A Lick Of (Official) Paint
Some admin to get out of the way first, as this week Official Charts launched the first revamp of their own website in many a long year, rebranding slightly to make the iconic "1" logo resemble the No.1 awards a little more, introducing an exciting new pink and blue colour scheme, but most interestingly of all expanding the amount of data available. The possible charts you can generate have grown, full chart runs for songs on all the more specialist charts, and there is also now syndicated access to the French and Irish charts which the company is also contracted to compile.
Lost a little in all that was the publication of some specially commissioned research to answer the question once and for all just what the pop charts actually mean in the 21st century. The answer: quite a bit as it turns out. Both for the industry and consumers themselves. And chartwatching and a love of the nostalgia of it is by no means confined to the older generation either.
My own summary of the findings is elsewhere on this site, along with a link where you can request your own copy of the full report. Or just ask nicely and I'll share mine.
Zero Mud Given
Now as we all know music is great to listen to alone, but somehow when it is a shared experience it becomes just so much better. The mostly annual Glastonbury festival has now grown to become one of the biggest music events of the year on TV, the BBC providing close to round the clock coverage of all of the biggest stages and with some headline acts even grabbing pride of place on the BBC1 schedules. And just as the audience for it grows every year, so too does the impact on the charts the following week. And so this week you are set to hear a great many things about the 'G' word. Because Glastonbury dominates all.
The No.1 album of the week probably would have made it there regardless, but it is a happy coincidence that one of the first artists to take to the Pyramid Stage on Friday lunchtime last week was Maisie Peters. Her second album The Good Witch goes one place further than her 2021 debut You Signed Up For This, flying straight to the top of the Official UK Albums chart. At the age of 23 she becomes - curiously - the youngest solo British female to have a No.1 album since Ella Henderson did at the age of 18 back in 2014. Peters occupies a curious space as a notionally teen-friendly pop-rock performer whose appeal has eluded the singles chart so far. Her own special brand of "boys are shit" themed songs have yet to make any kind of significant chart impact and indeed her biggest singles chart success to date was with Together This Christmas which peaked at No.47 at the start of the year - although as an Amazon Original you can bet that precious few people actually elected to listen to it rather than having it piped to them. By contrast the lead single from The Good Witch was Lost The Breakup which topped out at No.85 in April. But still, she's fun and entertaining and thoroughly deserves the No.1 album. Even if all her songs are indeed about how boys are shit.
But you only have to glance at the albums charts to see just who people tuned in to watch. The Foo Fighters, Lewis Capaldi, Lana Del Rey (sort of), Guns N' Roses and Arctic Monkeys all saw their album sales and streams make a leap. But the weekend of course belonged to Elton John, climaxing the weekend on the Pyramid Stage on Sunday night and rewarded with his Hits collection Diamonds reaching what is - extraordinarily - a brand new peak of No.2, the album never before having charted higher than No.5
Elton's catalogue appeared to benefit from bonus streams more than most. Former No.1 single Cold Heart (on which he got the audience to sing the Dua Lipa parts) charges back onto the chart at No.30, closely followed at No.34 by the now 40-year-old hit I'm Still Standing, back on the charts for the first time since it peaked at No.4 in September 1983 and by a strange coincidence arriving almost exactly 40 years to the day it was first released.
Right at the top of the singles chart things remain oddly, but not unusually static with the whole of the Top 4 once again becalmed. This does of course mean the UK rap duopoly continues. Sprinter by Dave and Central Cee is No.1 for the fourth week in a row, Who Told You by J Hus and Drake in second place for the third. The significance of this should not be in any way understated. Not all rap singles of whatever genre are necessarily easy to love, the absence of music hooks from many meaning you have to fully relate to (and perhaps most importantly understand) the lyrics and poetry itself. Sprinter admittedly benefits from being clever and witty and not too lost in street argot, but the impressive way it has sustained widespread appeal for what is now a month is only to be admired.
