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She Looks 70 In The Video
Another seven days pass, the heat death of the universe takes another measurable step forward, and Dance Monkey by Tones & I once again obliterates the competition and spends another week - a fifth - at the top of the Official UK Singles chart.
Unlike last week the manner in which the single tops the charts becomes notable. The ACR clock which I noted had started ticking has now been stopped and reset, because once again Dance Monkey posts its strongest chart sale to date. 86,000 units beats even the 84K the single achieved a fortnight ago, its streams once more rocketing to 9.54m. So we once more have a single that is utterly marooned at the top of the charts, posting numbers that nobody else in the market can even begin to approach and which for the moment are showing no sign of organically declining to anything approaching "normal" levels.
Even aside from the music, the most notable impact Tones & I made last week was the row which developed over her true age. The narrative that she was born in summer 2001 and thus is 19 years old had been the accepted one for weeks, a fact referenced in write-ups about her in the mainstream press, as well as music publications in Britain, America and her native Australia. The Official Charts Company stated it, as did Billboard. Even Music Week repeats the assertion this week. But her date of birth doesn't appear anywhere in official press releases and appears to have spent the past few months being the subject of Wikipedia edit wars, stated as blind fact some weeks ago and now argued to be "true" simply because the press has stated this.
In fact, there are plenty of other sources to suggest that she's actually 26 years old, and was born in 1993. The latest of these was a post from her personal Facebook which has her celebrating her 22nd birthday in May 2015, although the continuing existence of her teenage YouTube channel was also a major clue. Here she is singing in a video from 2009 where she is quite patently not nine years old.
So scrub last week's excitement. Billie Eilish topped the albums chart earlier this year as a post-millennial but we are incredibly edging closer to the end of the 2010s still awaiting the first Number One single performed by an act born in the 2000s.
Back To Her
One thing we did get right last week was to predict a rapid and dramatic rise of Selena Gomez' dark and haunting single Lose You To Love Me. Allegedly dealing with the demise of a high profile superstar relationship we all know about, the single debuted on the charts last week at Number 65 following a midweek release. One full week of sales and streams later and the track rockets to dramatic new heights - albeit in a manner which suggests things slacked off just a little as the week wore on.
The single shoots to Number 3, making this far and away the biggest chart hit Selena Gomez has ever enjoyed in Britain. Prior to this she'd made the Top 10 just four times and had never managed to climb beyond Number 7. That peak was scaled by two singles - her 2010 debut Naturally (back in the days when she was credited as the lead singer of The Scene) and Kygo's 2017 hit It Ain't Me on which she received co-billing. She also reached Number 8 with her solo debut Come And Get It in July 2013 and Number 9 alongside Marshmello with Wolves almost exactly two years ago.
As is the fashion right now, Selena Gomez released a second single to accompany the first, and as a result, she also has one of this week's big new entries with Look At Her Now at Number 26.
Battle Of The Olds. Again.
An intriguing two-way tussle at the top of the Official UK Albums chart between two veteran acts resulted in a victory for the mob from the 1990s. The Stereophonics (for it is they) sneaked in at Number One with their 11th studio album Kind, taking the top slot in what is extraordinarily an all-new Top 5. We must be approaching Christmas or something.
That left second place available for Kanye West. The Stereophonics may have had the lions' share of paid sales but the big streaming record of the week was Jesus Is King, if only because people were tuning in to see just what kind of a car crash it might be. Kanye West making an album of spiritual and gospel-inspired music is as extraordinary as it sounds on paper, but somehow you just had to take the time to check it out.
Indeed enough people did that the download chart is peppered with most of the tracks from the album. Only three are eligible for the main singles chart, but they all combine to give the often astonishing rapper the three highest new entries of the week. The biggest is Follow God which smashes in at Number 6, effectively handing him a second Top 10 hit in a row following last year's Number 3 hit I Love It - his first such back to back hits since 2009.
The other two Kanye West new entries: Selah at 19 and Closed On Sunday at 20. For reference, the three chart hits from his last studio album Ye charted at 10, 11 and 17 in June last year.
