All Too Familiar
Well, this all looks… just the same as it did last week. And I'm not talking about the redesign of this place which I was supposed to have put in place a month ago… coming soon, I promise. No, this is the way Taylor Swift is still No.1 on the Official UK Singles chart with Anti-Hero, shutting out its predecessor Unholy which is still a solid No.2. Without meaning to return to bang old drums, I'm still a long way from being convinced this is Taylor Swift's best ever work, but you cannot ignore the way Anti-Hero is now her biggest hit single ever, and one that she has made fully 13 years into her mainstream career.
Anti-Hero is notably the fourth single this year to spend as long as five weeks at No.1, …Bruno, As It Was and Afraid To Feel the others. That's the second year running that we've had that many long runners - although 2021 ended up blessed with five of them. So you could say we've got off lightly so far.
But what of Unholy? The former No.1 single has in turn spent the last five weeks at No.2, but is now nine weeks old and has declined in sales for three consecutive weeks. Consider that ACR triggered, so there's a new challenger for the top set to emerge next week. It could be Meghan Trainor, Made You Look continuing its own ascent to land in the Top 3.
It's Not Brain Surgery
The world of grime hands us the highest new entry of the week. It is exactly one year to the week that Overseas gave D-Block Europe their first Top 10 single after what seemed an interminable wait. Now they land a second as the power of social media propels Rocket Science to a No.9 debut. The track is actually credited to Clavish as a lead artist and it is the third chart single of the year for the North London rapper, his last two releases Greece and Public Figure making Nos.70 and 66 respectively. So it isn't too hard to conclude that the extra credibility loaned by D Block Europe is responsible for the dramatic shift in his fortunes. It is notably the eighth chart single released in 2022 by Young Adz and Dirtbike Kid - and far and away the biggest.
It is the chart run of the aforementioned Overseas which possibly clues us in to the future chart prospects of Rocket Science. Yes, it could be a one week wonder, but it could just as easily be a long-runner. In which case it is destined to slide down the rankings irrespective of its continuing popularity before reasserting itself the other side of Christmas. Winter is coming.
He IS A Giant
But hush my pessimism. The hottest new album of a week otherwise dominated by re-released golden oldies was Sonder by Dermot Kennedy which makes short work of the competition and hands the Irishman his second No.1 album - his 2019 debut Without Fear having made him the first of his countrymen in 20 years to top the charts with his debut. The release of the album has had a positive impact on his current hit single, propelling Kiss Me into the Top 20 for the first time in its already extended chart run as it rises to No.15.
Speaking of Golden Oldies more and more Christmas songs are making their way up the table even though IT IS STILL NOVEMBER YOU SWINES. All I Want For Christmas Is You powers its way to No.18, meaning it now spends its 81st week as a Top 40 single - equalling the all-time record presently held by Fairytale Of New York. What happens next will be intriguing as the Pogues/Kirsty MacColl classic has now made its own annual chart debut at No.57. It seems fairly like it too will return to the Top 40 next week, meaning the two evergreen classics seem destined to be locked together as joint record holders, at least until November 2023.
But there is an oldie of a very different kind which is the second-highest new entry of the week, 3 Lions by Baddiel/Skinner/Lightning Seeds. We all know why it is here, the football favourite dragged back into the public consciousness by the 2022 FIFA World Cup in which England have so far failed to mess up. But this time around there is a new twist in the tale, a newly recorded festive-themed version It's Coming Home For Christmas. It is God-awful, the three men determined it seems to trample all over their own legacy at every opportunity, but crucially the release of the new version means the 1996 release qualifies for an ACR reset. So it is here competing against the rest of the chart on more of a level playing field (if you'll pardon the pun) than might otherwise be the case. Weird things happen when England do well at a major tournament, so watch this with interest. Even if they still couldn't beat the USA.
The latest chapter in the extraordinary career of RAYE begins this week. Rachel Keen has been a chart name since 2016 when she featured on hits by Jax Jones and Jonas Blue, going on to be the voice of one of the hits of spring 2021 via Joel Corry's Top 3 hit Bed. But at the same time she went public with her dissatisfaction at her label Polydor refusing to commit to releasing her album (hey, she'd struggled to land any hit singles of her own) and gaining widespread industry support for speaking out in the way she did. Newly established as an independent artist she's spent the past year releasing the well-received but ultimately non-chart-bound singles Hard Out Here and Black Mascara (the latter enjoying plenty of Radio One support). But now she returns to the Top 40 for the first time since April 2021 with Escapism. It is No.31, but it is a start. And once again we have to note, the charts for the next five weeks will bear no relation to the true popularity of current pop hits. The hope is that Escapism will re-emerge from the morass in early January and go on to become the large hit it deserves to be. And her dream - her own full-length debut album - is set for release in February.
Also new this week, Fresh Out Of The Bank by Meekz & Dave which is new at No.35 and about which I have nothing constructive to add. But one place below and with a mere four place climb for now is Golden Hour by Tik-Tok emerging star JKVE, a single whose appeal is growing steadily by the day. It is notably about to benefit from the release of a new version adding in jump-on vocals from Cat Burns and there is speculation this will give it the kick it needs - just as Selena Gomez' tones have turned Rema's Calm Down into a Top 10 smash. Keep your fingers crossed.
But we finish on the most intriguing tale of the week. Re-entering at No.40 is Merry Christmas by Ed Sheeran and Elton John. It is not the third Christmas song on the Top 40 because it is inexplicably the third most popular, oh no. Last December's No.1 single returns to contention for the simple reason that it is still for now immune from ACR status, its chart life last time around amounting to just four weeks. Its inbuilt advantage over the competition may well mean it is destined for a rather more impressive chart life the second time around than might otherwise be the case. Time for me to lie down in a corner and cry I think.