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BEGIN AGAIN

Amongst the many chart quirks that I'm so fond of recounting, one of my favourites is the fun stat that between January 1969 and December 1993 no single climbed back to Number One after having been knocked off. During that entire period once you were done at the top of the charts you were done, and there was no going back. One consequence of the dramatic change in the music market since then is that what was unusual is now almost commonplace. Every calendar year since 2009 has seen at least one chart-topping single return to the summit, and I can now reveal that 2020 keeps that string intact. The Era Of Eilish turned out to be only seven days long. No Time To Die slips down a place this week, leaving Blinding Lights by The Weeknd free to climb back to Number One. The Canadian star thus spends a third week in total at the top of the Official UK Singles chart, this week adding to the fortnight the track has already spent at Number One.

He presides over a Top 10 that at least shows a little more movement than last time. Roddy Ricch remains lodged at Number 3 with The Box but Saint Jhn's Roses continues to climb, reaching a new peak of Number 4. Dua Lipa remains at Number 5 with Don't Start Now. The single has spent 14 of its 17 weeks on the chart in the Top 5, surpassing the chart runs of some of her biggest past smashes. This remains to the detriment of newer single Physical which at least is still showing signs of life, climbing back up to Number 14 this time around.

Lewis Capaldi now has just one single in the Top 10. Entertainingly it is still Someone You Loved which marks the first anniversary of its climb to Number One by holding steady at Number 6. It is the first single to be a Top 10 hit one year after it was also at the top of the charts since Do They Know It's Christmas by Band Aid made Number 3 in December 1985 a year on from its first success. Rod Stewart nearly pulled off the trick in 1976. His recording of Sailing returned to the charts in September that year after being featured as the theme to a BBC documentary series, but it only climbed back into the Top 10 for the first anniversary of the single falling from the top of the charts for the very first time. Of course both Rod and Band Aid had dropped off the charts in-between times, their singles having to be re-issued to return to the charts. Lewis Capaldi's track has remained in the charts ever since its release, only falling out of the Top 40 once, and this was over the Christmas period. Honourable mention must also go to Sex Is On Fire by Kings Of Leon which enjoyed an X Factor-inspired return to the Top 10 in September 2009, precisely 52 weeks after it first entered at the top of the charts. Sadly it fell down a week later and failed by a whisker to coincide with the anniversary.

His newer hit Before You Go is the big loser of the week, suffering an ACR-induced 4-18 drop. Future and Drake continue to hover, moving up a place to Number 7 with Life Is Good, whilst the departing Capaldi hit is replaced by Joel Corry with Lonely which jumps 14-8 to give the performer a second Top 10 hit single. He seems happy enough.

Justin Bieber's Intentions rises a place to 9, and Harry Styles' Adore You slips back into the upper reaches once again, rebounding from last week's drop to occupy the Number 10 position it was last at a fortnight ago. This is now the third time Adore You has climbed into the Top 10, now just one short of the modern-day record of four held by Freya Ridings with Lost Without You.

The Weeknd also manages the fun feat of not only climbing to the top of the charts but also enjoying the highest new entry of the week. Ramping up the anticipation for the release of his new album After Hours, the singer this week not only finally announced its release date (March 20) but also dropped its title cut for streaming and download. Effectively the album's third single (Heartless was the first), After Hours as befitting its status (for now) as a promotional cut makes a solid if understated start to its chart life at Number 20.

ETCHED ON YOUR SOUL

The biggest new album release of the week marked the latest stage in the quite extraordinary career of Korean boy band BTS. The group are, quite justifiably, a worldwide phenomenon with their popularity in western Europe reaching the kinds of levels reserved for homegrown acts. Never mind a group of Asian singers and dancers whose work is almost entirely confined to their native language. Capable of filling arenas over here whenever they turn, the group nonetheless occupy that curious no man's land of appealing to their dedicated ARMY of fans and practically nobody else. This isn't through lack of trying either, many of their single releases of late have featured additional vocals from more established stars to try to achieve that elusive pop crossover. Yet every single time it seems to misfire.

Hence the astonishing disconnect between their singles and albums chart form. The group's latest album MAP OF THE SOUL: 7 this week matches the achievement of its predecessor MAP OF THE SOUL: PERSONA and flies straight to Number One. Persona was little more than a mini album with just seven tracks to its name. The new offering is far more ambitious in scope, running to no fewer than 20 tracks. It tops the charts with what in modern-day terms is a quite huge sale, notching up 38,000 chart sales (the overwhelming majority of which were purchases) to become the fastest-selling album of the year to date. Eminem's Music To Be Murdered By could only manage 32,000 first week out.

The album came complete with a potential hit single. ON is the track, the follow-up to teaser trailer Black Swan which charted at Number 46 a month ago. Its crossover potential is in theory enhanced with the presence of no less a star than Sia on guest vocals, the Australian singer following in the footsteps of the likes of Halsey and Charli XCX in contributing a jump-on. The single made a strong start, registering well inside the Top 10 on the very earliest midweeks. But the truth is that those sales were almost all front-loaded. Over the course of the week ON fell further and further behind the rest of the pack and now comes finally to rest at Number 21.

