Same Old?

Despite us being several years in to what you might call the current epoch of the singles charts, I have to confess I've still yet to develop a tactic for these occasions. When a particular single is settled in for an extended run at the top of the Official UK Singles Chart and your humble blogger/commentator/whatever is challenged to find something new to say about it for weeks on end.

Such is the situation we are in right now. The Top 10 is in turmoil, for reasons we shall come to shortly, but Miley Cyrus remains serenely above it all, Flowers sailing merrily on for what is now its sixth consecutive week at No.1. It is looking increasingly likely that the single is going to achieve what you might call a Golden chart run, joining that elite group of tracks which spends its first nine weeks on the chart at No.1 before being hauled away by the metaphorical hook of ACR.  Chart sales of Flowers are steadily trending downwards - 81,435 a fortnight ago, 72,975 last week, 64,259 this time around.

However, there is a wrinkle in the blanket. parent album Endless Summer Vacation is due for release in two weeks' time (March 10th) meaning its inevitable debut at the top of its own chart is set to coincide with Flowers' ninth week at No.1. The release of the album will inevitably cause an uptick in the streams of its lead track, meaning that far from a Golden chart run Miley's single may actually avoid an ACR crash at the very last moment. So the melancholy break up ballad seems set (unless something really unexpected comes along to blow it away) to have a No.1 run well into double-figures. I've got at least another four weeks of finding something interesting to say about it - and that's without considering the mysterious countdown that has now appeared on Miley's socials which suggests we are about to see either a new teaser track released or maybe even a remix/collab of Flowers. The plot truly thickens.

Time For A Shake Up

So what, you ask, is the chaos that goes on below. Well, however artificial the process is, the ACR rules have kicked in for a handful of long-running Top 10 singles, clearing the blockage so to speak and allowing newer songs to stretch their legs a bit. Escapism? Going! (falling 2-10). Anti-Hero? Gone! (falling 6-17). Creepin'? Gone! (dipping 10-25). Messy In Heaven? Gone! (tumbling 9-21) Gone! (falling 10-25). A springtime renewal is upon us.

That leave the path clear for Pinkpantheress to ascend a further rung, Boy's A Liar hitting a brand new peak of No.2. It is amusingly now one of two singles in the Top 5 whose credits don't fully reflect the versions that are driving consumption. So just as Ice Spice is absent from the chart credits of Vicky's track, Selena Gomez continues to be the invisible partner of Rema as Calm Down continues its epic chart run with a rise to No.5.

Three exits from the Top 10 have to result in three new arrivals, so let's enjoy the 12-7 rise of Coi Leray's Players, the 11-8 rebound of 10:35 by Tiesto and Tate McRae but most especially the 21-9 surge enjoyed by Lizzy McAlpine with Ceilings, the latter's chart rise helped not a little by the fact it now has a proper video.

Just outside the Top 10, George Ezra's sped-up Green Green Grass bashes on the glass ceiling at No.11, which is a shame as it would have meant the extraordinary sight of two of last summer's biggest hits returning to the Top 10 for another go, joining Harry Styles' As It Was which is still enjoying a post-Brits bounce at No.6. As expected the Digga D remix of Us Against The World propels Strandz skywards with the single rocketing to No.12.

Bloody Perfect

The No.1 album of the week is Trustfall by Pink (the original, not the pantheress) to become her fourth No.1 album on these shores. As has been noted before in these pages Pink is one of those extraordinary artists who has managed to transcend eras, her success having encompassed the CD, download and now streaming eras while rarely missing a beat. She may not necessarily be a guaranteed hitmaker these days (for the most part her singles have to be hauled kicking and screaming into the charts) but she is justifiably seen as pop royalty and almost never goes ignored.

But lo, what is this we see? The release of their parent album has propelled not one but two of Trustfall's teaser singles into the Top 20. 23 years on from her first hit records Pink is No.14 with the album's title track and No.19 with its predecessor Never Gonna Not Dance Again. Both are now her biggest hits since Walk Me Home reached No.8 in March 2019 - which itself had to be dragged kicking and screaming thanks to a BRITs performance. She also manages a third chart hit with another album cut, When I Get There was tracking for a Top 40 entry midweek but can eventually only manage to land at No.44.

