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Take Me Back To The Castle
Last week's Number One single is no more. Senorita by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello makes what is on the face of it a surprise collapse to Number 11 on the Official UK SinglesCchart this week, bringing its run at the top of the charts to a quite final end.
Naturally, this isn't a total surprise, the chart reversal of the single entirely down to it falling foul of the Accelerated Decline rules, the value of its streams relative to sales halved under the ACR system and essentially cutting the single off at the knees. However, we should note that unlike with God's Plan and One Kiss back in 2018 (the last two Number One singles to plunge onto ACR while still at the top of the charts), the relegation of Senorita had no bearing on its status as the UK's Number One single. Because it would have dropped from the top of the charts anyway, its theoretical chart sale of 55,000 copies wilting in the face of - at last! - a strong new competitor.
I say "new", because the brand new chart-topper is, in fact, a single which first charted back in July, appeared to have first peaked at Number 3 but which now effectively swaps places with Senorita, moving 11-1 in its place. Both men have already enjoyed a Number One single in their own right in 2019, but now Take Me Back To London hands Ed Sheeran and Stormzy their own collaborative crown.
The sudden surge of interest in the single is down to both a new remix and an official video for what was hitherto little more than a cut from Sheeran's No.6 Collaborations Project album. The hit version of the track has been remixed by Sir Spyro and adds in new vocal contributions from Aitch and JayKae (neither of whom, entertainingly, are actually from London). They go uncredited by the charts themselves though, the Ed/Mike original considered the "primary" release and under whose credit the single is listed.
The track is Ed Sheeran's eighth Number One (drawing him level with Calvin Harris in the race to be the biggest artist of the decade), his third of the year and indeed marks the first time to date he has taken as many as three Number one singles from the same album. As mentioned, Stormzy tops the charts for the second time this year making him arguably the first British-born rapper to reach Number One twice in a calendar year since Tinie Tempah achieved the double in 2010. Tinchy Stryder managed a brace in 2009 but he is technically Ghanaian by birth. Meanwhile, take a look at the sequence of Number One singles this summer. Since the end of May the British chart-toppers have been:
Ed Sheeran (I)
Ed Sheeran (II)
Ed Sheeran (III)
Meanwhile, the performer of the last Number One not to be either an Ed Sheeran hit or called Senorita? Stormzy!
The semantics of citizenship aside, Take Me Back To London can boast a chart run that is pretty much unique in history. Charting at Number 3 in the week of the release of the album, it was immediately disqualified for a fortnight under rules restricting acts to three simultaneous hits. Its return to the charts three weeks ago has seen it move 14-10-11-1 to finally eclipse that initial entry point. It ratcheted up a chart sale of 67,000 copies (including well over 10 million streams). More than enough to ensure it would have topped the charts in any of the previous four weeks as well. Take Me Back To London is there on merit alone, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
The Nostalgic Bit
By my reckoning, the only other Number One single in modern chart history to exit and re-enter the charts during an otherwise unbroken climb to the top was Baby Jump by Mungo Jerry back in 1971. Even that was down to a technicality, the single absent from the charts in its second week due to a postal strike which meant a Top 30 rather than a Top 50 was compiled, and Baby Jump narrowly missed the cut. You can also point to the infamous Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin single Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus which switched labels in the middle of its climb to the top of the charts in 1969. Thus it ended up in the Top 20 in two positions, the new release entering at Number 3 in the same week the now-deleted original dropped to 16. A week later Version 1 was at 33 with the new pressing sitting pretty at the top. And you thought today's regulations were arcane.
This is the first Number One single ever to mention in its title the name of our grimy, crowded but at the same time affectionately regarded capital city. Two singles have fallen just a single place short in the past - Streets Of London by Ralph McTell in 1974 and London Nights by The London Boys in 1989. Meanwhile, Ladbroke Grove by AJ Tracey clings doggedly on at Number 5 to continue the theme.
Other Singles Are Available
Ed Sheeran's previous Number One single Beautiful People still loiters, its extended spell at Number 2 finally coming to an end with a single place drop in what is also inevitably its final week as a major hit before ACR comes knocking. Replacing it in the runners-up slot is quite joyfully Higher Love from Kygo and Whitney Houston, this now ensuring the remixed oldie is now the late singer's first Top 3 hit in almost exactly 20 years - July 1999 being the date that My Love Is Your Love also reached Number 2.
The Taylor Swift Bit
In one of those moments when fate takes a fickle turn, Ed Sheeran cannot boast a chart double this week as No.6 Collaborations Project slides from the top of the Official UK Albums chart for only the second time in its seven weeks on sale. Taking its place with a sense of inevitability is Lover from Taylor Swift with 57,000 chart sales - made up of 27 million individual track streams, 24,000 physical sales and 11,000 downloads. Lover is her fourth Number One album in this country, all of them having come during the course of the last decade. Red from 2012, 1989 from 2014, and Reputation from 2017 mean she is the first female artist to top the albums chart four times in the 2010s, and only the seventh act in total.
The arrival of the album and its resulting streams inevitably gives her a pleasing singles chart surge too. Leading the way is the title track, Lover as expected jumping 23-14 to become her first chart single of any kind to actually improve on its first week placing since Wildest Dreams moved 69-45 in September 2015 on its way to a Number 40 peak.
Now here is where it gets fun. Taylor's other two permitted hits are two otherwise unheralded album cuts. The Man lands at Number 21 and Cruel Summer at 27. The latter is actually the fourth most-streamed track from the album. Previous single You Need To Calm Down is in third place, but it was relegated onto ACR some weeks ago and so is "starred out" further down. Alas, there is no room for the entirely topical London Boy, her rather twee lyrical account of living incognito in the capital city with boyfriend Joe Alwyn having grabbed most of the lions' share of attention at the end of last week. I guess he's probably just relieved they didn't have to break up for her to write a song about him.
For other significant Top 40 activity, we have to take a dive to the very bottom. Absorbingly Lizzo's Truth Hurts is the single which refuses to die, but also refuses to properly take off. Now a Top 40 hit for eight weeks, it has spent every single one of the previous seven bouncing between 34 and 39. This week it finally breaks those bonds, even if it is with a mere six place climb to a new peak of Number 31.
I Wanna F...
Good things come to those who wait, so it is also pleasing to see an overdue Top 40 entry for the current Lauv and Anne-Marie duet, F**k I'm Lonely (the censorship of the epithet done on the chart listings so I'm repeating it here). First charting three weeks ago it has hovered outside the Top 40 ever since and now finally pokes its head above the parapet with a climb to Number 33. It is the second chart hit of the year for Lauv, following on from I'm So Tired which edged its way to Number 8 in the spring. Anne-Marie does her trademark vocal chameleon act here, blending in effortlessly with her co-star and in the process has her first Top 40 hit since she featured alongside James Arthur on Rewrite The Stars which made Number 7 at the start of this year.