They Had It In Them
The passage of time, and indeed the phenomenally long-running success of the 1992 Gold album means that by and large people view Abba through the prism of their greatest hits. They were indeed a huge singles band in their day, a string of No.1 hits to their name and with songs that have lived long through the ages. But as an albums act they were also a very big deal. From the start of what you might call their imperial phase, starting with 1976's Arrival album, every single record they released flew to the top of the charts.
Yet as I noted in media interviews I gave during the course of last week, listening to the new Abba album Voyage last week probably marked the first time I'd had cause to sit down and listen to a full album by the group. But I was joined by thousands of others with countless more actually putting down money to buy a copy.
Abba Voyage is the No.1 album this week. Of course it is, it was always going to be. Right from the start it was clear the sale it was going to achieve would be utterly phenomenal, the earliest midweek flashes indicating it had already topped 100,000 copies. In last Monday's newsletter I wondered out loud if that was the extent of the frontloading, but it turned out not to be the case. A late shipment of physical copies (delayed by a minor production glitch with vinyl pressings we are told) boosted the total still further. It means Abba land their tenth No.1 album with a colossal sale of 204,000, making them only the fourth act to surpass 200,000 weekly sales in the past decade. Adele, Ed Sheeran and One Direction the only others. 90% of those were physical copies (naturally) and that includes fully 29,900 on vinyl meaning it surpasses Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino by The Arctic Monkeys as the fastest-selling vinyl album of the century. Phew.
We are permitted a brief moment of cynicism, as it was widely known that those pre-ordering the album through the official site were granted a token that gave them priority access to the pre-sale for concert tickets. Whether the record would have sold quite so many without that incentive is open to question, but that's what marketing is all about at the end of the day.
What you may not have read anywhere else is that Abba land themselves another interesting record. Abba's last studio album to top the charts was the aforementioned The Visitors which was last at the summit in January 1982. Meaning the group have returned to No.1 with a new set of studio recordings after a gap of 39 years and 10 months. That beats Bob Dylan's previous record of 38 years and 6 months, set when Together Through Life hit the top in 2009, his first No.1 studio album since New Morning in November 1970.
A Struggle For The Ages (Part 2)
Almost lost in the fuss over the Abba album was what turned out for the second week running to be a nailbiting battle for chart supremacy in the singles market. Adele and Ed Sheeran went head to head once more and neither was prepared to give an inch. In the end Easy On Me triumphs once again, retaining the No.1 position for a fourth week by a margin of just 2,000 sales. That's now one week more than Hello managed back in 2015 and matches the consecutive chart run of Someone Like You from 2011, although that single did return for one further week after having been briefly deposed.
The Top 3 remain as they were, with Shivers and Bad Habits giving Ed Sheeran 2 and 3 for the week, Overpass Graffiti slipping two places to No.6. In its place comes Cold Heart by Elton and Dua which is showing little sign of fading away any time soon.
Aitch But With Talent
The highest new entry of the week lands at No.5 to instantly become the highest-charting single to date for Brighton-based rapper Arrdee. Flowers (Say My Name) has a cheeky charm to it despite being possibly the most derivative hit single you've heard in months. It becomes the second hit single in recent times to borrow the melody and beats from the garage remix of Flowers by Sweet Female Attitude, following on from Nathan Dawe's own rap-based remake of the track which was a Top 20 hit at the start of last year. Oh yes, and there's the small matter of the interpolation of the chorus lyrics from Destiny's Child's classic Say My Name. For all that it is notable how Arrdee has somehow managed to make the track his own. It joins Oliver Twist and Wasted to become the teenager's third Top 10 hit of the year.
Knocking On The Door
The Arrdee single is the only new face inside the Top 10, replacing Joel Corry and Jax Jones' Out Out which enjoys an ACR-induced 9-39 plunge. It means we get to once more witness the odd phenomenon of a single bashing its head against the glass ceiling as My Heart Goes (La Di Da) by Becky Hill and Topic spends a fourth straight week locked in place at No.11. It is only the third time any single has done this, matching a feat achieved by Run To You by Bryan Adams and This Girl by Kungs vs Cookin' On 3 Burners, although the latter did so on its way down from a No.2 peak.
