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Chart Watch this week is dedicated to longtime loyal reader Sara Carnall who was not expecting to see her name here.

Style It Out Once More

So let's start as we always do at the top, even if this once more isn't the most notable story of the week. The No.1 single on the Official UK Singles chart is still As It Was by Harry Styles, the chart phenomenon now moving into the rare stratosphere of singles whose run at the top extends to double figures. For this is indeed the track's 10th straight week at the top.

I am sympathetic to the point of view that really most longevity stats should be divided between those managed during the sales-only era and those from the streaming era given that it is now far easier for singles to hang around seemingly forever. However, to spend at least 10 weeks at No.1 remains vanishingly rare. Since the introduction of streams to the charts in 2014 the only ones to have reached double figures at the top are:

One Dance by Drake (15 weeks)
Shape Of You by Ed Sheeran (14 weeks)
Despacito by Luis Fonsi (11 weeks)
Dance Monkey by Tones and I (11 weeks)
Bad Habits by Ed Sheeran (11 weeks)

So in relative terms then this is still a rare thing to do and what Harry has done this week still carries a great deal of meaning. With chart sales of the track dipping once more to 55,768 you note that this is now two ticks of the ACR clock. Meaning that As It Was might possibly become the third long-running No.1 hit in a row to be kicked to the curb after 11 weeks.

Harry Styles also returns to the top of the Official UK Albums chart this week, Harry's House duly becoming the first No.1 album of 2022 to enjoy more than a solitary week at the top. This also means he does the singles and albums chart double for a second time with the exact same records as the first - not a unique occurrence but still pulled off by only a handful of acts.

Elephant In The Bush

But this is where it gets awkward. The phenomenon of revived single Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush continued into a second week as the sync with Stranger Things wound itself ever deeper into people's consciousness. As a result the 37-year-old track rises to a quite sensational No.2, beating its original 1985 chart peak and in the process becoming Ms Bush's biggest hit single since her debut Wuthering Heights topped the charts for four weeks back in 1978.

Yet a glance at the overall streaming table tells a different story. Running Up That Hill was far and away the most listened to track of the week, generally clocking up around 700,000 plays a day on Spotify compared to the 400,000 of the Harry Styles single. But the ACR rules - permanent in the case of an older track - mean those plays are worth half of those of the Styles track. And when the final calculations came in Running Up That Hill officially has just 44,739 chart sales. Were all her streams (and there were 9.1m) of them to count for full value then the single would be No.1 by some distance with some 83,613 chart sales to its name.

The permanent ACR rule is there for some very good reasons. Its most common function is to be what on the surface is a vain attempt to level the playing field at Christmas, allowing contemporary hits to at least attempt to hold their own against the onslaught of festive classics. It meant that last December the brand new Elton John and Ed Sheeran single Merry Christmas had its due reward at No.1 on the chart, rather than playing second fiddle to songs from 30 years earlier. And as the streaming market grows and matures the need to shall we say dial down the numbers for recurrent and vintage hits will become ever more pronounced as the average age of those using the DSPs grows older. It is predominantly teens and young adults playing most music at the moment, but who can say that won't change in 10 years' time. And the charts still need to be the preserve of modern, current music.

But you can't deny this looks unfortunate and unfair. We of course have dodged this bullet in the past. Back in 2018 at the height of World Cup mania the 1996 single Three Lions by Baddiel/Skinner/Lightning Seeds enjoyed a huge rush of popularity. On that occasion it was streamed and purchased in such numbers that it overcame the handicap of permanent ACR and topped the charts anyway. Had it not done so we would already have had this conversation and the fate of the Kate Bush single would not have been so notable.

It is what it is. Kate Bush is No.2 this week, and let the record of that stand for evermore.

Go Cat Go

Running Up That Hill knocks Cat Burns' Go at least temporarily back to No.3, although the single is still the one in pole position to take over from Harry Styles when he finally runs out of steam or suffers the ACR axe. Go is notably now in circulation in three different versions: the original mix, the Goddard remix which turns the song into a surprise drum and bass banger, and now as of this week a new duet version which adds new vocals from Sam Smith into the mix. It makes for a quite absorbing change as well. Burns' original is a tale of a woman burning with righteous anger. The Sam Smith duet has the same lyrics and the same instrumentation but he somehow turns it into a tale of melancholic heartbreak and suffering. I'm in awe of the way this has been done.

Party For Brenda

Put music in front of millions and special things happen. Such was the impact of the Platinum Jubilee At The Palace concert last weekend, the Queen's jubilee once more featuring a variety of musical stars coming together to perform for a rapt audience both in Central London and watching on TV. And it is the concert which is responsible for the two other Top 10 moves of the week. Sam Ryder got to perform his Eurovision smash Space Man and is rewarded by the single climbing back into the Top 10 with an 11-5 jump. Meanwhile George Ezra cheekily took the opportunity to open his own mini set with current single Green Green Grass (even if he did have to tactfully change the lyrics to omit the reference to throwing a party "on the day that I die"). His reward is to see the anthem in waiting rise 17-9 and finally give him his seventh Top 10 hit single, this after predecessor Anyone For You spent 11 weeks in the Top 20 earlier this year without ever climbing higher than No.12

The expression has lost all meaning now, but the latest club hit to "go viral" as they say is Afraid To Feel by Edinburgh's LF System. Sneaking in under the radar at No.69 last week the track now rockets to No.13. This is well worth a few minutes of anyone's time as it cultivates a fascinating new way to make dance music, taking a classic soul/dance production and simply playing with the tempo as the track speeds up, slows down, changes gears, moves through entire decades and then lifts off into euphoria. Bold words from me, but this is damn close to genius.

Post Script

The final bit of chart action of note this week (because Big Energy STILL hasn't made the Top 20 dammit) comes thanks to Post Malone who lands at No.3 with new album Twelve Carat Toothache but whose streams are more than enough for its cuts to pepper the Top 40 - the three that are permitted of course. Existing hit Cooped Up rockets to No.18 after three weeks marooned in the Top 30, and it is closely followed by album cuts I Like You (A Happier Song) which with Doja Cat in tow lands at No.19 and finally Lemon Tree which sneaks in at No.40.

The Queen's Platinum Jubilee inevitably meant yet another instalment in the tradition of re-releasing God Save The Queen by The Sex Pistols to commemorate the anniversary of the urban myth that it was prevented from making No.1 in the week of her Silver edition back in 1977. A special edition physical release means it tops the sales chart this week but those 5,712 vinyl copies sold plus its downloads and streams are only enough to plant it at No.57. It famously made No.2 (no, really) in 1977, returned to No.15 in 2002 and limped to No.80 in 2012. With the best will in the world the chances of her Maj making it to 2032 intact are fairly slim, meaning we should hopefully have finally seen an end to this.


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