Amen

Taylor Swift.

No, she has nothing to do with the charts this week, but she seems to be all anyone is capable of talking about right at this moment, so I thought I'd join the party early. Much more about her next week though. Call this an easter egg I've dropped.

No, the Official UK Singles chart this week remains all about Hozier as the Irishman proves that last week was no one-off. Too Sweet consolidates its place at the very top of the singles market and spends a second straight week at No1. People are still ignoring the Irishness of Brian McFadden for some reason as the last solo artist from the Emerald Isle to top the British charts (even Official Charts keep repeating the error), but with this second week at the summit Hozier now has the longest-running No.1 single by an Irishman since Ronan Keating also had two weeks at the top with When You Say Nothing At All way back in 1999. Or to put it another way, when Hozier himself was just nine years old.

Just below him Benson Boone's request to PLEEEEAASE STAAAAAY in second place is fulfilled as the former No.1 single clings doggedly on. Third place however now belongs to Artemas as I Like The Way You Kiss Me rises to a new peak and in the process makes him the first British artist to have a Top 3 single since Sophie Ellis-Bextor fully two months ago.

Go Sabz

Earlier today (Friday) I read a profound tweet from someone noting that there is a fun duality between acts such as Olivia Rodrigo and Sabrina Carpenter. Olivia's songs are all "I'm so insecure and crazy and I'm going to die" while Sabrina's follow the theme of "every boy is in love with me and that makes complete sense". Made me laugh anyway. We now get to test the hypothesis as Ms Carpenter lands the highest new entry with Espresso, a song that is indeed about the boy who "can't stop calling". It is a curious song, a slick disco-funk revival track that could well have marched straight off the grooves of Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia album. Yet it is a brand new original song, penned by Sabrina herself and while it may well be the sound of four (and 40) years ago at a stroke it becomes far and away the biggest hit single yet for the former Disney princess. Espresso blasts its way to No.6, beating with some ease the No.19 peak of last November's Feather.

Lip Predicts

With no small amount of irony the second new entry inside the Top 10 is by… Dua Lipa! Illusion becomes the third Top 10 single in a row from her forthcoming Radical Optimism album (itself still a fortnight away from release). Coming hard on the heels of Houdini and Training Season it is yet another track which fizzes with enthusiasm and comes with a video that sees her gyrating in a leotard in an exotic location but which somehow still lacks the tiny bit of magic that made her last album such a spectacular success. Are we expecting too much? You cannot argue with the chart positions after all and with the aforementioned Training Season still floating around at No.15 she is one of only two acts this week with two singles in the Top 30. So she must be doing something right.

Fancy A Pez?

We talk so often of quiet weeks for new releases, so let us wallow in the presence of no fewer than three solo female starlets with Top 10 debuts. Bringing up the rear but by no means the least significant, Forget About Us opens the solo account of Perrie Edwards as it lands at No.10. My favourite point still bears repeating, the members of Little Mix - much like One Direction before them - were singers who failed their solo auditions for X Factor but who were thrown into manufactured pop groups to huge success. To then pivot back to pushing them as solo performers requires everyone to forget the back story and concentrate on just how famous they already are. Perrie (as she is monomously to be billed) does at least have the advantage of having been one of the more distinctive voices in Little Mix, her vocals tones on this single instantly recognisable as the same voice which carried many of the famous hits of her former group.

Perrie's solo hit follows in the footsteps of former bandmates Jesy Nelson who reached No.4 with debut hit Boyz in 2021 (and whose solo career has fallen down the dumper since) and Leigh-Ann (Pinnock) who had a brace of hit singles last year but failed to make the Top 10 with either. The final member of the group Jade Thirwell inked a solo deal two years ago but that has yet to bear fruit. Woe betide they should all go head to head with each other after all.

Hits From Others

Notable action in the rest of the Top 20 is limited to the movement of one song - Happier from The Blessed Madonna and Clementine Douglas which reaches a new peak of No.17. Perhaps that is the price we pay for a Top 10 so rammed with entertainment.

And so, as seems to now be the regular pattern, we deal with the handful of new arrivals that pepper the lower reaches. Best of the rest is 19-year-old American rapper Lay Bankz whose debut single Tell UR Girlfriend is far and away the biggest chart gainer of the week, taking a 92-31 flying leap to make the Top 40 for the very first time. The insanely catchy electronic track is both TikTok- and radio-friendly, so it is easy to understand why this has such momentum behind it.

Also new is American alt-pop performer Chappell Roan with the quite exquisite Good Luck Babe! The synth pop revival single wears its heart on its sleeve and its tongue firmly in its cheek (at least I hope it does) and after debuting at No.64 last week shoots to No.33 and is about to become this column's new favourite obsession - assuming it gets further. Roan's album The Rise And Fall Of A Midwest Princess, self-released after two different labels signed it and then passed, has been available since last September but only now charts for the first time and sits at No.68.

The Words Are: F**k Off

Shall we flash back once more to 2004? Natasha Bedingfield now has no less than two of her old hits back on the Top 40. Unwritten is the track that refuses to die, still a Top 20 single at No.18. But it is now joined by its original predecessor her former No.1 single These Words is back on the chart for the first time in 20 years, albeit in a radically different form. Producer Badger is at fault here, speeding up her original vocal and adding it to a new stutter house beat to what is, regrettably, quite horrible effect. The intention clearly was to ape tracks such as Rain Radio's Talk About or Casso's Prada but the bowlderisation of These Words isn't done with a fraction of the charm or aplomb as the aforementioned pair of vocal remixes. These Words by Badger & Natasha Bedingfield clearly has its appeal, and it too has a rocket strapped to its back with a 91-35 jump. But pray this one doesn't get any further.

Bringing up the rear this week is Tyla, on the hunt for a follow-up to Water and doing so in the teeth of grumpy reviews for her recently released debut album given it appears to contain nothing to compare to that previous instant classic. But after four weeks it does at least spawn a second hit in the shape of Jump, a track co-credited to both Gunna and Skillinbeng and which crawls to a new No.38 peak.

It would be remiss of me not to finish this week by acknowledging the No.1 album of the week. Yummy is the latest offering from revived 90s legends James, and after two consecutive No.3 peaks with their last two albums they finally achieve something they have never managed before in their 40 years in the music business - a No.1 record. At least not with a studio album anyway. James' only chart-topper prior to today was 1998 hits collection The Best Of which landed a week at the summit in April of that year. A fate inevitably set to befall this record too (indeed their last few releases have all only managed a solitary week on the albums chart). Everyone make way for Taylor. Ain't nothing stopping her next time around, however tedious her record might be.

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