Ready For The Weekend?
In this game, it is far too easy to make assumptions.
Based on his most recent form, it wasn't an unreasonable assumption either. A brand new Drake single, rocketing to the top of the Official UK Singles chart after just a few days on sale? That's another God's Plan for sure, a track which will eclipse everything else available at present and wind up stranded at the top of the charts until we are all sick to the back teeth of it. Only this time around it hasn't happened that way.
Nice For What remains phenomenally popular and indeed has all week long been the most streamed track of the moment, its overall chart sales up by the small matter of 22% over last week. But significantly there is another single on the market which is just as popular. Facing it down is another single which has pretty much matched him step for step but which crucially is also commanding a sales dominance that nobody else - particularly Drake - can come close to emulating. So it is that one week after being denied a majestic debut at the top of the charts, One Kiss from Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa climbs two places to take pride of place at Number One. Its total chart sale of 70,000 is the largest achieved by any record so far in 2018.
One Kiss is now the ninth Number One for Calvin Harris, his eighth as the credited lead artist. It comes almost ten years to the month since his first - Dance Wiv Me having sashayed its way to the summit in July 2008. That is enough to put him joint-sixth on the list of all-time most Number One hits, a total of nine one which he shares with Abba, The Spice Girls, Eminem and also one-time collaborator Rihanna with whom he shares one of those chart-topping hits. Whilst not a 'solo' star in any sense of the word (only two of his chart-topping hits have been credited to Harris alone) in terms of male performers only Cliff Richard (14) and Elvis Presley (21) can claim more Number One hit singles.
This is Calvin Harris' seventh Number One hit of the 2010s, more than any other act save for Tinie Tempah who has also managed seven to date. The only other act with more Number One hits in the 21st century are Westlife, whose total stands at 10. The single also takes Dua Lipa to the top of the charts for the second time in the space of a year, following on from New Rules which enjoyed a fortnight of success in August last year. The single it deposed from Number One to achieve this? Feels by… Calvin Harris.
Time For A Refresh?
The Top 3 singles this week are all relatively fresh hits - the Harris/Lipa and Drake singles both enjoying their second week on sale after all. Even Freaky Friday which dips a place to Number 3 is just five weeks old - and it too clocks up its highest chart sale to date. Elsewhere we are badly in need of a clearout, with five of the Top 10 singles this week all at least 10 weeks old and so in line for a move to ACR and a consequent tumble down the charts to move aside for other singles. Of those five, George Ezra increases his sales this week whilst Keala Settle is declining for only the second week in a row and so both are safe. The singles by Rudimental, Marshmello and - finally! - Portugal. The Man all sink for the third straight week, kicking all onto Accelerated Chart Ratio as from next week. Change is coming to the Top 10 wholesale at long last.
A becalmed Top 10 means further frustration for Bebe Rexha and collaborators. Meant To Be is stuck in place at Number 11, this now the fifth week running the single has occupied either 11, 12 or 13 on the singles chart without once ever becoming a Top 10 hit single. To find a hit single making anything resembling strong upward progress this week we have to gaze as far down as Number 18 where as expected Banx & Ranx's Answerphone accelerates up from the Number 25 slot it occupied last week.
To Me You Are Perfect
His attempts to become known by a mononym may not have been as successful as he had hoped, he will always be Zayn Malik from Bradford to us, but the process of waiting for the world to wake up to ZAYN as a superstar continues at its own steady pace. We last saw our hero in September last year with the release of Dusk Till Dawn, the epic ballad which saw him go head to head with the powerful voice of Sia and which enjoyed an extended 11 week run in the Top 10 (longer than anything he had ever managed with his former band), even if it never quite managed to ease past the Number 5 peak it achieved on entry.
Since then.. mostly silence, save for vague hints about how his long-awaited second solo album is close to completion, a build-up marred by leaks of unfinished and rejected tracks which had everyone studying for clues as to just which direction he would be going in. Now ZAYN is back officially with the release this week of brand new single Let Me. Whilst continuing the intense broodiness of Dusk Till Dawn (and with its video continuing the storyline of the briefcase) the new single dares to be shockingly different. An R&B ballad layered with guitars both acoustic and electric, Let Me restates with some ease the case for viewing him as one of Britain's brightest musical exports. Sounding for all the world like it has stepped out of the late 80s/early 90s Let Me is the kind of single that would have people cooing with delight if someone like Justin Timberlake had put his name to it. I'm a tiny bit biased though being a fan of his to begin with, but I've not stopped listening to this all week.
