Out With The Old(ies)
The first sales week of the brand new year takes on what is now its familiar form, the singles chart having the metaphorical reset button pressed. All Christmas songs vanish from view wholesale, leaving everything else to spring back into the kinds of places they would have occupied had the festive season not dominated all for the past two or three weeks.
With seasonal classics having dominated the final chart of the year like never before, it means everything else resets in a manner that surpasses everything we have seen over the past couple of years. For the first time in chart history not a single one of last week's Top 10 singles survives the cut, Gayle's ABCDEFU the only one of last week's Top 20 to survive into this week. Yet despite idle speculation last week (I told you not to assume anything, didn't I?) she does not have the No.1 single. Instead Easy On Me by Adele jumps back to the top of the charts after three weeks away for what is now its eighth week in total at the summit.
The mere circumstances of this make it quite a controversial state of affairs. Easy On Me actually slumped to ACR status in the week of the Christmas chart having experienced three weeks of streaming decline and hitting its tenth week on the chart. But for the second year running Official Charts have allowed labels to nominate tracks for a new year reset and so Adele's label Columbia, perhaps noting that Adele's run at the top was actually cut short by the arrival of Ed and Elton's Merry Christmas, have elected to gift her one final bite at the cherry.
It means Easy On Me makes a 38-1 leap back to the top of the Official UK Singles chart. Strangely enough it is the second single to ever do so, mirroring the chart climb made by Pink's So What in October 2008. It is also the second time Adele has had a track make a double-digit climb to No.1, this after Someone Like You made a 47-1 jump following a Brit Awards performance of the track in February 2011. The all-time record for an official climb to No.1 is - contrary to what you may have read elsewhere - the 73-1 leap made by Boys And Girls by Pixie Lott in 2019. For a comprehensive history of singles climbing to No.1 from outside the Top 40, you can check out this rather elderly blog post elsewhere on this site. [Note, at the time of writing this is actually out of date, as there were two singles in 2015 which also had extra-Top 40 leaps to the top. I'll update it later this weekend].
Coming a week after Ed Sheeran and Elton John also rebounded to No.1 it means this is the second week in a row the No.1 single is a track that had already been there once before. This is unusual but by no means unheard of, last taking place in the summer of 1996 when Three Lions by Baddiel/Skinner/Lightning Seeds and Killing Me Softly by The Fugees swapped places at the top of the charts twice in succession and duplicating a ding-dong battle that had last been seen at the end of 1968 when Lily The Pink by The Scaffold and Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da by Marmalade engaged in a similar battle of wills.
Easy On Me is also the first single to return to No.1 after two other singles had been there in the interim since Bruno Mars' Just The Way You Are (Amazing) rebounded to the summit after having given way to both Written In The Stars by Tinie Tempah and Forget You by Cee-Lo Green in October 2010.
So in retrospect I think we should actually thank Colombia for electing to reset Easy On Me, given it has given us plenty to talk about. There is however one fascinating twist in the tale. Adele's single is actually not the most-streamed track of the week. That honour goes instead to Shivers by Ed Sheeran which is languishing at No.10 this week, still stuck on ACR. Were that not the case it would indeed be No.1 once more after 13 weeks away from the summit. Now that would have been a talking point.
Finally before we leave this subject for good, let us note that this is now the 28th week in a row that the No.1 position has been occupied by at least one of Adele, Ed Sheeran or Elton John and by the same token it means it has been 29 weeks since a non-British act topped the British charts. We await next week with interest to see if this latter streak continues.
As noted earlier, ABCDEFU by Gayle is denied by the narrowest of squeaks from topping the charts, having to settle instead for returning to the No.2 peak it first scaled five weeks ago. Sam Fender's Seventeen Going Under meanwhile rockets to a brand new peak of its own, leaping to No.3.
The highest newly-minted hit is at No.4, the soundtrack to Walt Disney's new animated movie Encanto spawning several chart hits this week. The biggest of them is We Don't Talk About Bruno as credited to a long line of cast members but which the chart database is abbreviating to Gaitan/Castillo/Adassa/Feliz and which I feel comfortable doing also. The soundtrack is also responsible for Surface Pressure by Jessica Darrow at No.14 and The Family Madrigal by Stephanie Beatrix and Olga Merediz at No.30. The cast of the movie are treated as the same "artist" for chart purposes meaning other cuts from the soundtrack are disqualified under the Ed Sheeran rule.
Speaking of Ed Sheeran he actually sneaks his way to four concurrent Top 20 hits this week, thanks to being treated as the guest star on Fireboy DML's Peru which rockets to No.6 this week. His three solo hits all line up one after the other - Shivers at No.10, Overpass Graffiti at No.11 and a returning Bad Habits which re-enters at No.12. Of last week's No.1 single Merry Christmas there is no sign, although this is actually only due to it being starred-out as the fourth single with Ed Sheeran listed as the lead artist. Were the credits reversed it would count as an Elton John hit and - perhaps surprisingly - would still have sneaked a Top 40 placing. We are used to singles tumbling from the top due to ACR and tracks vanishing from the Top 10 prematurely thanks to the three-hits-maximum rule, but this is the first time the No.1 single has found itself disqualified just a week later.
Also returning with renewed vigour for the new year is Acraze's remix of faded girl band Cherish's Do It To It which accelerates to a new peak of No.9. The original version peaked at No.30 in 2006 as Cherish's only British hit of note during their time together.
One of the more notable genuine new arrivals is Down Under, credited to Luude featuring Colin Hay which hoves into view at No.32. Hay was the singer of the original version which was a No.1 smash for Men At Work in 1983 but has contributed a new vocal to this new production by Tasmanian drum n' bass producer Christian 'Luude' Benson. Yes it treads all over the famous original, but if it revives a classic for a new generation then so be it.
Welcome then to 2022 and may it bring us all the hits we desire. Next week's chart battle should be equally intriguing, the first echoes of the new order coming with the arrival at No.90 this week of Fingers Crossed by Lauren Spencer-Smith after little more than two days of sales and streams. More about this single, so much more, next time around.