Miley is back in the big time. But before we dive into that, it might be worth contextualising why this is such a notable thing.
Her transition from "the girl from Hannah Montana" into fully-fledged popstar was only really completed in 2013 with her Bangerz album and its brace of smash No.1 singles We Don't Stop and Wrecking Ball. But then rather oddly she let the momentum slide, taking almost four years off from music, save for the brief diversion of her experimental album Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz which she self-released outside her record deal in 2015.
Hence her grand return in 2017 didn't really set the world on fire. The Younger Now album spawned just one hit of note, but Malibu made a mere No.11 and then sank out of sight. The Mark Ronson collaboration Nothing Breaks Like A Heart restored her to the Top 3 a year later and while her 2020 album Plastic Hearts spawned two Top 10 hits (Midnight Sky and Dua Lipa duet Prisoner), you couldn't help but feel the superstar aura that once surrounded her had largely faded.
So her forthcoming new album matters a great deal. The first of a new deal with Columbia Records and a piece of work that is clearly set to have the kitchen sink thrown at it. We are about to be reintroduced to Miley Cyrus the pop superstar, which is no bad thing at all.
So just like that the American singer returns to prominence and most importantly of all back to the top of the charts. Flowers smashes straight to the top to return her to the summit for the third time in her career after a gap of just over nine years. Which you have to admit is a lifetime in pop music. The numbers for the single were huge. Over 9 million streams and just over 10,000 downloads translates to a huge sale of 91,731 - the biggest single week total notched up by any single since Harry Styles managed 94,000 last spring. It may or may not be a coincidence that both Flowers and As It Was are helmed by the same production team of Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson. Meanwhile Spotify are busy trumpeting it has smashed their own single-week streaming record worldwide, even if they haven't shared the exact numbers yet. So yeah, this one is pretty huge.
Flowers would be an intriguing No.1 single in its own right, but many online have noted a fascinating subtext in the lyrics. Widely viewed as a dis track towards her estranged husband Liam Hemsworth, the song's chorus appears to be a deliberate analogue to the romanticism of Bruno Mars' 2013 No.2 hit When I Was Your Man. So where Bruno sang "I should have brought you flowers, and held your hand, should have gave you all my hours when I had the chance, take you to every party because all you wanted to do was dance" Miley on her hit is singing "I can buy myself flowers, write my name in the sand, talk to myself for hours, say things you don't understand. I can take myself dancing and hold my own hand". It is clever, subtle, but clearly not quite subtle enough given it seems every music blogger around spotted it almost immediately. I'm just bringing up the rear here.
The Liam Hemsworth subtext extends even further if you care to deep dive. Was it really a coincidence that she released in on her ex's 33rd birthday?
Crawling To Success
The aptly named Creepin' has been creeping its way up the charts since before Christmas and this week the track from Metro Boomin' along with The Weeknd and 21 Savage takes another important step and climbs into the Top 10 for the first time as it rises to a new peak of No.7. Another pre-Christmas release whose patience is now being rewarded you will note.
Notably absent from the Top 10 however is last week's No.1 single. As you could have predicted, given it was only propelled to the top by a strong physical sale the remaining streaming audience for Lewis Capaldi's Pointless was not enough for it to maintain anything resembling a Top 10 position. The track drops to No.12, becoming as it so happens only the second single in chart history to make a 1-12 drop - Mary's Boy Child by Harry Belfatonte the only other. It also means Pointless does something rather unique, climbing to No.1 from outside the Top 10 and then falling back out a week later. Other hits have made similar moves - such as Three Lions going 24-1-97 in 2018 and Ellie Goulding's River moving 11-1-28 in 2020, but both of those were singles which had previously made the Top 10 prior to their sojourn at the top. Pointless is the only track to date to dart in and out of the top in what is (for now) its only week in the Top 10.
Meanwhile on the topic of pre-Christmas hits finally making good in January there are new peaks and first weeks in the Top 10 for Fearless by Joel Corry & Tom Grennan (No.18) and most fascinatingly Golden Hour by JKVE which creeps up to No.19 in what is now the 13th week of this present chart run. And it remains just as gorgeous as it was when we first encountered it back in October.
Good With Her
Brand new this week and starting what we hope is a fun chart journey of its own is Red Flags, the new single from Mimi Webb. Her 8th chart single and sixth Top 40 hit in all, the track enters at No.23. Arriving simultaneously with her "Best New Talent" nomination at the forthcoming Brit awards, it is the latest cut to be taken from her forthcoming debut full-length album Amelia which is set to hit stores in early March.
No.60 last week but No.27 this with a rocket up its backside is People from Libianca. The tender Afrobeats ballad is the first hit for the American singer who first came to attention as a participant on the 2021 series of The Voice in America. Her talent clearly exceeding anyone else featuring on the show, even if she was eliminated in the first week of the live shows.
Fredo has his first hit of the new year and his 32nd in total with Dave Flow landing at No.30, but perhaps the most startling new arrival of the week is the one immediately below him.
Hits Don't Lie
Argentinian producer Bizarrap has been creating his numbered "Music Sessions" releases since 2018. Starting out as collaborations with friends and artists from his home country, the project has since branched out to include performers from across Europe. Similarly the appeal of the cuts has grown exponentially with several of the 2022 volumes having topped the charts in Spain and Italy. But now the Bzrp Music Sessions break through in to the British charts thanks to the presence on No.53 of no less a superstar than Shakira. Her contribution carries with it an extra frisson, being widely viewed as her own dis track towards lately estranged husband Gerard Pique. Assuming you can decode it of course. The track returns the Colombian star to the British charts for the first time in nine years, her first chart single of any kind since Empire made No.24 in April 2014. Yes, it really has been that long.
Old Records Broken
There are many layers of intrigue at the top of the Official UK Albums chart this week as the No.1 position is occupied by St Jude by The Courteeners. A 15th anniversary re-issue of their debut album it duly sets a brand new record, making No.1 for the very first time a decade and a half after its release. The Courteeners in the process join such luminaries as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in topping the albums chart with special edition re-releases of older works, although St Jude is the first to have not made No.1 the first time around, having made No.4 upon original release.
Needless to say there is what we used to call a "yeahbut" in there, a small detail from chart history which prevents this from being totally unique. This is thanks to the presence in the record books of a No.1 double pack from Tyrannosaurus Rex, the pre-fame branding of Marc Bolan's T-Rex. A reissue of their 1968 albums My People Were Fair… and Prophets Seers And Sages… made No.1 in 1972 at the height of the band's fame thanks to an opportunistic reissue and so stands proud as the first "special edition" re-release of an album (or two) to top the charts. Even though technically it was the debut appearance of the record as neither had previously made the listings.