A Media Life For Me
I won't lie, this has been a quite crazy week. Those occasions where my hobby (and our mutual interest on these pages) becomes topical and I'm sought out by journalists and producers for comment. What was new was my sudden elevation to being the British charts spokesman of choice for Australian speech radio stations, so if you live down under and happen to have heard me appear on any of the breakfast shows you listen to, my sincere apologies for the shock. Here's to things calming down a little. At least until Christmas.
This was one of those weeks when the focus of the chart race was on the albums market, early midweek numbers setting the trend for the next few days. Until the death it wasn't entirely clear whether it would be the unlikely bedfellows of Bruce Springsteen or Louis Tomlinson who would grab the spoils. But in truth there was really only one way things were going to unfold. Bruce was in second place from the very start and the likelihood of his streaming numbers giving him the momentum to overtake his boy band rival was always slim. And so it comes to pass that Bruce's new album of covers Only The Strong Survive has to content itself with a No.2 chart placing, his first album to peak (for now) in second place since his eclectic personally curated hits collection Chapter And Verse in 2016.
It means a triumphant first solo No.1 album for Louis Tomlinson, by a strange coincidence exactly ten years to the week that his former band One Direction topped the albums chart for the first time (with their own second album) and the singles chart for the second time in the most bizarre of circumstances. What is fascinating is that Louis' album Faith In The Future arrives at the summit of the charts despite a total dearth of chart singles. None of its pre-release cuts, including much-hyped lead single Bigger Than Me came within a sniff of the main singles chart, and not one of its tracks was streamed in enough numbers to register anywhere this week. Louis Tomlinson clearly still has a phenomenally loyal fanbase for whom his album was enough of an essential purchase to send him to the top of the charts, but his lack of visibility otherwise stands in stark contrast to the elevation of his former colleague Harry Styles to the level of true global superstar. It's not the same as it was.
Tomlinson is now the fourth member of One Direction to have a solo No.1 album, following on from ZAYN, Niall Horan and the aforementioned Mr Styles. No other chart-topping group has ever had this many of its members subsequently enjoy No.1 albums as solo members.
It is however the same as it was at the top of the singles chart, Taylor Swift's Anti-Hero immovable at No.1 and remains in place for a fourth consecutive week. The significance of that should not be understated. Taylor Swift has enjoyed more than her fair share of high charting hits over the years, but it has been some time since any of them enjoyed significant long chart runs, most of her singles being swift (no pun intended) in-and-out performers. Anti-Hero is her first single to spend as many as four weeks in the Top 10 alone since her previous chart-topper Look What You Made Me Do, and you have to go back as far as 2014 and huge hits such as Shake It Off and Blank Space to find ones with the kind of extended Top 10 run that Anti-Hero seems set to enjoy.
Unholy from Sam Smith and Kim Petras still clings on doggedly at No.2 although its ACR clock is now ticking to surely bring to an end its life near the top of the charts soon. Still climbing though are Oliver Tree and Robin Shulz as Miss You hits a new peak of No.3. Interest in the southstar "original" has now faded, that version of the track sinking to No.35.
Mini Clearance Sale
With two of the three Drake and 21 Savage hits from last week exiting as rapidly as they arrived there is room for things to breathe a little in the Top 10. So there are new peaks for Made You Look (up to 4) and the still glorious Messy In Heaven (up to 5). After three weeks on the slide Anne-Marie and Aitch's Psycho comes roaring back at No.7, just a place short of its peak to date. And following the release of the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever movie which it soundtracks Rihanna's Lift Me Up reverses its decline from last week and re-enters the Top 10 in its own right at No.9.
After five weeks hurtling around the teens, Calm Down by Rema is lit up a little further and is now pleasingly a Top 10 hit at last following a six place climb to No.10. It is technically Selena Gomez' first Top 10 appearance since 2019 - but of course actually not as the duet version is not considered the primary one by the charts (despite driving the vast bulk of its consumption) and she is still without a credit.
Here we can also continue the occasional theme of "artists proving that it really, really, really matters to them where they end up in the charts". Don't ever let anyone suggest nobody cares.
Also notably still climbing and still hanging around is Tom Odell's reactivated Another Love. It makes a five place jump to No.12 to reach a new peak for this particular chart run, the single now just two places shy of the No.10 peak it made upon original release back in 2013.
The New Boys
We are fast spooling out the tape on the exciting new releases of 2022, approaching that awkward horizon when it becomes pointless promoting anything new (for reasons that will become apparent), so most of the week's new arrivals are fairly low key and notably all from a particular sector of the music business. Leading the charge with the highest new entry of the week is Bugzy Malone who slams in at No.18 with new single Out Of Nowhere, at a stroke matching his best chart performance yet as it equals the 2019 peak of M.E.N III. It is the first chart single for his co-credited companion on the track TeeDee.
Stormzy's Hide And Seek is five weeks old now and is still neatly kicking around the Top 10, but it is joined by teaser followup Firebabe which lands at No.26. The album This Is What I Mean will hit your ears at the end of this week. Also new is Burna Boy with Alone which makes its bow at a comparatively lowly No.32, although we should bear in mind that the long-running summertime hit For My Hand only began its chart life at No.30. This man grows on you over time.
Three Women In A Year
New to the Top 40 after a pleasing 60-39 leap is the intriguing combination of Tiesto and Tate McRae with 10:35, this continuing the producer's 2022 tour of fascinating female collaborations - hard on the heels of chart singles in conjunction with Ava Max and Charli XCX. This is Tate McRae's third chart hit of the year, effectively her follow-up to Chaotic which made a disappointing No.36 after the extended chart run of She's All I Wanna Be at the start of the year.
And the relentless thump of the Christmas drumbeat grows louder. All I Want For Sodding Christmas from Mariah Carey climbs No.36, this the earliest in November the ever-present single has reached the Top 40. Which is slightly scary when you think about it. I refuse to be cheerful about it. We are weeks away from the singles chart turning to shit until January. And this is just the appetiser.