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Train Out Of Here Delayed
We don't have the Number One single we were expecting, but we possibly have the Number One single we deserve. Hopes of a sensational changing of the guard at the top of the Official UK Singles chart are dashed as the most prominent challengers just can't quite get over the line. That has left the way clear for Take Me Back To London from Ed n' Stormzy to retain its crown, the single spending a fourth straight week at the top of the charts. Once again, the single does so largely by default. Its chart sale this week amounted to just 59,000 copies - essentially dipping to the same mark Senorita did at the very end of its own run at the top of the charts. But even the predicted competition couldn't come close to matching that total. So here we are once more.
Ed Sheeran is tied with Calvin Harris as the artist with the most Number One singles in the 2010s, both men locked together on eight apiece with just three months of the decade left. This week is Ed's 37th total week at the top of the charts, his total boosted naturally enough by the extended run at Number One he enjoyed with Shape Of You at the start of 2017. That leaves his Scottish rival floundering somewhat, Harris' chart-topping singles having "only" enjoyed 31 weeks in total. The only other artist to even come close to challenging that length of tenure is Drake whose Number One singles to date have spent a combined 30 weeks at the top - even if exactly half of those are accounted for by the 15 week run of One Dance in 2016.
All My Honeys
The almost insatiable need for grime acts to invite as many of their mates as possible along for the ride means there is these days nothing particularly novel about a hit single being a collaborative vocal effort between several otherwise unconnected acts. But when they are performers with a long chart pedigree of their own and a superstar status which hardly needs the assistance of others, then the chance to hear them all side by side can never fail to be a bigger deal than normal.
All-star female acts have led to huge chart success in the past. In 2001 the combination of Christina Aguilera, Mya, Pink and Lil Kim shot a cover of Lady Marmalade to the very top. More recently in 2014 Bang Bang was an instantaneous and enormously welcome Number One for the combination of Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj. That's not to say it always works. I keep harping on about it I know, but 2018 single Girls featuring the otherwise unstoppable collective of Rita Ora, Cardi B, Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX should really have been more than a Number 22 hit.
So with that in mind, there wasn't truly any doubt that a record featuring the combined talents of Ariana (again), Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey was always going to be a worthwhile exercise. The single in question is Don't Call Me Angel, a brand new track taken from the soundtrack of the forthcoming Charlie's Angels movie, the first in the franchise to be released since 2003. It is an absorbing listen, to say the least, a track which veers wildly between the styles of all three women and so manging to be a record that "belongs" in the canon of all its participants. Reviews have been mixed, taking on the tone that somehow everyone who hears it for the first time is expecting more, but you cannot escape the fact that it grows on you with every subsequent listen. And given that the streaming era is built upon multiple subsequent listens, that isn't a bad thing at all.
Widely expected to fly straight to Number One, Don't Call Me Angel rather surprisingly doesn't and falls one place short to enter the charts instead in the runner's up slot. That's still enough to add a pleasing tick to the chart tallies of all three women. It is Ariana's third Top 3 hit of the year (following her brace of chart-toppers 7 Rings and Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored), Miley's second Number 2 hit of 2019 (following Nothing Breaks Like A Heart) but most significantly of all Lana Del Rey's highest-charting single ever. Until now her only other Top 5 hit was the Cedric Gervais remix of Summertime Sadness which reached Number 4 in August 2013. So she's had quite a wait.
The previous two Charlies Angels movies both spawned chart hits of their own. The "original" in 2000 was heralded by the Destiny's Child smash Independent Women (which topped the charts) whilst 2003's Charlies Angels: Full Throttle spawned Pink's Feel Good Time which landed at Number 3. Is this new offering destined to proceed any further? I remain slightly unconvinced. Don't Call Me Angel isn't made so much as a pop record but rather as a moment. And given the way the single rapidly surrendered its early week lead I can't help but feel that the moment has now been and gone.
Circle Line Destination
Underwhelming or not, thank goodness for the ArMiLa hit single as otherwise, this would have been a Top 10 mostly devoid of comment-worthy moves. No other single manages to penetrate the top end of the chart this week, leaving everyone else free to shuffle around a little bit. It seems only appropriate then to pay brief attention to the ever-expanding chart span of AJ Tracey's Ladbroke Grove. Marooned in the Top 5 without ever quite reaching the Top 3 there's a risk of what is has achieved being overlooked. After a fortnight at Number 4 the single slips this week to 5, the seventh time it has been a Top 5 single during what is now a ten-week run inside the Top 10. Not bad for a single which was first released in February, made a mere Number 48 first time around and which has successfully escaped an ACR-inspired demise on several occasions. It has at least one more week in the sun next week as well - unless of course, it enjoys a sales bump once again. Never say never. The only curiosity is perhaps that it hasn't inspired a chart appearance of any kind of Jorja Smith's Wandering Romance whose vocals Ladbroke Grove borrows copiously for its haunting hook.
