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Life With You Is Never Boring
This article is not about the Brit Awards.
The music industry's annual night out at the O2 took place on Wednesday evening, and as ever at precisely the wrong point in the chart week for any effect to be immediately apparent. Anyone attempting to extrapolate the impact of gongs being received or live performances on the night on this week's singles and albums charts are going to be sorely tested. Just one day of sales data was gathered after the show, hardly enough to make a dent in the survey. Plus there's the charts' guilty secret, that almost every week streaming data for Thursday from the major providers has to be extrapolated from that already submitted, Spotify and Apple consistently unable to hit the cut off deadline for chart compilation. Whilst there were spikes for the songs performed live (One Kiss up 42,000 on Friday on Spotify, Promises up 53,000), these are by and large invisible to the chart computers. And once again, it is only one day of form changes. Wait for next week. Then we'll see some surges.
All Ringed Up And No Place To Go
Actually, it is just as well we can discard the Brits. Because that might have distracted from the sheer OMG of Ariana Grande's continuing dominance of both sides of the charts. As if to prove there is always some new benchmark to be set or some first to achieve, one week after becoming the first ever woman to replace herself at the top of the Official UK Singles Chart, Ariana Grande is now the first act of any kind to replace herself in consecutive weeks. Elvis Presley came closest to doing it in the early weeks of 2005 with the DualDisc re-releases of his past Number One hits. But although One Night succeeded Jailhouse Rock, his next weekly release A Fool Such As I was relegated to a Number 2 entry by Goodies from Ciara and Petey Pablo.
Ariana's two smash hits of the moment spent the week swapping places on the midweeks, meaning it really was anyone's guess as to which would end up on top at the final reckoning. In the end, the gap between the two was a mere 187 chart sales - 61,891 playing 61,704. Your winner then is 7 Rings, knocked off Number One last time around but which now returns to the top of the charts for its fourth week in total, the first single to yo-yo at the top of the charts since Promises in October last year. That leaves break up with your girlfriend, I'm bored languishing in second place, and what happens to it next is anyone's guess. Both singles are there by dint of their large numbers of audio streams, but what is most interesting is that 7 Rings has remained top of the streaming charts, despite being nudged into second place last week. break up… had the slight edge last time around thanks to sales, an advantage that has now evaporated as the album cut sinks to Number 12 on the sales chart, 7 Rings the easy winner here too at Number 9.
We Chart Watchers were also expecting Ariana's third permitted hit to swap places with one of its fellow album cuts. In the end, that didn't happen and Needy remains her third permitted chart hit of the moment, sliding to Number 11. It is actually her fourth most-played track of the moment, it is just that thank u, next remains on ACR and so for the moment is invisible. Don't bet against it returning to the chart at some point once the streams of the album cuts finally quieten down.
Catching A Movie
thank u, next remains top of the Official UK Albums chart for a second week. Rather cutely the next three most popular long players are all movie soundtracks - The Greatest Showman at 2, A Star Is Born at 3 and the Bohemian Rhapsody soundtrack at 4, even if the latter is credited to Queen given that the veteran rock band supply all the songs it contains.
Back to singles, and in another small surprise, Lewis Capaldi's Someone You Loved holds firm at Number 3. Early midweek updates suggested Giant from Calvin Harris and Rag'N'Bone Man would climb to a new peak, buoyed largely by a performance on the Graham Norton show last weekend, although a new Robin Schulz remix is also being credited for giving it a slight lift. Giant also had some Brit Awards exposure, part of the medley of all of Calvin Harris' hits of the last 12 months. So although it isn't Top 3 this time around, it still has one more shot at the prize. It remains the Number One single on the old school sales chart, although that still only means it sold 13,000 copies last week. Because nobody actually buys singles with any regularity any more.
