A new year and a new decade dawns. Welcome to you if you encountered this site for the first time over the holiday period, and thank you for sticking around. I hope you enjoy this week's Chart Watch and the time you spend browsing the archives. Why not support this site's continuing development by joining our list of Patrons. Free books, free links and the undying respect of your peers are yours for the taking. As well as the opportunity to have your brand or logo featured on the site. So why not take advantage of a growing and a guaranteed audience of dedicated music fans?
Comedy Twanging Noise
No, I was wrong and I recant everything I had previously said on the subject. Last week was nothing. THIS is actually the most extraordinary and in some ways absurd singles chart of the year. We move past Christmas, everyone moves on from playing Christmas songs, and the direct result is a more or less wholesale exit of all the festive favourites from the charts as the slate is entirely wiped clean.
As you might expect this leaves something of a void, and so the Official UK Singles chart this week is like an elastic band snapping back into place. Just nine of last week's Top 40 singles remain and in the Top 100 overall there are no fewer than 61 "new" entries, all but a tiny handful of which are actually brand new hit singles. Indeed to make any sense of this at all you really have to substitute the "last week" column on any chart listing with the one from three weeks ago. Christmas is over and the proper hits can get on with the important business of having their true relative popularity reflected.
As predicted last week, this is all primarily to the benefit of Stormzy. He and Lewis Capaldi have spent the past week engaging in an entertaining two-way battle, each marshalling the troops online with the aim of having the first Number One proper of the new year. In the end, it is London 1, Glasgow 0, as after six weeks around Own It marches smartly to the very top of the charts. It is the grime superstar's third Number One single in the space of a year, his second as the lead artist following Vossi Bop in May last year. His most recent run at the top was back in the autumn as a credited participant on Ed Sheeran's Take Me Back To London, although his career tally of three chart-toppers still lags behind those of Dizzee Rascal (5) and Tinie Tempah (6) as far as British rap stars are concerned. Eminem remains the most successful rap star in chart history with nine Number One hits to his name.
Oh yes, about Ed Sheeran. He, almost by stealth, is back at the top of the charts again and can celebrate what is his ninth Number One single. It is only his second where he is the featured, as opposed to lead, artist. In one of those strange coincidences that the incestuous nature of the music industry in the 21st century is prone to throwing up, his last chart-topper as a featured artist was River - alongside none other than Eminem. We also this week have the rare sight of two artists enjoying a pair Number One singles with each other but with the credits reversed for each one. I have a feeling the last duo to pull off the trick were Jay-Z and Rihanna who topped the charts with Umbrella in 2007 and Run This Town in 2009.
There's a third name on the credits of Own It, that of Damini Ogulu better known professionally as Burna Boy. The Nigerian star tops the UK charts for the very first time with his fourth chart single in the space of 12 months, although all of these have been as a featured artist. He has yet to land a chart single under his own steam, although that moment is surely coming soon.
Hold On, He Needs To Go
Commiserations then to Lewis Capaldi who finds himself the bridesmaid, at least for the moment, on the singles chart. Before You Go rebounds to the Number 2 position it previously occupied for a fortnight at the end of November. In a fun twist however he is champion of the albums chart once again, Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent enjoying the beating of Stormzy's Heavy Is The Head, the two men reversing their singles chart positions in the long players market. It is the album's fourth visit to the top of the charts, its first since July last year in what is now its seventh week in total at Number One.
Pump Up The Charts
With one exception the rest of the Top 10 actually maintains its theoretical order from last week, the current hit singles lining up in the way they would have done in a world without Christmas. That does however mean new peaks for Arizona Zervas' Roxanne (Number 4), Harry Styles Adore You (Number 7 after a prior peak of 11) and perhaps most notably of all Pump It Up from Endor, which this week sits at Number 8 after having previously scaled Number 20 before the weight of holiday songs became too much to bear. The latest in an ever-growing string of revived club tracks, Pump It Up now eases past the Number 11 peak of the Danzel original from 2004.
The only Top 10 single to actually make discernible progress from last week is This Is Real from Jax Jones which is now a Top 10 hit single after what has been a slow and steady climb. The single now sits at Number 9, beating its pre-Christmas peak of Number 18 and in actual fact climbing past Selena Gomez' Lose You To Love Me, the two tracks reversing their positions of 44 and 43 respectively from last week. The surge of support for This Is Real marks a particularly pleasing return to chart form for Ella Henderson, her first single to reach these dizzy heights since she sang on Sigma's Number 4 hit Glitterball way back in the summer of 2015. This possibly bodes well for the other current hit single on which she features, of which more in a moment.
Dance Around The Issue
There's one hit we haven't mentioned so far - the pre-Christmas Number One Dance Monkey which fell on the week of the Christmas chart after being reduced to ACR status. The Australian star rebounds to Number 5 this week and perhaps extraordinarily is once again the most-streamed track of the week. If the song wasn't on ACR she would have sneaked another week at the top, her theoretical total of 72,000 chart sales far in excess of the 57,000 enjoyed by the Stormzy single.
But speaking of ACR, there's a fascinating twist here. As you may recall, the bar for becoming entitled to a reset is now much lower than before, tracks needing only to exceed the market by 25 percentage points week on week to be reset to the Standard Chart Ratio. But this is the week when the singles market fluctuates dramatically, and indeed dropped this week by a massive 17.45%. That means any single on ACR whose streams rose this week by just 7.55% will enjoy a reset. And guess what? There are a surprisingly large number of them, including:
AJ Tracey - Ladbroke Grove
Billie Eilish - bad guy (for the second time!)
