No Dream Impossible
Have you lost count? I know I have. Chalk up six weeks now for Harry Styles and As It Was as the nation's No.1 single, a total which once upon time would put a record up there as one of the more extraordinary chart-topping hits of their age but which these days is barely above average. Such is the way the modern music market operates. Styles' sales continue to edge downwards though, dipping under the 60,000 mark for the first time. But there's still considerable distance between him and the chasing pack.
For the second week running the entire Top 3 are unchanged, Jack Harlow is destined to be forever the bridesmaid as First Class remains No.2 for the fifth week in a row, Meanwhile Cat Burns decides to Go nowhere and is No.3 for a third time.
But the top hits of the week are now being challenged by at least one noisy gatecrasher as Lizzo keeps up the momentum and rockets to No.4 with About Damn Time. That's more than enough to make the effervescent disco track her biggest hit single to date on these shores, eclipsing the No.7 peak of Good As Hell three years ago.
In other Top 10 news Fireboy DML alas fails to set a brand new record with Peru sliding a place to No.7 after a full month at No.6. Just below him last week's highest new entry Wait 4 U by Future and friends holds firm at No.8, proving itself to be no one week wonder but at the same time demonstrating it has grown no additional audience in the seven days since release.
Jack Harlow's album Come Home The Kids Miss You may not have been the biggest new release of the past seven days (it is merely the fourth of the four albums which occupy the upper four rungs of the Official UK Albums chart this week) but it is almost needless to say the most streamed. That means a handful of its other cuts impact the chart, and as a result he has the highest new entry of them all as Churchill Downs lands at No.19. Co-credited on the track is some guy called Drake whom you may have encountered before. This further adds to his already extraordinary list of hit singles (a topic we will turn to in the newsletter on Monday) and adds Jack Harlow to the phenomenal list of acts with whom he is credited as a hit collaborator.
Harlow's third hit is the one with the most eye-catching title, Dua Lipa (a tribute to her songs being never off the radio) impacts at No.33.
Believe In Me
Also new this week is Kendrick Lamar who is back with his first new music in over four years, his last hits as a lead artist being those from his Black Panther soundtrack album in 2018. The Heart - Part 5 is, as the title suggests, the latest in an ongoing series of linked songs. The Heart Part 1 was a standalone single released in 2010, Part 2 popping up on his Overly Dedicated mixtape later that same year. The Heart Part 3 was on his 2012 album Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City while Part 4 is the only one to have actually made the chart, hitting No.61 as a pre-release teaser for his last studio album proper Damn in 2017 (although it perversely didn't make it onto the tracklisting of the album itself).
So there is a method in the madness, The Heart - Part 5 arrived last Monday as a midweek release just ahead of his eagerly awaited fifth album Mr Morale & The Big Steppers which was released today (Friday 13th). Despite its handicapped start it is easily the most successful of the series to date as it charts at No.24. But just like many of its predecessors, it is a fake-out designed to stand alone in its own right. It isn't one of the tracks on the new album.
Don't Play That Song Again
We obsessively tracked the progress of George Ezra's last single Anyone For You and its ultimately futile quest to break the glass ceiling into the Top 10. Said track is still around, dipping to No.20 this week but the label have now moved on to a second single, ahead of the release of his new album Gold Rush Kid next month. So it is a warm welcome to Green Green Grass which leaps the hurdle into the Top 40 at No.31. Ezra's singles are anything but formulaic, but there's clearly a plan in place here to try to replicate the summer anthem feel of Shotgun from four years ago, Green Green Grass blessed with a singalong chorus and a similar kind of swagger, even if the verse meanders a bit before we get there. Will this one click in the same manner?
Also new to the Top 40 is viral rap hit Je M'Appelle from Benzz, another to add to the list of rising stars who owes his already sizeable fanbase to a large social media following. His debut hit is based heavily around the brass riff from Alex Gaudino's Destination Calabria, a No.4 hit back in 2007. Benzz' take on the concept has taken a few weeks to start taking off but now hoves into view properly at No.34.
I mentioned Jack Harlow's albums chart performance above, and as noted he is merely the fourth of four new entries in a row, the market led by Arcade Fire whose startling inability to have hit singles is no barrier to their continuing albums chart success. We smashes to the top to take them to the summit for the fourth time at the expense of Sigrid whose second album How To Let Go lands at No.2, beating the No.4 peak of her debut Sucker Punch just over three years ago.
But the most notable story of the week is perhaps the "how have the mighty fallen" fate of Emeli Sande. Ten years ago she was literally one of the hottest acts in Europe, with hit singles coming out of her ears, a near-ubiquity at public events (she famously ended up booked to perform at both the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics) and an album Our Version Of Events which topped the charts a record-breaking seven times over the course of a year. This week her fourth album Let's Say For Instance was released. Containing no hit singles and arriving to very little fanfare. It is this week's No.27 record with just 3,000 sales to its name.
Still In Love With You
Finally, here's hoping for some British Eurovision success this weekend. Our highly-regarded entry Space Man by Sam Ryder finally makes a small chart impact, coming into view at No.78. A longtime criticism of British entries for the contest is that they never become hits, suggesting that there is no reason for anyone in any other country to vote for our songs if we don't rate them either. Although you do have to note the increasing chasm between "chart music" fans and "Eurovision fans", the success of last year's winners Maneskin notwithstanding. So let's see how Ryder does. Despite his zero points disaster James Newman made No.47 with Embers in the aftermath of last year's contest. The last British entry to reach the Top 40 of our singles chart was Children Of The Universe by Molly - way back in 2014.
Oh yes, and the singles market as a whole tops the 25m mark for the first time ever. We may be grumpy at the sluggish nature of the market, but the appetite for music as a whole continues to grow apace. Even as actual paid sales continue to sink into the mire.