Those who have been following the story of the Official UK Singles charts on these pages over the past few weeks will scarcely require me to elaborate on the story this week. It was once again the familiar scenario of an early week leader, one of the biggest new releases of the week, surging into an early lead and yet failing to sustain the momentum across the seven days of the survey.
This all means a fourth week at Number One for Jason Derulo with Want To Want Me, and just as last week it is not so much that it is outselling the competition by a huge margin, just that its sales continue to decline at a slow enough rate to ensure nobody else can catch him. It is worth noting though that Want To Want Me is now no less than the fourth single this year to spend a lunar month at the top of the singles chart and indeed the second in a row to do so following in the footsteps of Cheerleader. This all means that since the very start of January just eight different records have reached Number One in Britain. Compare this with the situation this time last year when we were in the middle of an unprecedented rate of chart turnover and Ella Henderson's Ghost reigned supreme as the 18th different Number One single of the year. This makes 2015 the slowest year for new Number One singles since 1992 when, counting Queen's new year hangover with Bohemian Rhapsody, by the end of June just six records had topped the British charts.
So what of the single that was widely expected to be the Number One challenger? Well, in the end, it charts no higher than Number 4, despite reaching Number 86 on streams alone last week Five More Hours by Deorro and Chris Brown flattered to deceive once fully released. The debut single for the Mexican-American DJ and producer, the track has had a typically epic path to mainstream success. Originally an instrumental entitled Five Hours it first appeared in a vocal version back in 2014, released in America as Five Hours (Don't Hold Me Back) featuring DyCy as guest performer. The magic touch, however, was a second remake with Chris Brown in tow, thus landing the American star his second Top 10 hit of the year to follow Ayo which peaked at Number 6 in February.
Whilst the Number One position may remain becalmed, there is a pleasing amount of upwards momentum in the rest of the Top 10. Major Lazer and DJ Snake's Lean On ascends to a brand new peak of Number 2 on its ninth week as a Top 10 hit single. This is a record that has rebounded once already, having dipped to Number 7 for a fortnight after initially appearing to peak at Number 4.
Also reaching new peaks: Shut Up And Dance by Walk The Moon (8-5), Trap Queen by Fetty Wap (12-8) and at long, long last Hey Mama by David Guetta and friends Nicki Minaj and Afrojack which rises a place to Number 9 after a four week toil locked in place at Number 10.
It all leaves what is technically the highest new entry of the week rather bringing up the rear. Number 16 is as good as it gets for now for the much-hyped collision between Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea on Pretty Girls. The track marks Britney Spears's long-awaited return to the singles chart after her concentration on her residency at the Planet Hollywood resort in Las Vegas for much of the last two years. It is her first chart entry since Work Bitch peaked at Number 7 in November 2013 and is incredibly enough her 30th Top 40 hit single. Pretty Girls boasts an extended series of writing credits, not least of which the names of Thirlwall, Edwards, Pinnock and Nelson who may well ring a bell as the members of Little Mix. The story is that an early version of the track had been worked on by the X Factor winners in collaboration with core songwriter Maegan Cottone, their rejected demo eventually ending up on the desk of Britney Spears' people. Iggy Azalea added the rap lyrics herself - and the rest is what you see here.
On the Official UK Album chart, there is no change at the top as Muse cling on at Number One with Drones, leading Florence & The Machine who lock at Number 2 with How Big How Blue How Beautiful. The most extraordinary story of the week, however, has to be the arrival at Number 4 of James Taylor with Before This World. It is incredibly enough the singer's highest charting studio album for 44 years, his 1971 release Mud Slide Slim And The Blue Horizon also peaking at Number 4 in May of that year. For completeness sake, however, it should also be noted that he also reached the Top 10 in 2003 with Greatest Hits collection You've Got A Friend - The Best Of which by strange coincidence also topped out at Number 4.
Ed Sheeran's mega-selling " album celebrates its first birthday this week and although it dipped to an all-time low of Number 10 a fortnight ago has rallied since and sits pretty at Number 5 to mark a year in the Top 10 of the album chart. This also ensures a significant milestone for its most successful single as former Number One Thinking Out Loud climbs three places to Number 28 and ensures it becomes the first single in British chart history to spends an unbroken 52 weeks as a Top 40 hit single, the track having entered the charts as a cherry-picked download at Number 26 on the chart dated July 5th 2014. In the digital era of songs being available for purchase theoretically indefinitely this kind of feat was always on the cards, perhaps the only surprise being it took eight and a half years for it to happen. Happy by Pharrell Williams came close but topped out at 49 weeks last November whilst Rather Be by Clean Bandit ran out of steam at 38 weeks
Technically speaking the all-time chart longevity record still belongs to Release Me by Engelbert Humperdinck which notched up a continuous 56-week chart run between February 1967 and February 1968 spending every one of those in what was at the time a Top 50 listing. Barring any sales or streaming catastrophe, it seems almost certain Thinking Out Loud will top that total by the end of July.