BTS are huge. The biggest K-Pop act on the planet. And able to command a loyal audience of admirers to snap up both their music and concert tickets in large numbers. But they still await what you might regard as a proper, mainstream chart single. Their only Top 20 success to date is still last year's Boy With Luv, a track with Halsey on co-vocals and which peaked at Number 13 a little over 10 months ago.

SIDE BY SIDE

Within the Top 30 we have the entertaining sight of two different tracks but with the same title sharing adjacent chart positions. Trevor Daniel is down at Number 28 with Falling, and Harry Styles' hit of the same name continues to feel the benefit of his Brits performance and is up at Number 29. Whilst unusual this is by no means unique. The chart of May 5th 2016 saw two songs called Sorry sitting back to back - Justin Bieber at Number 32 and Beyonce a place below. Going further back, the chart of May 3rd 2003 saw two Beautiful songs side by side. Snoop Dogg sat at 44, Christina Aguilera at 45.

Another month passes, and so it seems does another up and coming rap star. The latest talent to see his life come to a frustratingly premature and violent end was Bashar Jackson, better known professionally as Pop Smoke. The 20-year-old American had released his first mixtape last summer and with an ever-more popular series of single releases in the following months was clearly heading on the path to proper mainstream fame. On February 19th, a fortnight after the release of his second mixtape Meet The Woo 2, he was gunned down by four hooded men who invaded the home where he was staying. Meaning we will never find out just how big he might have been.

In a tribute this week he lands a posthumous hit. Featuring in different versions on both the mixtapes, Dior was clearly his signature track. Charting at Number 73 last week, this time around it flies to Number 33 to become the latest posthumous rap hit of 2020. You'd like to think it will also be the last, but I suspect that is little more than a pipedream.

Sometimes in music writing you have to declare your hand upfront, and I may not have the editorial freedom to do this shortly, so forgive the indulgence. I can't stand Aitch. Of all the British rap stars of the moment, he is the only one whose appeal escapes me completely. His delivery has all the grace and musicality of a 12-year-old ranting into a toy microphone, his lack of apparent talent oozing forth from every ill-advised rhyme. There, I've got it off my chest. Room now to continue to be annoyed by his continuing ability to land hit singles. He landed two Top 10 hits as the primary artist in 2019 (Buss Down and Taste (Make It Shake)) and also enjoyed a Number One single by proxy by contributing to one of the remixes of Ed Sheeran's Take Me Back To London. His latest offering is MICE which begins its chart life this week at Number 34, a brand new track which did not feature on his debut album AitcH20. Already the performer on one Top 10 single so far in 2020 (DigDat's Ei8ht Mile, a Number 9 hit last month and which presently sits two places below his new offering), is this new cut also going to ascend to those dizzy heights and irritate me still further?

The music industry is frequently engaged in a search for a new platform on which to showcase their product. The latest of these has in the last year or so crept up on everyone unawares. Designed with the aim of allowing people to share fun lip-sync videos, the TikTok app was always going to have music as its focus. But little by little it has become the place where cheaply licenced snippets of music go if they want to turn viral. In the past few months we have seen Roddy Ricch accelerate to the very top (or near the top) of charts worldwide with The Box. Doja Cat's Say So is continuing its own steady rise to power, arriving inside the Top 20 at Number 19 this week. Now they are joined by a third potential TikTok inspired smash. Californian singer and rapper 24kGoldn had already begun to make a name for himself last year, his single Valentino creeping into the lower end of the Hot 100 in America at the tail end of last year. But it is City Of Angels which seems set to make him a star, the jangling guitar making it the perfect accompaniment to bite-size TikTok cuts. Number 64 last week, it rises to 39 to reach the Top 40 for the very first time and begin what we can only assume to be a steady rise to prominence.

There are plenty more TikTok titbits on the way too. Moral Of The Story by Ashe (Number 40), Death Bed by Powfu (51), Blueberry Fago by Lil Mosey (53), This City by Sam Fisher (73) and Sunday Best by Surfaces (75) are all tracks which owe their chart positions not necessarily from radio exposure or even fan support. But those cute viral video clips that every teen worth their salt is learning how to create.

Seeing as we are scrutinising the lower reaches of the chart, can we take a moment to further appreciate the decline of React from The Pussycat Dolls? Down a further four places this week to Number 56. That's really only notable because of the glaring disconnect between the promotional exposure the group have been enjoying, with TV appearances coming out their ears, and the actual level of popular appeal their big comeback has attracted.

Finally, if you like song title synchronicity, then check out positions 43-46. We have Birthday, Wine, Tequila, Memories. The perfect accompaniment to the new entry for The 1975 at Number 69 - Birthday Party.

WATCH THIS SPACE

This is the last edition of Chart Watch UK that will feature directly on this site, at least for the moment. I am joining Music Week as their new chart analyst. Thank you to everyone who has loyally read my work on this site and indeed the others I've worked on over the years. A brand new chapter awaits. See you on musicweek.com next time around.


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