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A query from a reader, following on from last week's column:
This may be a stupid question, but do albums which are sold directly from band's websites count towards the chart?— Alan Burt (@alanburt1978) June 21, 2019
The answer to that is naturally "it depends". By default of course no, only music you buy from official channels counts for the charts. But in actual fact, most 'name' acts run web stores which are indeed funnelled through official channels. Alan's query specifically related to Bastille and whether their pushing of the special edition of their album available on their website had potentially harmed their chart position last week. Bastille, like many others, use a company called Sandbag to power their online merchandise - and all sales via their storefronts do indeed count for chart purposes. Which if nothing else is interesting to know.
Onto the Official UK Singles chart now, and this is one of those weeks where one single theme ties everything together. For it seems the thing that marks you out as a true chart star is simply to double up everything you do.
At the very top, despite the briefest of challenges midweek, I Don't Care from Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber holds steady at Number One for the seventh consecutive week. That's equal to the run of Lewis Capaldi's Someone You Loved which began in March. 2019 is now the second year in a row that there have been two Number One singles with at least seven straight weeks between them. As noted last week, this is now enough to make this Justin Bieber's longest-running Number One single to date. Ed Sheeran has enjoyed a longer run in the past, his own Shape Of You enjoying a mammoth 14-week stay at the top in early 2017, 13 of them consecutive.
It remains to be seen if anything beyond chart rules can shift the single any time soon. With seven weeks on the chart under its belt the ACR clock has now started to tick, and indeed the most startling part of I Don't Care's chart run has been the way it debuted at the top of the charts and has declined in sales every single week thereafter - a pattern it repeats this week as well.
Ed Sheeran's double up is in the shape of his other hit of the moment, the more urban-sounding Cross Me which is itself now five weeks old. After four weeks marooned at the lower end of the Top 10 the single enjoys a much-needed boost thanks to the release last week of its video and so now motors up the charts to enjoy a brand new peak of Number 4.
I Know What You Called Me
So it was never going to be Number One, at least not this time around, but the biggest new single of the week still manages to make a fine showing. Senorita from Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello flies into the British charts at Number 2. Clearly, summer has arrived and indeed it is hard to see this single being a success at any other time of year. The breezy Latin track washes over you like a poolside cocktail and the only thing that stops me branding it a smash hit is the way it has beaten me to it and instantly become one.
This single enjoys a double up twice over (does that make it squared?). It is the second time Mendes and Cabello have collaborated on record although their previous in-studio meeting is one of those singles with a reputation which belies its chart performance. British audiences were unmoved by 2016 single I Know What You Did Last Summer, the track making a mere Number 42, eclipsed somewhat by the continuing chart success of Mendes' previous single, the Number One smash Stitches.
Doubling up? Well, don't mind if he does. Shawn Mendes also sits at Number 16 with his previous hit If I Can't Have You. There's also a double up for Cabello herself, this now her second Top 40 hit of the moment. The second of these is the Mark Ronson track Find U Again which was released four weeks ago but which has struggled for attention until now, unable to move past its entry point of Number 41. The release of Ronson's Late Night Feelings album this week has changed that, propelling the track to a new high of Number 37.
King Of Worthy Farm
Four of this week's Top 5 singles are accounted for by just two British men. Alongside Ed Sheeran's brace are two side by side Top 10 hits for Stormzy, appropriately enough given his celebratory headlining of the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury this weekend. Leading the way, for now, is existing hit Vossi Bop, the former Number One single easing back to Number 3 this week in its ninth week on the chart. Sadly this is also the third week in a row it has declined in chart sales meaning that the effect of the inevitable post-Glastonbury boost will be nullified by the track sagging to ACR status next time around.
But it isn't all bad news. Stormzy's double up comes in the shape of his brand new track Crown. Another teaser from his forthcoming album, this track eschews the street beats of its predecessor in favour of an elegant gospel arrangement, essentially taking the vibe of Blinded By Your Grace and cranking it up to eleven. It is, in a word, superb. Stormzy raps, Stormzy rhymes and Stormzy even holds his own singing alongside a gospel choir. Crown slams onto the chart at Number 5, having the misfortune to be released in the same week as the Mendes/Cabello track means it is only the second biggest hit of the week. But it is also easily one of the best of this week's new crop. His fifth Top 10 hit single and the second to reach the Top 5.
