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Stop Mr Postman
Changing times means changing attitudes and approaches to certain situations. I'm as guilty as anyone of sneering at the rather desperate decline of the size of the album's market, watching as legacy acts continue to churn out collections that achieve high chart places but which don't actually sell to anyone beyond a core of die-hard supporters. In a world where fewer and fewer of us actually buy music, what is the value of persuading people to purchase a collection of your songs?
Yet for the biggest contemporary artists, there is still value in the concept. Streaming is all about volume, and the more product you put out the greater potential volume you have. Freed too from the strictures of having to create a body of work that fits on a physical format, the door is open to ever-greater levels of self-expression. Even if "albums" that feature more than 20 tracks are incredibly hard going.
So whilst in pure sales terms it may not be the biggest deal in the world, the arrival online (the "dropping") of the new Post Malone album Hollywood's Bleeding meant that in so many ways he and his work was easily the biggest deal of the week. The album itself rockets to the top of the charts, outselling his nearest rival (Ed Sheeran) by a margin of over 2:1. His third chart record, it comfortably becomes his second Number One album in a row following 2018 release Beerbongs & Bentleys. Almost needless to say the overwhelming majority of those chart sales came from streams, the Official Charts Company reporting the total to be as high as 87%. Simply put, the work of the American star pretty much the only thing worth listening to for a great many people over the course of the last week.
And that is another reason why big new albums remain notable and worthy of scrutiny. Because of the inevitable knock-on effect of the singles chart. Only three cuts from Hollywood's Bleeding are allowed to chart, but all three are almost needless to say close to the top end. Leading the way is last week's new single Circles which charges to Number 5, matching the peak of its immediate predecessor from earlier in the summer. That track? Goodbyes which also enjoys a quite remarkable turnaround, climbing 14-10 and returning to the Top 10 for the first time since its debut week inside the Top 5. Since then the single has dipped as low as Number 20 before embarking on the rebound it has enjoyed over the last five weeks. Bringing up the rear is the album's title cut which slides into place at Number 11.
He Still Looks And Sounds 12
Also with long-playing product out, although in this case in the form of an 8-track "EP", was 19-year-old rap sensation Aitch whose first official collection AitcH20 was also in great demand over the last seven days. That lands at Number 3 on the album chart but the extra streams he inspired also meant that he smears himself over a singles chart on which, as we've noted in past weeks, he already has a significant presence.
The biggest boost goes to the album's lead track Taste (Make It Shake) which during the course of the week steadily edged past Higher Love to now sit at a new peak of Number 2. It is still some distance behind the market leader Take Me Back To London by Sheeran and Stormzy, but given that the Manchester man also features on the most prominent remix of the track he can boast an actual (if uncredited) presence on both of the two biggest singles of the week. Aitch also grabs a new entry at Number 21 with Buss Down and Number 43 with Already to give him his full complement of three hits as the lead artist. According to Alan Jones in Music Week, there are an incredible 26 different tracks "starred out" of the charts this week which under previous rules would have occupied the Top 75. A full 14 of them are Post Malone cuts, a further 5 by Aitch.
In London Town (Still)
So how about that, the Number One single of the week becomes an afterthought. Which is wrong because it still dominates the scene with some considerable ease. Take Me Back To London clocks up a third week at the top of the charts, although it is clearly now starting to coast its way to a decline, failing to break 60,000 chart sales this week in marked contrast to the past few weeks which have seen it exceed 66K. This week's Number 3 track Higher Love from Kygo and Whitney remains the best-selling paid-for track of the moment. It's total this week? 5,655 copies. That's merely a reflection on the continuing heat death of the sales market. Paid sales hit a new modern era low this week, with just 616,000 digital downloads or physical singles sold across the UK. That's the lowest since the start of 2005 before digital singles were counted for the survey. In that week (Week Ending March 19th 2005) the singles market amounted to just over 520,000 physical singles, and a full 30% of those were that week's Number One. Let's see if the 2019 market dips below half a million by Christmas.
