Just A Sign Of The Times

Oh Columbia Records you crafty, conniving, evil, party-pooping bastards. Just look what you have done.

Shall we recap?

Last weekend Sam Ryder competed for the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest, and did better than I think anyone could have dared to dream. Our best entry for years was, OK, never going to win the public vote given the inevitable wave of sympathy for Ukraine and their one-line offering, but he topped the leaderboard after the jury vote for an incredibly important moral victory. After years of "why the hell are we bothering" a United Kingdom entry was a genuine contender, and perhaps most importantly of all carried with it the suggestion that performing in the competition need not be a career black hole.

All of this inevitably prompted a surge of interest in his song Space Man, a track which has actually been on general release since last February but which by last week had only surged to the dizzy heights of No.78. The first sales flashes on Sunday evening pegged the track for the Top 5. By Monday's update (which only took into account streams from Friday and Saturday) he was Top 3, 4,000 chart sales behind. On Tuesday Official Charts suggested he was up to No.2 and by the time of the final midweek update on Wednesday Sam Ryder had edged into the lead, but by a margin of a mere 1,000 copies.

I can exclusively reveal that a day later the gap was even wider, Space Man by Sam Ryder was ahead in the midweek race by about 4,000 chart sales. A quite sensational leap to the top of the charts and a small piece of history appeared to be within the affable social media star's grasp.

So how did we get here? As It Was by Harry Styles is officially No.1 for the seventh straight week, winning the chart battle by the not insignificant margin of 4,300 copies (essentially a complete inverse of the position a day before), now matching the chart-topping run of We Don't Talk About Bruno to tie as the longest of the year to date.

Well, it seems it was all down to a batch of CD singles, the second of this release cycle. Pre-ordered by dedicated fans and having been stuck in a production pipeline their release, their shipment, and as a result their eligibility to be added to the track's chart tally suddenly occurred on Thursday. 9,187 CD sales were added to the tally of As It Was on Thursday. More than enough to ensure Harry Styles would spoil the party and deny Sam Ryder his moment of glory.

Fascinatingly Space Man was actually only the fifth most-streamed hit of the week, though it is No.1 on both the downloads chart and the overall sales chart. But it was still those physical sales which finally finished him off.

Despite this let us take nothing away from Sam Ryder. By reaching No.2 Space Man is the biggest Eurovision-related hit single in many a long year. It is the first British Eurovision Song Contest entry to reach the Top 10 since Flying The Flag For You by Scooch in 2007, and the highest-charting Eurovision single of any kind since Gina G's 1996 UK entry Ooh Ahh… Just A Little Bit ended up topping the charts. Until now the biggest Eurovision hit of recent years was the No.3 peak scaled by 2012 winner Euphoria by Loreen. No Eurovision song contest winner has hit No.1 since A Little Peace by Nicole, way back in 1982.

So what next for Sam? Will he still be in contention next week? It all depends how long the post-contest (if you will pardon the expression) euphoria lasts. But he's made his way onto radio playlists and the song itself appears to be a certifiable genuine hit, near the top of the charts on its own merits and not just because the French gave us douze points. So let's see what unfolds in seven days' time.

But Harry Styles' label though. Their aim wasn't necessarily to be a Eurovision spoiler. Styles' new album Harry's Place is out today (Friday) and you can understand why for their marketing it needed to coincide with its lead single still sitting pretty at the top of the charts. Even so, what utter bastards.

Other Stuff Went On

The stillwaters of the Top 10 are further disrupted by what turns out to be one of the most-streamed new releases of the year. Kendrick Lamar may not have the biggest album of the week (that honour goes to Dance Fever by Florence & The Machine) but the sizable online plays for his Mr. Morale And The Big Steppers album has not only propelled it to No.2 but also means he came within an ace of placing all three of its eligible cuts inside the Top 10.

In the end Lamar has two, N65 opening at No.6 and Die Hard a place behind at No.7. They are the 6th and 7th Top 10 singles of his career and the first since All The Stars went galactic at No.5 in January 2018. The album's third hit United In Grief parks itself at No.14 Something tells me his exploits back home in America will eclipse this, but for now the rapper has elevated himself into that rare club of chart stars whose album releases are streamed extensively and in their entirety.

He spent most of the spring propping up the Top 20 as a party to A1 & J1's Night Away (Dance) and now Tion Wayne is back in the same kind of area as new single IFTK enters at No.16. The title is a nod to the track being based heavily around a sample from In For The Kill, a No.2 hit for La Roux back in 2009 and indeed Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid are given full co-credit on the track to make this the first chart single for the group since Uptight Downtown limped to No.63 in 2014.

Green Shoots

I noted last week that George Ezra hits have a tendency to grow, which means it is so far so good for sunshine anthem in-waiting Green Green Grass which leaps 31-22. I'm less than happy that Latto/Mariah/DJ Khaled dip to No.23 with Big Energy. Say it ain't so that the track has peaked already.

The new hits just keep on flowing as well. Post Malone lands his first chart entry of 2022 with Cooped Up, new at No.25. Co-star on the track is Roddy Ricch this too his first chart entry of the year and his first hit of any kind since Late At Night in June last year. Also new are D Block Europe, on the follow-up trail after Overseas became (perhaps unexpectedly) their biggest commercial success to date with an extended (11 week) Top 10 run during the first few months of the year, during which time it peaked at No.6. Black Beatles (with a fun video playing up their "kitchen kings" image by being set in a fast food restaurant) lands at No.35, its title clearly a callback to the Rae Stremmurd viral smash from 2016 although the title is all the two tracks have in common. Including quality if we are being honest.

When I Was A Young Boy

The award for comeback of the week goes to the returning My Chemical Romance. The reunited emo legends have been absent from the charts since their farewell hits collection in 2014 but are back to cry tormented bedroom tears with The Foundations Of Decay which arrives at No.37, only their 15th ever chart single and the first to reach the Top 40 since (deep breath now) Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na) reached No.31 in November 2010.

Inevitably the Eurovision Song contest has spawned a handful of other chart hits. For the second year running the winning song reaches the Top 40, Ukraine's Kalush creep to No.38 with the victorious Stefania, and the British love of the bizarre means that Norwegian entry Give That Wolf A Banana by Subwoolfer reaches No.47. Tucked inbetween are outgoing champions Maneskin whose new single Supermodel is No.43 for the week. Spanish entry Slomo by Chanel (people know you can't see arses on Spotify, right?) is No.56 while Sweden's Cornelia Jakobs is No.59 with the Diana Vickers/Lana Del Rey hybrid Hold Me Closer.