I Got New Rules (arf)

Some brief admin to start, as a new set of chart rules slipped quietly out this week, the Chart Supervisory Committee having done their customary summertime tweaks to the rules which govern chart compilation.

Much as airline safety rules develop as a reaction to things that have gone wrong in the past, tweaks to chart rules these days are often a reaction to circumstances that have arisen for which the current set of regulations have proven inadequate. Unofficially (or at least in the universe of this site) we sometimes name them after the acts in question whose exploits have prompted them. Thus the rules allowing so-called instant grat purchases is the “David Bowie rule” and the notorious regulation restricting acts to three simultaneous hit singles will forever more be the “Ed Sheeran rule”.

So this month to add to the canon we have a new rule disqualifying sales of signed singles from the chart, this the “Lewis Capaldi rule” to directly inhibit the kind of chart-bending stunt which gifted the Scottish singer what you might regard as undeserved No.1 singles around the turn of the year.

Perhaps most intriguing though is a tweak to the ACR reset rule. Whereas previously catalogue singles (those over 36 months from release) were exempt from automatic resets from ACR status and had to be manually requested singles over three years old are now permitted to reset if they have passed the qualifying threshold for such a move PROVIDED they have not appeared on the Top 100 singles chart any time in the preceding three years. This then is the “Kate Bush rule”, sidestepping the awkward situation that developed in 2022 when Running Up That Hill soared up the charts but was initially still on ACR. Intriguingly there is special provision for what the rulebook calls “tracks with a Christmas genre”, so festive songs are still stuck on permanent ACR. Not that this stops them dominating the listings every Christmas anyway, so they aren’t exactly at a disadvantage.

The full document is, as it always is, downloadable from the Official Charts website.


Funnily enough, the No.1 single this week is in some ways partially attributable to the kind of promotion that for now hasn’t been restricted. A batch of collectable cassette singles (well, let’s face it nobody is going to actually play them) gave Dua Lipa the edge she lacked a week ago, propelling Dance The Night to the top of the charts at the expense of Billie Eilish. After ten weeks of the same track at the top of the charts, two new No.1 singles in two weeks feels like wild excess.

It is Dua Lipa’s fourth No.1 hit single, albeit only her second as a solo-billed artist. She opened her account with New Rules in 2017, following that with the Calvin Harris collaboration One Kiss in 2018 and last year’s Elton John cut and shut production Cold Heart. If we count all her credits as “solo” ones then she is only the sixth British female to top the charts as many as four times, Dance The Night putting her level with the likes of Ellie Goulding, Rita Ora and Geri Halliwell. Only Cheryl Cole (5) and Jess Glynne (7) can boast more. Having first charted back in June, Dance The Night thus finally makes it to the top of the Official UK Singles chart in its 13th week on sale, the slowest climb endured by any single enjoying its first spell at No.1 since Shotgun by George Ezra advanced to the top in its 14th week on the chart back in 2018. More fascinatingly Dance The Night has been Top 20 throughout the whole of its erratic climb to the to. No other single in chart history has spent as many as 12 weeks as a Top 20 hit single before making it to No.1.

It is also worthy of note that Dua's hit gifts the Barbie soundtrack back to back No.1 singles. It is the first time we have had two consecutive No.1 singles from the same soundtrack since Foot Tapper by The Shadows replaced The Young Ones by Cliff Richard at the top way back in 1963.

Poor Billie Eilish though. In an era when everyone seemingly spends half a lifetime at No.1, she's now had two chart-topping singles that have each spent a solitary week at the summit.

More Ladies

For the second week running the Top 6 are all performed by solo female artists, although this time around we have six different women making the grade. The new arrival (replacing Olivia Rodrigo’s second hit) is Paint The Town Red by Doja Cat which makes a flying leap to No.4 and could well be on its way to to top as we speak. As previously noted in these pages the track features extensive samples from Dionne Warwick’s Walk On By and now surpasses both the No.9 peak of that recording and indeed all other chart covers of the song.

We should take time out to note the continuing chart run of Anne-Marie and Shania Twain’s Unhealthy which is rapidly turning into the hit that refuses to die. In its 14th week on sale it is back in the Top 20 at No.19 and is spending its ninth week hurtling between positions 22 and 18 (the latter peak it last hit a fortnight ago). ACR will do for it eventually, but for the moment it remains an intriguing mid-table long runner.

It is also worth noting the equally extraordinary chart run of Sonny Fodera’s Asking which has now moved 61-51-41-31-21 in consecutive weeks, only the No.95 position of its chart debut preventing it from having a wonderfully consistent chart climb. Should we expect it at No.11 in seven days’ time?

Good(?) Old Boys

Strange as it may sound, especially given the long-running success of Sprinter over here, it has been over a year since any hip-hop track topped the Hot 100 singles chart in America. Instead, Billboard is in thrall to Country And Western tracks as fans from Nashville and beyond have finally caught onto the streaming era and are pushing the biggest stars of the genre skywards. Hence Morgan Wallen has lately ended up with the longest-running Billboard #1 hit by a solo artist ever, with acts such as Luke Combs following in his wake. But in the last month the American charts have also born witness to the curious phenomenon of what you might term redneck virality, hits from the more “good old boys” end of the market and featuring lyrics tending towards the more reactionary end of the political spectrum. Like GB News with fiddles you might say. The curious way Billboard converts streams based on economic value rather than pure numbers means it is also currently far easier for short-term mass-purchased digital tracks to barge their way into contention. This is why earlier this month the controversial Try That In A Small Town by Jason Aldean stormed to the top of the American charts before enjoying (if that is the word) the most dramatic drop from No.1 in Billboard history.

Last week history repeated itself when little-known Virginian YouTube performer Oliver Anthony shot straight to the top of the US charts with his anti-establishment polemic Rich Men North Of Richmond, not only one of the vanishingly few singles ever to debut at the top of the Hot 100 but the first ever by an artist who had previously not featured on the chart at all?

Why do I tell this story here? Because extraordinarily after having topped the iTunes table for most of the week Rich Men North Of Richmond has now become a Top 40 British hit single as well. The flaw in the Billboard methodology doesn’t apply here, but Oliver Anthony Music (as he is billed for some unexplained reason) still notched up precisely 12,000 chart sales of his angry semi-racist rant, enough to land himself a No.23 hit single. Interestingly only just over 1,200 of those were paid sales - planting yourself at the top of the iTunes downloads table takes precious little effort these days.

What the hell do we make of it all?

Beating The Dog

In a week when there are precisely zero new entries to the Top 75, the biggest new hit of the week is Incredible Sauce by Giggs featuring Dave which plants itself at No.77. But that means there is room to note the curious 67-27 flying leap made by Dog Days Are Over by Florence And The Machine (as heard in the Guardians Of The Galaxy movie). There’s no particularly logical reason for that, the single having actually slipped back on both streaming and sales charts this week. I can only conclude that it has had the new Kate Bush rule applied retrospectively, returned to SCR status following its chart return under its own steam earlier this year. Unless there’s some other subtle reason I’ve missed.