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So [Expletive Deleted] Grateful
thank u, next by Ariana Grande is the Number One single on the Official UK Singles chart.
It isn't all that often you get to announce a track's second week at the top of the charts in a manner which presumes it is self-evident, but then again singles like this don't come around all that often either. The table below lists the day to day streams clocked up by the Ariana Grande single on Spotify alone during the course of the last chart survey.
As 'Gameskiller01' noted in the comments last week, her Friday streams alone put her in some rarefied company. thank u, next is only the fifth non-Christmas song since the service's inception to notch up over one million streams in a single day. Ed Sheeran accounts for three of the others (Shape Of You, Castle On The Hill, Galway Girl). The fourth is Luis Fonsi's smash hit from the summer of 2017 Despacito. And indeed it is the popularity benchmark that Despactio set a year ago which Ariana has reached for this week. The Official Charts Company reports that her single clocked up no fewer than 9.76m plays, the highest accumulated total by any track since Fonsi's single achieved 10.6m in a single week in May 2017.
That was always going to end up with a colossal overall chart sale. thank u, next tops the chart this week with a sale of over 95,000 copies. That's the highest total achieved by any single in 2018, edging out - just - the 94,787 of Drake's In My Feelings back in August. It's the highest weekly sale clocked up by any single since the Artists For Grenfell charity release achieved 170,000 sales in June 2017. But it is her margin of victory that is the most astounding number of all. Trailing in second place are Bradley and Lady G with a chart sale of just shy of 42,000. In other words, Ariana has outperformed her nearest rival by a margin of more than 2:1. She could have withdrawn the single on Monday evening and still made it to the top of the charts. The single still doesn't have a proper video yet either (although a performance from the Ellen show is now on her Vevo channel and you can see that below).
If you are reading all of this after checking in to see what all the fuss is about and are thinking "well it's good but not that good", I can relate. thank u, next isn't as easy to dislike or even hate in the same manner as Drake megahits of recent months, but it is still a long way from being her best single ever. Yet it is more than most of the way to winding up the biggest.
'Tis The Season
Unwilling to be stung as they have been in recent years, most bookmakers swiftly installed Ariana Grande as the easy favourite to be this year's Christmas Number One single. She's the incumbent and the one to beat after all. Whilst it may still seem a long way off, I'll note that one year ago the eventual seasonal chart-topper (Perfect) was at Number 6, whilst two years ago this week the 2016 Christmas Number One single Rockabye was enjoying its first week at the top of the charts. This is Ariana's second week at the top of the charts. There are just five more to go before the Christmas chart (published on December 21st), which would mean thank u, next would have to be on top of the charts for seven weeks to still be there at Christmas. That's by no means an impossible ask.
At Peace With It All
If it is chart upheaval you are looking for, then there isn’t really much to report at the very top end. The Top 3 remain the same with Shallow locked in place at Number 2 and Woman Like Me locked out somewhat at 3. Despite this relative calm near the top end of the charts, it is in other respects a clearing of the cobwebs week. This is one of those odd times when the ACR axe falls simultaneously on a string of long-running chart hits. There are six high-profile casualties in total. Electricity falls 11-39, All I Am 20-58, I Love It 15-60, High Hopes 25-69 and Be Alright 18-63. The biggest hit of all though is former Number One Promises which finally falls victim, tumbling 4-18 as its streams are halved in value to finally bring its extended run near the top of the charts to an end. Taking its place as the fourth biggest hit of the week is Rita Ora's Let You Love Me which finally reaches a brand new peak after six weeks bouncing 6-5-6-5-6-5.
Promises is still the only single to exit the Top 10 this week, and perhaps extraordinarily it is not replaced by a new hit, but by Freya Ridings' Lost Without You which climbs into the Top 10 for the third time. The single is now Number 9 for a third week, all of them non-consecutive. Frustration then for the Sigala/Ella Eyre/Meghan Trainor/French Montana collaboration Just Got Paid which has now spent seven weeks inside the Top 20 without penetrating the Top 10. It reaches a brand new peak this week anyway. Of Number 11!
