Cancel The Rest Of Summer
Easily the biggest new release of the week was that of the latest volume in the celebrated Now That's What I Call Music series. The 97th numbered compilation to bear the name, as part of a series that dates back to 1983, the collection was guaranteed to be a huge seller. So it proves, the double CD shifting a phenomenal 202,000 copies. As so often proves to be the case, the availability and promotion of the collection had a positive effect on many of the tracks it contains, almost as if the thrice-yearly release of the collection causes a hidden cache of music fans to come out of hiding and play catch up on tracks they otherwise had paid little attention to during their chart life so far. Indeed 11 of this week's singles chart Top 12 appear on the compilation and most are boosted accordingly.
The reason this point is particularly significant this week? One of the tracks on Now! 97 just happened to be Despacito. Or to give it its full title: Despacito (Remix) by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber.
Last week I raised the possibility of - its move to Accelerated Chart Ratio notwithstanding - the single regaining for a second time the Number One position it surrendered a week ago. It seems that the Now Bounce did just the trick. This week's Number One on the Official UK Singles chart is once again Despacito - powering its way to the top of the market despite the fact that its streams count for just half of those of pretty much all the other singles at the top of the market. To put it another way, DJ Khaled's Wild Thoughts has just lost to a one-legged man in an arse-kicking competition. Which surely has to hurt. Just as last week when the single was knocked from the top despite being the most purchased and most streamed track, this kind of oddity was always going to be theoretically possible, a quirk of the new chart rules which means a single still climbs the chart despite attempts to usher it out of them. It is surely a measure of just what a phenomenon this single has become that Luis Fonsi's hit appears to be running through every potential anomaly in the chart rules in sequence.
Now, pay attention statistics lovers because this is where it gets really interesting. This is now the tenth non-consecutive week that Despacito has topped the UK charts. That makes it only the 11th single in chart history to have a Number One run stretching into double figures, although fascinatingly enough only the third to have done so non-consecutively (following Bohemian Rhapsody and all-time champion I Believe). It also has the honour of becoming only the fifth single to go to Number One three times during the course of the same chart run. The others: I Believe by Frankie Laine in 1953, Singing The Blues by Guy Mitchell in 1957, Happy by Pharrell Williams in 2014 and, spookily enough, What Do U Mean by a certain Justin Bieber in 2015 - meaning the Canadian writes himself into the record books once more. Not only is he the only act to replace himself at Number One twice, he's now the first act to perform on two singles which have had three runs at the top of the charts.
When a single reaches 10 weeks at the top of the charts it becomes appropriate to take a moment to appreciate just why it has managed that. Perhaps more so than any long-running chart hit of recent times, Despacito appears to have prompted almost universal admiration. Literally the worst thing you can find to say about the record is that you are perhaps just a little bored of it if you have followed its chart progress from the start. It is a pop record that is very hard to dislike and even easier to fall in love with. As one friend of taste and discernment commented to me when I raised the topic: "It's catchy, it makes you move your body without even noticing that you are doing it, it grabs your soul and makes you want to be the person in the song".
Small wonder that suddenly everyone else is attempting to copy the magic.
Can We Play Video Games
There's a changing of the guard at the top of the Official UK Albums chart this week too. That in itself should not be too much of a surprise, but it is the manner in which this happens which raises eyebrows. As was noted in many places last week, the presence of Night And Day by The Vamps at Number One was less a reflection of the group's popularity but more a triumph of marketing and leveraging their small but dedicated fan base. A set of individual sleeves of each of the band members was credited with prompting multiple purchases for collectability and thus inflating the potential sales of the record. One week on and with fewer people left to care the album has quite literally crashed. Last week's Number One album sits this week at Number 35. That's far and away the biggest fall from the top of the album charts in history, beating the previous 1-29 record held by Bionic from Christina Aguilera from 2010.
Replacing The Vamps at the top of the charts is Lana Del Rey whose Lust For Life album narrowly holds off the challenge of Crooked Calypso which is the third album from reunited former Beautiful South bandmates Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, the latter noted by the Official Charts Company as being both the top-selling vinyl album of the week but also the biggest selling cassette - to the tune of just under 700 copies.
Leaves Us All Feeling Numb
The most notable album chart feat of the week, however, is the presence of multiple Linkin Park recordings, all prompted by the outpouring of grief which followed the passing of the group's frontman Chester Bennington. The American rock band have three albums in the Top 10 - their 2000 debut Hybrid Theory matching its original chart peak at Number 4, their last release One More Light at Number 5, and former 2003 chart-topper Meteora sliding in at Number 7. Three - or even more - simultaneous Top 10 albums aren't actually as unusual as you might think and Linkin Park are now the 18th such act to do this, hard on the heels of Ed Sheeran (naturally) who has managed it multiple times so far this year. For groups to achieve this is actually far rarer. Linkin Park are only the fifth ensemble act to pull off the trick, the first since The Beatles had four simultaneously in September 2009 and the first American group to achieve this since The Monkees exactly 50 years ago this week.
