Take A Rennie
The prospect of Rick Astley landing himself a No.1 album this week got Official Charts and their social media feeds very excited indeed. Of course Rick Astley doesn't really need a No.1 album to be relevant to anything these days, but it would have guaranteed a great deal of mainstream attention and some glowing headlines had this been the case. So the push for it was entirely understandable.
This was, you suspect, the logic behind a highly unusual Thursday update noting that a very tight chart race had actually swung against the veteran, a none too subtle plea perhaps for people to pull their fingers out and bring him back into the lead. But alas, t'was not to be. Are We There Yet by Rick Astley is the No.2 album of the week.
That all meant a quick reverse-ferret and a chance to (rightly) big up the achievement of Welsh singer-songwriter Ren whose entirely self-released work Sick Boi instead is comfortably the No.1 album of the week. Largely a collection of the songs he has been flinging out online for the past year and a half, his own way of achieving catharsis with his constant battle with ill-health, the album is perhaps far worthier of attention than that of a man whose career peaked 35 years ago. It may not have been the result that the mainstream secretly wanted, but for a major new talent to write himself into his own small piece of chart history it is certainly the result we actually needed.
Over in the world of the Official UK Singles chart an unchanged Top 3 means a second week at No.1 for Kenya Grace with Strangers, although her sale of just short of 39,000 is one of the weakest for over two and a half years. A mere 800 copies separated her from Casso's Prada in second place - suggesting that this isn't destined to be a long run at the top of the charts. All she needs is someone to challenge her properly.
Mind you, this has been an oddly weak week for music consumption overall, and even American chartwatchers are noting the weakness of the reports coming into to make up the Hot 100 when it is published on Monday. Overall singles streaming numbers are as healthy as they have been, but the proportion of that focused on the top end of the market was actually quite small - just 16,000 sales was all it took to reach the Top 10 this week. All very peculiar.
But still, the things that are climbing continue to do so which is never not pleasing. Tyla's Water is now a Top 5 single with a climb to No.4 while the unexpected but still thrilling rise of Mitski's Mine All Mine continues apace, the track bursting through to the Top 10 with a climb to No.8.
I'm Afred It Is
With immaculate timing just as Fred Again's Adore U slides to ACR and thus out of the Top 10, the follow-up arrives with designs on taking its place. The highest new entry of the week is Ten which sees the celebrated producer team up with new name Jozzy who is handed a singles chart debut as a result. A warm, mellow, low-fi hip-hop soul track Ten isn't the most immediate of pop cuts but it definitely grows on you. And as the best of a somewhat so-so bunch of new arrivals it tees up the release of Fred Again's still to be announced next album rather nicely.
Almost Trouserless Aussies
Barely mentioned in dispatches, Troye Sivan's new album Something To Give Each Other was also one of the bigger new releases of the week, charting in its own right at No.4. The album also emits another Top 20 single in the shape of the not completely unappealing One Of Your Girls which lands smartly at No.17. That's enough to make it the Australian's biggest chart hit of the year, beating out the No.21 peak of the absurdly long-running but still frustratingly underperforming Rush which eventually topped out at No.21 at the end of the summer. That hit is still around and refuses to die, rising back to No.27 in the wake of the album's arrival.
Also freshly arrived as a Top 20 single is Noah Kahan's reactivated Stick Season which maintains its momentum with a ten place climb to No.18 - by a strange coincidence one place above Olivia Rodrigo for whom he has to thank for this unexpected British hit single.
Sinking Not Paddling
As the impact of the album release lessens, Drake's three simultaneous Top 10 hits from last week all sag to varying degrees, although IDGAF at the very least clings on in the Top 10 as it slides to No.10. First Person Shooter falls to No.13 but of the third - Virginia Beach - there is no sign. In theory it should be around No.27 but it is ineligible this week, replaced instead by Rich Baby Daddy which enjoyed more streams and so takes over as the third of Drake's permitted chart singles and belatedly enters at No.21. To further add to his vast total of chart hits you will note. Watch out on Twitter later this week, I'll share the Google Doc that tries to keep track of them all.
If You Seek Amy
Absent from the chart for over two years, Skepta returns with a bang this week with a new No.28 hit. Can't Play Myself is subtitled "a tribute to Amy", a reference to its extensive sampling of Tears Dry On My Own from the late Amy Winehouse, although the accompanying video takes the link still further and features him hanging out at all the Camden landmarks that were synonymous with her life. Big up the Hawley Arms massive. It is the British rapper's highest charting single since album cut Waze reached No.18 in April 2020 (although this one is technically a production as the only vocals on the track are those of Winehouse herself). Will this be the hit that finally breaks the jinx that means he has never made the Top 10 with any of his own releases? His sole appearance at the upper end was his contribution to Wiley's Can You Hear Me (Ayayaya) which was a No.3 hit way back in 2012.
Speaking of acts still seeking an elusive return to the upper end, Bring Me The Horizon continue their quest for their first Top 20 single since 2014. Following May's No.29 hit Lost they are back on the Top 40 with Darkside, their 18th hit single landing at what you suspect will be its No.31 chart peak.
New to the Top 40 after an interminable six-week wait to get there is Would You (Go To Bed With Me) by Campbell & Alchemist. As the title suggests it is an EDM reworking of Would You? by Touch And Go, a No.3 hit which was in the charts exactly 25 years ago next month. Campbell & Alchemist's track samples the original to such an extent that it is technically a remix rather than a remake, but there is enough of their own work in there to justify their own credit it seems.
I'm Going To Be An Optimist About This
The charts have however saved the most intriguing new arrival until last. As when is a re-entry not a re-entry but a brand new hit in its own right? Bastille were largely the performing alias of Brighton musician Dan Evans, famously told by his label that he wasn't marketable enough as a solo star and that he should form a band instead. Which he duly did to enormous acclaim. Pompeii was their first major smash hit, a No.2 single in March 2013 and one of the more enduring smashes of the peak of the download era with an extended chart run which extended well into the following year and enough sales and streams to make it one of the biggest hits of the last decade - even if most misremember it as a No.1 single. Ten years on Evans is set to mark the anniversary of Bastille's debut album with a special edition re-release Bad Blood X, and to accompany it he has re-recorded their most famous hit of all. Yet this is an anniversary release with a twist, because Pompeii has now been transformed into an orchestral epic at the hands of movie composer Hans Zimmer. It's a slowed down but somehow even more passionate version of the song, now more a ballad than an indie-rock anthem but it is also spine-tinglingly good.
In theory the newly retitled Pompeii MMXXIII could be entitled to its own fresh chart run, but instead the label has elected to have it inherit the chart history of the original. So instead Pompeii is effectively a re-entry, entering the singles chart once more at No.37 - its first Top 40 appearance since March 2014 and the single's 74th week as a Top 75 single.