Slowly Just Ain't The Word
So a funny story. Earlier this week I uploaded an archive piece from 2003 to this site, in which I moaned about a single spending a third week at the top of the charts and quickly running out of things to say about it. Well, go figure, because this week there is once more no change at the top of the charts as Luis Fonsi's clear summertime anthem sticks a massive two fingers up at the new chart rules and spends a second consecutive and eighth total week at Number One on the Official UK Singles chart. Whilst we still wait to see what, if any, the new chart methodology has on singles becoming stranded at the top of the charts as this one has, it is, for now, worth noting that Despacito is now the fourth single in a little over 15 months to spend at least 8 weeks at Number One. Which is a lot but by no means an absolute chart record - the first two years of chart history from 1952 to 1954 saw no less than six different singles have Number One runs of at 8 weeks or more. Although as I'm so fond of repeating - that was a very different age.
Turn To Face The Strange
So what about those new rules, this I suspect the primary interest of most casual readers here this week. Well as expected the most high-profile of those changes turns out to be the least noticeable - the "3 songs maximum" rule per lead artist designed primarily to prevent things happening in the future rather than deal with things that are going on now. As we anticipated the primary casualty is Ed Sheeran who for the first time since March has just three singles on the chart with last week's Number 50 single Perfect the most notable forced removal. Although as a planned future hit and with its airplay already building up a good head of steam (I swear the damn thing is following me around on Heart FM) you can all but guarantee it will be back once Ed Sheeran's label decides that it is time.
No, the most obvious change is the introduction of what the chart rules tell us is now to be called the Accelerated Chart Ratio as older and declining hits drop to having each their streams count as 1/300th of a purchase rather than 1/150. This will be the only week it is worth calling attention to it, but there can be no doubt at all as to the reason behind sudden (and in many cases long overdue) drops for some of the year's more persistent hits. Once more it seems to be Sheeran who takes the biggest hit, Shape Of You collapsing 11-23, Galway Girl sliding 25-34 and Castle On The Hill tumbling 30-44. But he is not alone, former Number One Symphony collapses 17-27, Something Just Like This sags 27-36 and Human starts to expire with a 43-57 fall.
By a strange irony, the oldest of all the current chart singles actually rises, the evergreen Mr Brightside from The Killers (dating from 2004) leaping 69-55 by virtue of the fact it increased its sales share last week and benefits greatly from the weeding out that has taken place. In fact, the whole chart has a refreshingly upwardly mobile feel to it this week - which needless to say was always the intention. Of this week's Top 40 hit singles there are no less than 24 climbers - although one contact also notes that there were a raft of songs available on iTunes for 59p this week as everyone jockeys for position to get selected for the summertime Now That's What I Call Music release. The old cynic. Back to the climbers though, and remember that 20 years ago you were incredibly lucky if you saw a chart with any at all.
If You Feels Me There Again I'll Scream
This does mean there are plenty of chart songs worthy of some love this week, so let's get on with it. Not entirely coincidental with the release of his album Funk Wav Bounces - Volume 1 (which shoots in at Number 2 on the album chart this week), Calvin Harris can boast the fastest chart mover of the week as Feels rockets 21-6 after a fortnight locked in place at its chart entry point. Mind you this was always going to be a biggie, the combination of being one of his best singles for some time, plus the stellar cast of Pharrell, Perry and OK then Big Sean has made this one of the biggest potential hits of the moment. And if it keeps this up could end up as the biggest challenger for the Number One crown in fairly short order.
It has not gone unnoticed in other places that Feels is merely the last of a Top 6 made up entirely of "featuring" credits with every single one of the biggest singles of the week being a credited meeting of minds of some description. Nobody can do it alone these days, and this is only partially down to a plethora of producer-as-performer hits where an invited guest singer is a more or less compulsory part of the package.
