Not Quite As Billed
Ooh so close. We very nearly had a spectacular state of affairs at the very top end of the Official UK Singles chart, with midweek flashes suggesting that Lil Nas X' Old Town Road had a very narrow sales lead over the chasing pack and was destined for what would have been a quite sensational return to the top of the charts after a six week gap. In the end, it was not to be, and although the sales race was close - with just over 1,000 chart sales in it by the end - it is left to Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber to take the spoils once more. I Don't Care duly enjoys a fifth week at Number One.
The top of the singles chart isn't quite as static as last week's statistics-bending Top 12 non-movers, but the top end of the market still remains immobile - to the extent in fact that we have an unchanged Top 5 for the second week running and a static Top 4 for the third time in a row. That means a seventh week in a row (and the eighth in total) at Number 2 for the aforementioned Old Town Road. As noted last week, one more puts it level with the all-time record for number of weeks spent in the runners-up slot, presently held by Ruby Murray's 1955 hit Softly Softly. Old Town Road was, incidentally, the most-streamed track of the week for the second week running, but the superior paid sales of I Don't Care were enough to give it the edge at the top.
Meanwhile, at Number 3, Lewis Capaldi is unbending with his own former Number One Someone You Loved. Despite its seven weeks at the top of the charts this single has to date only spent a single week at Number 2, but this is no less than its eighth week as the Number 3 single, the last four of which have indeed been consecutive. Change, if by now you are desperate for it, is indeed on the way. By my calculations both Old Town Road and Someone You Loved are set for a collapse to ACR next week. The cork is well and truly coming out of this bottle.
That's Still What It's All About
Capaldi also extends his run at the top of the Official UK Albums chart with Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent enjoying a fourth uninterrupted week at Number One. This is without a doubt helped by the continuing streaming popularity of the album's four biggest tracks. Hold Me While You Wait edges up a place to Number 6 on the singles chart, and as I speculated last week Grace once more swaps places with Bruises, the latter disqualified from the charts once again and leaving the former free to re-enter at Number 12. And chances are they will perform the singles chart hokey-cokey once again next time around.
Also glued in place then: Vossi Bop from Stormzy with naturally enough its own fourth week straight at Number 4 and just behind him Billie Eilish with the still compelling Bad Guy which is at Number 5 for the third week running. The single is now 11 weeks old, all but two of which it has spent at positions 2, 3, 4 or 5.
Do You Think They've Compared Notes?
The logjam in the Top 10 is relieved only slightly, mostly because of the 6-17 collapse endured by Piece Of Your Heart by Meduza which is moved onto ACR after 13 weeks around. Its immediate replacement is the biggest new single of the week, a pairing which raised more than few eyebrows when it was announced due to the rather eggy sexual politics involved. No Guidance is the new single from Chris Brown, his vocal partner on the track none other than Drake. What do the two men have in common? Both are notable ex-boyfriends of Rihanna, Aubrey Graham's early career in particular notable for the way he took time out to pay direct tribute to his other half as often as he could in his lyrics. But apparently they are all totally cool with the situation, so here we are. No Guidance may well have Brown has lead artist, but its production and soft, dreamy vibe is very much of Drake's idiom and the credits could easily have been reversed without anyone batting an eyelid. This is Breezy's fourth chart single of 2019, but his second as a lead artist following on from Undecided which reached Number 15 in January. No Guidance is his first Top 10 single since he reached the top of the charts as a guest on Lil Dicky's Freaky Friday in April 2018 and is perhaps most surprisingly of all his biggest chart hit as a primary artist since Ayo hit Number 6 in February 2015. Drake as any chart follower will know is rarely out of sight these days, but this is actually only his second appearance in the Top 40 in 2019, his first mention here since he featured on Meek Mill's Going Bad which hauled itself to Number 13 in February.
The one question which everyone is surely asking though: have the two men really never featured together on a chart single before? Well, actually they have, briefly, on the Nicki Minaj album cut Only which crept to Number 35 in November 2014. Only Lil Wayne was there as well to keep them apart if required.
As I predicted last week, the new album with the most collateral impact on the singles chart is MoStack's Stacko. Although only the second biggest new release of the week (that honour instead going to the Jonas Brothers who chart at Number 2 with Happiness Begins), the rapper does see the fruits of his Number 3 album pepper the singles chart. As a result the already charting Shine Girl climbs two places to 13, Stinking Rich enters at 19 and I'm The One sneaks in at 39. Many of the album's other cuts pepper the unfiltered sales listing lower down but due to the three songs limit for primary artists are starred-out of the main singles chart.