I promised last week to pay Coming For You by SwitchOTR featuring A1 x J1 proper attention if it turned into more than a one week wonder, which appears to be the case as the single rises to a new peak of No.14. The poignant rap hit both samples and interpolates Avicii's The Nights, which is why you are sat watching the video wondering why it is oddly and familiar. The first chart hit for SwitchOTR, A1 x J1 of course reached No.2 with Latest Trends earlier in the spring.
Also climbing into the Top 20 are Clean Bandit who clearly found the magic button to press with the grime remix of Drive. It rockets 26-17 after no less than 15 weeks on release and restores some degree of respectability to their chart fortunes. I said sorry on Twitter for ever doubting them and got a sweet thank you from Grace Chatto herself. Which has made me fangirl for the rest of the week.
Thank you so much, that really means a lot. ❤️ https://t.co/tNPWSWmvH5— Clean Bandit (@cleanbandit) November 7, 2021
The New Stuff
Precious few made a large impact but this was an oddly busy week for new hit singles. There may be a particular reason for that, as we are approaching that weird point in the calendar where we are a month away from Christmas songs to truly start hitting hard on DSP services. Basically, mid-November now represents your last chance to get a chart single visible for a few weeks and to hope it resurfaces properly when the January clear out takes place. New hits don't stop being purchased or played over Christmas, not to any great extent anyway. But the tsunami of festive favourites simply means they get buried. And labels and managements are now starting to plan around this.
New then at No.20 is One Right Now which sees Post Malone team up with The Weeknd. It serves as the second single from the former's upcoming fourth album and at a stroke has managed to outperform its predecessor Motley Crew which peaked at No.31 during a rather miserable six week chart run back in the summer. It is already Post Malone's biggest chart hit in just over two years and the fifth Top 20 hit of this year alone for The Weeknd.
Originally No.44 when released back in July, Seventeen Going Under became Sam Fender's first Top 40 single when it rocketed back to No.26 upon the release of his album. After having dipped as far as No.43 it has now caught alight again and shoots up to No.22 for reasons that I confess so far I've been unable to discern.
No music fan could have helped be affected by the horrifying video and images that emerged from the Astroworld festival last weekend when what I believe now totals nine fans were crushed to death following crowd surges during Travis Scott's headlining set. The repercussions from that will continue to be felt for some time, not least for Scott personally as he was one of the festival organisers, making it perhaps doubly awkward that the event was supposed to serve as the launch for his two new singles. Sure enough they both make the charts this week, the way led by what it is hard to avoid is the incredibly awkwardly themed Escape Plan at No.23, Mafia following a short distance behind at No.41. Best we draw a veil over this for now. He's got bigger issues than his chart positions.
Loving Your Scissoring
Summer Walker has already featured on one Top 30 hit this year, having guested on Fredo's No.21 hit Ready back in the spring. She's back with her first single as a lead artist since 2019 on No Love which lands at No.24. She's ably assisted on the single by SZA, last seen guesting on Doja Cat's Kiss Me More.
Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak's Silk Sonic project have an album out next week and trail it with their third hit. Inspired clearly by the Isley Brothers, the tongue in cheeky Smokin' Out The Window arrives at No.28. Also taking off like a rocket is the made to go viral Sad Girlz Luv Money from Amaarae featuring Moliy which rockets to No.29 after debuting at No.79 a week ago. There's also some explosive growth for Do It To It by Acraze featuring Cherish which lands in the Top 40 at No.36 after a low level chart entry a week ago.
So there's new stuff around, stuff with the ability to become even bigger hits. But an elephant with teeth and boobs just wandered gamely into the room. All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey re-enters the charts this week at No.69.