Almost incidentally, Calvin Harris' album has provided us with the first brand new test of the three-and-out chart rule as Music Week confirms that there are five Harris hits and album cuts effectively starred out of the main chart by dint of there being too many of them. So count them up, just like Ed Sheeran he's only entitled to three hits this week - Feels at Number 6 and Slide at Number 33 along with previous minor hit Rollin which lands at Number 43, one place higher than its original peak from back in May. Those becoming disconnected about the prospect of large hits being removed from the chart following the rule changes will note that both Sheeran and Harris have "suffered" from the loss of potential chart singles no higher than the Top 50. We've not 'lost' any big selling records at all.
In a lovely awkward moment, Calvin Harris takes one step above of ex Rita Ora who at the very least also enjoys a three-place rise with Your Song which sits pretty this week at Number 7, just a few places shy of becoming her first Top 5 hit in three years. The track is another summertime hit worthy of love, the kind of song which starts to wind its way into your brain after just a few plays on the radio. For all her previous success, Rita Ora has made some rather shouty and grinding hits in the past. This one, however, might just be the one which the public grows to love the most.
Turn Up The Slow Burners
You should know, you've learned it all by heart by now, the Accelerated Chart Ratio comes into play for singles which have declined for three straight weeks AND are at least 10 weeks old (in chart life terms). The ten week cut-off is quite interesting for although it is clearly aimed at smash hits which start big and decline slowly, it also puts far more pressure on the slow burners, those which have taken their time to take off but which are at risk from being cut off at the knees should their momentum stall at any time.
I only note this due to the continuing upward movement of a handful of hits whose "weeks on chart" total blasted into double figures some time ago. Take Pretty Girl from Maggie Lindemann for one. The single first entered the Top 100 at Number 92 on the chart dated May 11th and so this week duly becomes 10 weeks old. For now, it continues to go great guns, jumping three places to Number 9 and becoming a Top 10 single for the very first time. But this does mean the Sword of Damocles hangs over it should it show any signs of running out of steam. What is helping the single enormously is its availability in two versions, the original "pop" mix which I featured here when it first broke into the Top 40 but also a Cheat Codes x CADE club remix which transforms the rather pretty (if you'll pardon the pun) pop ballad into a summertime club smash. Another hit of the week which deserves more love than it has been shown so far? You betcha.
A new chart era, for now, hasn't changed one thing: having to scan ever lower down the listings for the biggest new hit of the week. That comes at Number 24 as Sun Comes Up gives Rudimental their first hit single since the end of 2015 and heralding what is hoped will be their third studio album. Their past vocal collaborations have seen them kick start the careers of John Newman and Ella Eyre in the past, whilst their last hit Lay It All On Me featured the superstar but pre-megastar tones of one Ed Sheeran. The new single raises even more eyebrows as the singer on Sun Comes Up is 2012 X Factor winner and celebrated comeback kid James Arthur, owner of a surprise Number One hit at the tail end of last year with Say You Won't Let Go but whose subsequent singles failed to impress. Keep an eye on this one, it once more has a pleasing summertime vibe but with the added interest of Rudimental's drum n' bass production tricks which prevent it from descending into an all too predictable tropical house mush. Video to follow soon as well, so I think we can expect a big climb next time around.
Speaking of X Factor winners, we actually have three of them on the Top 40 chart this week. Little Mix in the Top 10, James Arthur on the Rudimental single and - finally! - Louisa Johnson alongside Olly Murs on the extensively pushed collaboration Unpredictable which after five weeks finally justifies a play on Radio One on Friday afternoon with a jump to Number 32. It still bears hammering home, this is a massively important single. Olly Murs is the golden boy of the whole X Factor project, the man who may not have won but who was turned by the Syco machine into the all-round entertainer they had always dreamed the show would unearth. Louisa meanwhile is the problem child, the 2015 series winner whose career has progressed so unconventionally she has still to show any signs of releasing the album she's contractually entitled to have. The Olly duet is one last attempt to give her a leg up. And so a lot of hard work will be going into making sure it continues to appeal. Good job the video is so topical right now.