You are reading the longest-running music column online. A reference point for music fans and industry insiders all over the world. I hope you enjoy this week's Chart Watch and the time you spend browsing the archives. Why not support this site's continuing development by joining our list of Patrons. Free books, free links and the undying respect of your peers are yours for the taking. As well as the opportunity to have your brand or logo featured on the site. So why not take advantage of a growing and guaranteed audience of dedicated music fans?
THE BIG STORY
Now look, we all know that what were once universally accepted rules of engagement have no relevance to the way the singles market ebbs and flows in the modern era. Songs can go down as well as up and then return to a better position than before. Many of the biggest hits start their chart life high up inside the Top 10, but there are plenty of others which have taken anything from three months to three years to clamber their way up from the depths. Everything we once presumed to know is essentially wrong.
But that's not to say we aren't permitted a chuckle at the way attempts to promote brand new singles by certain big-name acts are being frustrated by the refusal of their predecessors to get out the damn way. This isn't necessarily a problem of course, very often follow-up single releases are just a means to an end, a way of ensuring there are at least two teasers for a hot new album available in the market to tempt impulse purchasers. But there's still the issue of optics here. It looks...odd.
We already have one such scenario on the charts already. Dua Lipa's second single from her forthcoming second album Future Nostalgia was released a fortnight ago. Physical was one of the biggest new singles on last week's chart, landing immediately at Number 12. Frustratingly this time around it makes little progress, climbing a single place and essentially crashing against a bit of a glass ceiling. This means for the second week running this hot new record is actually the less-noticed Dua Lipa song of the moment. Because after 14 weeks its predecessor Don't Start Now doggedly refuses to relinquish its place in the Top 10. That single remains steady at Number 4 in what is now its 15th week on the charts, all but one of which have been inside the Top 10. I restate: this isn't necessarily a problem. A hit is a hit and the album will still sell and stream in large numbers when it arrives. But are people paying less attention to the newcomer because they are still enamoured with the older track?
Well, this week the same fate appears to have befallen Justin Bieber. It isn't that he has a long-running smash to compete with either, given the rather lukewarm reception given to Yummy when it arrived on the charts at the start of the year. This may or may not have prompted the seemingly rushed release just five weeks later of the follow-up. With Quavo in tow Intentions made its bow this week, the song by some distance a vast improvement on its predecessor, and makes a chart appearance as the highest new entry of the week at a comparatively lowly Number 14. Which is fine. Except that the apparently underperforming Yummy remains ahead of it, albeit by a single chart position at Number 13. This shouldn't matter, Justin Bieber has side by side Top 20 hits ahead of the release of Changes which has hit the market today (Feb 14th) and we should note that some downloads of the track are lost to the charts thanks to being delivered as instant grats for those pre-ordering the album. But the newer one is still lower down than the old, and whatever the reasons for that, it is hard not to point and stare. This one is good enough to top the charts though, and if it subsequently does so, just remember where you read it first.
THE TOP 10
Still, we all know lesser hits can turn into bigger ones. Just ask The Weeknd who enjoys a second week at Number One with an originally overlooked single Blinding Lights. Heading up a chart where in truth nothing much changes from last week, he at least adds some much-needed stability to the Number One position which had previously seen three changings of the guard in as many weeks. This is all to the detriment of Roddy Ricch who remains stranded at Number 2 with The Box. It is once again the most-streamed track of the week but the rapper slips even further behind in the race, the margin between the two singles rising from almost 8,000 last week to 11,000 this time around.
They are just the first two in an all-static Top 5. That means Lewis Capaldi, Dua Lipa and Eminem all hold position below. Rebounding a little are Future and Drake, Life Is Good shifts 8-6 to reclaim the chart position it last held three weeks ago. That shunts Lewis Capaldi's Someone You Loved down to Number 7. Capaldi drew further attention to the year-old smash this week with a video in which he suggested the emotion of the song was inspired by the death of his gran, and not as everyone suspected former girlfriend (and current Love Island contestant) Paige Turley. The track keeps resetting its ACR clock with tiny rises in its streams, meaning there is a good chance the damn thing will still be Top 10 as we reach the first anniversary of its run at the top of the charts in a couple of weeks time.
