For a long time, seasoned chart watchers have known that a fun side effect of the digital era of music buying is the renewed ability for singles to stretch and break certain chart records. The near-perpetual availability of individual tracks has seen long-standing longevity records broken on a regular basis and the ability of singles to sell over a long period of time has altered the tables of best selling singles in a manner that would have been inconceivable just ten years ago.
Curiously though until now one record on the Official UK Singles chart has withstood the test of time. The record for the slowest continual climb (ie one without exiting the chart in between) to Number One has for almost twenty years now been shared between two records. The Power Of Love by Jennifer Rush from 1985 and Think Twice by Celine Dion, both singles only reaching the top of the charts in their 16th week charting on the Top 75. They are record holders no more. This week following what has admittedly been a steady growth in support ever since it was promoted to full single status and after a show-stealing performance on the X Factor live show last weekend, Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran climbs to Number One on its 19th week on the singles chart.
What makes this all the more impressive is that the Jennifer Rush and Celine Dion singles both began their chart life outside the Top 40. Indeed The Power Of Love spent its first 12 weeks climbing no higher than Number 43, its rise to the top coming in its fourth week on the Top 40 whilst Think Twice did not feature on the Top 40 show until its fourth week on sale. Thinking Out Loud, on the other hand, has spent its entire chart career to date at the business end of the sales survey. Since it first appeared at Number 26 on the chart dated July 5th the single has never dipped lower than Number 29, making this patient climb to the top of the charts all the more notable.
It, therefore, seems almost an aside to note that this is Sheeran's second Number One single, his first coming in June this year when the lead single from his latest album Sing stormed straight to Number One. Thinking Out Loud first appeared to have peaked at Number 13 a full ten weeks ago when it first made a play for sales glory as a kind of halo hit for its immediate predecessor Don't as it rose into the Top 10. As if in sympathy the aforementioned track also makes a renewed play for chart glory this week, climbing 22-14 its highest chart placing for eight weeks. According to Official Charts Company figures Thinking Out Loud has sold just over 356,000 copies to date despite its 19-week chart life. That is considerably fewer than another record holder- Never Ever by All Saints which reached Number One in January 1998 in its ninth week on the singles chart after having already sold a massive 770,000 copies since release.
It would have only completed Sheeran's triumph if he could have boasted the Number One album once again this week. Instead, 2014's biggest seller X has to content itself with a Number 2 placing thanks to the near-unstoppable force of the biggest new release of the autumn so far. 1989 duly gives Taylor Swift her second Number One, almost two years to the week that Red became her first. Even with the current vogue for naming albums numerically, Taylor Swift is actually only the third act in chart history to land a Number One album with a record named solely after a calendar year. Status Quo beat her to it, topping the charts with 1982 that same year and they were followed by Ash with 1977 in 1996. Honourable mention should go to Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine who hit the top ten years later with 1992 - The Love Album whilst just over a year ago The 1975 made Number One with a self-titled album that would also have qualified but for its use of the definitive article in its title. Talk of Enigma's MCMXC AD in 1991 is another debate altogether.
Nor for the first time lately then, the most popular new release of the week is relegated to being one of the lesser stories of the week. Wicked Games by Parra For Cuva featuring Anna Naklab is the single in question, charting at Number 6. The track is a slightly re-titled Deep House cover of Wicked Game, as originally performed by Chris Isaak in 1990 for the soundtrack of the David Lynch film "Wild At Heart". Something of a modern-day standard, the song has been covered by an almost countless list of acts over the last two and a half decade also Isaak's Number 10 original has to date been the only one to chart - even Gemma Hayes' 2012 remake failed to make an impression here despite strong chart performances in several European countries. The new version by German producer Parra For Cuva is actually almost a year old now, having first been a hit on the continent at the tail end of 2013. Finally and belatedly released in the UK it duly becomes the highest charting version of the song ever.
OneDirection's latest single Steal My Girl continues to trace an erratic chart path. Debuting at Number 3 a fortnight ago it dipped alarmingly to Number 11 on last week's chart but this week rallies slightly to re-enter the Top 10 at Number 7 as its slightly controversial video continues to gain airplay. I've noted before that One Direction singles have a lifespan far beyond those who might consider themselves their teen band contemporaries. Write this one off at your peril.
Next week seems set to be Calvin Harris week on the UK charts as his much-anticipated new album Motion is released. As a throat clearance, the promotional track Open Wide with Big Sean in tow lands at Number 23, his last official single Blame still selling strongly and at Number 9 this week in its eighth week as a Top 10 hit single.
As well as Ed Sheeran, the X Factor results show last weekend also saw OneRepublic feature live, the inevitable result being a spike in support for currently available singles by Ryan Tedder and friends. The group's last hit Love Runs Out leaps 55-38 to re-claim the Top 40 place it last occupied five weeks ago, but the biggest move is reserved for new single I Lived which storms to Number 29 to become the fourth hit single from their Native album.
Long-runners update: Happy shows no signs of sadly exiting the Top 40, this week up once again to Number 33 in its 48th week. The year's second-biggest seller Rather Be moves 40-35, presumably after featuring as the group performance song on X Factor last weekend and it is also most probably X Factor that helps Let It Go back up to Number 36, its highest chart placing for nine weeks - contestant Lauren Platt performing the song during "movie week" on October 25th.
On this week's results show, judge Cheryl Cole Fernandez-Visini will get the X Factor rub for the first time in several years when she performs her new single I Don’t Care. It hardly requires me to spell out what will happen next.