Hitting The Teens
Also making significant moves inside the Top 20, Zara Larsson's Ruin My Life which jumps eight places to Number 14. That's enough to maintain the singer's almost 100% strike rate of Top 20 hits, her only failure to date the Number 44 peak of So Good in February 2017.
The highest entry to the Top 40 this week isn't the single everyone was expecting. Overtaking a certain other single is Charli XCX with 1999 which after five weeks knocking on the door finally has a rocket lit under it and sprints 41-17. There will be sighs of relief all around not just at the sight of this single finally making good on its potential, but also because it hands Charli XCX a long overdue British hit single. Charlotte Aitchison appears to have had huge resources thrown at her over the past two years to try to recover something of the potential she showed earlier in her career. Yet all those efforts have only seen her rewarded with minor chart entries. No amount of hype, promotion or even direct advertising has been able to lift tracks such as After The Afterparty or Boys to chart peaks higher than 29 and 31 respectively. It was hoped that better things were in store when she was one of the many invited guests on Rita Ora's Girls track, only for that to end as one of 2018's most expensive failures when it failed to progress beyond its initial Number 22 entry.
So it is rather pleasing to report that 1999 is Charli XCX's biggest chart hit of any kind for almost four years, her highest chart placing since Doing It reached Number 8 in February 2015. The song chimes the same nostalgic notes as Anne-Marie's 2002, the video for the track seeing the singer and co-star Troye Sivan appear as some fun late-90s cultural reference points (even if the Spice Girls one is dateline: 1996).
OK then let's do this. Cheryl is back. The highest new entry of the week goes to a lady who has been absent from the charts for a surprisingly long time. The former Girls Aloud star's last chart hit was I Don't Care which debuted at Number One exactly four years ago this week. Since then she's reverted to being tabloid fodder, dipping in and out of a role as an X Factor judge and making headlines for her inability to stay married, getting some extraordinary tattoos, and making babies with One Direction members (whilst breaking up with them at the same time). It is easy to mock, but also all too easy to forget that her five Number One singles were a record for a British female only recently overtaken by Jess Glynne. So there is very much a sense of the Queen returning to try to reclaim her crown.
New single Love Made Me Do It proves that she still gets first pick of the best material in circulation. It is a compelling and attention-grabbing song, blessed with a sparse production which takes the bold step of bringing her vocals to the fore in a manner rarely seen on Cheryl singles in the past. The standing joke is that of all the members of Girls Aloud she was always the weakest singer. Yet here she is now with a hit record that's a vehicle for a powerful and distinct voice.
Each of the brand new singles from her past albums has shot straight to Number One. That this one doesn't should not come as too much of a shock, although its eventual Number 19 entry point marks a sharp decline from the Top 10 placing which was briefly indicated by its early midweek numbers. In fact, Love Made Me Do It is another of those singles which brings into sharp relief the often startling skew between sales and streaming markets. It is the third most-purchased track of the week, although such is the low level of that market that's still only good for 7,600 sales. What killed the single really is that it only added another 10,000 or so thanks to streams. What was most striking was apparently the way those streams were distributed. Earlier in the week those in the know reported that a full 40% of the single's reported streams were coming via video plays. The average is around half of that. Watch the video for yourself to try to work out why. In the meantime, we wait to see just what happens to Love Made Me Do It next. It isn't about Week 1 anymore, it is what happens in weeks 3, 4, 5 and 6. For now, Cheryl will have to wait to add to her solo career tally of eight Top 10 singles.
Musing On The Troublemakers
Fair play to Ms Tweedy, she is still going strong in show business, it now being a full 16 years since she first came to public attention through the audition process for Popstars: The Rivals. Just behind her in the longevity stakes is a man who emerged as an X Factor contestant during her first tenure as a show judge in 2009 - Olly Murs. Marking the ninth anniversary of his rise to fame, Olly has a brand new album out. You Know I Know is a hybrid: part new album, part greatest hits collection. Hence big things are expected of it over Christmas, despite the failure of its lead single Moves to reach the Top 40 so far. It was also expected to smash its way to the top of the Official UK Albums chart, but fate had other ideas. Standing in the way of Olly are Muse who have long since moved past the need to have hit singles, but who with some ease clock up a sixth Number One album in eight releases with their new album Simulation Theory.