We do have one new arrival in the Top 10 as Saint Jhn's radically remixed Roses now clearly has the wind in its sails. A 21-8 leap makes it one of the fastest-moving singles of the moment.
Billie Eilish is at 9 with Everything I Wanted just ahead of the release of her own new single, the haunting No Time To Die which serves as the theme to the forthcoming new James Bond film of the same name. That will chart this week meaning there's a chance she will have two side by side Top 10 hits - or alternatively will be yet another artist to see her new release overshadowed by the continuing popularity of her last. Harry Styles and Adore You completes the 10, this now the track's fourth week in total as Top 10 hit.
MOVES OF NOTE
Limited Top 10 action there may be for now, but there are enough stirrings down below to suggest that a changing of the guard is imminent. Joel Corry's Lonely soars 30-16 to suggest it is also Top 10 bound and the Jonas Brothers are steadily picking up both airplay and streams with What A Man Gotta Do. Their single leaps 31-22, meaning they appear to be heading for another Top 20 hit close to a year after comeback hit Sucker became the biggest smash hit of their career.
Remember the old days when the number of new entries to the Top 40 would routinely reach double figures? Well, there's a distinctly old-school look to the bottom end this week. Bieber aside there are a further eight new entries and two more re-entries to further suggest that a springtime clearout of the biggest hits is imminent.
So let's take a few of them in turn. Dermot Kennedy is "new" thanks to a 43-27 rise for Power Over Me. The track has taken no fewer than seven weeks to get this far, a rise that echoes the similarly slow-burning growth of its predecessor Outnumbered which would eventually climb as high as Number 4 last year. The man has form for this kind of thing, so watch out for him.
The most high-profile new release of the week ultimately fizzled out as the week wore on. The Pussycat Dolls were in their day one of the most potent forces in pop music. Formed as a brand extension of Robin Antin's celebrated burlesque dance group, the five women clocked up no fewer than eight Top 10 hits between 2005 and 2009, topping the charts twice along the way. They bowed out at the end of the last decade when efforts to present them as an ensemble became too much hard work, leaving Nicole Scherzinger to take centre stage instead as a solo artist. But that's a story for another time. After two years of teasing a reunion the group are finally back, although after all this time they are now a legacy act trading on name value alone. New single React was debuted as part of a medley of hits they performed on the finale of the X Factor: Celebrity series in November last year and now after much delay (and a suspiciously convenient mid-January leak of an unfinished version) arrives properly on the charts. The looks and moves are the same as they were before but the single has highlighted that most online reviewers don't have any other synonyms for "electro-pop banger". And the fact that not one single person has commented on the fact that it is fundamentally identical to Charlie Puth's Attention makes me wonder if I'm genuinely the only one who can see it. For all the hype React makes a mere Number 29 first week out. And the cynic in me wonders if it really has the legs to go any further. Time will tell.
Given he is one of the big losers of the week with an 11-28 tumble for Wake Up Call perhaps we can call KSI a YouTuber again. If that is the case then he is joined on the charts this week with fellow platform stars Tobi & Manny who have a new entry with Destined For Greatness. Something of a novelty hit, it is a rap single by the two brothers (plus a vocal contribution from their co-credited sister Janelle) who recount their rise to fame from streaming FIFA matches on Twitch ("I used to pay for the games, now the games pay me") to the launch of their own fashion lines. As ever online profile counts for a lot, sending the single into the charts at one bound. But I suspect this is also something of a one week wonder.
Also standing out amongst the cluster of new entries is Anne-Marie, Birthday handing her a new Top 40 hit at Number 36 after a frustrating 2019 during which her only chart hit of the year F*ck I'm Lonely by Lauv spent a full nine weeks rattling between 32 and 36 without ever managing to climb higher before ACR kicked in. She's long overdue a new hit (aside from Greatest Showman cover Rewrite The Stars her last Top 10 hit with original material was 2018 hit 2002), so let's hope Birthday is the track to give her one. It is formally the first single from what will be her much delayed second album, due to drop later this year.
All of this appears to be the calm before the storm. I have a feeling next week we will all be living on Planet Eilish and there's literally nothing anyone can do about it.