For the first time since 2019 we have the pleasing spectacle of Scottish acts at the summit of both singles and albums charts as both countdowns enjoy a changing of the guard.
As Running Up That Hill slips to ACR (and so endures a small collapse in chart position to No.3) its place as anticipated is taken by Afraid To Feel as "performed" by Edinburgh's LF System. Sean Finnigan and Conor Larkman met while working as DJs at Fly in their home city and elected to, as they put it, "put our heads together" and create their own product.
Afraid To Feel was first put together by the pair back in 2019, meaning its journey to prominence has been a protracted one. As has been well documented the track is based almost in its entirely around a sample from I Can't Stop (Turning You On), a Philly soul track dating from the late 1970s and originally performed by short-lived R&B outfit Silk. While the original was a mellow soul ballad, the LF System genius is simply to play around with the tempo. Slowing down, speeding up, dragging the original vocal into new territory and as I noted when it first charted, effectively creating a brand new way to produce dance music.
And this is something brand new, who knows maybe the start of a whole new revolution. In the last two years the only other made-for-the-clubs track to top the charts was Cold Heart, but even that was arguably propelled there based as much on its star power as it was the dancefloor appeal of the cut. Afraid To Feel is beloved by DJs, sounds good on the radio too but is otherwise anonymous. And singles don't bound 69-13 and then climb 4-3-2-1 without their being something rather special about them. We are also permitted to note the irony of a single from 1985 being knocked off the top of the charts by one based on a vocal cut that is even older. Official Charts keep insisting the Silk original is from 1975 although shots of the single on Discogs place it as a 1979 release, coinciding with the group's one and only album release. Meanwhile, you have to wonder if anyone has told singer Debra Henry (a constant presence in Patti LaBelle's touring band) that hers is the voice on the current UK No.1 single.
Funk My Life Up
The other side of the Scottish coin features Paolo Nutini, the Glaswegian singer-songwriter who had effectively not been seen in public in a professional context since his Hogmanay performances in Edinburgh at the end of 2016. After enjoying two years of relative anonymity he now returns with his first album in eight years and Last Night In The Bittersweet duly blows away the rest of the market as it debuts at No.1 with sales of just over 34,000.
Ghosts Of Success
Back to singles, and in an otherwise snowbound Top 10 there is one new arrival in the shape of Nathan Dawe and Ella Henderson's 21 Reasons which finally lifts itself to No.10 after fully six weeks creeping up the Top 20 almost a rung at a time. It is the second Top 10 hit for Nathan Dawe, his first since he hit No.3 alongside KSI on Lighter in the summer of 2020. This is the sixth time here for Ella Henderson, her first since duetting with Tom Grennan on Let's Go Home Together last year. She of course has a No.1 single sitting proudly in her chart history, her debut hit Ghost which hit the top just over eight years ago. Henderson was actually unlucky not to have participated on two entries to the Top 10 in the same week, her turn on David Guetta's Crazy What Love Can Do is still stranded at No.11.
Now eight weeks old Last Last from Burna Boy appears to have a fire lit under it, advancing ten places to a brand new peak of No.12. His 11th Top 75 chart entry in all, it is the only one on which he is credited solo and only his second on which he is effectively the lead artist. His last single to chart this high was Play Play (as a guest of J Hus) which peaked at No.11 in February 2020.
Also in the slow-burning pile is OneRepublic's I Ain't Worried, now at a new peak of No.21 after six week in the Top 100 and their biggest hit since Love Runs Out was a Top 3 single in 2014. But that's still just peanuts compared to the smouldering climb of No Excuses by Bru-C, now a Top 30 hit for the first time at No.28 in what is now its tenth week as a chart single.
Aaaand unless you count a brief re-entry at No.40 for Benson Boone's In The Stars, there are literally no new songs to speak of in the Top 40. The chart's highest new entry this week is Hot In It from Tiesto & Charli XCX which debuts at No.42, although perhaps the most notable one of all is the first-ever chart appearance of near-legendary heavy metal epic (it is fully 8 and a half minutes long) Master Of Puppets from Metallica. Propelled by its own use in "Stranger Things" the track gained some late-week traction to end up as the 32nd most-streamed single of the week, enough to take it to No.47 overall. It is Metallica's first chart single since Cyanide reached No.48 in September 2008. Taken from their 1986 album of the same name the track actually predates the whole of Metallica's chart career, their official debut not arriving until August 1987 when the $5.98 EP reached No.27.