Bonitas piernas, ¿a qué hora se abren?
A chart ascent which has seen it rise majestically 70-22-4 ends with the ultimate prize as Despacito by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee claims its place at the very top of the Official UK Singles chart this week. These new Number One singles are getting to be habit forming it seems. This one is something of a joy because of the extraordinary number of benchmarks it manages to set.
First, the nationality of the performers, Fonsi and Yankee both hailing from Puerto Rico whose musical traditions have spawned and inspired many great records over the years, but precious few Number One hits. They are in fact the first Puerto Rican act to top the UK charts since Ricky Martin topped the listings with Living La Vida Loca back in the summer of 1999 - a full 18 years ago. Despacito is a truly international record, performed entirely in Spanish and in the process becoming one of only a select few foreign language chart-topping hits. It has been almost five years since a non-English record topped the charts, Psy's Gangnam Style (performed in Korean) the most recent of these back in 2012. Of Spanish hits, there have been a fair number, although again none for some considerable time. The last Number One hit to feature a Spanish lyric of any kind was Loca People by Sak Noel which crept to the top for a week in October 2011. But perhaps we give the latter too much credit, the Spanish in Loca People restricted to the odd shouted phrase with English lyrics also featuring just as prominently. The same can be said of its most immediate predecessor - The Ketchup Song by Las Ketchup - which was originally sung entirely in Spanish but which was promoted here in a "Spanglish" version which gamely attempted to translate most of the lyrics back to a more familiar tongue. Despatico is in truth one of only three purely Spanish language singles to top the UK charts. The other two came in the 1980s, first with Julio Iglesias' Begin The Beguine (Volver A Empezar) in 1981 followed by Los Lobos' rendition of La Bamba in 1987. Both were remakes of rather older songs, making Despacito the first truly original and purely Spanish single ever to reach Number One.
Yet there is a further and a rather delicious twist here. As regular readers of this column will know, the British sales of the track have been by and large driven not by the original mix which has been a smash across the world, but a rather newer take on the track featuring an additional vocal from Justin Bieber. Until now the Canadian's contribution has remained invisible to chart records, the Fonsi/Yankee duet considered the 'primary' version and the one under whose sales all the rest are tabulated. Clearly to continue that situation would have been counter-intuitive and so this week the label have come to their senses and informed the Official Charts Company that Despacito (Remix) should be considered the lead form of the single - promoting Justin Bieber to have an artist credit for the first time in the single's chart run. We thus sidestep another re-run of the Clean Bandit issue from the end of last year, where the featured singers on a Number One single are not credited and effectively lost to official chart history.
In the process, however, Bieber has managed to set a brand new benchmark for himself, for he was also a credited performer on the single Despacito has replaced at Number One - DJ Khaled's I'm The One. So, as a result, he becomes effectively the first act in chart history to replace himself at the top of the charts on two entirely separate occasions - following on from his 2015 chart domination which saw Love Yourself succeed Sorry at the top of the charts. Needless to say, though this is also a first, as neither of the last two Number One singles are technically 'his' records - he's merely a featured guest performer. So that makes him unique - the first man ever to be a guest star on two successive chart-topping records.
It is the purchased sales of Despacito which have won the day for it, the single rising to the top of the sales chart but for now stuck at Number 2 on the streaming table. For the first time in a long time the most-played track of the week is not Sheeran's Shape Of You but instead DJ Khaled's I'm The One, even if it ironically surrenders its overall chart crown. Your final fun fact of the week about the Number One single is maybe the most fascinating of all, Despacito making it to the top of the charts without going anywhere near any of the Radio 1 playlists.
That's What You (Still) Are
Whilst the Number One turnover of recent weeks has been positively breathless by recent standards (changing hands five weeks in a row for the first time since 2015), that is not to say that former Number One singles are equally fast moving. Quite the reverse in fact. With DJ Khaled slipping to 2 and in the process nudging down both Clean Bandit to 3 and Ed Sheeran to 4, the entire Top 4 this week is made up of chart-topping records. The only 2017 Number One hit from that list is Harry Style's Sign Of The Times, but even that is taking its time to fade away and slides two places to Number 10 this week.
The only new arrival in the Top 10 this week is another steady climber, Unforgettable from French Montana and Swae Lee which leaps 12-8 (Sales: 18, Streams: 6). It is just one of a number of singles I've called attention to in past weeks which seem to be steadily fulfilling their potential. Did You See from J Hus lifts 17-12 whilst easily the biggest climber of the week is Attention from Charlie Puth which explodes into life with a 31-16 jump (Sales: 15, Streams: 20). We've not mentioned On My Mind by Disciples for a few weeks but that too is making steady chart progress, lifting 27-23 (Sales: 10, Streams: 34) as its streaming popularity finally starts to catch up with its retail appeal.