Take A Ride With Jay
There's some good progress for Regard's Ride It, the classy club track oozing its way up to Number 15. The way the single has been released and is credited remains absorbing. Ride It first appeared at the start of last year and was originally conceived as nothing more than a creative remix of the 2008 Jay Sean hit of the same name and whose sped up and processed vocals it uses. The fact that it is now an overground commercial smash but credited to DJ Regard alone, charting neither as a Jay Sean track or even as "Regard x (or vs) Jay Sean" means that somebody somewhere has cut a fantastic licensing deal. It is a Jay Sean track, on which he sings. Yet he's cut out of the credit for it almost entirely. In any event, keep an eye on its chart placing - the original peaked at Number 11 in February 2008.
Dominating From Now Until Christmas, Just Watch
Also from the "get up and dance" pile is Dance Monkey from Tones & I (the alias of Australian singer Toni Watson) which has spent the past fortnight working its way through the 40-31 dead zone but which now appears to have sprung properly into life with a climb to Number 19. The track is the kind of addictive, infectious novelty which works its way into your brain after just one listen, it has until now been something of a curiosity that the British market has taken so long to wake up to its charms. Ireland caught on far quicker and the single is lodged firmly at Number One over there, duplicating the success it first achieved in Scandinavian countries over the summer. Meanwhile, it remains lodged at the top of the charts in her home country, spending longer at the top there than any single by a female artist since Kylie made her debut.
Big Mike Is Back
Stormzy had a new single out this week, although as if to prove there is nothing too certain in this life it has actually experienced a slower start than you might have anticipated. Whereas Vossi Bop charged to the very top of the charts the moment it was released, and its swiftly released companion Crown made a similarly strong Top 5 debut, Sounds Of The Skeng takes an almost understated bow at Number 20. Truth be told though, this single is a means to an end, designed really to maintain anticipation for the release of his forthcoming new album. Even if the name, tracklisting and even the release date of that collection, for now, remains a closely guarded secret. Chart position notwithstanding, Sounds Of The Skeng is another enormously enjoyable stream of consciousness from Big Mike, and any track which manages to rhyme "sticks now" with "prick now" and "Brits now" deserves at least a second listen.
Top Of The Morning
I've been studiously ignoring it in the hope that it will fade away and justify me doing so, but it is no longer possible to ignore the lower end chart run of Outnumbered by Dermot Kennedy which this week edges up to yet another new peak of Number 23. A guitar-led singer-songwriter in the Sheeran or Capaldi model, Kennedy's major selling point is the fact that he is Irish. It means when he does the almost obligatory half-singing half-narrating delivery of the verses his strong accent comes to the fore. Outnumbered is thus a track which achieves the impossible feat of sounding just like so many others of its genre but distinctively different at the same time. And it has been charting for 12 weeks now in the slowest of slow burns.
My Heart Is In Her
Like so many other internet users I'm delighted at this moment to have cause to write about Camila Cabello without needing to mention "kissing like a fish" videos. Except in passing. Instead, it is all about her new single Liar, a release which kicks into gear the promotion for her own brand new album. It is, admittedly, a fairly lightweight ska-flavoured pop track on which her usual little girl lost vocals are pleasingly in evidence, but in reality it is all about the six-minute video which sees her trapped in an ever-escalating series of bizarre Groundhog Day experiences involving swarms of drones and falling eleph...oh just watch it. It makes the Top 40, but only just with a debut position of Number 38.
Liar is actually one half of a twin release, accompanied by a second track Shameless which also has a full video made and is clearly intended to be of equal weight. This one, however, finds rather less favour with purchasers and streamers and limps to a rather more lowly Number 50.
Doing It Stylee
Desperately searching for a reason to remain relevant, Miley Cyrus can at least celebrate at long last a second Top 40 hit this year. Her latest track Slide Away did a "Katy Perry" four weeks ago when it debuted at Number 42 and proceeded to go into reverse. A concerted effort has pushed the single back up the charts meaning it just scrapes in at Number 40. It means she maintains a near-perfect chart record. Her only chart single since her 2008 debut is 2017 cut Younger Now which made a brief appearance at Number 54. The better news is that she is more than likely to find herself near if not at the very top end of the singles chart next week, all thanks to her presence on the all-star soundtrack single Don’t Call Me Angel. This week belonged to Post Malone. Next week will belong to Ariana, Miley and Lana, you can more or less guarantee.