Made It To The Other Side
Congratulations everyone, we made it. The relentless November of superstar releases as Sheeran begat ABBA who begat Taylor Swift finally arrives at its exclamation point. Adele's 30 album appears in our lives at last as the final piece in the pre-Christmas jigsaw. The cliché of the fourth quarter of the year being the only proper time to release your biggest product played out for real and reaching what has at times felt like an absurd high water mark.
But now it is done. That Adele has the No.1 album of the week is neither a surprise nor indeed news, the relentless pace of her sales throughout the week being the subject of breathless daily updates. All that matters is just how huge her numbers were, and in that sense the album does not disappoint.
261,856 was her final sales tally, surpassing Abba's total from a fortnight ago to become the fastest selling album of the year and indeed the decade so far. It is the first album to achieve sales in excess of 250,000 in a single week since Ed Sheeran's Divide did so in both of its first two weeks on sale back in March 2017.
Times have changed dramatically since the lass from north London shot to true superstardom in 2011, never mind that the market for paid recorded music has contracted apace since her previous release in 2015 (even if 25 did manage to sell a massive 800,000 the moment it was released). But somehow Adele remains habit forming, those figures proof that she can inspire people who may not have purchased a pop album of any kind in the last six years to rediscover their desire to do so. On the back of similarly enormous numbers for the Ed Sheeran and ABBA albums the industry as a whole is desperately hoping this becomes habit-forming. Although for that to happen there need to also be other acts ready to feed that desire.
Adele Is Single And Knows It
But what of the great unknown. Just how does an Adele album plug itself in to the great streaming revolution, where the numbers that count are how many pairs of ears you command rather than the money people are prepared to spend. Because this is the first time Adele has released an album since that revolution truly took hold.
Our first clue was the continuing success of the album's lead single Easy On Me which admittedly debuted at No.1 with an extraordinarily large paid sale but which has remained at the head of the market as its online plays held up in the teeth of some heavyweight opposition. The single is easily No.1 once again this week as Adele becomes only the second act this year to do the singles and albums chart double - and the first British female to do so since well, herself back in February 2011. Easy On Me enjoys a jump in weekly chart sales to 100,627 in a manner which suggests no contemporary hit single is likely to depose it between now and Christmas.
She comes narrowly close to a clean sweep of the Top 3, having to be content instead with becoming only the ninth act in history to hold down the Top 2 singles on the British charts. Oh My God is the best of the rest at No.2 and with Ed Sheeran in the way at No.3 (Shivers), I Drink Wine charts at No.4 as her third and final permitted hit single of the week. They take her tally of Top 10 hits to 11 and fascinatingly make 30 her first album to contain a trio of Top 5 hit singles - 19, 21 and 25 all contained two apiece. She is the first woman to ever have three of the Top 4 singles - beating Olivia Rodrigo who managed three of the Top 5 earlier in the summer.
What the charts of course don't show is how many other Adele tracks dominated, given the 3 per artist rule. Without it however I can tell you that Adele would have had seven of the week's Top 10 singles, album cuts My Little Love, Can I Get It, Strangers By Nature and Cry Your Heart out all managing streams which would have qualified them for Top 10 places. Two of the remaining three places would have been filled by Ed Sheeran singles with Taylor Swift bringing up the rear.
By way of comparison, this week in 2015 when her last album 25 debuted with its record-breaking sale Adele placed cuts from the album at 3 (Hello), 29 (When We Were Young), 64 (Million Years Ago) and 69 (Skyfall). That was it.
TL:DR Adele is our Queen. Long may she rain emotion over us.
Blocking Them Out
The other big winners of the week are D-Block Europe whose Home Alone 2 album may only be one of many new arrivals in the Top 10 but which duly spawns a trio of hit singles of its own. The most notable of these is Overseas featuring Central Cee which lands at No.8, taking them into the Top 10 for the very first time. That's significant as earlier this year they had surpassed the record for most chart hits without ever reaching the Top 10, one which is now back in the hands (as it has been for some time) of the Super Furry Animals. The already-charting No Competition leaps up to No.22 while Funny Bunny Nails is brand new at No.35.
Crazy To Do It
We have some Top 20 climbers (enjoy it while it lasts guys) with Acraze's Do It To It shooting 24-13 and last week's No.40 entry ABCDEFU from Gayle rocketing to No.14. The Acraze track incidentally is a house reworking of the debut single from American girl group Craze, the original version having peaked at No.30 in September 2006. The new version hands the group (still active but these days just a duo) a co-credit to make this their first chart single in 13 years and already far and away their biggest ever.
Once upon a time the annual Children In Need charity single was a very big deal indeed, although that was back in the days when they got superstars such as Westlife and S Club 7 to perform them. Not that Anne-Marie and Niall Horan weren't big draws of their own but their rather limp cover of Fleetwood Mac's Everywhere fizzles out at No.23 this week. The original version was a No.4 hit for the group in 1988, returning to the charts at No.15 in 2013 following its use in a TV commercial.
The Top 40 is rounded off by two comeback singles from names that have been missing for a while. Where Are You Now actually is a double whammy for both acts concerned. It is the first chart single in six years for Felix De Lait under his Lost Frequencies alias, the single returning him to the charts in this country for the first time since 2015 when he topped the charts with Are You With Me and followed it up with No.29 hit Reality. The credited singer on the track is none other than Calum Scott, the former Britain's Got Talent discovery who self-released his cover of Robyn's Dancing On My Own in 2016 only to have it picked up by a major label and propelled to No.2. Signed to a full deal he landed just one other hit single after that, reaching No.43 with You Are The Reason before vanishing from sight. Yet out of nowhere he's back on one of the most happening new club hits of the moment. Watch out for this to be Top 10 sometime in the new year if there is any justice.
But lo, here come Imagine Dragons too, the American rock band back in the Top 40 for the first time since 2017 with Enemy, a collaboration with J.I.D. and which is taken from the soundtrack of the Netflix animated series Arcane: League Of Legends in which the band also make a cameo. The group's fifth album Mercury - Act 1 was released back in September but although it reached the Top 10 it failed to produce any chart singles.
It still isn't officially December but the festive tunes have begun their surge in earnest and penetrate the Top 40 for the first time this year. For the fifteenth year running then we welcome All I Want For Christmas Is You at No.24 and Last Christmas at No.28. Fairytale Of New York isn't too far behind either at No.44. I have no intention of banging on about it, but there's no escaping the fact that within a few weeks these golden oldies will be dominating proceedings. The Christmas charts will look the same as they did last year. And the year before…