After a January bereft of anything approaching interesting stories the UK singles chart exploded into action this week. A flurry of new releases (including new singles from Fergie and the Kanye/Rihanna/McCartney collaboration made for a great deal of interest. That's before we even got to Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars spending a sixth straight and seventh total week at Number One to make Uptown Funk the longest-running chart-topper since Bleeding Love way back in those crazy heady days of 2007.
Yet there was one other story near the top of the charts that caught my eye sufficiently to mention in the Chart Watch column last weekend. Take Me To Church by Hozier climbed a place to reach a brand new peak of Number 2. Nothing too significant about that you may think - but for the fact that the single has done so it what is now its 22nd week on the Top 75. It was September 13th last year that the track first appeared on the charts, entering at Number 49. It remained there for a fortnight before making the Top 40 for the very first time, and since then it has never left. As I've documented in previous columns this is a single which appeared to have peaked on three or four different occasions, falling back only to regroup and emerge more popular than ever.
To take 22 weeks to reach what appears to be your chart peak is an extremely long time. But it is, believe it or not, a little way short of the all-time record. And this is where it gets complicated.
The all-comers record for slowest chart climb has technically stood for 30 years now. Seminal rap classic White Lines by Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious Five is the record in question. It was February 11th 1984 when the single began its epic chart run, sneaking in at Number 74 (in what was technically a climb from 84 the previous week but in an era when positions below 75 were unofficial and unpublished we can overlook this). Over the next five and a half months the single would move 74-59-52-53-52-49-57-55-56-58-55-52-56-52-48-51-52-46-36-21-12-10-9-8-7, this final peak only arriving on the chart dated July 28th, an epic climb of 25 weeks. To put it another way, the Hozier single will have to wait another four weeks before making an unlikely further climb to Number One in order to beat this particular chart benchmark.
However what I did note on about.com is that White Lines' Top 75 climb actually totals 28 weeks if one takes into account the brief chart run the single had at the very end of 1983, during which time it peaked at Number 60. Yet if one is to take total Top 75 weeks into account the single is a long way from being the record holder.
Step forward instead A Thousand Years by Christina Perri which began its chart career in November 2011, this first chart run lasting just five weeks during which time it peaked at Number 32. Since then however the single has made sporadic chart returns, charting twice in 2012 following the release of the second part of Twilight: Breaking Dawn on whose soundtrack it prominently featured - first in cinemas and then on DVD. During the second chart run at the end of 2012, the single reached a new peak of Number 13. Then in 2013, it was back again, hard on the heels of its use as an audition song on X Factor by hopeful Nicholas MacDonald. The single finally reached its chart peak on September 28th 2013 when it reached Number 11.
Yet all these chart runs add up. Taken together it should be noted that A Thousand Years reached its highest chart placing during its 39th week in total as a Top 75 single - 11 more than even White Lines can boast.
So it seemed important to clarify that point. Part of the problem with chart records is that there is no definitive set of rules for them, we can play around with qualifying criteria as much as we want to highlight benchmarks. So take it whichever way you want. The record for the slowest climb to a chart peak is held either by White Lines or A Thousand Years depending on whether chart weeks are taken consecutively or in total. But so far Take Me To Church has not beaten either.