Starting At The Top
Admit it, this was all too predictable.
Given the manner in which it debuted at the top of the charts last week, notching up streaming numbers which put it effectively out of reach of anything else in the market, and given the way Drake is one of those artists whose tracks do not enjoy swift drop-offs in interest, the fact that God's Plan remains at the top of the Official UK Singles chart for a second week is no surprise at all.
God's Plan tops the charts with a combined sale of 61,000 copies. That's almost 18,000 more than its nearest rival and a further 11% jump on its total sale last week. A bridge that nobody is capable of crossing for the moment.
Unless something or someone else comes along to blow him out of the water, it is hard not to assume we are here for an extended run. So the only way to make the most of this is to cultivate an appreciation of the Number One song of the moment. Fortunately, this isn't hard to do. God's Plan more than earns its place as a chart-topping single, ranking as one of the better Drake singles you have heard. The combination of its earworm of a lo-fi rhythm loop, the almost hypnotic delivery of his vocals and a lyric which compels you to delve ever deeper into the meaning of the track all add up to a more compelling package than the casual listener may appreciate.
The only frustration really remains the track's invisibility socially. We still have neither video nor audio upload that is publicly shareable, and your only access to the track, for now, remains the major streaming services. With the added benefit of course that each time you do it only further adds to the track's chart tally. Meanwhile, it seems also necessary to note the curious way the popularity of God's Plan is not being mirrored by the second track on the Scary Hours EP. Having debuted at Number 21 last week, Diplomatic Immunity slips back this time around to Number 36.
The sense of stillness across the upper end of the singles chart actually extends across the entire Top 4, as nobody else manages to make a move either. This is possibly most to the detriment of Dua Lipa as IDGAF remains locked in place at Number 4 and unable for now to advance to fulfil its destiny as a single barred from the very top of the charts. Its lengthy run at Number 2 is coming though, mark my words.
Cynical? Me? Never... I'm just trying to be a chart soothsayer. In the hope perhaps that I'm instantly proven wrong.
We Were Number 2 By Wednesday
It appeared to be Craig David's destiny to land another Number One album this week (what would have been his third) but his latest long player The Time Is Now lands instead at Number 2. The release of the album does at least benefit its current hit single as I Know You advances a further five places to Number 5 on the singles chart. That's enough to make this Craig David's first Top 5 hit single for an astonishing 12 years, his biggest chart record since Don't Love You No More reached Number 4 in November 2005.
The album that prevents Craig David from reaching the summit? The Greatest Showman soundtrack, naturally enough. Four weeks in a row at the top is now the longest chart-topping run by any album since Ed Sheeran's Divide enjoyed a nine-week run in the first of its many trips to the top of the charts in March last year. Meanwhile its most prominent hit single, Keala Settle's This Is Me holds firm at Number 8. I'm grateful to the commenter last week who noted that the last Top 10 hit single from a live-action Hollywood musical was a more recent one than we thought. The honour technically goes to Listen as performed by Beyonce from the Dreamgirls soundtrack. I say "technically" as the single's original chart run coinciding with the movie's release saw it peak at a mere Number 16 in the spring of 2007. Its Top 10 run was almost two years later in December 2008 when it shot to Number 8 following the X Factor final that year when ultimate winner Alexandra Burke performed the song alongside the lady herself.
Just one single enters the Top 10 this week, although that song is refreshingly Strangers from Sigrid which eases four places to Number 10, coinciding with it continuing to be the most-purchased track of the week. Just denied a trip to the upper reaches, for now, is Rudimental's These Days which makes a flying leap to Number 11. Of the three credited guest performers on the single, this is for now mostly to the benefit of Macklemore who is enjoying his first Top 20 hit single since Downtown also reached Number 11 in October 2015. His last Top 10 single was Same Love which reached Number 6 way back in 2013.
The song missing from the Top 10? Perfect by Ed Sheeran which gets the Accelerated Chart Ratio hook and thus dips 7-18. It remains sufficiently well-streamed to ensure it will probably take up residence at the lower end of the Top 20 for a good few weeks yet, just like New Rules did at the tail end of last year.
Peak Nerd Approaching
We've noted it every week it has climbed the chart this year, so why stop now. The ever more extraordinary chart run of Feel It Still by Portugal. The Man continues with a further seven place climb to Number 13. The initial promotion of the single may actually have done it a disservice, with much of the focus going on the idea that it is an unusual hit single from a rock band. Which the six-piece may well be. Except that their global smash hit is hardly 'rock' at all. Simply a catchy and irresistibly funky pop record.
