I'm a veteran of these things. I remember being at university when U2 released their Achtung Baby album, venturing into town with a friend on the Monday morning of its release and joining the queued throng at HMV who waited their turn at the counter to be asked "LP, cassette or CD?" Because nobody was there to buy anything else that day.
Over 30 years later and times have changed, I've forgotten what it is like to study and you are more likely to be queuing up at HMV for a limited edition Funko Pop figure, but U2 are still churning out albums to their ever-diminishing audience. However their new album Songs Of Surrender has more of an attraction than usual, a four-disc 40 song collection of largely acoustic re-recordings of what we are told are highlights of the band's 40-year career. Largely the work of Bono and The Edge, it is a companion to the latter's memoir which he published last year and whose 40 chapters correspond to tracks on the new album. It flies with some style to No.1 this week, shifting over 20,000 copies in all - 11,000 of them on CD and cutely precisely 6,000 on vinyl as it sold out its entire limited edition run at a stroke. It is their 11th No.1 album in all, their first record to reach the top since No Line On The Horizon way back in 2009. Those paying attention will notice a theme developing in their album titles over the last decade, Songs Of Surrender following neatly on from Songs Of Innocence (2014) and Songs Of Experience (2017). I'll steer clear of making the obvious wish for Songs Of Silence next time around. Their fans could still take me in a fight.
Now Then Petal
Moving onto singles and I've a feeling there's going to be a distinctly old-school flavour to things this week. So inured are we to charts where the square root of naff all goes on, a week like this with plenty to chew over and a slew of exciting new springtime arrivals feels like a genuine novelty.
So let us start at the very beginning. Having escaped the ACR axe a week ago, and with nothing quite managing to match her in terms of streaming and sales power once more, Miley Cyrus is No.1 for the tenth consecutive week with Flowers. We are indeed in a world where, as I have said numerous times before, what was once extraordinary is now commonplace but it is still worth contemplating how rare it is for singles to have No.1 runs that extend into double figures. After all, in the first 40 years of the singles charts it happened just twice - and both of those were back in the 1950s and Flowers is only the 15th to do so to date.
That said it is becoming far more common particularly as singles have a shelf life at streaming that they would struggle to achieve at retail. 2023 is now the third year running that a single has extended its chart-topping run to 10 weeks or more. We had Ed Sheeran's Bad Habits (11 weeks) in 2021 and Harry Styles' As It Was (10 weeks) in 2022. Nobody pulled off the trick in 2020, but prior to that we had Dance Monkey by Tones & I in 2019 (11 weeks), Shape Of You by Ed Sheeran in 2017 (13 weeks consecutive, 14 weeks total) and One Dance by Drake in 2016 (15 weeks). The latter two of course prior to the introduction of ACR rules which truncated the runs of singles that might otherwise have stayed at the top forever.
Miley thus has the longest-running No.1 hit by a female artist of the decade so far. But will she be there next week? Assumption is a very dangerous thing in the world of chartwatching. But why shy away from it? There's a new Ed Sheeran song out. The man with the voice which can make Flowers wilt.
Running Flowers a close second was Miracle from Calvin n' Ellie, the track sliding into the second place vacated by Pinkpantheress after Boy's A Liar took an ACR tumble of its own, although this is still only sufficient to see the hit track slide to No.7. This all assists everyone else to be (for now) upwardly mobile. Die For You from The Weeknd and his invisible friend Ariana Grande goes back up to its No.3 peak, meanwhile Rema and his own invisible friend Selena Gomez go up to a new peak of No.4 with Calm Down. That track, incidentally, is now on its 14th week as a Top 10 single, the last 12 of these consecutive. Who else had forgotten it first enjoyed a two week run at No.10 at the end of November? I know I had. With Libianca's Flowers at No.5 it means there are two Afrobeats hits in the Top 5 of the Official UK Singles chart for the first time ever.