The Right Direction Still

The highest new entry of the week belongs to a former boy bander, Niall Horan ex (as surely everyone knows) of One Direction who slams in at No.18 with his new single Heaven. The Irishman is gearing up for the release of what will be his third solo album The Show, slated for release in June. Styles remains the true global superstar but out of all his other former bandmates it is Horan who is quietly and without fanfare turning out chart bangers of his own. Heaven is now his fourth Top 20 hit single.

As a fun aside, of last week's highest new entry there is no sign in the Top 40. Lost by Linkin Park plummets to No.54.

Sneezes Violently

Many, many years ago (the sixties) the original incarnation of New Musical Express was famous for starting just about every profile of a famous performer with the words "it's all happening for…". Because it is actually all too easy in music writing to descend into the realms of cliché. Or simply to lazily trot out the same things over and over. But it becomes hard to avoid when the same thing keeps happening over and over. Just about every up-and-coming hit single by an up-and-coming act does so these days after "going viral on TikTok", and even Official Charts has now come up with a new expression for it, songs now "transcending TikTok virality".

So you really cannot avoid it. Three years after it first began to be mentioned in these pages the video-sharing app is now an almost guaranteed source of new (or resurrected old) hits. And this week, just as in most weeks now, there is a slew of them propping up the bottom end of the Top 40.

Leading this week's chart is British singer-songwriter Mae Stephens who was unlucky to miss the Top 40 first time around last week but who now charges to No.23 with If We Ever Broke Up, her inbuilt head start from an army of online followers now set to grow further with proper mainstream success. Because this has Top 5 hit written all over it.

She's had a slightly longer climb but Afrobeats singer Ayra Starr finally has a Top 40 hit with a gorgeous (aren't they all?) slice of Nigerian-flavoured pop Rush. This one has taken a long time to properly catch fire with the TikTok generation, its video having hit YouTube back in September, but now here it is coming to our attention for the first time at No.36. This is alas, to the detriment of her new single Stability which also landed this week but is nowhere to be seen on the chart.

Saturday Sunday What?

It is TikTok virality which has caused the 2023 resurrection of Die For You, a track from The Weeknd's 2016 album Starboy which at the back end of last year suddenly surfaced. Originally a No.74 hit when an album cut upon first release, the track ahem, transcended its TikTok virality to become a major US hit at the turn of the year. I commented a few times in the newsletter (subscribe form at the top of this page) that it is a curiosity that Britain remained largely unmoved by this, the track's ACR status as a catalogue piece notwithstanding. Well, it is time for that to be corrected. Die For You finally creeps into the Top 40 at No.37 and is almost certain to make a flying leap next time out. All thanks to a brand new "remix" which cuts in a new vocal line from Ariana Grande. Pop stars are so damn lucky. They don't have to make new songs any more. Just spin up new versions of older ones.

Scooby Dooby

With bedroom superstar Pinkpantheress suddenly hovering dangerously close to the top of the charts it seems almost symmetrical that one of the bottom rungs should be occupied by a lady who first set the template for semi-anonymous TikTok fame. Beabadoobie has been hovering on the cusp of proper fame for the past 3-4 years, a Rising Star nominee at the 2020 Brit Awards following several years of releasing low-key EPs. She ended up part of a smash hit during the first covid lockdown when her track Coffee For Your Head was co-opted and sampled by Powfu for his No.4 hit Death Bed. Beabadoobie appeared in no hurry to capitalise on that, and indeed her debut album Fake It Flowers which came out at the end of the year was startlingly more guitar-led than her previous output had suggested it would be. Fast forward to today, and the Fillipino-British singer (real name Beatrice Laus) finally has a chart single to call her own. Returning to the achingly delicate sound of her earlier music the insanely moving Glue Song enters the chart this week at No.38. On this I cannot make any sort of prediction. I'd love this to go on and be huge, but it just needs enough people to fall in love with it as I have to make it, oh what's the phrase again? Transcend its virality. Go for it Britain! She's been a well kept secret for far too long.