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Feels So *expletive* Good
So now we know. Ed Sheeran's forthcoming new album will have a title that is nothing to do with mathematical symbols but instead will be called No.6 Collaborations Project, a 15-track collection of duets with a series of acts, most of whom remain a mystery for now. While we wait for its July release date, we can still enjoy the album's lead single I Don't Care which spends a comfortable second week at the top of the Official UK Singles chart. It's combined sales and streams may well have dipped below the 100,000 mark it scaled with ease last week but there is still little doubt that the collaboration is the biggest single around at the present time.
Horses On Film
This is once more all the detriment of Lil Nas X's Old Town Road which is quietly, patiently doing some quite spectacular numbers of its own. The track spends what is now its fourth week in a row at Number 2, each time runner up to the two singles to date which followed it at the top of the charts, and all the while posting the kind of chart sales which under most normal circumstances would see it nestling comfortably at the top of the charts. In fact the single this week enjoys a bump in chart sales, prompted by the long-overdue release of its official video which naturally enough had a positive effect on its visual streams. Lil Nas X enjoyed a phenomenal 12.8m streams last week (more even than I Don't Care) and that is enough to cause Old Town Road to surge to its highest weekly sale to date, its total of 85,000 sales beating even the numbers it was posting five weeks ago in its second and (for now) final week at Number One. To put that in some context, at no time during its own seven weeks at the top of the charts did Lewis Capaldi's Someone You Loved ever exceed 70,000 sales in a week - although it finally does so this week(!) Old Town Road continues to be an extraordinarily popular hit single. And an incredibly unlucky one.
Speaking of the Scotsman, he did at least have the honour of releasing the most important and most hotly-consumed new record of the week. His eagerly-anticipated debut album Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent spent most of the week posting some quite phenomenal numbers with the end result that the album debuts at the top of the Official UK Albums chart with well over 89,000 sales. That beats the 65,000 achieved by Ariana Grande with thank u, next in February to take the crown as the fastest selling album of the year. The last album to sell more copies in a single week was Odyssey by Take That which posted a sale of almost 106,000 in December last year.
Capaldi's album enjoyed a fairly even spread of physical, digital and streaming numbers, but it is the latter which helps the album to make its most significant impact elsewhere. It seems entirely appropriate that in a week when the man whose last album forced a change in the chart rules surrounding simultaneous hit singles, Lewis Capaldi managed to do some equally extraordinary things to the streaming tables. Tracks from Divinely Uninspired… occupy positions 3, 5, 10, 11, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28, 29 and 39 on the Top 40 most streamed tracks with several more peppering the lower end of the listing. The aforementioned "Ed Sheeran rule" means that only three appear on the singles chart, all of them inside the Top 10, although entertainingly they are the three we already familiar with. Former Number One Someone You Loved continues to defy the ACR axe and moves back up to Number 3 (with a bigger chart sale than any it has achieved to date), Hold Me While You Wait climbs back up to Number 5, but the biggest change in fortunes is reserved for the much older Grace. First released in August 2018, the single this week charges past its previous Number 21 peak to sit at Number 9 to give Lewis Capaldi his third Top 10 hit single. Grace's flying leap into the Top 10 comes after the single endured an epic 14-week run during which time it occupied almost every rung on the chart from 21-30, positions 22 and 23 the only ones to elude it during this time.
Commiserations then to Bruises, his originally self-released track from 2017 which was granted a major label release a few months later following his signing to Virgin Records. First appearing on the UK charts back in February, it has yet to reach the Top 40, although came its closest three weeks ago when it reached Number 49. The fourth most-streamed Lewis Capaldi track of the week, it would have made Number 13 this week but for the fact it has been disqualified ever since Hold Me While You Wait charted higher. Every single track from the album would qualify for a Top 40 place this week, had the Ed Sheeran rule not been in place.
Lewis Capaldi was by no means the only artist this week to release an album which resulted in an extended series of well-streamed hits straining the chart rules to the limit. Until now most of Tyler, The Creator's notoriety has stemmed from a high-profile immigration order he received from the British government in 2015. Citing the violent and homophobic nature of some of his past lyrics he was banned from these shores for several years, a prohibition which nixed several planned festival appearances that summer. The moment it was lifted he wasted little time in making public appearances, and indeed the American star made a new set of headlines last week when an appearance had to be cancelled when more people than anticipated turned up to see him. All of this was good news for the prospects of his fifth studio album Igor which smashes its way to Number 4 to hand him his biggest chart record to date. With most of its sales coming from streams (there is no physical version for anyone to buy), that is enough to ensure three of its tracks land on the singles chart as well, most notably Earfquake (sic)which is the week's highest new entry at Number 17. It is joined by I Think at Number 30 and the album's de-facto title track Igor's Theme at Number 41. Until today his only other official chart hit single was 2017 release Who Dat Boy which crept to Number 93.
Cannot Live Without Her
We pause here to note the only person without a new album to land a major new entry this week. Step forward Halsey who arrives at Number 26 with Nightmare, the follow-up to long-running Number 3 smash hit Without Me which charted at the end of last year. It is her most absorbing single release to date, an expansive production which takes a leaf out of the Pink songbook with its refusal to pick a lane and stick to it. Nightmare swings wildly between pop verses, little-girl-lost whispered vocals and a hair-pulling screamed chorus in a manner which catches you off guard at every turn. The worst thing a pop single can be is boring and this is a record which takes a wild detour around that particular pothole. Keep your fingers crossed that this one flies.
Why Is He Yelling
DJ Khaled also had a new album out this week. You can either discern this from the presence of Father Of Asahd at Number 6 on the album chart, or the magical way he too has three different new entries on the singles chart. The charge is led by the all-star Jealous which features both Chris Brown and Lil Wayne on vocals. It is his first chart single since Number 3 hit No Brainer (also on the album) which was released in August last year. The other two DJ Khaled tracks to chart are Higher at Number 43 and Celebrate at Number 48.
DJ Khaled's hit is joined in the lower tier of the Top 40 by a number of newly arrived hits, with Martin Garrix' Summer Days jumping to Number 36 and 3 Nights from Dominic Fike arriving at Number 39. Just above them, Mark Ronson's Late Night Feelings is still waiting to spark properly into life, rising 39-33 to leave us waiting for the chance to pay it proper attention.
The Contest For People Who Hate Pop Music
It is almost impossible to round off the final Chart Watch piece in May without making at least a passing reference to last weekend's Eurovision Song Contest which resulted in the usual flurry of Twitter comment, the usual humiliation for the United Kingdom entry and a brief impact on the singles chart, one which alas seems to diminish with every passing year. Eurovision hits don't attract streams you see, just sales. And they grow smaller and smaller each time.
But acknowledge them we should. Norwegian entry Spirit In The Sky by Keiino is at Number 61 while Italian entry Soldi by Mahmood is at Number 73. Sandwiched between them at Number 67 is the eventual winner Arcade, Duncan Laurence's performance meaning the whole circus heads to Holland for the 2020 competition. That's still a step down from the chart fortunes of the 2018 winner Toy by Netta which managed to reach Number 49 in the aftermath of last year's competition. Of the United Kingdom's wooden spoon winning entry Bigger Than Us by Michael Rice there is no sign at all (compared to the Number 50 reached by SuRie with Storm last year). More notable commentators than I have wondered aloud whether we should be surprised nobody voted for our song, given that nobody in this country was the slightest bit interested in it as a pop record.