Come Back Jack Whitehall All Is Forgiven
Can we start by talking Brits briefly? I blow hot and cold as to just how much of it is within the scope of these pages, but given it results in a TV event that at least momentarily has an impact on sales of the performers, it seems apt to contemplate it briefly. The problem the music industry's annual awards bash has is that having elected to move away from simply curating a collection of gongs that commemorate the subjectively "best" of the year it has now tied itself up in knots attempting to be all-inclusive. After the debacles of the much-vaunted all-genders "best artist" successfully erasing women the organisers have countered things this year by dramatically expanding the shortlist. Hence the Artist Of The Year and International Artist Of The Year categories now have ten rather than five nominations. Meaning we are edging closer to everyone getting a prize for turning up.
There's so much to be cynical about. The expanded number of awards for sub-genres that are to be voted for by the public (or at least those who click on the Brits Insta(!) account) mean statues will go to the bleeding obvious rather than bleeding edge. The lack of British groups to be nominated for the Best British Group award means the ad-hoc pairing of Headie One & K Trap get to be considered an ensemble for this purpose, hitless wonders like Olivia Dean are somehow eligible for Best Pop Act, and the rule that states that Little Simz must be nominated for something the moment she breaks wind in the direction of a microphone irrespective of how much music she has sold is indeed still in place.
But all the headlines were grabbed in the week by RAYE who set a new record with seven nominations, and good for her too. Although the loose criteria for Best New Artist means it is one of her nominations, despite her first chart single having been released at the end of 2016. But if Dave can be nominated twice with a year's gap in between then why shouldn't a ten year veteran of the business get the chance as well?
No, I'm not getting an invite. Why do you ask?
To the charts, and in stark contrast to last week's tightly fought battle there was only ever going to be one victor. Noah Kahan spends a fourth week at No.1 with Stick Season, not at a stroll but at a gallop. His sales this week edge dangerously close to proper "holy shit" levels, the track ending the week with over 82,000 chart sales to its name. Granted, some of this boost was due to the release of some special edition physical formats, but that is still the highest chart sale for a single spending its fourth week at the summit since Ed Sheeran's Bad Habits moved over 101,000 back in 2021. And even without a CD release Stick Season would still have managed 74,000 chart sales. Trust me when I tell you that this record is huge.
Last week's 2 and 3 singles swap places, Ariana Grande not quite having the second week drop off that was predicted of her at first, but still enough to allow Murder On The Dance Floor to overtake it to No.2. Sophie Ellis-Bextor's single is now almost unique, because having now been No.2 twice on this chart run as well as on its original (before and after Christmas in 2001/2) I've a feeling that makes it only the second song in the whole of chart history to peak (presumably) at No.2 on four different occasions. Yes, I know you are going to want to know the other. It was Terry's Theme From 'Limelight' as performed by Frank Chacksfield, a long-running chart hit in 1953 and which spent eight weeks in total in second place during the course of the summer. Most of its time at No.2 was spent behind I Believe by Frankie Laine, which as any chart fan knows to this day retains the record for the longest total time - 18 weeks - spent at the top of the charts.
We have to return to Noah Kahan again though, because as well as his No.1 success he also enjoys the highest new entry of the week. Homesick was already previously available as one of the tracks on his album (also named Stick Season) but was released this week in a brand new version which turns it into a duet with Sam Fender. Suitably invigorated the track debuts at No.5, some distance from standing any chance of Kahan knocking himself off the top of the charts, but still enough to ensure the man who until the end of last year was a total unknown now finds himself with simultaneous Top 10 hits.
Homesick is merely the highest profile of a number of Kahan tracks which have sprouted duet versions this week. This has however raised a curious anomaly, as the never previously-charted track is free to be billed as performed by its two singers, but the already-charting Northern Attitude (up to No.29 this week) remains devoid of a credit for Hozier who has now joined its composer on co-vocals.
As if to capitalise on the attention the duet will have handed him, Sam Fender's only other hit single Seventeen Going Under gets what by my reckoning its now its third ACR reset and returns to the Top 40 at No.35. This is now its 39th week in the Top 40, its first since June last year when a similar reset propelled it briefly back to No.29. Is it wrong I still couldn't whistle it if you asked me?
From the "things climbing the Top 20" file we have the continuing surprise revival of Natasha Bedingfield's Unwritten which eases its way up to No.13. And speaking of things that are quite lovely, as predicted Never Lose Me by Flo Milli is also on its way to the heights, rising to No.17.
Now the age of the YouTube discovery isn't quite over, but let's face it as a talent conveyor it has been superseded by Tik Tok, the video clip app not only surfacing hit singles but also performers. That's the origin of the celebrity of Benson Boone who we last saw two and a half years ago with the all but one-and-done No.21 single In The Stars. I mean, I say "one and done", although it peaked in its chart week it still managed a creditable 15 week run on the edge of the Top 40 before ACR finally removed it from view. After spending 2023 under the radar the American singer-songwriter returns with Beautiful Things which at a stroke gives him his biggest hit to date as it lands at No.18. But let's see if it actually climbs shall we?
Four other new arrivals grace the lower reaches of the chart. Having narrowly missed the Top 40 last week Alibi climbs to No.26 for what you may be surprised to learn is the entirely fresh pairing of Ella Henderson and Rudimental. The British singer has duetted or featured alongside just about every dance producer of note you care to name, most recently Nathan Dawe and Joel Corry's 0800 Heaven last year. But this is her first collision with Rudimental, here with their first Top 10 hit since Dancing Is Healing reached No.5 last year.
As if to prove that all possible permutations of producers and singers in British music do take place eventually, let us note that the performer of the next new entry - Becky Hill - has indeed featured on past hit singles with both Ella Henderson and Rudimental. This time however she is alongside Sonny Fodera on No.34 hit Never Be Alone. It's a club banger that is as club banger as club banger's go. That's about as much as you need to know.
Hate It At The Same Time
Nine months on from long-running No.2 hit Daylight David Kushner returns with his third Top 40 hit Skin And Bones which is new at No.36, but the most unexpected hit of the week in so many ways is the arrival at No.39 of Whatever from Kygo & Ava Max. Top of the charts just over five years ago this week with Sweet But Psycho, Ava Max hasn't had a Top 40 hit since 2021 but now returns with this cut, based heavily and distinctively on Shakira's celebrated debut hit Whenever, Wherever which was itself a hit back in 2002. Kygo meanwhile returns to the charts for the first time since his 2020 remix of Tina Turner's What's Love Got To Do With It (a No.31 hit). And we should note that he follows the cross-pollination rules of dance music as well. This is his first collaboration with Ava Max but he has indeed in the past made a record with Ella Henderson (Here For You, No.18 in 2015) although not so far with Becky Hill. But give it time.