Until the start of last year, there was one particular pop charts feat that as far as the Official UK Singles chart was concerned had been beyond any record since the very dawn of popular music culture. I Believe by Frankie Laine was almost unique in British charts history in having topped the charts no less than three times during its initial hit run (Singing The Blues by Guy Mitchell also did so, although its final run at the top was in a tie with another disc). As most modern day music fans will surely be aware, that uniqueness was shattered in the early months of 2014 when the phenomenal chart run of Happy by Pharrell Williams saw it too climb to the top of the singles chart three different times.
This week a third (OK, fourth) single joins that select club. Just a week after being forced to make way for Sam Smith's Bond theme Writing's On The Wall, Justin Bieber's watershed single What Do You Mean brushes away any suggestion that its popular domination is over and climbs back to the top of the charts to begin a third spell at Number One. For those losing count, it is the single's fourth week as Britain's Number One and the fact that it remains there after six weeks on sale and in the teeth of some quite formidable opposition speaks volumes for its continuing appeal.
However, this isn't the most extraordinary bit. At the end of an incredibly closely fought week Justin Bieber's single is actually only the seventh biggest selling track this week. Yes, you read that correctly. Under the old rules pre-July 2014 What Do You Mean would only rank at Number 7. It is entirely down to its still impenetrable lead at the head of the streaming market that at least for this week sustains its overall lofty chart position.
Locked Away by R.City and Adam Levine also makes chart headway, climbing a place to Number 2 after a fortnight locked away, as it were, at Number 3. Theron and Timothy Thomas thus are left still waiting to top the British charts for the very first time as performers, two years after they did so as co-writers and producers of Miley Cyrus' We Can't Stop. Oh yes, and this isn't the biggest selling single of the week either. Locked Away is only at Number 3 in old money.
Early midweek sales flashes suggested that Sam Smith's incumbent Number One Writing's On The Wall was set to be a rather startling flash in the pan with the Monday lunchtime chart update pegging it as low as Number 5. The publicity of Monday's "James Bond Day" and the release of the single's video doubtless helped it rally however and the single instead dips just two places to round off the Top 3, and in the event ends up as the week's second most purchased track overall.
So just where is the single that sold (just) more than any other this week. Well, you will note that I've made no mention so far of the two singles which Monday's midweek flashes suggested would be the pair duelling for the right to top the charts come the end of the week. Both records do indeed make chart debuts but with wildly different ultimate fortunes. Landing the highest new entry at Number 4 are garage producers Philip George & Anton Powers. Their collaborative single Alone No More effectively the follow-up hit to George's own Wish You Were Mine which hit Number 2 back in January and whose enduring chart run has ensured it will be one of 2015's biggest sellers by the end of the year. Like its predecessor Alone No More is a modern-day updating with brand new vocals of an older lyric, and once more it is a song which has a celebrated chart history of its own. Originally entitled Be Alone No More the song was first recorded by British boy band Another Level back in 1998. Their version was actually a hit twice over for the group, its original take reaching Number 6 in February 1998 followed by a remixed version which made Number 11 just over 14 months later. The latter was particularly notable for featuring a guest rap by Jay-Z who even at that stage was on the edge of his empire building superstardom and who was an unlikely choice of collaborator for a British pop group, however credible their R&B leanings were. The George & Powers take on the track is naturally transformative, turning the song into a blissed-out speed garage classic and one which was more or less guaranteed immediate chart success. Even if it does chart lower on the singles chart than any other "biggest selling" single to date.
Interrupting the narrative of new entries briefly is Drake who climbs 17-8 with Hotline Bling, his first Top 10 single since Hold On We're Going Home reached Number 4 in September 2013.
For a midweek chart leader to fail to eventually top the charts come the weekend is actually not all that unusual. For the single in question to fail to make the Top 10 at all is on the other hand rather more extraordinary, but such is the fate that befalls Wake Up by The Vamps this week as in the final tally it can do little more than reach Number 12. Once more this chart position is not all it seems. Buoyed by a much in demand physical CD package the record is Number 4 on the sales chart, but with minimal streams, it simply could not compete.
The fifth chart hit for the British pop group, this dramatic collapse from midweek can however also be attributed to their status as a fangirl act, a group marketed entirely and unabashedly at the kind of dedicated social media follower who will snap up their product the moment it appears. The problem with this approach is rapidly becoming clear however, as you can generate all the Twitter trends you want and all the first week sales rushes in the world but they actually do nothing to prevent other people, the casual purchasers or the radio listeners, from being immediately turned off by the hype. Not all Vamps singles have been bad, their 2013 debut Can We Dance one of the more memorable records of its era, but every single one of their five Top 10 hits to date saw their sales collapse in Week 2. Wake Up will be certainly no different, with the added disadvantage that its debut point is embarrassingly low to start with. [This single notable for the video starring Brooklyn Beckham in his 'acting' debut and also being a bizarre cross between MGMT and We Are Young by .fun].
Also a sales contender (this week's fifth biggest seller) but ultimately stymied by a lack of traction in the streaming market is Around The World by Natalie La Rose featuring Fetty Wap which debuts at a lower than expected Number 14. On the face of things, this is actually rather surprising given the chart trajectory of the Dutchwoman's first hit Somebody which back in June charted at Number 63 before rocketing to Number 2 upon full release. Granted that first hit single had the advantage of being one of the most anticipated dance hits of the summer. This new single whilst essentially more of the same has rather less sensation behind it and I guess has charted accordingly.
Number One on the Official UK Album chart this week is We The Generation by Rudimental, following neatly in the footsteps of their debut Home in 2013 to give then a second UK chart-topper. With Ed Sheeran and Jess Glynne rounding off the Top 3 the top end of the album chart has an unusually young, British and pop flavour to it, although the continuing presence of David Gilmour at Number 4 proves that the Grandads haven't quite gone away yet. Also of note is the arrival at Number 12 of Cradle To The Grave from Squeeze, their first studio album to reach the Top 40 since 1993's Some Fantastic Place.
The single that seems in all likelihood to be the Number One next week (unless Bieber has any say in the matter) is already on the Top 40, streams for Jamie Lawson's Wasn't Expecting That pushing it to Number 40, over three years after the folk ballad first reached the Top 3 in the Republic Of Ireland. It really has taken that long.