Yet sounding radically different to anything else around at the moment may not have played in its favour for now. The Zquad lapped the single up naturally, but not enough other people did. Slated for a strong new entry midweek, the single sank back slightly during the rest of the survey and now comes to rest as the highest new entry of the week at an oddly lowly Number 20, although at least retaining that initially predicted Top 20 status. Yes, I am biased, but Let Me deserves better than this and hopefully, it will turn out to be one of those singles which grows in stature as the weeks progress. If it doesn't - then you get the feeling that more material will follow in short order. ZAYN is too big a deal worldwide to flop in his native country, after all, especially now we've reached the stage where it is possible to write an entire piece about him without mentioning One Direction right until the very end.
Tastes Like Pineapples
The other big chart story of the week is the rise of the female MCs and two artists in particular whose styles closely compare. One the established superstar. The other the hot new kid on the block.
Into the latter category comes Cardi B who proves that the impact of her debut album a week ago was no seven-day wonder. Her two Top 40 hits of the moment both make progress this week, but whilst Be Careful climbs three to Number 24 it is overtaken by its companion. Album cut I Like It (featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin) crept in at Number 40 last week but now rockets 17 places to ensure the lady occupies back to back chart places with a brand new peak of Number 23.
That does mean both her hits also outrank the two new releases from the lady who until now was the premiere female rapper. Despite making her first chart appearance at the start of the decade Nicki Minaj has been so prolific, both in terms of her own hits and a willingness to collaborate with anyone who will have her, that she has clocked up a total number of hits which would be the envy of anyone with 20 years in the business, never mind 8. Her two brand new releases Chun-Li and Barbie Tingz duly become her 27th and 28th Top 40 hits respectively as they land at Numbers 26 and 31. Her only connection with a Number One single, for now, remains her contribution to the Jessie J and Ariana Grande hit Bang Bang from 2014, whilst her most enduring solo hit is easily 2012 offering Starships which peaked at Number 2 during an 11 week run inside the Top 10.
Got Me Dancing And Singing
Whilst Cardi and Nicki can boast two Top 40 hits each this week, it is left to a Davi(d) to lead the way with three. Guetta is the man in question, although the biggest of his hits this week is one in which he is merely listed as a collaborator, Sean Paul's Mad Love which makes a steady move with a 39-25 leap. He is, however, lead artist on the other two. Leading the way at Number 37 is Flames, a single which has been out for a month already but which only now makes the grade to climb into the Top 40. Its slow start came as some surprise given it marks his reunion with no less a star than Sia, this their first collaboration on a hit single since Number 18 hit Bang My Head which charted in the first months of 2016. The pair most famously hooked up on Titanium which landed a week of glory at the top of the charts in early 2012. Guetta's other Top 40 hit this week is a track which first hit the online stores back in February but which only now is picking up attention. Like I Do is a collaboration with Dutch producers Martin Garrix and Brooks and after several weeks off the radar lifts itself to Number 40 this week. Guetta hasn't released a studio album since 2014 but has accumulated enough releases since to easily populate a new one. In a career dating back to 2002, he can now claim 36 Top 40 hit singles.
Not So Manic Now
Over on the Official UK Albums chart, there is actually less of a story to tell than there might have been. Based on midweek figures the Manic Street Preachers appeared to be heading for a Number One album, something that would have only been the second of their career and taken them to the top of the charts for the first time in almost 20 years. But it didn't happen. Their first album in four years Resistance Is Futile has emulated its predecessor and entered at Number 2 instead. The Number One album of the week? Once more it is The Greatest Showman soundtrack which now boasts a total of 13 weeks at the top of the charts, matching that of the Grease soundtrack almost 40 years ago. Five more weeks at the top means it will draw level with the most successful movie soundtrack collection of the "modern" era - Saturday Night Fever which began its own 18 week run at Number One in May 1978.
The fad for repackaging older releases in new commemorative versions results in some fun re-entries lower down the album chart, perhaps the most notable one being the 21st-anniversary re-release of Gary Barlow's solo debut Open Road which lands at Number 25. My favourite quirky moment though is the appearance at Number 42 of Metallica's $5.98 EP Garage Days Revisited which is ten years old and was first issued in 1987. Why quirky? Because back in 1987 then four-track EP was eligible for the singles chart, peaking at Number 27 in August that year. This new "re-revisited" edition adds a fifth track which renders the EP too long and thus ineligible for the singles chart. Garage Days Revisited thus becomes one of only a tiny handful of records in chart history to have registered on both singles and albums charts.
Carry On Clicking
A study in contrasts across the singles market this week. A record 16.6m "sales" were registered this week, with the proportion contributed by streams also reaching a new high of 94.31% of the market. We crossed the Rubicon once before in December, but the market for paid-for sales dipped below a million once more this week. 945,000 singles sold is the lowest total since early 2006.