And Breathe

The final exclamation point on the annual festive madness has now been applied. As is now traditional the first chart of the new year is subject to one final moment of madness as Christmas songs exit en-masse and actual pop hits come rushing back to replace them. Of course, this does mean one final week of chaos as we do indeed have a chart of the biggest singles of the week but effectively nothing to compare it to. Last week bears no relation to this week. What's a chart fan to do?

The answer is to start a the top just as we always do. As it so happens this week's Top 5 mirrors exactly the "fantasy" Christmas-excluded Top 5 we dreamed of last week - and that means that having waited patiently in the wings for well over a month, Stick Season by Noah Kahan finally makes it to No.1.

First released in July 2022 the track languished in obscurity until it was uncovered by Tik Tok users in the middle of last summer. But as far as Britain is concerned it remained under the radar until Olivia Rodrigo covered it in a session for Radio One's Live Lounge strand, propelling the gentle ballad into the charts for the first time. There is something deeply ironic about the first post-Christmas No.1 single being a song that mentions Christmas in its lyrics, albeit just in passing. But there is no doubt the wistful folk ballad can pull at the heartstrings in the kind of way that sets a song apart as a classic in waiting. It somehow feels only just that the singer-songwriter from Vermont should find himself with an unexpected but no less pleasing for that British No.1 single.

There's one curious irony though. Already established as far and away one of the biggest non-Christmas hits of the past few weeks, on a chart where pretty much every single is either a re-entry or has risen dramatically from the very depths of the Top 100, Stick Season actually enjoys the smallest climb of any song on this week's chart, its ascent to No.1 the result of a mere 10-1 chart jump.

Bring In The Old

The rest of this week's Top 5 is stuff we were familiar with before. The last pre-Christmas No.1 Lovin On Me by Jack Harlow remains a big deal and is this week's No.2. Back up to No.3 though is Prada by Casso/D-Block Europe/RAYE which is the most high profile beneficiary of the now traditional new year ACR amnesty which gives labels a chance to request a free reset of any tracks they want to continue pushing in the new year. Prada endured a sudden 3-40 plummet four weeks ago as a result of its age but now rebounds back to enjoy what is now a tenth week in total as Top 3 single. We spent November noting the agonising way the remixed track seemed destined to be forever the bridesmaid. But there's every chance its story may not be over yet.

To resume the reset recap: Greedy from Tate McRae rebounds back to No.4 in its best showing for five weeks, while Taylor Swift's Cruel Summer resumes its extended chart run at No.5. Also notably returning to life is Dua Lipa's Houdini which surges back to No.6, largely it has to be said because of the release of some limited edition physical product. But I noted back when it was first released that this was a track designed to simply exist before Christmas, and that its true promotional push was most likely in the new year. Her new album is destined to be one of the most high profile new releases of the spring. So it needs a big deal hit single to trail it.

Rounding off this first string of pre-Christmas comebacks is Water from Tyla, returning to the No.7 spot it occupied in the last week before things went crazy. This one has been around a while, the gorgeous Afrobeats ballad having peaked at No.4 as long ago as late October.

"Why The Wide Face?"

The most absorbing story of the week though gives us the track that is both a re-entry and genuinely the highest "new" entry of the week. There's something about January which leads movie soundtracks to grab attention. We've seen it over and over again - Frozen, The Greatest Showman, Encanto. All spawning some unexpected new year smashes. But the 2024 obsession is black comedy Saltburn, the uproariously explicit tale of murder and revenge having become the streaming hit of the festive season. The movie features several needledrop moments where hits from the early 2000s barge their way into the soundtrack, none more so than Sophie Ellis-Bextor's Murder On The Dancefloor. The second solo hit proper for the former Theaudience singer, it originally peaked at No.2 in December 2001 and since then has become iconic in its own right, spawning parodies, puns and providing the singer herself with her own signature moment. But its use as the soundtrack to Saltburn's climactic literal balls-out celebratory dance has now brought it to the attention of an entirely new generation.

Murder On The Dancefloor this week becomes one of the most notable subjects yet of what I termed the "Kate Bush rule" back in the summer, the tweak to the chart rules which allows a reactivated golden oldie to enjoy an automatic ACR reset provided it has not charted in any way in the previous three years. Hence what might otherwise be a rather surprise turnaround in the single's fortunes. Listed as a potential Top 30 hit in the two published midweek updates last week, Murder On The Dancefloor instead charts at No.8, granted an instantaneous automatic reset which allows its chart placing to truly reflect its streaming popularity.

