I’ll Still Be There
Lucky 8, as they say in the far east, as on its ninth week on the chart One Kiss by Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa stays perched atop the Official UK Singles chart for the eighth week in a row.
To return to a common theme of the past few years, what was once notable is now close to being the norm, this the second time this year we have had a single spent two full lunar cycles at the top of the charts. The main reason for this remains the same, One Kiss enjoys a lead over the rest of the market on streams that is more or less insurmountable. Last week it was played 5.5m times for chart purposes and on Spotify alone, it enjoys 100,000 plays more than any of its near rivals on a daily basis. That’s not to say it would have been impossible for any single to overtake it, but it would need to be one dominating the sales market in its own way - and that too has belonged to One Kiss for most of the past two months. Unlike the Drake singles which have enduring similar periods stranded at the top of the charts yet experiencing lacklustre purchased sales, One Kiss would have enjoyed an extended run at the top of the charts even under the old rules when only purchased singles counted.
Yet in the past couple of weeks that stranglehold has weakened and other singles have taken their rightful place at the top of the shrinking but still just about relevant paid-for market. However, just like God’s Plan before it earlier this year, it will not be so much declining popularity as chart rules which finally bring the run of the Calvin and Dua single to a crashing halt.
As you may have noticed from the stats page, One Kiss has been in a steady sales decline for the past month:
Week Ending 24/5 - 62,000 sales
Week Ending 31/5 - 54,424 sales
Week Ending 7/6 - 52,252 sales
And this week’s total? 49,432 sales. Crucially that is three consecutive weeks of sales decline, and next week is the single’s 10th week on the Top 100 chart. This is one thing One Kiss does have in common with God’s Plan because just as the Drake single was crowbarred out of the way, next week it will be the turn of One Kiss to dip to ACR and in the process inevitably out of the Number One slot. If ACR had been in place this week, then it would only have made Number 6. This now means we have a fascinating race on our hands next week to be the track to replace it.
Based on this week’s form you would have to give it to Jess Glynne. For the second week running the most-purchased single of the week is I’ll Be There and it now makes a long-overdue sprint up the streaming tables as well. It is enough to lift the single to Number 2, and with Drake’s Nice For What also it seems set for a sharp drop next week, along with Anne-Marie’s 2002 and Ariana Grande’s No Tears Left To Cry now both long in the tooth and as popular as they are ever going to get, the only other single which could potentially rival her for top honours are the act with whom Glynne opened her career four years ago. Clean Bandit’s Solo is also on the rise, moving 10-6. If they aren’t top of the charts next week you have to fancy them to do so before the month is out.
Imma Let You Finish
It has been just over two years since rapper Kanye West released an album. One of the biggest global stars of the 00s, most of his headlines in recent times have related less to his music and more his personal life. A mental health breakdown followed by his reinvention as a professional online agitant has threatened to make him more a figure of ridicule and even anger rather than a man known for his music.
Yet when he makes music, people still want to listen. So the release of his eighth studio album Ye was always going to make headlines, particularly given the revelation that it was thrown together in just a few weeks in the wake of his recent bout of political pronouncements and as a way of firing back at the resultant criticism of his radical idea that everyone should be free to just think for themselves.
Under normal circumstances, the album would have been an easy Number One, but these are no normal circumstances, and so it ends up charting at Number 2 instead. That’s still his highest charting album since 2013’s Yeezus topped the charts, this after his 2016 release Life Of Pablo disappointed and bombed out at Number 30.
The album may only have 7 tracks, but all of them were streamed by enough players to qualify for a place on the singles chart. As per the rules, however, only three are permitted to do so. Leading the way is Yikes which storms into the charts at Number 10, Kanye’s first Top 10 single of any kind since FourFiveSeconds made Number 3 in the spring of 2015. Hard on its heels is All Mine at Number 11 and Ghost Town at Number 17.
Stop Playing The Damn Thing Mum
The album that prevented Ye from topping the charts? Well, if you have to ask then you really haven’t been paying attention since Christmas. Enough people went “Alexa, play The Greatest Showman” or wanted the soundtrack after watching the movie at home to ensure the collection of songs spends yet another week at Number One on the Official UK Albums chart. I’ve been counting the weeks until this happened and now the moment has arrived. This is The Greatest Showman’s non-consecutive 18th week at Number One, thus matching the 18 weeks straight enjoyed by the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack which topped the album charts in the summer of 1978, the two now officially the most successful post-1960s movie soundtracks.