Dermot Kennedy - Outnumbered
Dominic Fike - 3 Nights
Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber - I Don't Care
Ed Sheeran feat. Camila Cabello & Cardi B - South of the Border
George Ezra - Shotgun
Joel Corry - Sorry
Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper - Shallow
Lewis Capaldi - Bruises
Lewis Capaldi - Someone You Loved
Lil Nas X - Old Town Road
Mabel - Don't Call Me Up
Meduza, Becky Hill & Goodboys - Lose Control
Meduza feat. Goodboys - Piece of Your Heart
Niall Horan - Nice to Meet Ya
Pinkfong - Baby Shark
Post Malone - Circles
Post Malone & Swae Lee - Sunflower
Regard - Ride It
Riton & Oliver Heldens feat. Vula - Turn Me On
Sam Feldt feat. RANI - Post Malone
Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello - Señorita
Travis Scott - Highest In The Room
You will note that Dance Monkey, perhaps annoyingly, isn't one of them. Tones & I's streaming numbers are only up 7% on the week, falling short of the threshold by the narrowest of margins.
As you might expect, the new year clearout gives a number of apparently underachieving pre-Christmas hits a chance to stake a claim for some new year glory. Flying gloriously to Number 13 is Camila Cabello with My Oh My, a single which had the misfortune to first appear in mid-December and subsequently struggle to gain any kind of visibility. But it was clearly always on the up, its chart position of Number 49 last week represented a brand new peak and now with the path clear it rockets up the table, giving the singer what is perhaps surprisingly her biggest chart hit as a lead artist since 2017's Never Be The Same reached Number 7. No video as yet, suggesting the promotion for this track actually has another gear to kick into.
Frozen In Time
Just before the holiday I flagged up Falling from Trevor Daniel as one to watch in the new year and this single also rewards our faith, flying to a new peak of Number 14 after first peaking at Number 26 a fortnight ago. Holiday trips to the cinema to see "Frozen II" have also been kind to the movie soundtrack's hit single as Idina Menzel and Aurora rocket to Number 19 with Into The Unknown, this after the song stalled at Number 36 in early December.
You may note the lack of any mention so far of last week's Number One single. Ellie Goulding does happen to be the sole Christmas-themed survivor from last week's chart, but as you might expect the marked drop in online listening has meant a similar slump in her own fortunes. River survives as a Top 40 single, albeit only just. Her 1-28 fall is nothing less than the third biggest in chart history and marks the first time ever that two consecutive Number One hits have fallen straight out the Top 20 in consecutive weeks. But then again, these past two weeks have been out of the ordinary so it is hardly surprising to see some out of the ordinary chart moves.
New! For the 20s!
Believe it or not there has still been room for some previously unheralded hits. The singles chart's highest new entry just so happens to be a brand new entry, as No Celluar Site means D-Block Europe land themselves the first brand new hit of a brand new decade. Crashing into the chart at Number 29 it becomes the collective's seventh Top 30 hit single in the last 12 months.
There's more new rap at Number 33, as J Hus lands a 2020 hit single with No Denying. It is a swift follow-up to his last hit Must Be which enjoyed a rather stronger opening week when it entered and peaked at Number 5 back in November. Because everything in music is circular (just like the discs we all used to play), we should note that this March will mark the third anniversary of J Hus' first Top 40 hit. The track in question? Bad Boys - whose lead artist just happened to be Stormzy.
Ella 4 Life
I mentioned there were two Ella Henderson hits floating around at the moment. The second of these is possibly the unluckiest hit of the moment. Sigala's We Got Love has been on the chart since mid-November, never quite managing to penetrate the Top 40 in all that time, with a peak so far of Number 42 early last month. Like everything else, it was shoved roughly out of the way at the end of December but was more than holding its own last week by clinging on at Number 100. We Got Love now twangs back into place but annoyingly still short of the Top 40 at Number 44. Having waited nearly two months to talk about it I'm going to say to hell with it and bring the track up here, because it is actually one of the more intriguing club hits of the moment. This is all thanks to its core sample, the track based around a house hit that is now more than 30 years old. Strings Of Life by Rhythm Is Rhythm is considered one of the quintessential early house tracks, part of the building blocks of modern-day dance music. Never a hit in its original form (a remixed version limped to Number 74 in November 1989) its most prominent use to date came in early 2005 when a vocal reworking by Soul Central (featuring Kathy Brown) reached Number 6.
Very Much Out With The Old
The start of January often marks the opportunity to update the chart rules, this one of the two windows in the year when the Official Charts Company tweaks the regulations surrounding the tables we all know and love. One significant adjustment that does seem to have been made is to have clarified the eligibility of Cast Recordings of musical films which had previously been explicitly exempt from the rule which confines albums by multiple acts to a separate compilations chart. Now it appears they are explicitly barred from the "artists" chart, a move which has resulted in the dramatic removal of the Cast Recording albums of Cats, A Star Is Born and perhaps most extraordinarily of all The Greatest Showman, precisely two years after it first appeared and became one of the longest-running Number One albums in modern history. Sure enough, all three make their debuts on the Official Compilations Albums chart this week: Showman at Number 5, Cats at 10 and A Star Is Born at 13.
Rather entertainingly this means that the tracks from all these albums are now free to reach the singles chart en masse. The numerous hit singles from The Greatest Showman all took turns on the chart as each one became subject to the three-tracks rule - given that the "artist" for all of them was "The Greatest Showman Cast" regardless of credit. Because that album is now officially a compilation the blanket is removed, and all the tracks can in theory chart as part of the tally of whoever is credited first in the metadata. Isn't this fun?
Stuff I Would Never Have Spotted