For Those About To Rock

This feels like it is a surprise, but it really shouldn't be. With the gap between Beyonce and her nearest rivals having narrowed over the past couple of weeks the trend comes to its natural conclusion today. The No.1 reign of Texas Hold 'Em comes to a graceful, but reassuringly organic end.

The song that replaces it is Benson Boone's Beautiful Things, a record which feels like it is both surfing the zeitgeist and bucking all known trends. Back in 2020 I participated in a documentary for Absolute Radio discussing the commercial decline of rock music and the prospects for it ever re-emerging. Artists like Benson Boone aren't necessarily in the mould of the traditional bands of old, but the American performer's ballad manages to fuse both the folk traditions of Bob Dylan with the best of old school metal - are his screeching vocals in the song's soaring chorus really all that far removed from those of Aerosmith's Steve Tyler?

In rising to the top Benson Boone further extends the run of American solo performers at the top of the Official UK Singles chart, he now the third such performer to top the charts since the start of the year. Indeed it is notable that since Dua Lipa reached No.1 with Dance The Night in August last year, British interest in the No.1 position has been limited to the distinctly veteran performing acts of Wham and The Beatles with Kenya Grace the lone contemporary performer. In between times we have had Olivia Rodrigo, Doja Cat, Taylor Swift, Jack Harlow, Noah Kahan and Beyonce - American soloists all.

Scary Stuff

Beyonce's former No.1 actually slips to third this week, Ariana Grande's We Can't Be Friends (Wait For Your Love) ascending into second place as the streaming power of her Eternal Sunshine album ensures it enjoys an all too rare second consecutive week at the summit of the albums chart.

Breaking into the Top 10 to fill the gap left by Taylor Swift's Cruel Summer finally succumbing to ACR is Michael Marcargi's Scared To Start which climbs four places to reach a new peak of No.10. So we have Americana to start and finish the Top 10 singles of the week which somehow seems appropriate. Rock music is back in a way we simply could not have predicted four years ago - and extraordinarily it is TikTok which is breaking these hits just like it used to do pop-dance.

Brief sympathies are needed for the singles knocking on the glass ceiling, Alibi from Ella Henderson and Rudimental the unlucky loser of the week as it tops out at No.11, denied a return to its No.10 peak of a fortnight ago. Meanwhile the extraordinary chart run of Natasha Bedingfield's revived Unwritten shows little sign of coming to an end just yet. Celebrating what is now its 10th consecutive week as a Top 20 hit single it returns to the No.12 position it last occupied a fortnight ago - still destined it seems to never quite return to the Top 10 glory it last enjoyed in January 2005. But right now who can say what lies ahead of it?

V-Sign

The highest new entry of the week goes to Kim "V" Tae-hyung as the BTS star follows up his No.24 hit Slow Dancing from September last year with a brand new single Fri(end)s which lands smartly at No.13 after teasing a Top 10 entry in the early midweeks. There isn't really much more you can add other than to note that at the time of writing the Official Charts website has entertainingly mixed his metadata up with the unlamented boy band of the same name from 2004 and that like most K-pop singles it has sold in large numbers directly to a rabid fanbase but will attract practically zero mainstream attention.

Mainstream attention is however what Dasha is attracting with her viral hit Austin suddenly starting to make chart waves around the world. In Britain she appears to have a head start and accelerates to No.15 in what is surely destined to be a place in the Top 10 in fairly short order. It would be wrong for Beyonce to have the only country hit of the moment after all, and Austin is quite simply one of the more entertaining pop records of now. But I still say you can close your eyes and imagine it is a teeny Taylor Swift performing.

A Lone Telephone Rings

The second biggest new hit of the week is another which is alas destined for a very short chart life, but it is at the very least notable for having raised eyebrows by topping the as ever often wholly unrepresentative First Look chart last Sunday. During the 80s and 90s Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler developed a lucrative sideline in creating movie soundtracks, his very first attempt being the music for the celebrated Anglo-Scottish comedy Local Hero. Its main theme (officially entitled Going Home) was a minor hit single in its own right back in 1983, climbing to No.56 but has lived on ever since thanks to a long-standing association with Newcastle United FC who have run out to it at the start of home matches at St James' Park ever since. 41 years later both theme and composer are back in the charts with a special all-star charity rendition. Mark Knopfler's Guitar Heros is a collection of more than 60 (count them) legendary musicians all of whom take it in turns to perform a few bars of the famous melody. The resulting edit is more than nine minutes long but somehow never gets old, arguably the greatest supergroup of guitarists formed since the famous Raw Sex comedy sketch from the 1990s (ask me in the comments which one I mean).

With a special poignancy of it featuring the late Jeff Beck's last recorded performance, Local Hero is needless to say of interest to a particular demographic whose tastes do not normally shape the Top 40 charts, but with all proceeds going to cancer charities both here and in America it has a worthy place in this week's chart. Easily the most-purchased track of the week with over 15,200 sales it was never truly going to contend to be No.1. But where else can you hear Hank Marvin, Orianthi, Brian May, Slash and Zucchero all performing together?

Losers

Still comparatively rare are the singles that semi-organically reverse their ACR status, but Never Lose Me by Flo Milli now just happens to be one of them. Which is great to see as it remains lovely. A lowly No.72 last week it suddenly surges back into chart contention at No.23, just a few places short of its peak first time around of No.15.

While we are speaking of singles rebounding, unlucky to just miss out on a Top 40 place is Jungle's magnificent Back On 74, which returned to the charts in the wake of the group's performance of the track at the BRIT awards earlier in the month. First reaching No.25 back in November, the track returned to prominence last week after escaping ACR and re-charted at No.43. Proving that this new found appeal was no one-off it rises to No.41 this time around. And I'd still love to see it go higher.

Is it a quiet week for new arrivals? Well yes, it is indeed how did you guess? Not that there weren't new singles out but so many of them underperformed. Meghan Trainor's new track Been Like This is a mere No.60 while Cardi B's Enough (Miami) is only No.85. But you may save the greatest eyebrows for Zayn Malik who yes, should be burning hotter than he is given his still vocal online fanbase. But it is fascinating that his new single What I Am, which surfs the present vogue for guitar-led balladry and which in terms of musical style isn't a million miles removed from tracks such as Stick Season or Scared To Start only charts at No.89.

SmallLogo