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She's Been Dancing The Whole Week
Being Number One on the charts can have a transformative effect. On your status, your marketability, but very often on the perception of the single with which you've made it. So it proves for Dance Monkey whose sales and streams shot further into the stratosphere the moment it reached the top of the Official UK Singles chart last week. The Australian track last week chalked up a chart sale of over 71,000 copies with its streams rocketing up to a huge 7.34m during the course of the week. That's the highest chart sale achieved by any Number One single in almost three months. It means a second week at the top for Tones & I is the order of the day. Meanwhile, the track continues to wind its way into popular culture and literally seems to be on the radio every time you turn it on. It all leaves Toni Watson with just one remaining challenge - can any of her other material come even close to matching this kind of international success. When you start at the very top, the only way forward is often down. Just ask Meghan Trainor.
Higher Baby, Get Higher Baby
So the destination of the Number One single was settled fairly early on in the week, something which might not have appeared to be the case as early as Friday and Saturday when one notable new single shot straight to the top of the download tables in a manner which suggested it was there for the long haul. American rapper Travis Scott had already carved out an extended chart career for himself thanks to a serious of guest appearances, but he shot into the charts as a solo star in August last year, all thanks to his third album Astroworld. Of its charted cuts, Stargazing reached Number 15 but it was Sicko Mode which led the way, charting at Number 9 and spending seven weeks floating around the Top 20. Since then the former Mr Kylie Jenner has hit the collaborations trail, appearing on no fewer than five different chart singles since the start of this year - most notably Young Thug's The London which hit Number 18 back in June.
So inevitably his first new solo material in a year was always destined to make an immediate impact. His new single HIGHEST IN THE ROOM (the capitals are important for some reason) is perhaps not the most immediate of pop records, following as it does the Drake template of finding a groove and sitting in it for as long as possible, but as its initial streaming numbers indicated this was something that everyone had to hear at least once. Those who did come back for more were, however, fewer in number and the pace slackened off midweek. HIGHEST IN THE ROOM stays true to the principle of nominative determinism, is the highest new entry of the week and at Number 2 gives Travis Scott his highest chart placing to date. But this wasn't the instantaneous Number One you could have been forgiven for assuming it to be. Although with a total chart sale in the end of just 48,000 copies it was never really destined to sneak its way to the top.
If nothing else it is new blood in the Top 10 which is increasingly full of singles close to outstaying their welcome. We have Ladbroke Grove at 4, now on its 13th week as a Top 10 single; Higher Love at 6 (11th week); Sorry at 7 (8th week); and 3 Nights at 9 (11th week). All four are set to experience, or are on the verge of, an ACR exit - just like Aitch's Taste (Make It Shake) which crashes 4-26 this week for that very reason. Some fresh sounds are on the way, and in truth, they cannot come soon enough.
Fear Not The Irish
On the Official UK Albums chart, the runaway champion of the week is Irishman Dermot Kennedy, his debut release Without Fear knocking even The Beatles down a place after one week at the top. It is an achievement of some significance, this making him the first Irishman in almost 20 years to top the British album charts with his debut release. The last person credited with this feat is Ronan Keating, who reached the top with his self-titled album in July 2000 - although to mark this as his "debut" is something of a stretch given his previous six-year career as a member of Boyzone. In any event, Dermot flies the flag for the Emerald Isle and so gets a trophy to put in the downstairs toilet as well.
The release of his album was to the benefit of Dermot Kennedy's current single as well, Outnumbered continuing what is now a steady 14-week climb with a 14-8 jump to hand him a first-ever Top 10 single. The track rockets to 4 on the sales chart, but its chart position is needless to say being assisted no end by the pleasing level of streams it is attracting, Outnumbered rising to the Top 20 of that particular table this week. Fascinatingly few of the other tracks on the album were able to attract that kind of attention, but Kennedy just manages to land his full complement of three permitted chart singles with album cuts Power Over Me and All My Friends charting at 88 and 89 respectively.