Runners And Riders
Dipping outside the Top 10 and we discover that for now Regard's Ride It bumps against the glass ceiling, his club remake hitting its head at Number 11. As I noted last week, that's now enough to match the February 2008 peak of the Jay Sean original which it samples extensively. Also on the move is Dance Monkey from Tones & I which seems to have Top 5 at the very least in its destiny but for now is awaiting the kick to the next level, contenting itself this week with a four-place rise to Number 15.
Will They Be D-Block Britain Next Month?
D-Block Europe's last two Top 20 hits Kitchen Kings and Home P*ssy both easily cemented their places as some of the most divertingly entertaining Britrap hits of the year, so expectations are high for their latest offering Nookie which slams into the chart as the second-highest new entry at Number 16. The new single follows the vibe of its predecessors, a laid-back groove and a lyric which takes time to be artfully clever rather than aggressive. Their obsession with sex and women continues, this track apparently selling the virtues of seducing girls with bling. Unless I'm guilty of taking this all at face value.
The uniquely British slang for a touch of the old in-out "nookie" has only ever lent itself to the title of a chart single once before. Getting in first (if you'll pardon the pun) was reggae star Jamsey P who reached Number 14 in 2005 with an unrelated track of the same time. Back to the D-Block Europe track, and I'm exercised by the below the line comment on its video which boldly states "if u don't like this song you clearly ain't heard it high" although I've yet to take the time to test the veracity of this. Number 16 makes Nookie their joint-biggest hit to date, matching the peak of Kitchen Kings from back in February.
Blizzard Of Ozz
One week after his clean sweep of hits, the performance of Post Malone's album cuts calms down a little. Last week's Number 11 hit Hollywood's Bleeding exits the chart this week, being replaced instead by another cut from his album Take What You Want which makes its full chart debut for the first time at Number 22. A random album stream it may be, but the track is worthy of note for featuring the vocal talents of no less a legend than Ozzy Osbourne. Two months shy of his 71st birthday the veteran rocker makes the Top 40 for only the eighth time as a solo star. It is his first major hit single since he landed a sensational Number One in December 2003, duetting with daughter Kelly on a remake of his old track Changes.
Want That Toasted?
It originally peaked at Number 25 as the little-regarded companion and follow-up to the chart behemoth that was Old Town Road, but Lil Nas X's Nirvana-sampling single Panini is back with a vengeance this week with a 30 place leap up the chart to a brand new peak of Number 23. The reason for this surge is due to the belated release a fortnight ago of an official video for the track, inevitably causing a new surge in online streams for the track. This jump is actually the delayed effect of an ACR reversal, the single's reappearance at Number 53 last week the first indication of its new popularity. The new rules that make it easier for a resurgent track to return to a "true" chart position are working nicely and Panini's market-beating jump seven days ago was more than enough to trigger the change which comes into effect today.
His Bro' Was Missing For A Reason
Thursday evening saw the awarding of the annual Mercury Prize (no longer "music" for reasons best known to itself), the annual announcement of the Album Of The Year as decided by a panel of industry experts. The winner was Dave's debut album Psychodrama which can expect a chart leap of its own in seven days time, and appropriately enough the rapper makes a brand new singles chart appearance in this frame. Rather confusingly this isn't a cut from the now award-winning album. Professor X is actually the highest-charting cut from the Drake-curated soundtrack of the new series of "Toy Boy", the crime drama originally shown by Channel 4 and now revived by Netflix after a six-year hiatus. The Dave track makes what is possibly destined to be a one-off appearance at Number 24, but there are also cuts from the album elsewhere on the chart by AJ Tracey (63), Fredo (53) and Drake himself (51).
Dave's buddy Stormzy has his second new entry in as many weeks, this drip-feeding of teaser tracks the surest indication that his new album is imminent. New at another rather understated Number 37 is the track Wiley Flow, its title his direct tribute to Richard "Wiley" Cowie, the man who is credited with being one of the first grime rappers to make the charts. Wiley's first hit singles came way back in 2004. He hit Number 2 four years later with Wearing My Rolex and was at Number One in the summer of 2012 with Heatwave.
American For Bumper
Topping the Official UK Albums chart this week, once more by some considerable distance over the competition is Sam Fender with his debut collection Hypersonic Missiles. The 25-year-old from North Shields was the recipient of the Critics' Choice award at the 2019 Brits and now makes good on that industry faith with a Number One album - this despite the fact he has failed to land anything resembling a hit single. Alternative rock acts are still hot news to the adult market it seems, but the singles consuming youth just don't pay that much attention. Whatever the divide, Fender has become the latest in a long line of artists to reach Number One with their debut release this year. He joins Tom Walker, Dave, Billie Eilish and Lewis Capaldi on the list of chart rookies who have all achieved instantaneous success.
Drip Drip Drop
Shall we finish on the numbers game? Mapping the slow death of the purchasing market seems like it has been a long game on these pages, but the numbers just keep on dropping. This week the paid-for singles market amounted to just 593,000 downloads (and the odd physical purchase too). At this rate my prediction of below half a million by Christmas appears rather conservative. This week three years ago (September 2016) the weekly figure was 1,545,000. Two years earlier (when streaming accounted for less than half of the market) it was 2,580,000.