The Right Choice
It has spent the last five weeks floating around the Top 20, four of them either at positions 11 or 12, but Options by NSG featuring Tion Wayne finally has its patience rewarded and is a Top 10 hit single this week with a climb to Number 9. One of the most doggedly consistent breakthrough hits of the new year, it gives you a warm feeling to finally see it make this final step. And the point is worth repeating: far too many grime or trap singles are one week wonders, propelled there by fan surges but then failing to make any kind of lasting streaming impact. Options is different, a genuine crossover hit. Does this matter to the artists themselves? Hell yes, it does:
Exactly one year ago Cardi B and Bruno Mars were in the Top 10 together, the occasion being a remix of the latter's track Finesse which helped to propel the cut from his year-old album into the charts for one final hurrah. Now the favour is returned, Mars popping up as the guest star of Cardi B for her brand new single Please Me which smashes into the charts at Number 12. As is so often the case, the single came from almost out of nowhere, Cardi having deactivated her social media in what many assumed was a sulk from the backlash against her Best Rap Album Grammy Award only to fire back up to "come out of retirement" with the new hit. Co-written and co-produced by Mars it might as well be his record anyway, but as a repeat of a winning formula, it is pretty hard to knock. With most of her biggest successes having come as a guest on other people's singles, this is actually Cardi B's second biggest hit to date as a lead artist - second only to last summer's eternal banger I Like It which peaked at Number 8. No video as yet, so there is more to come from this one.
Still Not Over It
A chart move which comes tinged with regret is the 34-14 jump enjoyed by Advice, the track now serving as a posthumous tribute to its lead artist Cadet following his recent death. The chart climb wasn't entirely unexpected, it is actually a consequence of last week's post-tragedy surge moving the track back off ACR and onto the standard chart ratio again. Even so, it is now a brand new peak for the single which first reached Number 27 just after Christmas.
A Man's Place Is In One
The world of grime hands us the next chart entry of the week as Kitchen Kings from D-Block Europe surges 67-16 in what you would hope is more than a one-week high profile appearance. The otherwise random jump is due to the appearance of the D-Block Europe album Home Alone which is the highest new entry on the album chart this week, landing at Number 6. D-Block Europe is a grime collective, although their leading lights are Young Adz and Dirtbike LB who are indeed the main performers on this track. It is their second chart single, following on from Nassty which had a slightly lower profile, peaking at Number 35 in November last year - that hit credited both to the collective as a whole as well as its individual performers. In the ever-intertwined world of British rap, although Home Alone is the first D-Block Europe album to chart, they were also collaborators with Yxng Bane on his Any Minute Now collection which enjoyed a Top 20 chart run in July last year. Is Kitchen Kings any good? Actually, yes. And does it matter to them where they are in the charts? Also yes.
Alexa Lights Off
Tom Walker didn't really need a Brit Awards appearance and the Best British Breakthrough award to boost his profile, he seems to be doing fine by himself. His second major hit Just You And I makes another climb this week and moves 30-19 to become his second Top 20 hit single.
Meanwhile, it is still worth tracking the next moves of its predecessor Leave A Light On. The older single is being boosted by a version I referred to last week, a charity re-recording where the Scotsman is accompanied by former talent show discoveries The Red Hot Chili Pipers. But here is where it gets interesting. Although the bagpipe players are the credited lead artist on the release, the Official Charts Company have taken the view that "it is Tom Walker performing a Tom Walker song" and combined the sales and streams of the new version with the original. That's enough to ensure the track moves 76-49 and indeed it seems dangerously close to becoming the first single so far to be relegated to ACR twice only to be promoted back each time. That's actually raised one or two eyebrows in places, given that four years ago the Sam Smith/John Legend charity remake of his own Lay Me Down charted separately from the original. But that was an exception. The Tom Walker situation is the rule.
A seventeen place jump propels Thotiana, the debut single from American rapper Blueface to a very much on fire new peak of Number 23. The chart credits the rapper alone as it was originally a standalone track on his 2018 mixtape Famous Cryp. There are also three remixes, featuring added vocals from YG and Cardi B respectively (the third combines the two). The version with both appears to be the "official" one, although there are videos for both the YG and Cardi versions. All are combined for this chart placing. Just don't ask him to record a version with bagpipes.
Cushion Like Me
Speaking of videos, Little Mix's single version of Think About Us finally got one this week, returning the struggling single to the Top 40 for a second time and a new peak of Number 26. To confuse matters they performed Woman Like Me in the now infamous scatter-cushion moving staging at the Brits, so we'll see exactly which song people have focused on next week. Would anyone have minded if they performed the new single really?
Finally, as odd though it may seem, we round off this week with another 'name' new entry. Number 37 as the starting point for Zedd's new single 365 may seem slightly lowly given the presence of Katy Perry on lead vocals. But Zedd singles start small and grow huge. Just over a year ago The Middle was still in the middle of its slow climb to even make the Top 40. More on this one when it grows - as surely it must.