version of Baby It's Cold Outside and which hit Number 39 in the post-Christmas crazy week at the start of this year.
No Such Thing As Dragons
Just sneaking in at the bottom of the Top 40 are Bastille, here for the first time since Happier over a year ago and in the process resurrecting a fun annual tradition. The mellow cover version of a classic soundtrack to the annual Christmas TV adverts for John Lewis retail stores was a reliable source of smash hit singles at the start of the decade, back when the download was king and something your mum liked stood as good a chance as anything else of making the charts. Recent years have not been so kind to the concept, and indeed not since the aforementioned Aurora version of Half The World Away in 2015 has the John Lewis Xmas song been anything approaching a sizable hit. This year the tale of Excitable Edgar the dragon is soundtracked by Dan Walker performing a new take on the REO Speedwagon Can't Fight This Feeling, and it is this recording which makes its Top 40 bow at Number 39. Prospects for any further climb are slim (two years ago Elbow's Golden Slumbers opened well at 29 and then fell back). But it is nice to know it is there if nothing else. The original was a Number 16 hit in spring 1985.
More from me next week, but meanwhile as the countdown to Christmas continues, don't forget to bookmark the Chart Watch UK Christmas Number One liveblog, the definitive regularly updated guide to just who is in contention, and who truly stands no chance at all.