Spotless Minds

There is no doubt about it, we are in the middle of one of those periods where each week in turn seems to belong to one artist in question, their work dominating just about every story there is to tell. Last week it was inevitably RAYE, we have Dua Lipa and Beyonce to come (all women you will note) but this week beyond a shadow of a doubt is Ariana Grande week.

Why does she dominate? Because her new album Eternal Sunshine this week becomes the biggest new album of the year so far, charging with some considerable ease to the top of the Official UK Albums chart in a manner that makes mincemeat of the nearest competition. Which you will note is - extraordinarily - Judas Priest.

Now well and truly established as a superstar name (if not quite God Tier, but getting there) in a way that you surely could not have predicted when she first cast off the Nickelodeon Princess shackles ten years ago, Ariana Grande tops the albums chart for the fifth time in her career and in the process becoming one of only a small handful of women to do so. Eternal Sunshine, her seventh studio album to date, explodes into life with just over 38,000 chart sales - fascinatingly most of these (24,000) coming via digital streams. She had a strong paid sales total, no doubting it, but those figures are far from huge. The album has at the very least out-performed its predecessor, Positions only opening with 27,000 sales albeit those coming in 2020 when we all had other things on her mind. You will note that thank u, next opened with 65,000 sales in 2019. Just for context.

Still Holding

Although I kept an open mind to the possibility of a change, Beyonce still holds firm at No.1 with Texas Hold 'Em which, as we've flagged up here for the last few weeks, now becomes her longest-running No.1 single to date with four weeks at the summit. But it was in the end a close-run thing, second place Benson Boone was in the final reckoning just 1,700 chart sales behind. A sneeze in the wrong place and he could well have taken the crown.

That then leaves third place to be occupied by an Ariana Grande single. Despite early week numbers suggesting a flabby opening performance, tracks from Eternal Sunshine rallied to enjoy rather more respectable chart placings than might first have appeared. Leading the way is the track clearly destined to be its official second single, We Can't Be Friends (Wait For Your Love) which duly becomes her second Top 3 hit in a row. Just like its predecessor the track is either highly derivative or an effective tribute to a past style. Comparisons with Robyn (and in particular her global smash With Every Heartbeat) abound as the electropop track bubbles its way along in a manner which is far from unpleasant.

Yes, And? is inevitably the second biggest Ariana hit of the week, the single that refuses to die after nine weeks around returning to the Top 10 at No.6. Three side by side Top 10 hits alas weren't to be hers, Alibi the final one of her three permitted primary artist tracks which lands at No.13.

Can we mention here the elephant in the room? Despite being four weeks into its ACR life and falling officially to No.7 this week, Noah Kahan's former No.1 Stick Season has actually barged its way back to the head of the unfiltered streaming tables and would qualify to top the charts once again this week were it not subject to the handicap. This is a hit which also simply refuses to go away.

Hits Of Yesteryear

Also from the pile of "hits from last year" is Billie Eilish's former chart-topper What Was I Made For which was during the week garlanded with an award of its courtesy of the Best Original Song Oscar. That attention alone would have given it a streaming boost, but the single was also issued physically this week, and so after being granted an ACR reset it returns to the Top 40 for the first time since October last year at No.16.

Going Into Batz

The presence of the Grande album in the market meant this was a week that most people otherwise gave a swerve to, resulting in a rather sparse slate of new material. Fortune favours some brave souls though, and the highest non-Ari non-revived new entry goes to American star 4Batz. The hip-hop soul performer's hit Act II - Date @ 8 first debuted online back in December but now becomes a bone fide hit record thanks to the extra attentions of his new label patron Drake. His signing gift was a jump-on vocal and it is this new remix which takes the single into the charts for the first time. Dare I say it the original is actually the best version and it doesn't need Drake doing his trademark autotuned annoying droning on a verse, but you take whatever promotional gift you can get. The result is a No.18 hit.

Cowboy Boots Needed Once Again

Climbing from the depths after a two-week chart voyage is Austin by Dasha, a track which first emerged in November last year but which is now enjoying the usual bout of TikTok virality which has in turn made it a chart single. The Californian singer's country-pop hit has more than a touch of the Taylor Swifts about it (not least her alarmingly similar vocal style) but the track fits nicely into the twin vogues for both Americana and country music to make it sound oddly in vogue. Listen to this a few times and you will be wanting to learn the dance for yourself. The track is this week's No.25 but surely - surely - is destined for far more.

Mind you, Dasha's wait for a Top 40 hit is but a sneeze compared to that of Evergreen by Colorado folk rockers Richy Mitch and The Coalminers. First released in January 2023, it made the UK charts for the first time in March that year, creeping to No.88. It returned in September and, a brief hiatus during the Christmas period aside, has been charting continuously ever since. Since January the entertainingly brief (it is barely 90 seconds long in its primary edit) it has been hurtling around the No.50 position but until a few weeks ago had shown little sign of ever making the Top 40. However successive moves from 50-42-41 made it more likely than ever and so finally this week Evergreen is a No.37 hit and worthy of a proper mention in these pages. This week is its 24th as a Top 100 single, and I'm so glad it got to feature here at last.

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