The track thus returns to the singles chart for the first time since its first release over two decades ago and hands Sophie Ellis-Bextor her first singles chart appearance since her final single Young Blood crept to No.34 in February 2014. As mentioned she began her musical career as lead singer of indie band Theaudience whose three-hit career peaked with No.25 hit I Know Enough (I Don’t Get Enough) in August 1998. Murder On The Dancefloor was the second half of a brace of No.2 hits with which she opened her solo career in 2001 (her cover of Cher's Take Me Home was the first) but her biggest chart hit of all came as the uncredited lead singer of Spiller's Groovejet (If This Ain't Love) which topped the charts for a week in August 2000 following a very famous head to head chart battle.

Take Him To Church

The great thing about new year isn't just the rebounding of older hits, but a chance for new ones to break through and shine as well. Hence the no small joy of seeing Lose Control by Teddy Swims finally becoming a proper hit single as it rockets to No.14. The track is nothing short of gorgeous, a deep-throated soul track sung by 31-year-old Jason Dinsdale in a voice that makes you realise just how much we have missed RagnBoneMan while he has been silent. First released back in the summer, there was a genuine fear that it would never quite manage to break through, the track surfacing on the singles chart at the worst possible time in mid-November. But it was clearly always in the mix, and the fact that it had climbed to No.49 in the week of the Christmas chart itself indicated that Lose Control was enjoying a level of popularity that was merely hidden away. Well now it has the chance to shine, the first true bone-fide new hit of 2024, and if this isn't Top 3 within a few weeks I will eat my hat.

I Remember November

There are further new peaks in the Top 20 for On My Love by Zara Larsson and David Guetta (No.15 to beat the No.21 it reached before Christmas), I Remember Everything by Zach Bryan and Kacey Musgraves (No.16, beating the No.19 it scaled in November) and most curiously and surprisingly of all Lil Boo Thang by Paul Russell which had huffed and puffed its way to No.36 before the holiday but which now rockets to No.20.

Also becoming a belated hit single for reasons best known to itself is The Weeknd's One Of The Girls, a track lifted from his soundtrack to The Idol which made some sporadic chart appearances at the tail end of last year but which now lodges itself at No.21 to become a proper hit single for the first time. The track features a vocal turn from Idol star Lily Rose Depp who thus makes her chart debut a few weeks shy of the 36th anniversary of her mother (Vanessa Paradis) reaching the charts for the first time in her own right.

She Can't Build Cabinets

The new year also means a fresh start for former Girl Meets World star Sabrina Carpenter who finally has a third Top 40 hit single as Feather drifts to No.24. Her hits to date have been sporadic to say the least, this the follow-up to Skin (No.28 in February 2021) and Nonsense (No.32 in January 2023).

Also new to the Top 40 this week are two cuts from Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday 2 album, Everybody sneaking to No.26 with Pink Friday Girls arriving at No.30. A third cut from the album FTCU is No.41 this week.

Take Off That Dress Now

Sophie Ellis-Bextor may have grabbed all the headlines but there are two more tracks from the Saltburn soundtrack which barge their way into the Top 40. The most notable one is the apparently evergreen Mr Brightside by The Killers which is No.31 this week. The track scarcely needs an introduction, a British obsession whose constant streams have meant it has (Christmas weeks aside) been a chart ever-present for each of the last three years, its combined 391 weeks on the Top 100 making it far and away the most-charted single of all time. ACR rules have for the past six years meant it has never quite had the chart momentum its streaming power suggests, and this week is its first in the Top 40 since a brief run in August 2013, that one based on sales alone. You will note that despite its Saltburn inspired streaming surge this week it is not eligible for the same kind of ACR reset that Murder On The Dancefloor enjoyed, its past chart runs in the preceding three years counting against it.

The third Saltburn hit is a genuine oddity, Perfect (Exceeder) from Mason vs Princess Supastar which lands at No.40 in its first chart appearance since it was a No.3 hit back in February 2007.

We Got Used To Him

I've spent the past two weeks hinting at a potential new year wild card release, something which many readers finally guessed was a reference to Lewis Capaldi's New Years Eve announcement that in lieu of his cancelled tour last year he was bringing out a new version of his Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent album featuring three previously unheard tracks. None of the three in question ended up making the singles chart following their release last Monday, perhaps demonstrating that even his star status wasn't enough to overcome the handicap of having miss half a week of streaming. Indeed the only Lewis Capaldi track on the Top 100 is the evergreen Someone You Loved which plants itself at No.67 as your mum hasn't grown bored of it yet. But the new version has at least sent the album charging back to the top of the charts as he engineers himself the first No.1 album of 2024, this its third week on top after it spent a fortnight there when first released last June.

And that was Week 1 2024. We have nothing to compare it to, but much more to anticipate. Next week is full normality (we hope). Things will go up and down as they always did and the proper new entries won't be quite so hard to discern. Oh yes, and there are still two Christmas songs around - last week's No.1 Last Christmas clings on at No.83 while Sam Ryder's That's Christmas To Me is two rungs lower. Good job my decorations only come down this weekend.

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