In January 2013 David Bowie released a single which gave him his first Top 10 single for 20 years (at the time a record) but was very nearly not eligible to chart at all.
If you want me to save you a click, it was an instant-grat single, released as a freebie for those pre-ordering the album. These were at the time banned from the chart owing to an inability to discriminate between those who purchased it directly and those who had downloaded it for free. But the optics of Bowie of all people being denied a huge hit on a technicality were too much to contemplate. So the technical hurdle was cleared and Where Are We Now made No.6.
The point here I hope should be obvious. Changes and adjustments to the way things are done are sometimes as a result of particular circumstances, records whose behaviour defies convention and precedent and which require a different stance to be taken.
Which brings us once more to Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush, denied a chance to top the charts last week by dint of being a catalogue product, older than three years old and so ineligible for the automatic reset of its ACR status that would have ordinarily resulted from the dramatic way it surged up the consumption tables. And which inevitably prompted a raft of (inevitably critical) headlines.
But the ACR rules for catalogue tracks are not set in stone. And as Martin Talbot, chief executive of Official Charts, pointed out in many places this week, if a label asks for a reset and there are clear grounds to do so, the Charts Supervisory Committee are unlikely to object. Well, this week the label asked, the request was granted and Running Up That Hill duly became the first "golden oldie" since the rules were implemented almost exactly five years ago to have its streams reset to full strength.
And Now It Gets Interesting
The result was all but inevitable. No.1 on the Official UK Singles chart this week is 1985 classic Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush. And that fact alone is phenomenally exciting, as it immediately blows away all manner of chart records. So let's go through them one by one.
Kate Bush is now the oldest woman ever to perform on a No.1 single. Official Charts previous recognised Cher as the record holder, 52 years old when Believe was top of the charts in 1998. But I prefer also to acknowledge Debbie Harry who was 54 when she sang on Blondie's Maria a few months later at the start of 1999. Kate Bush however is today just over a month shy of her 64th birthday.
Kate Bush has also endured the longest ever gap between No.1 hits, topping the British charts for the first time since her debut single Wuthering Heights hit the top in 1978. The previous record holder was Tom Jones, and if we count matters from the very last chart week when the previous hit was top of the charts and the date of the first week the new hit climbed there then he officially had to wait from January 12th 1967 to March 21st 2009 - 42 years, 2 months and 10 days - to top the charts.
Kate Bush's No.1 gap has lasted from April 1st 1978 to this week, June 23rd 2022. 44 years, 2 months and 23 days. Which is nothing less than extraordinary.
Running Up That Hill also sets the record for the slowest climb to No.1. This was previously held by Last Christmas by Wham! Which took a little over 36 years (give or take a few weeks) to make it to the top of the charts. First registering on the charts of August 17th 1985, Kate Bush's hit finally reaches the chart summit after 36 years 10 months and 7 days.
But there is one final accolade that Kate Bush is due, and this is perhaps the most important one of all. She is credited solo in all three of the most important bits of song metadata - performer, composer and producer. Making her the first woman in chart history to achieve this.
On this last point though there is what we used to call a "yeahbut", that tiny technicality which prevents an unequivocal statement of fact. Chart history is full of these. Tori Amos topped the charts in January 1997 with Professional Widow on which she too was credited as the sole composer and producer. But the single that hit the top bore no relation to the music she created, instead an extensive remix by Armand Van Helden which only retained its original credits due to contractual wrangling. So she is there in the books, but I'm damned if I'm going to count it.
And The Rest
Commiserations therefore go to Harry Styles who last week enjoyed what some might argue was an unjustified 10th week at the top of the charts with As It Was but who is now turfed from the summit a week earlier than we expected. But here's the twist, last week I wrote on the presumption that this would be his third tick of his own ACR clock meaning the single's run at the head of the market was going to come to an enforced end. But that was to reckon without the effect of his tour kicking off this week and - apparently - further boosting interest in the three-month-old single. As It Was is dumped down to No.2 this week but is there with an increased chart sale. Meaning it escapes ACR once more and could well be poised for a return to the top if the Kate Bush phenomenon burns out in the next three weeks. But I don't think anyone can make any assumptions there. We should also note that Cat Burns' Go (stranded at No.3 still) has also increased sales this week meaning it too has its ACR clock reset.
We should not overlook the other big Top 10 move of the week, the near instant-classic Afraid To Feel by LF System makes another flying leap and surges 13-4 to become a certified smash hit in its own right. The origin of its vocal line has finally been surfaced - an old Philly track by Silk called I Can't Stop (Turning You On) originally released in 1979.
Better Have That Party Ready
George Ezra's third album Gold Rush Kid follows both of its predecessors to the very top of the Official UK Albums chart this week as it debuts with a huge sale of 44,514. This also needless to say has a beneficial effect on his singles chart performance. Current hit Green Green Grass leaps three places to Number 6, while its predecessor Anyone For You stages a huge comeback of its own, shooting 64-22. Rather curiously only two cuts from the new album chart, this owing to the fact that George's third and final permitted hit is the now four years old Shotgun which is loitering at No.76, revived thanks to his performing of the song at the recent Platinum Jubilee concert.
Ed Sheeran's 2 Step dives 10-11 brining to an end his streak of 50 consecutive weeks with at least one single inside the Top 10.
After a fortnight locked in place at No.22 Je M'Appelle by Benzz leaps into action once more and is now a Top 20 single for the very first time with a climb to No.17. It is just one place above the highest new entry of the week, alas reduced it seems to little more than a footnote. Step forward then Elegant & Gang, the second new release of the year by D Block Europe, following on from Black Beatles which peaked at No.35 a month ago. The track features Ghost Killer as featured guest star, reversing the credits compared to his only previous hit Tonight which reached No.48 in April last year. What do you mean you'd forgotten?
Props too should go to Burna Boy whose solo single Last Last is far from a one week wonder and accelerates to No.20. That's enough to make it his biggest chart single since he featured on J Hus's Play Play, a No.11 hit in February 2020. What do you mean you'd forg…oh, we did that gag already.
Question marks hover over the future of BTS as they first indicated they were taking a "hiatus" only to walk back talk of breaking up when the shares of their record label crashed as result. Those close to the project suggest that while they will eventually come back the super-boyband may well end up with a significantly changed lineup. Taking from their "anthology" album Proof comes Yet To Come which, despite the title, marks a return to their native language after a series of English releases. Perhaps for that reason it charts in a rather underwhelming manner at No.27.
Arriving in the Top 40 for the first time is I Ain't Worried from OneRepublic, the track another lifted from the Top Gun: Maverick soundtrack and accompanying Lady Gaga's Hold My Hand which has rather become marooned in mid-table. I Ain't Worried is this week's No.28, that just enough to make it the biggest chart hit for Ryan Tedder's outfit since Love Runs Out became a Top 3 hit way back in 2014. Perhaps they were due a comeback, this year marking the 15th anniversary of their very first chart hits.
The final new entry of the week is the decidedly lo-fi Glimpse Of Us by Joji, he just the latest in a long line of stars to make the leap from social media popularity to mainstream chart success (or so it is hoped). The Japanese performer began his career as a comic rapper on YouTube via a variety of different channels. His musical career began in 2014 when he released two albums as Pink Guy before becoming Joji. Two albums came and went without success, but Glimpse Of Us has managed to go viral in a way none of his other music has before. And here's the proof, a rather unexpected Top 40 hit single. I'll be fascinated to see if this goes further.