Out Of The Teens
As for what might make the Top 10 once the ACR clearout is underway, keep your eye on Jorja Smith's Be Honest which reaches a new peak of Number 11 this week, as well as Sam Feldt's evergreen Post Malone which finally breaks out of the spin cycle it was stranded in and creeps to a new peak of its own at Number 13.
The drive to turn pretty boy country stars into mainstream pop performers continues apace with the British chart debut of Dan & Shay. The Nashville pair are CMA winners already, with seven entries on the American charts to their name and are fascinatingly signed to celebrated urban label Def Jam. They crash into the charts this week at Number 19 with their first international hit 10000 Hours. Whilst this may appear to be slightly out of nowhere, clues to the track's appeal come when you study the full credits (or indeed listen to it in full) wherein you will note the presence of one Justin Bieber. This chart placing for the moment has come largely thanks to a strong paid-for sale (it is Number 7 on the sales only chart) but this is a useful foot in the door, and there are precious few instant Top 20 hits which vanish from sight quickly. This is a deceptively gorgeous country-pop single and has the potential to cross over still further. Keep an eye out.
Summer Ain't Over
Another name on everyone's "one to watch" lists for much of this year has been 23-year-old Atlantan Summer Walker. Getting anyone else to take notice has however been hard work, her only chart appearance of any note being a remix of Girls Need Love, which originally appeared on her debut mixtape Last Day Of Summer last year. A new version featuring added Drake vocals could only make it to Number 41 before expiring earlier in the year. But this week her first album proper Over It was released, and despite the singer not having a hit to her name it debuts on the album chart at Number 7. That neatly coincided with the release of a video for its final teaser track Playing Games which duly rockets 93-25 to send the singer-songwriter into the upper reaches of the charts for the very first time. Precisely what marks her out as special evades me slightly for the moment, but the track is a worthwhile use of just under three minutes of your time to appreciate. It is where she goes from here that counts the most.
As we continue to scrape the bottom of the Top 40 pan for chart action, it is fun to note the two former members of Fifth Harmony taking turns to occupy the Number 27 position. Normani vacates it with her misfiring Motivation taking a four-place dive. Replacing her is Camila Cabello who sees Liar make a pleasing eight place climb, up from 35 last week. The inability of some quite ace pop singles to haul themselves out of the 40-25 dead zone whilst the Top 10 remains becalmed remains one of the more aggravating aspects of chart watching at the present time. Meanwhile Tiesto & Mabel's God Is A Dancer oozes 33-32, Lauv and Anne-Marie f**k their way to a one place climb to 35 and Lizzo has no less than two concurrent hits (Good As Hell at 28, Truth Hurts at 33) with neither fulfilling her destiny of being a chart star with a major smash hit. At least for now.
Turn It Up
Still, there is at least momentum behind Turn Me On from Riton & Oliver Heldens featuring Vula. New to the Top 40 at Number 39 last week, the single eases up to Number 29 to make the Top 30 for the first time. For the second week running it is the Number 3 single on the sales chart, a club hit of enormous appeal to the older demographic which still buys music but which is still waiting for the streaming generation to catch on to its merits.
Finally, we have a new Top 40 hit from perennial slow-burner Halsey who has her third such hit of the year with Graveyard, this week's Number 38 in its fourth week on the chart. It is a track taken from her forthcoming new album Manic which is scheduled for a mid-January release (and yes, we are indeed now looking forward to music being released in 2020). The potential contents of that album remain the subject of much fan speculation, sites such as Apple Music suggesting it will include her 2018 smash hit Without Me but won't feature Nightmare, her rather thrilling last single which failed to progress beyond its initial Number 26 entry point back in May.
Neither Of Them Are At Zayn's Level
We'll conclude this week with a fun One Direction watch. Niall Horan prepares for the release of his second solo album with a new entry at Number 51 for its lead single Nice To Meet Ya. All eyes on Harry Styles, also due to release a sophomore effort and who has a new single of his own out. Will Lights Up light up the charts any more than his former bandmate's single did? I can't wait to find out.