Don't Give Him The Satisfaction
As regular readers of these pages will know, over the past three weeks we've witnessed a fascinating duel between two very different pop records, each dominating their own particular sector of the singles universe but never quite managing to capture the other. It has meant each week a genuine sense of intrigue - would the failings of one be enough to cancel out those of the other?
On one side of the coin has been Post Malone's rockstar, far and away the most-streamed track of the past month, but a single which has never quite managed to fight its way to the summit of the still vaguely relevant sales market. Opposing him has been Camila Cabello with Havana, a track which by contrast has easily been the most-purchased single for the past few weeks. Yet with its overall streams lagging some distance behind those of Post Malone it has week after week been relegated to Number 2.
But this was never going to last forever, and as Rockstar runs out of steam as far as the sales market is concerned (it dips to Number 6 on the sales chart) it means the Camila Cabello track is finally able to overhaul the deficit she still endures on the streaming chart. The result: Havana is Number One this week on the Official UK Singles chart.
It is the climax of a patient rise in every sense for the Cuban-born singer. An auditionee for the second series of X Factor USA in 2012, she wound up as one of the five girls who would be thrown together to form a new girl group - initially called Lylas before legal issues meant a change to 1432 and then finally Fifth Harmony following a public vote when they made the final 12. Cabello's biggest chart single as a member of the group was Number 2 cut Work From Home which was a hit in April 2016, but at the end of last year she severed all ties with the group in a split that was possibly even messier than even the public shade the warring parties threw at each other in the aftermath. She had actually made her 'solo' debut before the split, appearing alongside Shawn Mendes on his 2016 single I Know What You Did Last Summer but her formal post-group debut came at the start of this year when she accompanied Machine Gun Kelly on his rather gorgeous and criminally underrated Bad Things which peaked at Number 16 in the spring.
The most extraordinary thing about Havana though is just how long its journey to the top has been. The track originally appeared online back in August as one of a pair of promotional teaser singles. Whilst its twin OMG quickly fell out of sight, Havana eased its way into the Top 40 after a fortnight and has made graceful progress ever since, culminating in a five-week stay in the Top 5 and until this week a frustrating three locked in place at Number 2. By topping the charts in its 13th week on sale Havana has had the longest climb to the top of the charts since Stitches had to patiently wait 15 weeks for its week of glory at the start of last year. The singer of that hit? The very same man alongside whom she received her first individual chart credit - Shawn Mendes. The age of the single will raise questions as to just how long it is destined to hold at the top of the singles market, given it has long since passed the 10 weeks threshold for its streams to be relegated to the Accelerated Chart Ratio of 300:1. For that to happen the single also has to decline for three straight weeks, and you'll be pleased to learn that its sale this week of 48,615 is actually 5,000 more than it achieved seven days ago. Nearly four months old it may be, but Havana is still steadily growing in popularity.
We should also take time out to note the contribution to the single of guest star Young Thug, The 26-year-old Georgian rapper and singer was a chart unknown at the start of the year but has achieved Quavo-levels of ubiquity, featuring on five different chart singles alongside the likes of Drake, Calvin Harris and Chris Brown. Other than Havana the only one to make the Top 40 was the Calvin Harris track Heatstroke which reached the Top 30 in April - the third hit to feature Young Thug in the space of a fortnight.
Oh yes, and Havana also pulls off the trick of being only the third Number One single in UK chart history to namecheck a capital city in its title - following Winifrid Atwell's Poor People Of Paris in 1956 and Simple Minds' Belfast Child in 1989. Odd to note that despite there being 25 hit singles to mention London in the title, none have climbed any higher than Number 2.
How Long To Wait
In a sense, it is a good thing we have this changing of the guard at the top of the charts given that otherwise, this week's Top 4 is the same as last week. At Number 5 there is some of a surprise as the ZAYN/Sia collision on Dusk Till Dawn eases up a place to reclaim the chart peak it managed in the week it was first released. This is most notably at the expense of Ed Sheeran's Perfect which can only rise a place to Number 6, still two short of the chart position it initially reached as an intensely-streamed album cut back in March.
Making rather stronger upward momentum, however, is Charlie Puth, How Long accelerating 17-9 to become the fourth Top 10 hit single of his career to date, and matching the peak of his long-running summertime hit Attention. His other two Top 10 hits were both Number One singles - his vocal turn on Wiz Khalifa's See You Again and his own debut as lead artist Marvin Gaye on which he performed alongside Meghan Trainor, both singles hits in 2015. The most of this will be greeted with no small amount of interest given he was the core guest on the new BBC One show "Sounds Like Friday Night" which has been hailed as the solution to the long-term lack of a prime-time music show on television. The fact that the first edition has managed to pop a chart move for a track performed on it bodes well. Either that or it is a coincidence - time alone will tell.
Rita Ora had a chance to claim simultaneous Top 10 hits this week but although the Avicii track Lonely Together on which she features holds firm at Number 4, her own Anywhere smashes into the glass ceiling and is stuck for now at Number 11.
There's A Hole In My Bucket
The highest new entry of the week is a single which possibly wasn't the most high profile new release of the week but which nonetheless gives an exciting new performer his second chart hit of the moment. The mysterious Marshmello is the man in question, riding high at Number 3 with his own hit Silence and now the partner of Selena Gomez on brand new hit Wolves which charts this week at Number 16. It is the third chart hit as a lead artist - and far and away the biggest - for Selena Gomez, the new single the follow-up to Bad Liar and Fetish which reached 21 and 33 respectively earlier in the summer. The pair have had enormous fun in the build-up to the track's release, teasing it with social media images of Gomez wearing her own pink version of Marshmello's trademark helmet mask. Her string of recent collaborations make her own chart history rather murkier than I can easily summarise here, but aside from Top 10 hit single It Ain't Me on which she was co-credited next to Kygo earlier this year, Wolves is her biggest chart hit as a lead artist since Hands To Myself climbed to Number 14 in the spring of 2016. Selena Gomez hasn't had a Top 10 hit as a lead artist since Come And Get It reached Number 8 in July 2013. Based on the start this single has had, it appears to be her best chance since of correcting that.