New to the Top 10, and maintaining its momentum from a week ago, is (It Goes Like) NaNaNa by Peggy Gou which accelerates 14-9, replacing Rema's Calm Down which after a quite epic continuous chart run finally collapses to ACR. Presuming we base nationality on country of birth, then Ms Gou is the first solo female from South Korea ever to have a Top 10 hit single.
For the second week running the week's highest new entry doesn't quite arrive where we expected. Last week I hinted at the possibility of a unique all-rap Top 3, but in the end Toxic Trait from Stormzy featuring Fredo makes what is for him a rather understated debut at No.11. Should we be shocked? Stormzy has this habit of blowing hot and cold, and a new entry just outside the Top 10 is entirely in keeping with some of his past form. But still, any single featuring Fredo admitting to not using toenail clippers is worth a few minutes of your time.
Are there other Top 10 hits in waiting? Interestingly Taylor Swift's Cruel Summer comes to life this week with a rise to No.12 to peak its original chart peak, and just behind 0800 Heaven from Nathan Dawe, Joel Corry and Ella Henderson is up to a new peak of No.13 in its third week around.
Georgia On My Mind
Elton John promised several surprise guests for his Glastonbury set, sending the internet all a-quiver trying to guess who they were, with everyone from Britney Spears to Eminem mooted at one point. Hence the "wtf" reaction when they turned out to be a startlingly undressed Rina Sawayama and a startlingly toothsome Brandon Flowers. But maybe the most glorious moment of them all was when the rock legend brought out a man who may have been unfamiliar to most of the crowd but who had made Elton's favourite song of the year so far. So it was that Stephen Sanchez marched onstage with a guitar and was given the biggest of big platforms to perform his fabulous Until I Found You. And boy did that have an effect. The Ricky Nelson-inspired throwback single staggered to a No.16 peak just after Christmas only to run out of steam. But following Glastonbury it roars back to a whole new peak of No.14. You may recall the latter half of the single's push earlier this year came in the wake of the release of a remixed version featuring additional vocals from Em Beihold, but it was Sanchez solo who performed on prime time TV and it is the solo version which has enjoyed the huge boost. Fascinatingly the song tops the old-fashioned sales chart this week (the new Official Charts website now enabling me to tell at a glance it had never been higher than No.41 before), but it also makes it to No.29 on the streaming tables in its best performance since mid-January.
Also new to the Top 20, Netflix's The Idol soundtrack hit Popular from The Weeknd and company (including an ailing Madonna - with a Top 20 hit for the first time since 2009) which rebounds to No.18, but also gloriously the Anne-Marie and Shania Twain collision Unhealthy which lifts itself to No.20. With its video now finally available you never know it may end up even higher.
Something that was unexpected - the sudden ruse of Fukumean from American rapper Gunna which debuted at No.47 and rockets to No.22 to become his biggest hit single since his cameo role on Internet Money's 2020 No.1 hit Lemonade. What do you mean, you'd forgotten he was on it.
Are They Plastic?
There's a desperate need to make Barbie-mania a thing isn't there? Still several weeks away from the release of the Greta Gerwig movie, we now have a second hit single from the soundtrack. From the "yes, they went there" file comes Barbie World from Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice, the track a very much thrown together rap about nothing but based almost inevitably on a sample from the famous Aqua song Barbie Girl. The use of the 1997 global smash hit means the Danish pop group also land themselves an artist credit on the track for their first chart single in 23 years. Ice Spice lands herself her third hit credited hit record of 2023 as a result of this collaboration - although her fifth in total given her contributions to Boy's A Liar by Pinkpantheress and Karma by Taylor Swift were not acknowledged by the chart credits.
I don't normally like to draw too much attention to chart falls, but some cannot pass without comment. We wondered out loud whether Leigh-Anne's Don't Say Love would have a Week 2 that resembled her first. Answer there now comes: no. The much-hyped debut single from the former Little Mix star plummets 11-52 this week. Which doesn't bode well for Jade and Perri getting their opportunities for a solo gig.
Never mind, we move now from one potential sensation to another. Olivia Rodrigo is back next week. And she's set to hit the charts like a thunderbolt. I can hardly wait.