Forget You And Forget Her Too
For the first time in 30 long weeks neither Adele nor Elton John nor Ed Sheeran nor indeed any British artist at all is top of the Official UK Singles chart. Step forward then Gayle who is a full member of the "righteously angry young women" genre that is so prevalent in American pop at the moment and whose gloriously profane ABCDEFU climbs a place to the top after what has turned into a nine-week climb.
You can't say this hasn't been coming, the single having first apparently peaked at No.2 in early December just prior to the charts becoming swamped with festive favourites. In spite of this Gayle more than held her own, remaining Top 10 for almost the whole of the holiday period. Following last week's clearout ABCDEFU rebounded to second place and now neatly swaps places with Adele to take the Nashville teenager to the top of the charts with her very first hit single. It was a comfortable victory in the end, the single posting just over 41,000 chart sales with Adele's Easy On Me lagging some distance behind.
Did I mention the track was sweary? "Fuck you and your mom and your sister and your job" she croons at the start before concluding that her ex can simple "fuck off" in what has to be one of the more lyrically direct expressions of heartbreak. Sure Olivia Rodrigo topped the charts twice last year with songs that dropped the f-bomb but Gayle manages to take things to the next level. There is a "nicer" version which is of course the one you will hear on the radio and which will almost certainly end up on the next Now album in the spring, but that also of course means a continuance of the strange divergence between what is played on the radio and what people are actually listening to when they stream the songs for themselves. And everyone has to pretend that it isn't happening.
Born in August 2004 Gayle is just two months older than the first series of X Factor and joins the elite list of singing performers who have topped the charts prior to their 18th birthday. She's only the ninth female artist to do so and indeed joins the list exactly a year since the aforementioned Olivia Rodrigo (who was four months older than Gayle is today) became the eighth. The youngest female star to have a No.1 single remains Helen Shapiro who first topped the charts in August 1961 at the age of 14 years and 10 months. Willow Smith came the closest anyone has since to toppling that record when she peaked at No.2 in December 2010 with Whip My Hair at the age of just 10.
So as mentioned Adele slips to No.2 with Easy On Me with the Top 3 completed by We Don't Talk About Bruno, the Encanto soundtrack now boasting two concurrent Top 10 hits as Jessica Darrow's Surface Pressure bobs up to No.8.
Now I have to confess given the stir it caused on first release I fully expected the next single on the charts to be contending for No.1 with some ease. Instead Fingers Crossed by Lauren Spencer-Smith comes to rest at No.4 after charting at No.90 last week following a late-week release. The British-born (although she moved to Canada at the age of 3) singer-songwriter first came into public view as one of the contenders on the pandemic-disrupted series of American Idol in 2020, one of several perform-at-home stars eliminated in the very first week of the delayed live performances. But she used this as a base to build her own platform, leveraging her online following to build up anticipation for the release of her fan-chosen first single. And what a single it is. Fingers Crossed is a tale of heartbreak which slaps harder than anything since we first heard Drivers License, a semi-acoustic folk ballad dripping with emotion and which sucks you in like practically nothing else you have heard this year. Or even the last one.
Should it have been contending for No.1 this week? Absolutely. Will it do so in subsequent weeks? Hopefully. But with this track you've just witnessed the birth of a brand new star who has done so by bypassing the entire music industry mechanism - the single is entirely self-released and self-promoted. It has even been left for others to pick up the slack and cobble together a lyric video to share.
Oooh I'm Blinded
Top of the albums chart this week is The Weeknd as Dawn FM gives him a third No.1 record in this country. The existence of the album was long known but we had just a few days warning of the exact moment of its release, the collection of tracks for now available solely in digital form. It means the Canadian star also makes a big singles chart impact. He has officially the highest new entry of the week with Sacrifice which smashes to No.10 to become his 12th such hit in this country. Previously released Take My Breath also features on the album and as a consequence charges back to No.14, just one place below the position it first peaked at when released in August last year. The album's third eligible cut is How Do I Make You Love Me which lands at No.22.
Central Cee's contribution to GRM Daily's Daily Duppy freestyle series was perhaps unlucky not to have become a larger hit when it peaked at No.35 last week but he improves on that with the No.22 debut of Retail Therapy, although the single lacks much of the charm that helped Obsessed With You make such an impact at the tail end of last year.
Also creeping into the Top 40 almost unnoticed is Make Me Feel Good by Dublin producers Belters Only, a club hit which has been in circulation since last summer but which finally pushes its way overground. A belter indeed.
The biggest rap release of the week was however Gunna's DS4Ever, his third solo release landing at No.4 on the albums chart. It means he peppers the chart with Pushin' P at No.40, Too Easy at No.32 and 25K Jacket at No.47.
But I've left one of the final highlights of the week until last. David Kushner's Miserable Man has attracted only a fraction of the interest of Fingers Crossed but it comes from a similar background, the American singer/songwriter having crowdfunded its production by leveraging his Tik Tok following - leaving it for fans to make their own selection of videos. It is this week's No.39 but I'm unconvinced there is better to come for this particular one. Perhaps if he'd said 'fuck' it would have helped.