With Feel It Still now 27 weeks old and still climbing, an almost unknown chart feat, we actually have a chance to examine some of the data this gives us. I took the time this week to plot the correlation between the track's sales and download performance and its overall chart placing with some quite fascinating results.
In the first instance, it is fun to note that the single's Official UK Singles chart debut, its first foray into the Top 100 back in August, actually pre-dated its first appearance on both sales and streams Top 100 charts. How is that possible? Well simply because these two tables are unfiltered, a plain ranking of the most bought and most played tracks without the adjustments to ratios and three-per-artist rule which is used on the main singles chart. And it is the latter rule which caused this strange anomaly, the removal of multiple Ed Sheeran singles from the main chart in the summer giving a boost to singles that would otherwise be outside the rankings. Feel It Still was actually one of the first otherwise ignored tracks to benefit from this change in chart rules.
But then look at the way the single has moved since then. The path it has traced on the combined chart (grey line) has largely mirrored its performance on the streaming chart (orange line). Its more erratic movement on the sales chart didn't impact the single at all during the first half of its chart life. I think that possibly illustrates the volatility of the ever-shrinking sales market, particularly down at the bottom end. Either that or once you get below the Top 50 paid for sales of singles are so small as to be insignificant when it comes to chart positions.
Still, it is sales the track has to thank for sustaining its Top 100 run at the end of December. You can tell when that was, the gap in the orange line marking the point when the streaming chart was invaded by Christmas records. Feel it Still was only prevented from dropping out the chart (even temporarily) by the fact that this was the moment its sales finally took off. Since the new year they have gone through the roof (it is Number 3 on the sales chart this week) and have dragged the track kicking and screaming up the official chart in their wake. Its streams still lag a little, but even they have shown a pleasing upward trend of late. The story of this single is by no means over yet.
A Fine Line Manchild
Of last week's new entries, the most pleasing rise is the 32-22 climb for Fine Line by Mabel and Not3s, although entertainingly this single still lags behind the Not3s own single My Lover, the Mabel-featuring remix of the track easily the version which is driving its own popularity even if the charts don't acknowledge this. That single rises a single place this week to Number 16.
Quavo More Famous Than Any Of Them
For the second week running Drake can boast the highest new entry of the week, this time as a collaborator with Migos on their new single Walk It Talk It which lands at Number 31, this one of a number of tracks from their album Culture II which itself lands at Number 4 on the album chart. That is one place behind the chart peak of Migos' most notable hit to date, their debut Bad And Boujee. This was one of those singles which came loaded with the weight of expectation following its success in topping the American charts only to be largely ignored by the British public. Since then Migos have appeared on Calvin Harris' Slide (a Number 10 hit) and Katy Perry's Bon Appetit (only Number 37). Their last official single as lead artists Motor Sport could only reach Number 49 despite the presence of both Nicki Minaj and Cardi B on guest vocals (although it rebounds this week to match that chart peak - again thanks to the availability of the album). With man of the moment Drake in tow on Walk It Talk It you can understand why expectations may be higher for this one.
The Reviews Have Been Terrible
One place lower at Number 32 is Justin Timberlake. Not with Filthy which consolidates its position as a bit of a bomb and drops out of the Top 40 altogether. No, instead this is the more conventional sounding Say Something, released as the final promotional single from his new album Man Of The Woods which is in digital stores as we speak. Once more it seems necessary to call back to Timberlake's last album in 2013 when first single Suit and Tie shot in and out of the charts, leaving the more considered Mirrors to become the smash hit and become an easy Number One hit. On that basis, the omens for Say Something appear slightly better than both the ill-starred lead single and also second promotional track Supplies which could only reach Number 84 a week ago.
The final new hit of the week is Game Changer, handing a debut hit for Birmingham rapper Mist at Number 35. I don't think this one is very good, can we leave it at that?
The Future Is Now
Let's finish on stat-watch. The singles market hit a new record high of 16m sales and equivalent streams last week. Meanwhile, streams hit 93% of the market, this too a record. Paid for sales haven't dipped below a million since that watershed week back in December but they remain 25% lower than they were this time last year. That's a full quarter of the market which has vanished forever in the space of 12 months. This week five years ago they stood at 3.5m.