Blame Her Juice
As I mentioned above, releasing two tracks at once is quite the fashion these days. But also in vogue is having your existing chart hits augmented by the "jump on", the addition of brand new vocal lines from bigger name guest stars. As we also flagged up last week, the latest single to enjoy this kind of remixed enhancement is Lizzo's Good As Hell. New verses from no less a star than Ariana Grande now push the slow-burning hit even further up the charts, propelling it to Number 7. That's enough to make it Lizzo's first-ever Top 10 hit and theoretically the sixth of the year for Ariana Grande - but for the fact she only appears on a "secondary" version of the track and so it retains its original solo credit.
Alas, there is no related good news for Lizzo's other hit single, the more recently recorded Truth Hurts. After what we've been tracking as an epic run stranded on the cusp of the Top 30 it finally falls victim to ACR and plunges 31-74. It is in many ways a huge shame, its 16 week Top 40 stay is the longest in chart history for any single to peak as low as Number 29. An ACR plunge is also the fate of another long-running "not quite a proper hit", Motivation from Normani which runs out of both luck and gas and drops 27-79.
In Quite A Grove
AJ Tracey's self-titled and self-released album has been available since February so the performer has clearly decided it was overdue a refresh. Hence the release of a new deluxe edition which adds to the tracklisting some remixes and a handful of new recordings. One of those is Floss featuring the added bonus of vocals from Mostack and Not3s and which slams into the singles chart at Number 22. That's his third Top 30 hit of the year, fourth if we also count the Steel Banglez track Fashion Week on which Tracey also featured.
Look At The Stars
Releasing two singles at once was also the promotional stunt pulled by Coldplay. The British group remain an extraordinary phenomenon, their first hits coming as long ago as 2000, their elevation to the status of global superstars five years later, and yet through a willingness to innovate and develop they have bridged both the jump from physical to digital and the gap between paid and streaming. Where others of their generation have withered (or, retreated to the fag end of the albums market and abandoned hit singles forever), Coldplay just seem to go on and on. Adventure Of A Lifetime and Hymn For The Weekend charted for months on end in the pre-ACR days of 2016 and their collaboration with the Chainsmokers Something Just Like This was famously the only single to survive in the Top 10 during Ed Sheeran Week in March 2017. Middle-aged veterans they may be, but Chris Martin and friends are instantly familiar to even the newly minted streaming generation.
Which is why such big attention was paid to their two brand new singles, their first releases in over three years. Orphans was the main release, a track which to great frustration actually contains little in the way of new sounds or ideas, sounding almost as if it is a reworking of Adventure Of A Lifetime. For the first time in forever Coldplay have dished up more of the same, the result being a rather lower than expected entry at Number 27. It is early days, we no longer worry so much about Week 1 (Something Just Like This debuted at 30 after all) but it is hard not to hear this and feel a little underwhelmed. It is their 24th Top 40 hit.
Rather better sounding (to these ears) was the Jazz-Blues fusion Arabesque which is notably the first Coldplay release to feature naughty words and which also featured some blistering horn work from Femi Kuti and his band. Well, guess what. It is nowhere to be seen on the Top 100.
Always Nice To See Really
We've sneered at it for a few weeks for not making the Top 40 so it seems only appropriate to note that it has now done so. Step forward Nice To Meet Ya from Niall Horan which moves 41-34, helping the former 1D star maintain a 100% strike rate of chart hits. Meanwhile, we also sneered at Harry Styles' Lights Up for its chart plunge last week, and whilst it continues its downward spiral after just three weeks on sale, it is still clinging on to a Top 20 position with a slide to Number 17.
Finally this week an illustration of the ever-widening gap between sales and streaming markets. Number 12 on the old school paid-for sales chart this week is the new Westlife single My Blood. That translates to a lowly Number 96 on the main combined singles chart. Although that is still better than the Pet Shop Boys/Years & Years collaboration Dreamland which smashes its way back into Number 4 on the paid-for sales chart thanks to the release of physical versions. With little or no streaming to its name, it does not even register as a Top 100 single.