Guesting Is Easy
The highest climber of the week is Wish You Well from Sigala and Becky Hill which leaps 24-15 to assert its credentials as a significant chart hit. Still with only a lyric video to be shared, suggesting it will enjoy a further chart leap when the real thing arrives, it is now Sigala's eighth Top 20 hit single but only the third to date for serial guest star Becky Hill who was last this high on the chart as the voice of the MK/Jonas Blue track Back And Forth which reached Number 12 at the end of last year. Even though she's notably yet to land a major hit single with her own material, with eight Top 75 hits to her name Becky Hill is still far and away the most notable music performer to emerge from the UK end of The Voice TV show, first coming to public attention as a semi-finalist in the first series of the show back in 2012.
Inner City Mama
The BBC's repeats of Top Of The Pops swung around to 1988 last week, the compilation of some of the year's biggest hits meaning the first repeat in years of a celebrated performance by a heavily-pregnant Neneh Cherry. The baby in question was artist Tyson McVey, but it seems only appropriate to mention it due to the arrival this week of the latest hit single by her younger sister Mabel. Mad Love is the follow-up to the seemingly evergreen Don't Call Me Up which hit Number 3 during an eight week run inside the Top 10, the track enjoying an extended run near the top end of the live Spotify charts for weeks after its main chart run had become subject to ACR. One of the most well-received performances at the annual Summertime Ball last week, Mad Love appears destined for a similar chart run and further cements Mabel as one of the brightest and most exciting pop discoveries of the last couple of years. Her debut album is set for release at the start of August.
Still Not Over It
Disappointing perhaps with only a Number 7 entry point on the album chart this week is Tim, the collection of posthumously assembled tracks from Tim 'Avicii' Bergling. The album's primary single SOS has been floating around the Top 10 for a number of weeks and climbs back up a place to Number 7 this time around. It is joined however by the album's most notable cut Heaven which slides into the singles countdown at Number 20. It reverts to Avicii's traditional billing as a solo performer but the singer on the track is no secret, this a rather spectacular and moving performance from Coldplay's Chris Martin. In fact, the track is a more or less perfect hybrid of the styles of the two men, owing more than a little to the sunny pop vibe of the Chainsmokers/Coldplay collaboration Something Just Like This but at the same time unmistakably and joyously an Avicii track. I confess to having been underwhelmed by SOS, so this is much more like it. Heaven is the perfect posthumous tribute to one of the most inspiring producers of the decade but also a sad reminder of just how much more he still had left to offer.
"I see Liam Gallagher has released his single again" was the comment from some wags during the week. The former Oasis/Beady Eye frontman is out and about once again, his second solo album Why Me? Why Not slated for release in late September. The album's lead single Shockwave was one of those tracks which started strong and faded, set it seemed for a surprise Top 10 appearance according to early sales flashes but slowly sinking as the week went on. Even so, it is perhaps surprisingly the most-purchased track of the week with its downloads bolstered by the release of a none more old-school 7-inch vinyl single. Shockwave lands at Number 22 on the singles chart overall, one place short of his 2017 single Wall Of Glass which for the moment remains his highest charting solo single to date. As a credited performer he's also enjoyed two Top 20 hits in the past - a guest performer on the Number 14 Death In Vegas single Scorpio Rising in 2002 and also Buffalo Tom's Number 6 hit Going Underground which charted in 1999.
Also new to the Top 40 this week is AJ Tracey with Ladbroke Grove, a track taken from his self-titled debut album and which reaches its highest chart placing to date now it is being promoted as an official single. The rhyme from the grime star first charted back in February when it was one of three singles to chart on the release of the album, landing at Number 48 first time around. It re-entered the chart three weeks ago and has since moved 52-48-43 and sits this week at Number 26. His biggest hit to date is the album's third single Psych Out! which reached Number 18, also back in February.
Word On The Street Is...
Grime also gives us the final new hit of the week, a mainstream chart debut for the pairing of Young T & Bugsy who land at Number 30 with Strike A Pose. Sliding down the more commercial side of the street, the track adds to what is now a veritable pile of British urban hits to have become hits already in 2019 - and we aren't even halfway through. The lack of grime and drill hits in the tracklisting of Now That's What I Call Music! Volume 102 provoked some comment when the collection was released. Given the ongoing difficulty in finding enough current hits to fill the tracklistings of the compilation albums when they come out, they surely can't give them all a swerve for the forthcoming release in the summer surely?
Have you checked out the Chart Watch UK books yet? The comprehensive guides to all the hits of 1988 and 1989. And now with added celebrity endorsement. Available on Amazon and anywhere that sells E-books.
So did I want to spend Sunday morning reading about every Top 40 hit from 1989? Turns out I did. Great work from @ChartUpdate - A Guy Called Gerald, Roachford, the Beautiful South, the folly of ‘Bros In 2 Summer’, Cliff Richard’s 100th single. Very good! pic.twitter.com/J4UDEpJEgA— bob stanley (@rocking_bob) May 26, 2019