Here I Come
There is what is was is on the face of things a shock return to the Top 10 for Metro Boomin's Creepin' which has spent the past four weeks gently drifting out of sight after an ACR reversal but which now rockets back into contention at No.10. Needless to say this is down to the arrival of a new remix, one which adds in a nostalgic new vocal from P Diddy, calling back to his original work on Mario Winans' I Don't Wanna Know (a No.1 hit from back in 2004). This seems as good a moment as any to note that Creepin' reaches extraordinary new levels of sampled inception. It is a more or less direct cover of the aforementioned Winans track, which was itself inspired by Ready Or Not by The Fugees (A No.1 hit in 1996) which was in turn inspired by a sample from an old Enya track Boadicea. See you in 2035 perhaps when someone will sample Metro Boomin' for their own "inspiration".
All Six Well
It is just as well Taylor Swift has her army of superfans (the Swifties) who keep track of everything she has done and when, as it saves the rest of us from trying to keep up. Her 2019 album Lover post-dates the era she is steadily revisiting with the "Taylor's Version" reworkings of older material, but that isn't to say it doesn't have some surprises still lurking. As she embarks on her Eras tour, in which she is making every effort to perform every song from her entire back catalogue at least once, she has tossed out for our delectation a new bonus track All Of The Girls You Have Loved Before which dates from the Lover era but which has never seen the light of day until now.
Much hype accompanied its release, but for all that the track actually makes a rather muted arrival at No.11. Not for the first time a Swift track destined to be a guaranteed smash has actually fallen short of expectations. But no matter, we all know she is still huge. And despite its ACR status former No.1 single Anti-Hero refuses to go away, rising back to No.18 to join its new partner in the Top 20 once more.
Picture the scene. It is early 2015. Irish singer-songwriter Andrew Hozier-Byrne reduces the first part of his surname to a mononym and scores a global smash hit with his single Take Me To Church, an epic and intense ballad which surfs the edges of folk and hard rock as the kind of song that leaves a lasting impression wherever it went. An epic British chart run saw it eventually peak at No.2 during a 15 week run in the Top 10. It was just that ubiquitous. And then it all went oddly quiet. Hozier's follow-up Someone New peaked at No.19 but he has been absent from the Top 40 ever since, even a Meduza collaboration on Tell It To My Heart failed to make any chart waves in 2021.
But now he returns, Eat Your Young is the title track from a new three-track EP and duly becomes his first major chart single for almost eight years, arriving at No.22. And yes, it still sounds like the highlight of the soundtrack of the most dark-edged superhero movie you've seen in years. All the better for it.
He is technically on the hunt for a fourth consecutive No.1 single, but as it usually the way the latest release from Lewis Capaldi starts out as a slow burner, his eighth chart single How I'm Feeling Now opens at No.24 awaiting we presume another promotional stunt of the kind that propelled Pointless briefly to the top of the charts at the start of the year. It is the third single from his forthcoming second album.
I was worried when it began its chart life lower down, but Meghan Trainor's new single Mother makes a better fist of things in its second week on the lists with a neat rise which makes it a Top 40 new entry at No.27. Her return to do-wop continues to reap dividends, this track wearing its influences on its sleeve far greater than any of her previous works - based primarily on a sample from rock and roll classic Mr Sandman which was the subject of a near-unique four-way chart battle in the first weeks of 1955 with competing versions by Dickie Valentine, The Chordettes, The Four Aces and er, Max Bygraves all competing for attention in the old NME charts.
Just a fortnight after J-Hope became the first BTS member to land a solo Top 40 hit he is bested by bandmate Jimin whose Set Me Free - Pt 2 goes a step better and enters the charts at No.30. Although there is no reason to believe it won't be a one week wonder just like its predecessor.
Finally, for singles this week, a track which I noted in the newsletter a number of weeks ago as one whose extensive radio airplay was failing to turn into a hit. Yet it is finally breaking through - the bright hi-NRG pop of Zara Larsson's Can't Tame Her pokes its nose into view at No.38, the first Top 40 single the Swedish star has enjoyed as a solo or even credited lead artist since Don't Worry Bout Me edged to No.34 in May 2019.
And OK, it isn't quite the final word - that goes to Tom Grennan whose equally slow burning Here is also a Top 40 hit after literal months of climbing the rungs. It is this week's No.39, hoping to beat the No.37 peak of his last solo hit All These Nights from late last year. Well, it is a target to aim for if nothing else.
Meanwhile what of Britain's sensationally hyped Eurovision entry I Wrote A Song? Collapsed to No.61 since you ask. But it will be back.