Seasons Change

This week one of those things that never happens any more just happened.

Even with the cursory glimpses I give to it each week (force of habit really) the workings of the albums chart are fairly straightforward. The No.1 record of the week is almost without fail a hot new release which has popped a first-week wonder and which is destined to plunge to the depths next time around. Failing that it will be a streaming long-runner which grabs a week at the summit in the absence of any other competition. There is no in-between.

Yet this week we are treated to the fascinating sight of Stick Season by Noah Kahan sitting pretty at the summit of the Official UK Albums chart. Released as long ago as October 2022 it made the UK charts for the first time in June last year, coinciding with its second single Dial Drunk giving the American singer his first forays into the singles chart. The album has been a Top 10 fixture since Christmas thanks to the spectacular chart success of its title track, but this final ascent to No.1 after a 36-week climb comes following the full release of a new deluxe edition which adds co-vocals from a variety of guest stars to many of the tracks it contains.

Inevitably Noah Kahan remains at the top of the singles chart as well as Stick Season - the song - extends its reign into a seventh week. The first act to do the chart double this year (duh) he is the first American male to pull off the trick since Eminem in January 2020 and the first solo American singer since Bruno Mars way back in 2011. Kahan does the chart double with the title track of his No.1 album, the first time this has happened since Gary Barlow and The Commonwealth Band were top of both singles and albums charts with records called Sing in June 2012.

As many commentators have noted over the past few weeks Stick Season is that increasingly rare beast - an entirely self-penned and self-performed No.1 hit single. With seven weeks at the top it now surpasses Hello by Lionel Richie, Earth Song by Michael Jackson and Perfect by Ed Sheeran (all with six weeks on top) as the longest-running such hit by a male artist.

But there's now a twist in the tale. Because the potential streaming uplift from the release of the special edition failed to materialise and so after an impressive 20 week chart run Stick Season will inevitably plunge down the charts next week. A new No.1 single is on the cards.

Alas, it won't be Murder On The Dancefloor. A Top 10 fixture itself since the start of the year, Sophie Ellis-Bextor's 22 year old classic is also set to fall victim to the ACR axe. Somebody somewhere is about to benefit from some quite immaculate timing - could that still be Benson Boone? Beautiful Things reaches a new peak of its own as it climbs to No.3.

It is all terribly exciting. Watch out too for YG Marley. Praise Jah In The Moonlight is now a No.5 hit single. Only two of his celebrated Grandfather's hit singles charted higher - Buffalo Soldier peaked at No.4 in 1983 while the Funkstar Deluxe remix of Sun Is Shining reached No.3 in September 1999.

She Has A Halo

As commercial syncs go this one was pretty masterful. At the precise moment she uttered the words "time to drop the new music" at the end of her Verizon commercial aired during Super Bowl Sunday two brand new Beyonce tracks appeared online. Initially as a Tidal exclusive but then more widely available, the two country and western-themed tracks herald the start of the campaign for her new Act II album. The charge is led by arguably the best of the two as Texas Hold 'Em overcomes the twin challenges of a midweek release and brief platform exclusivity to smash straight into the charts at No.9. It becomes her first Top 10 hit since Break My Soul and Cuff It peaked at 2 and 5 respectively in 2022 - although the contrast between those two tracks and this new single could hardly be greater.

Its companion track 16 Carriages oddly fares slightly worse, only able to make No.44, as if to suggest that whatever impact the sheer out of the ordinary sound Texas Hold 'Em has, the prospect of Beyonce going country twice means the novelty value swiftly wears off. The better track of the two won out here, but discovering exactly how this all fits in with the overall sound of her new album is going to be quite intriguing.

Heading West

He may spend much of his time making waves in tabloid newspapers around the world for exhibiting all the signs of a deeply unwell man exhibiting a disturbing level of control over his scantily clad wife, but it is all too easy to forget Kanye West is a musician too. Somehow he has found enough time to record not one but three full albums alongside Ty Dolla $ign, the first of which - Vultures 1 - smashes straight in at No.2 on the albums chart this week. Not that the album itself was without controversy. During the week it went off and online following a row between West and his usual distribution partners Fuga over who was actually uploading it for release. Then one of its tracks Good (Don't Dial) was unceremoniously pulled from the collection midweek following a copyright complaint from Donna Summer's estate who objected to the release of an uncleared sample.

What tracks were left over did enough hard work to pepper the singles chart, the result being three Top 20 new entries for the West/Sign partnership. The biggest is Carnival which enters at No.12, with Burn (No.17) and Back To Me (No.18) following in short order. This is all entirely in keeping with Kanye West's usual chart form, the release of his last album in September 2021 resulting in three concurrent hits, all of which spent the next few weeks gently fading away without making much of a long-term impact. You suspect the same fate will befall these tracks as well. At the very least the three hits are a shot in the arm for Ty Dolla $ign, returning him to the Top 20 for the first time since his appearance alongside Post Malone on No.4 hit Psycho in 2018.

Keep On Driving

Thank goodness for American superstars otherwise this would have been another quiet week. Three more tracks wink into life at the lower end of the Top 40, the biggest of those being Forever, Noah Kahan's album emitting yet another chart single at No.31. Just a few rungs lower is a single which oddly failed to make the most of its early sales flashes promise. Instead Abracadabra from the intriguing pairing of Wes Nelson and Craig David magics into life at No.37, although it sounds for all the world like the kind of hit that has potential to grow. Wes Nelson has been absent from the charts since his appearance on Clean Bandit's eventual No.17 hit Drive, although he's best known for his Top 3 hit See Nobody on which he performed alongside Hardy Caprio back in 2020. This is Craig David's first Top 40 showing since his own Who You Are edged to No.39 at the tail end of 2021.

To round things off we have a rather joyful golden oldie revival. One of the highlights of the recent Grammy Awards was Tracy Chapman making what is for her a rare public appearance to perform alongside Luke Combs on a duet of her famous hit Fast Car, the song which he turned into a sizable American hit (and No.30 chart entry here) last year. The performance prompted a surge of love for the original and as a result it lands newly minted for 2022 at No.38. It is now the third time the song has been a Top 40 hit for its composer. It first made No.5 in 1988 following another celebrated live performance, before returning to the chart and reaching a new peak of No.4 in 2011 after Britain's Got Talent contestant Michael Collings used it as part of his audition. That kind of makes Fast Car unique - a song which has been a hit three times all in the wake of notable TV performances.

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