Gravely Beyond Him
It's been a fortnight since the last one, so it must be time for another posthumous XXXtentacion single. I won't lie, they are all starting to merge into one now, but each one appears to have something about it to be worthy of attention. Bad! was one of the last tracks the singer teased he was working on just before his death earlier this year, so I guess the "finished" version was always going to be a candidate for release the moment it was deemed appropriate. I use quotes because there is barely anything to the released track. A new entry at Number 23 this week, Bad! is just 94 seconds long, over and done with before you've even noticed it is there. That's short but by no means the shortest Top 40 single of all time. That honour goes to the Jonny Trunk & Wisbey novelty track The Ladies Bras which reached Number 27 in the spring of 2008 (thanks to the urging of current Radio One chart show host Scott Mills) and which was a mere 37 seconds in length.
Rapper Not Frog
New at Number 25 is Fredo with BMT. If the voice is familiar but the name is not, it is because he was the other half of the lead vocal on Dave's recent Number One single Funky Friday. BMT (short for Big Man Thing) is far and away the biggest solo hit single so far for Fredo, far eclipsing his debut Change which charted at Number 63 just over a year ago. This is the third Top 40 hit in recent months that Fredo has appeared on, his other being a brief contribution to Stay Flee Get Lizzy's Ay Caramba which dips out of the Top 40 this week, having yet to progress beyond Number 32 in what is now a 16-week chart run.
Speaking of long-running yo-yo hits, Jason Derulo's Goodbye climbs the charts again and is this week's Number 26. Now 12 weeks old, the single returns to what has so far been its chart peak, this a position it last scaled five weeks ago.
Prepare To Enter... The Charts!
If you are paying close enough attention, there's a brand new chart phenomenon that has been slowly emerging over the past few months. The very bottom end of the Top 40, positions 31-40 to be precise are turning into their own chart twilight zone. It is often where you will find the bulk of the new entries of the week, but also clearly a holding area as these new hits will often take their time emerging before eventually rocketing up. This week we finally see signs of life from two terrific hits which have been patiently waiting for their turn. When The Party's Over by Billie Eilish dipped to Number 39 last week after reaching the Top 40 for the first time a fortnight ago. This week it recovers in a quite pleasing manner and is up to a new peak for now of 29. Just below another single far too good to be overlooked, the Ellie Goulding/Diplo/Swae Lee collaboration Close To Me moves 34-30, a fortnight after it first charted at 36.
That should give some hope to two of last week's new entries from some very big names which both go into rather startling reverse, Clean Bandit's Baby dipping 33-38 and most surprisingly of all the Calvin Harris/Benny Blanco collision I Found You which drops 35-40. Neither single are dead in the water, they are just treading it in the twilight zone.
Therefore we should not be too surprised if the same fate briefly befalls another huge hit in waiting. Sweet But Psycho from Ava Max is a slice of the 2018 vintage of Transatlantic pop, the single having already been a huge smash hit in Sweden and Norway to name but two countries. Ava (real name Amanda Koci) is actually American, whilst the track itself is the work of Canadian producer Circut, fast emerging as a hitmaker of some note and who last helmed Maroon 5's global smash Girls Like You. That pedigree shows on Sweet But Psycho which, sorry Cheryl, is the best pop song you will hear this week.
Oh, and finally Baby Shark from Pinkfong is back again, climbing to Number 33 on what is now its third visit to the Top 40. That's also the second highest chart position it has reached to date, just shy of the 32 it scaled back in mid-September in its third week on the chart. The chart sales of the children's novelty are almost entirely being driven by YouTube plays, making this the kind of hit record we simply would not have seen before the video service started contributing to the official charts. It may well be the first of many minor chart hits that don't appear because they sell, but because people want to watch them over and over again.