From the "making good progress" file come both Big Shaq's Man's Not Hot which reaches a new peak this week with a 26-20 rise, just behind the intriguing club hit Cola from Camelphat & Elderbrook. Camelphat are a duo - DJs Dave Whelan and Mike DiScala whilst singer Elderbrook goes under the real name of Alex Lotz. A fine example of a British-made club track making a huge impression in America alongside its home success, Cola's chart run has so far been slow and steady, this entry into the Top 20 finally coming after 10 weeks, its first chart appearance way back at the start of September.
Go on then, I know you are asking. If not the Selena Gomez single, what was theoretically the highest profile new release of the week? Clean Bandit, naturally. With there still no firm news from the trio on the release of a new album to follow-up 2014 debut New Eyes, they instead this week began a British tour in support of what has been a string of one-off single release over the past year and a half and in the particular brand new release I Miss You. Their gimmick of rotating big-name guest performers continues apace with this new single the product of a songwriting collaboration with Julia Michaels, this her second chart single as a performer following Number 10 hit Issues which floated around the charts for most of the first half of this year. A more mellow offering than recent Clean Bandit singles, the formula is otherwise intact. Jack makes bleeping noises, Luke thwacks the drums and Grace saws away on a cello, the video for the song suggesting that she's also supplying harmonies on the chorus. The only surprise really is just how slowly this single has opened, this the first Clean Bandit release not to make the Top 10 first week out since Come On Over missed the Top 40 altogether in August 2014. It hardly seems necessary to note that exactly 12 months ago the group released a brand new single which was at the top of the charts a fortnight later and remained there long enough to top the charts for Christmas. I Miss You oozes their usual class, but it is by no means another Rockabye.
Blinded By The Light (Entertainment)
Having mentioned, "Sounds Like Friday Night" giving Charlie Puth a nice uptick last week, what of X Factor which finally hit the start of a truncated series of live shows last weekend. Once upon a time a live performance on the show was a more or less nailed on guarantee of singles chart success - but not anymore it seems. Last weekend Liam Payne performed current hit single Bedroom Floor and is only rewarded with a 28-22 rise. The most intriguing live X Factor performance, however, was that of Stormzy with the chilled out Blinded By Your Grace - Pt 2 which is considered such a priority that it has even forced its way onto the Radio 2 playlist. The performance of the track raised eyebrows too - Stormzy accompanied on the night by Labrinth, this despite the recorded version featuring co-composer MNEK - who took to social media to express his bafflement that he wasn't invited to appear to perform it. All that fuss and the single can only limp to Number 40, this its second chart run of the year after it made Number 55 back in March as one of a veritable flood of album cuts from Stormzy's Gang Signs And Prayer album in the wake of its release. That flood of hits was attributed to large numbers of streams, so it is intriguing to note that the X Factor performance of Blinded By Your Grace did actually lift the track to Number 14 on the sales table, its depressed chart position entirely down to an indifferent level of interest in its streams. Could it be that an X Factor performance still does cause a spike? But only in the lowly paid for sales market. Which isn't enough anymore to properly impact the charts.
This May Come As A Shock To You
Halloween last week meant parties and a corresponding level increase in interest in ghostly-related singles. Hence the annual re-emergence of oldies such as Monster Mash and Ghostbusters, although there is on the face of it a rather more startling Top 40 entry for Michael Jackson's Thriller which rockets back to Number 34 this week, its first Top 40 run since it made Number 12 in the aftermath of the singer's death in July 2009. The reason for this higher level of interest may well be related to the use of the track in extensive advertising for the new Jackson compilation Scream which also hits the charts this week.
Over on the Official UK Albums chart, the week saw a rather extraordinary battle for Number One. The Stereophonics looked to have things sewn up before the weekend was over, enjoying an 11,000 copies lead over the competition after just two days on sale. But the interest in their album Scream Above The Sounds - their tenth studio offering - was front-loaded, leaving the devastating re-teaming of Michael Ball and Alfie Boe to chip away at that lead. The result is a second Number One for the middle of the road pair, their album Together Again the follow-up to last year's Together which became one of the more inevitable smashes of the gift-giving season. In the end, their margin of victory was slight, just 35 chart sales the difference between the two albums. Rather extraordinarily this is the second time this year the album chart crown has been decided by this narrow margin, this the same difference between Ed Sheeran and Elvis Presley back in August.
Also worthy of note in the Top 10 is Chris Brown's Heartbreak On A Full Moon which was given a suitably timed Halloween release and so was effectively only available for three days of the chart week. It still enjoyed enough sales and streams to rank as the Number 10 album of the week. Its lead hit Questions is one of no less than 45 tracks on the full package, making it - box sets and compilations aside - one of the longest studio albums ever to make the charts. The rationale behind this kind of length (and the lack of quality control this implies) has been discussed at length elsewhere, although we should note that attempts to game the album chart by releasing an album which cannot help but clock up large numbers of individual streams are halted by the UK chart rules which anticipated this kind of issue and which only count the 12 most popular tracks on an album for chart tally purposes.
Get Ready For The Science Bit
Stat-bit of the week to finish. Streams were 92.25% of the singles market last week to further extend the record. And a 2% drop in paid for sales meant that just 1,095,000 single tracks were bought in the UK last week. When will that total dip below a million? The clock continues to tick.
So that's the first 25 years of this thing done. Shall we start the next?