They Are All At It
Technically the doubling up doesn't end there, either. None of the rest are new hits, but it is further worth noting that virtually every artist propping up the rest of the Top 10: Lewis Capaldi, Lil Nas X, Drake, Avicii and Taylor Swift all have two concurrent Top 40 hits to their name.
Speaking of Taylor, I wondered last week if she would sink back and indeed despite the splash it made last week You Need To Calm Down does indeed dip 5-10. Mind you it still fares better than Little Mix's Bounce Back which sinks 10-17, and given the everything but the kitchen sink promotion which was thrown at it to get it to chart in the Top 10 in the first place, it is hard to see how the single will be resurrected from here.
Return Of The Glass Ceiling
Just outside the Top 10, there is a queue of tracks knocking on the door. Sigala's Wish You Well lodges at 11, Katy Perry's still seductive Never Really Over is Number 12 for the second consecutive week, and Mabel's Mad Love continues its steady climb with a three-place haul to Number 13. All in the kind of manner which does kind of suggests they are going to get stuck outside a glass ceiling, but next week is a whole new story. So let's wait and see.
Rapping This Up
Those of a sensitive disposition look away now, for we are about to dive into a batch of brand new rap and urban hits, although pleasingly from many different sides of the genre. Leading the way is Jay1 who lands at Number 19 with brand new single Mocking It. It is his second single in a row to chart at this exact position, the follow-up to the catchy Your Mrs which entered at 19 and climbed to peak at Number 18 a week later back in April. I'm going with the commenter on YouTube who noted: "my only criticism of this song is.... it ends".
One place behind is Bugzy Malone, back on the chart less than two months after his notorious M.E.N. II became a surprise Top 40 hit. New single Kilos doesn't quite have the charm of its predecessor, but what do I know, it becomes far and away his biggest chart hit to date, charging in at Number 20. The proud northerner has his followers for sure, but what he hasn't quite managed to do (unlike many of his contemporaries) is break the cycle of being a one-week wonder. This single has been propelled here by fan power and goodwill. But if it drops out of the Top 30 altogether next week, don't say I told you so.
Not A Horse In Sight Here
I mentioned Lil Nas X had a double up going on, and indeed his second hit single of the moment is a new entry at Number 25. Panini is taken from his new EP 7 which hits the album chart at Number 23. There's precious little country in evidence this time around (hence, you suspect, the more muted way this new track has been greeted) although Panini still manages to be notable in its own way. Having channelled Nine Inch Nails on Old Town Road, Lil Nas X this time around takes on Nirvana, the new single featuring extensive interpolations of the melody of the seminal grunge act's 1992 single In Bloom. The rapper himself claims the resemblance is accidental and had never heard the song until the similarities were pointed out - but he was still relieved to have the blessing of Frances Bean Cobain to release the track in its intended form.
Finishing the hip-hop foursome are Russ Splash and Digga D who polish off at Number 28 hit with Mr Sheen. This is Mr Splash's second chart hit of the year, following up Keisha And Becky which memorably reached Number 7 back in the spring. Digga D is also enjoying his second Top 40 hit, albeit his first as a co-credited performer. His biggest hit to date No Diet reached Number 20 back in May.
The final new entry of the week is also a rap single, albeit from the more polished end of the genre this time around. Step forward Nicki Minaj with her first hit single as a lead artist since Barbie Dreams crept to Number 36 in August last year. Marking her return to the fold after something of a fallow period, Number 34 hit Megatron is based heavily around a sample from a rather famous ragga hit. Heads High was first released in 1998 but it took a Mobo award and re-issue a year later to turn it into a British hit for its performer Mr Vegas, the single reaching Number 16 in November 1999.
"And It Feeels Like"
Over on the Official UK Albums chart, there was an intriguing two-way battle for the top. This was resolved in the end in favour of a rebounding Lewis Capaldi, much to the chagrin of the apparently still phenomenally loyal band of Will Young fans who were still sufficient in number to propel his new album Lexicon all the way to Number 2. It is now an incredible 17 years since he was voted the original Pop Idol and although his hit-making days are apparently long behind him, the fact he is still around, still recording and still able to storm the album chart is something I don't think any of us could have predicted back in the day. He is, and indeed almost certainly will always remain, one of only two men to sell a million copies of a single inside a week.