The Chester Bennington tribute effect also flows over to the singles chart as you might expect although the most common question of "what happens when someone famous dies and their entire catalogue becomes in demand" which followed the three-and-out rule on simultaneous chart hits is duly answered here - because just three Linkin Park singles chart this week. Leading the charge is In The End, originally a Number 8 hit in October 2001 and which returns this week at Number 14. Numb sits at Number 20, its first chart appearance since it peaked at Number 14 in September 2003 whilst perhaps a little surprisingly the third and final one is the group's final chart entry Heavy which arrives at Number 43, ten places higher than it charted when first released back in March. There are no shenanigans going on here, even though the label is actually perfectly within its rights to swap the third biggest selling for the fourth. The highest excluded Linkin Park single is the Jay-Z collaboration of Numb/Encore which would otherwise be at Number 46. For those wondering, the two acts received co-billing on the 2004 single and thus under chart rules it counts as a Linkin Park track as much as it does Jay-Z, despite his being the lead billed artist, hence the disqualification.
Bunch Of Sycos
Back to more mainstream matters, and the two highest charting totally new hits of the week both feature acts from X Factor eco-system in one way or another. Leading the way and adding to the ever-growing canon of One Direction-related chart singles is Louis Tomlinson who sits pretty at Number 13 with Back To You, a track which sees him in collaboration with a Digital Farm Animals (who handled production) and Bebe Rexha (who handles the female side of the boy-girl duel in the song). It is his second hit single outside of work with the all-conquering boy band and effectively his first as a lead artist, following on from the Steve Aoki track Just Hold On on which Tomlinson was a featured artist and which reached Number 2 just before Christmas. This new track is clearly intended as the big launch of his own solo push with an album set to follow later this year, although you have to marvel at the positioning of this single as "his" record given that Bebe Rexha gets the lions' share of the vocals and Louis himself doesn't appear until over a minute in. He's a guest on his own track poor chap.
When The Winner Comes Around
There is definitely a new strategy in play when it comes to X Factor winners. We first saw it with 2015 series victor Louisa Johnson whose first post-contest chart appearance actually came via a soft launch so to speak as the guest singer on the Clean Bandit track Tears. This proved to be a double-edged sword of course, as we've since seen with her struggling solo records and the fact that over a year and a half after she won she has still yet to release an album. Now it is the turn of the man we have all forgotten won the show last Christmas, Matt Terry. And he lands on the singles chart for the first time since that victory in a manner which made more than one contact hoot with derision when they saw the project in question. Because it is surely the most blatant bit of bandwagon jumping we've seen for YEARS.
Subeme La Radio first appeared in Latin markets back in February as the lead single from Enrique Iglesias' forthcoming studio album. In its original form, the Spanish-language track featured co-vocals from Zion & Lennox along with Descemer Beuno, but the track essentially comes in kit form and acts from a wide range of genres have been inserted into various versions of the track which have popped up in other markets. For crossover appeal for what was planned to be a more mainstream push for the single, the track has been re-worked to become another Spanglish crossover hit. Enrique's co-star for this version in most markets is the man with the Midas touch Sean Paul, but in Britain they have a further companion on the single who gets the honour of performing the second verse in English in place of Iglesias Jnr. And that man is reigning X Factor champion, Matt Terry.
This all sounds alarmingly familiar, doesn't it? An effortlessly cool foreign language hit, spruced up for international markets with the spliced-in presence of a mainstream pop star. With Despacito proving to be the worldwide phenomenon of the year so far you can hardly blame people for wanting to capture lightning in a bottle, but the fact that this is the way it has been chosen to launch Matt Terry's post talent show career still makes you want to chortle. Because it just seems so utterly needy and desperate.
That aside, the crucial point is really "is the single any good"? Well to brand it Despacito Part II is actually to do it a disservice. Aside from the manner of its promotion that is really where the similarities end. Subeme La Radio is actually a fairly standard Enrique Iglesias track that is only enhanced by its guest stars, be they Sean Paul or Matt Terry. The single lands at a respectable enough Number 16 this week with all eyes on where it ends up next. If only for Matt Terry's sake more than anything else.
We await an official video for the English language version of the track (although we are still waiting for one for Despacito) but that does at least mean a chance to appreciate just how superior the original version actually is and regret that this isn't the one which has ended up the UK hit. No matter how triggered you might be by Cubans.
I Just Want To Be Part Of Mark Goodier
Finally, for this week, let's return briefly to the topic of a bounce given by Now That's What I Call Music 97. Despacito got a lift. But the other most obvious chart lift appears to have gone to Clean Bandit's Symphony which climbs six places to Number 25 this week. What do those two singles have in common? They both featured prominently on the TV adverts for the compilation.