Put The Granny Down Liam And Catch Up
The next big game to play on the UK charts over the next few weeks is to see how close we can come to assembling a complete set of One Direction solo hits. Joining ZAYN and Harry Styles on the listings this week is Niall Horan whose second hit single Slow Hands makes its bow at Number 25 (Sales: 13, Streams: 33). It is the follow-up to This Town which debuted and peaked at Number 9 in October last year. He may have nappies to change, but there's still a Liam Payne track on the way shortly, as well as more Louis Tomlinson to come too.
The fact that this second hit single has not debuted so high may raise a few eyebrows, but the truth is that this 'debut' chart position is something of a falsehood. Whilst the marketing concept of New Music Fridays has now well and truly taken hold and music fans racing to Spotify's own new releases page with eagerness the moment the magic day arrives is a regular part of the pop music week, we've lately witnessed the strange phenomenon of big name singles sneaking out during the day on Thursday instead. The Horan single is one of them, and indeed its single day of sales on the last chart survey was enough to place it at Number 39 on the sales table last week. I've suggested that such releases are designed to ensure acts don't necessarily have a standing start for their first full week on sale, a 24-hour jump on being added to playlists etc. In fact, the real reason for these strange early releases may be more subtle than that. Fear of leaks of any kind has led to tracks being released simultaneously across all territories - and indeed all time zones. But that means the record either comes out early or late depending on where you live. Startling Thursday lunchtime releases are rather less surprising when you note that this means a track has been made available for midnight Friday in Australia, and thus progressively earlier the preceding day as you move backwards across timezones.
Came Down To The Wire
A Thursday sneak release was also behind the odd sales performance so far of Want You Back, the brand new single from sisterly group HAIM. Marking their comeback following the massive worldwide success of their 2013/2014 album Days Are Gone, the single was the 77th most purchased track a week ago but only this week takes its chart bow at Number 59 (Sales: 29, Streams: 100) after finally being available for a full seven days. Whether this will add to their tally of Top 40 hits remains to be seen, but its real purpose is to whet the appetite for a brand new album Something To Tell You which is due out in July.
Grooving Like A Mother
One of clubland's most eagerly awaited releases this week was Jonas Blue's Mama which makes a respectable enough chart debut at Number 29 (Sales: 7, Streams: 54). The British producer (real name Guy Robin) had a brace of Number 2 hits last year, first with his tropical take on Tracy Chapman's Fast Car and then Perfect Strangers which introduced the world to JP Cooper. His third hit wasn't quite as big a smash, By Your Side only reaching Number 15 during a chart wander just prior to Christmas. This enormously appealing new track, which in the nicest possibly way is almost Clean Bandit-esque (minus the cellos), marks the chart bow of Australian singer William Singe who first came to attention as a contender on X Factor in his home country back in 2012. He was a member of the One Direction-esque show-created boy band The Collective who finished in sixth place and who had a modicum of chart success down under before Singe decided his path lay as a solo artist. Singe has a worldwide solo deal with RCA records, making this Jonas Blue track the perfect soft landing. He's destined for more, regardless of where Mama ends up.
Keep You Up All Night
Over on the Official UK Albums chart, there is something of a surprise as the continuous Number One run of Ed Sheeran's Divide album is brought to a crashing halt after 'just' nine weeks - two short of the 21st-century record of 11 set by Adele's 21 back in 2011. Its replacement is For Crying Out Loud, the sixth studio album from Leicester space-rock outfit Kasabian. This makes it their fifth chart-topping album in a row, their only failure being their self-titled debut from 2004 which could only make it to Number 4. The album's lead single You're In Love With A Psycho has so far struggled to make any kind of chart headway, being available since mid-March but until now only managing a peak of Number 79 which it scaled a fortnight ago. This week it makes the Top 75 for the first time with a leap to Number 62 (Sales: 36, Streams: 84) - their first hit on the published chart since Eez-Eh made Number 22 in June 2014.
Kasabian's reign at the top of the charts is destined to be very short lived. This week we are holding our breath with anticipation of the arrival of Harry Styles' debut album, which needless to say will be the Number One this time next week. What will be more intriguing is to see just how liberally its tracks are sprayed all over the singles chart. He's a name sure enough which suggests there will be plenty, but as we've seen from One Direction-related releases so far he's a name amongst the group of music fans who haven't necessarily shifted to streaming in large numbers. That in theory should be the story next week, although at the very least we should see a reversal of fortunes for Styles' second single release Sweet Creature which was another Thursday release last week, charting initially at Number 117 but rising this week to a mere Number 74 (Sales: 75, Streams: 81). Its low level of sales was purely down to its status as an instant grat track, doing its work in inspiring pre-orders, but it should at the very least be one of the better charting Styles album tracks next week. However many there might be.