Laid So Low
The chaos of the pandemic disrupted matters dramatically for the best part of two years, but finally we are starting to see something of the usual rhythm of the music industry (no pun intended) returning. For all the fuss about Quarter 4 and the need for the biggest names to hold back releases until just before Christmas, often overlooked is the import of the spring release programme. Those artists set for a summer of touring, a summer of performances, a summer of festivals, need to have something to promote. And early spring is the most convenient time to hit the market with the material you are going to be entertaining with for the rest of the summer. Hence the rather dramatic flurry of activity in the albums market over the past couple of weeks as for the second week running much of the intrigue surrounded just who was going to fight their way to the top of the Official UK Albums chart.
It was supposed to be Tears For Fears, at least according to the script. Their seventh album The Tipping Point, the first for the legendary 80s superstars since Everybody Loves A Happy Ending way back in 2004, was leading the sales flashes for most of the week. It was set to be an amazing story, their first album back after an 18 year break from the studio set to become their first No.1 since 1989. But not every script can have a happy ending.
Instead the triumph of the week goes to West London rapper Central Cee. A near-permanent resident of these pages over the past couple of months thanks to his steady drip-feeding of new tracks, the real-life Oakley Ceasar-Su storms to the top of the charts with his second mixtape 23. This should actually not come as too much of a shock given its predecessor did equally well with a No.2 peak upon its own release a year ago next week. But his appeal is growing. Wild West notched up 15,105 chart sales (just over 2,000 behind Tom Grennan's Evering Road) in its first week, but 23 lands the top slot with a sale that is almost double. 29,674 was his eventual total, and only 9,418 of those were from streaming.
The Stuff We Don't Talk About
There's a strange sense of breath-holding on the singles chart as it enters one final week of pause before what is set to be something of a changeover. We Don't Talk About Bruno is No.1 for the seventh but almost inevitably final week. Its sales dip below the 50,000 mark for the first time in five weeks and now stand at 46,262 but this is also crucially its third straight week of sales decline meaning a move to ACR next week will expel it from the top of the charts.
Peru by Fireboy DML and Ed Sheeran holds firm in second place for the second week running and its fifth in total and notably avoids what was also set to be a plunge to ACR as its sales actually increase slightly to postpone the axe. That means you surely cannot rule out the possibility that it might fill the void and finally rise to No.1 next time around.
Much anticipation has surrounded the release of Camila Cabelo's Bam Bam on which she duets with Ed Sheeran which was also posited as a potential instant No.1, but the revelation that it actually isn't all that good may have quashed much of the speculation that it will storm to the top next week. But we are getting ahead of ourselves…
All good things come to those who wait (as the now sustained success of Lost Frequencies and Calum Scott's Where Are You Now demonstrates). Patience is also behind the way two of the better hits of the moment have sparked into life after a couple of weeks sculling around the lower reaches. Jax Jones and MNEK rocket to No.11 with Where Did You Go, and George Ezra's Anyone For You now leaps to No.16. Both surely destined for the Top 10 eventually.
We should also mention in dispatches Tate McRae's She's All I Wanna Be which is going nowhere fast but at the very least holding its own, climbing back to its original entry point of No.24 after three weeks away.
The New Guys (Finally!)
Central Cee perhaps inevitably lands the highest new entry of the week as Straight Back To It lands at No.25 as his fifth chart hit of 2022 so far and a fourth in a row to reach the Top 30. All of them of course tracks from this week's No.1 album. Existing Cee hits also enjoy a spike from the release of the mixtape, Khabib rising 42-36 and Retail Therapy jumping 71-43. He is of course also presently in the Top 10 alongside D-Block Europe on Overseas to make him truly the man of the moment.
There's also a fascinating re-entry for Do It To It by Acraze featuring Cherish which soars 68-28 following the release of a Tiesto remix and what must surely be a discretionary ACR reset. The single peaked at No.9 immediately after the Christmas songs vanished but collapsed to ACR-induced depths four weeks ago.
The biggest new pop hit of the week is Run, entering at No.34 for the absorbing combination of Becky Hill and Galantis, another of those singles which makes you go "yes, this has smash hit written all over it" but which is now entirely reliant on finding its way onto more playlists than it has so far. Another one we'll keep a close eye on over the next few weeks.
Singles spending a few weeks in low gear appears to be one of the chart trends of the moment. Hence two of last week's notable new entries are up, but just not by much. Go by Cat Burns is up to No.29 and Numb Little Bug by Em Beihold is now No.31.
All this means I'm now left scratching for something else to recount to make your click worthwhile. I've no idea what its prospects for becoming a bigger hit are, but due acknowledgment has to go to this week's No.71 hit Bbycakes as performed by Mura Masa, Lil Uzi Vert, PinkPantheress and Shy Girl. It is based on one of the 00s' more notorious one-hit wonders, Babycakes by 3 Of A Kind which was originally No.1 for a week in August 2004. Or if you prefer, around the same time Tears For Fears last released an album.