A Lesson In Promotion
Call me controversial but there are many things to love about the current shape of the music industry, the way matters operate and the way promotional activity meshes together in a never-ending wave of surprises. I've noted in countless interviews with media outlets over the past few years that the rise of the age of streaming and the idea that a song can just... float there for as long as needed in order to break out as a proper hit meant that an entire generation of pluggers, managers and promoters had to essentially toss out the old rulebooks and learn from the ground up how to work and break hits.
What is the most notable promotional trick, the one that keeps everyone guessing, the one that can literally come from nowhere? It is what you might term the mid-release enhancement. That little extra touch which transforms a hot release into merely the appetiser for something more to come. A new version, a new edit, a new mix, a new PARTICIPANT. A single can be a work in progress for as long as you choose, or as long as you have new money to fling at it.
So here we were thinking BREAK MY SOUL was a fait accompli. A teaser single for the new Beyonce album of which much has already been spoken here. A Top 5 hit for good measure before the album arrived, a Top 3 smash the week of its release. So far so good. But then this week Bey and her label turned things up a notch – first with the release of an EP of four new remixes of the track, and then last weekend with the arrival of "The Queens Remix". A collaboration with Madonna (who admittedly only has a cameo role) the new version of BREAK MY SOUL interpolates the beats and vibe of the semi-legendary Vogue and adds in an entirely new spoken verse which sees Beyonce namedrop a whole series of new "queens" including past legends such as Anita Baker, Sade, Jill Scott along with more contemporary names such as Rihanna and Nicki Minaj. Interested parties can check Wikipedia for the rest. So the presumption was that this was the magic touch, the moment that BREAK MY SOUL broke free from its chart chains and soared to No.1
Only it didn't work out that way. The situation at the top of the Official UK Singles chart is just as it was before. Afraid To Feel by LF System remains the undisputed sound of the summer and spends a sixth consecutive week at the top of the charts - extraordinarily increasing in sales to once more reset the ACR clock. BREAK MY SOUL is still hanging in there but its sale of just over 40,000 makes a mockery of all we talked about above for that is actually DOWN on last week's total. Just below the pair of them George Ezra's Green Green Grass rebounds back to its chart peak of No.3 having fallen as far as No.5 over the past couple of weeks, this now its third week in total as a Top 3 single.
Baddest Of Them All?
That means the highest new entry of the week is left to debut at a by no means unimpressive but still slightly unexpectedly low No.4. First I'd like to apologise for possibly calling this into being by wondering out loud a few weeks ago why KSI has been so quiet. Because damn us all he is back with his first single as lead artist in almost exactly a year. The good news is that it is actually rather bloody good. Complete with Tom Grennan in tow, the single plays to the strengths of both men to make the first official pop banger of August. Not Over Yet is KSI's sixth Top 5 hit single, his biggest chart entry since Holiday made No.2 a year ago. For Tom Grennan it is at a stroke the biggest chart hit of his career to date, soaring past the No.7 peak of Little Bit Of Love from early 2021 which was hitherto the high water mark of his career.
Late Night Releases
Speaking of singles that you can continue to work for as long as you choose, Harry Styles' Late Night Talking has technically already been a No.2 hit, landing there contemporaneously with the release of the Harry's House album. But having arrested its gentle downward trajectory at No.13 following the release of an official video (where it has rested there or thereabouts for the past few weeks) the sultry single is now on the move again thanks to the belated release of a CD single of its own and returns to the Top 10 for the first time as it bounces back to No.8 to return to the Top 10 after six weeks away. It takes over as the biggest Styles hit of the moment as As It Was finally lurches to ACR status and crashes out of the Top 10 altogether.
Rounding off a busy Top 10 which enjoys quite the ACR clear-out at long last, I'm pleased to see my powers of clairvoyance are back on song. After noting last week that B.O.T.A. by Liza Rose was a smash in waiting the track bursts into life in a quite dramatic manner, rising from 45 all the way to No.10 - the kind of move that marks it out as a Top 3 track in the making.
In a normal world we could have expected Calvin Harris' new Funk Wav Bounces Vol.2 album to steam straight to the top. But these are not normal times it seems, and so despite being the biggest new release of the week the collection is merely the second highest new entry of the week on the albums chart at No.5 (Eminem's Curtain Call 2 is the biggest at No.3 with Beyonce locked in place at the summit). But this has at least had a positive effect on the fortunes of the hitherto underperforming superstar-laden Stay With Me which advances smartly to this week's No.13 on the singles chart. Honourable mention should also go to the similarly upwardly mobile Ferrari from James Hype and Miggy Dela Rosa which accelerates to No.17.
Bloody Hell There Are New Entries
Quite a string of them to boot, so let's check them all out. There is no hard and fast rule, but based on the pedigree of both stars you can expect a collision between Joel Corry and Becky Hill to be a big deal. I'd be the last person to complain that something is formulaic, but you can guess without even clicking the lyric video below precisely what their new collaboration History sounds like. No matter, it is brand new at No.20 as Corry's 8th single and confirms that Becky Hill is the busiest and most in-demand lady of the moment. And this will be glued like a limpet to the Capital and Radio One playlists from now until half term.
One of the more eyebrow-raising moments of the week is one place below, taking the famous Bee Gees song of the same name as its inspiration Staying Alive is a collaboration between DJ Khaled (and yes, he shouts his name a lot), Drake and Lil Baby. Despite having Khaled's name above the title this is a Drake track in all but name, although it is more worthwhile than most. And no, l've lost count again of how many hits Aubrey has had now, so don't even ask.
New at No.27 is grime cut of the week, Can't Be Us from Headie One, Cadabra and Bandokay. It is the 22nd chart entry for the former, none of which most of us can call to mind. Can I listen the Drake track again please mum? Coming up on the viral side of things is the new entry at No.31 - Hold This from (it says here) fitness influencer turned rapper Hstikkytokky, the chart debut for both him and collaborator J Fado.
And trigger warning alert, because people seem to get all stressed out when he has hit singles, Chris Brown pokes his nose into the Top 40 for the first time in a startlingly long time as Under The Influence appears at No.38. That's enough to make it is his biggest chart single since Go Crazy was a Top 10 hit over two years ago.