Yes, it is a slightly distorted picture given that since 1989 most movie soundtracks have been ineligible to reach the main album chart and have been relegated to the compilations chart. The Greatest Showman is an exception to the rule as it is considered a performance by the ensemble cast and so is a single artist album rather than a compilation. That said, no other film soundtrack has managed to come even close to making the same kind of impact in the 40 years since. We may not be strictly comparing like with like but take it from me, no other movie has produced an album capable of spending 18 weeks at Number One, regardless of which chart it was eligible to appear on.
Hits Hits Hits Future Hits
Back on the singles chart, and Kanye West isn’t the only person to take a new single into the Top 10 this week. The other is George Ezra who essentially replaces himself, with Shotgun leaping 20-8 just as his last hit Paradise drops out with a fall to Number 12.
Cardi B and friends’ I Like It reaches a new peak this week as well, climbing to Number 13 a full five weeks after it first appeared to have peaked at Number 15, the long overdue arrival of the video in the past couple of weeks doubtless aiding its exposure. The single is already far and away the female MC’s biggest ever hit single as a lead artist, her only personal chart hit so far to reach even the Top 20. The one exception was the remix of Bruno Mars’ Finesse to which she was added in a brief cameo and which helped lift the single to Number 5 in January. Which means it has something in common with one of this week’s other new hits - but I’ll come to that shortly.
Tom Walker’s Leave A Light On appeared to be one of those tracks set to make slow but steady chart progress when it only climbed four places last week. This time around the single properly explodes into life and the epic and moving soundtrack to the Sony Bravia TV commercials shoots 31-16, a full eight months after it was first released and heavily promoted as one of the best new singles of the week. All good things etc.
It was mentioned in passing last week as a track pushed high on the Hot Hits UK playlist on Spotify but still for all that likely to underperform. You can judge for yourselves how accurate that prediction was as Give Yourself A Try by The 1975 is the week’s highest non-Kanye new entry as it charges in at Number 22. Making the kind of music that really isn’t supposed to be anywhere near the Top 40 charts any more, the Manchester four-piece nonetheless have this knack of making good old-fashioned jangly guitar pop that it is very hard to hate. The new single is a case in point, a cheery single with dance beats a go-go which inspires fond memories of their 2013 debut hit Chocolate. Number 22 is enough to make it their biggest hit single since The Sound became their highest charting number ever when it reached Number 15 in January 2016. I’d love to see this progress and move further up rather than this being an opening week fan-led high. But their main problem is for all their pop appeal they are still a blokes with guitars rock act, and right at this minute that’s a sound that just doesn’t play well as far as the charts are concerned.
When I See You I Get...
Anyway, forget rock for now. Let’s get back to the rap. Also brand new in what is a refreshingly busy week for new hits is the summer Butterflies from London grime performer AJ Tracey. Active now for three years, this is far and away his biggest chart single so far as it opens its chart account at Number 24, but it is just the latest in a long line for Not3s who features on the track and who seems set to enjoy his third Top 20 hit single this year - albeit the first not to see him partnering Mabel.
Also new this week at Number 28 is Girls Like You from Maroon 5, a track which featured on their Red Pill Blues album which came out last November, the album already home to Number 12 hit What Lovers Do. Now promoted to single status, the track in theory benefits from an added rap by - her again - Cardi B. I say “benefits” as you would be hard pressed to find a more lamely spliced in rap break, Cardi’s sole 30 second contribution coming almost at the end of the track, with no foreshadowing and with precious little relevance to the lyrics which have gone before. Her grafting onto the start and end of Finesse felt contrived, on Girls Like You she feels like a botch job.
Weapon No More
One final single of note this week, You Deserve Better from James Arthur. Yes, it opens its chart account at a lowly Number 54, but he is worthy of comment simply for being the only recent X Factor winner to still have something resembling a chart career - and his you may recall is a classic second chance after the 2012 champion fought his way back from disgrace and obscurity to be welcomed back into the Syco fold once more. His 2014 counterpart Ben Haenow is reduced to self-releasing albums which sell a few hundred copies at a time, whilst 2016 winner Matt Terry was this week dropped by RCA after his album failed to capture the imagination back in the autumn. At least he got to release an album I supposed. 2015 winner Louisa Johnson still hasn’t and looks unlikely ever to do so, after her last single Yes crashed out at Number 65 in March. With 2013 winner Sam Bailey never really promoted as a pop star anyway, of the most recent class of winners we are now left with just reigning champions Rak-Su as the ones ready to achieve James Arthur-levels of longevity.