Adele Week - The Preview
If you filtered out literally everything else taking place in the world of music right now, the top end of the charts would take on an air of same old, same old. For the third week running a close-run head to head battle between Adele and Ed Sheeran ends in favour of the female side of things. Easy On Me enjoys a comfortable fifth week at No.1, meaning it is almost inevitable that she will land the chart double when her 30 album makes its inevitable splash debut next week. Adele's single matches the five weeks she spent at the top with Someone Like You in 2011, but in terms of consecutive chart runs it is the longest by any British female since Duffy also landed five weeks with Mercy in 2008.
That leaves Shivers holding on doggedly at No.2 in a manner that suggests people clearly aren't yet bored of it. Although ACR seems set to come knocking shortly, both for this single and indeed Bad Habits which is still kicking around. Meanwhile, Overpass Graffiti, the Sheeran hit that is theoretically a single does at least arrest its decline this week, holding firm at No.6. But it still hasn't taken off in quite the way other post-album release hits from Sheeran have done in the past. I'm guessing that his label are keeping their powder dry to give the much-teased festive duet with Elton John a big push, however short its shelf life is likely to be.
Taylor-Made To Be Huge
Taylor Swift's project to re-record and re-release all of her earlier albums could so easily have been something she dashed off as a small but necessary distraction from the serious business of making brand new music. But to her eternal credit she has insisted on making the projects so much more, a full-blown revisitation of not only the original songs but also other compositions from the era which didn't make the cut and which are now being given an airing for the very first time. The most special of special editions if you like.
It means fully embracing all the circumstances behind the original music, which for an artist like Swift could become awkward, thanks to her oft-cited and sometimes unfairly mocked (by people including myself) insistence on laying bare every relationship she hurtled through during her post-teen years.
Which brings us then to Red (Taylor's Version), the new re-recording of the 2012 album which marked her transition from Nashville princess towards the all-round pop icon she is today. Despite a nervous start the album is by some distance the biggest seller of the week, smashing straight to the top of the charts to become her 8th No.1 album in a row. There is a circularity about that run, given it was first kicked off by the original version of Red a little over eight years ago. It means Taylor Swift has created for herself a unique new first, the only act ever to top the charts with both an original and a re-recorded version of the same album. The album debuts at No.1 with a sale of 72,319 - actually more than the original managed in its own first week when it debuted at the top with 61,799. All hail the power of the special editions.
But the new version of Red makes some singles chart waves too. Much of the focus this week was on All Too Well, her account of a bad breakup (with a never fully identified celebrity beau) which was never a chart single first time around but which has since earned a status as one of her signature songs. The Taylor's Version album features not only the re-recorded original edit but also an extended ten minute cut featuring verses hewn from the song to get it down to a manageable length. The result is a breathtaking epic, turning the tale of heartbreak into a true piece of soul-baring and one which cannot help but suck the listener in. You sit wondering just how the object of the song could walk away from someone who loved him so dearly while at the same time wondering how she could love someone who behaved so indifferently.
It means that with some considerable ease All Too Well is the highest new entry of the week, smashing straight in at No.3 to become her highest charting single since Willow reached the same position at the end of last year. Early midweeks suggested this might not have been the case, as they listed both the original edit and the ten minute version with separate chart positions, I'm guessing because Official Charts presumed that was the way the label wanted it. However they were also perfectly entitled to have them merged and this now seems to be the case, but make no mistake it is the ten minute version which has driven streams and downloads this week and is mostly responsible for this chart position. Damn, she's even turned it into a ten minute movie.
Two more tracks from Red (Taylor's Version) chart, both of them tracks which were only minor entries in their original versions when they were pre-release teasers. State Of Grace (Taylor's Version) is at No.18 (having originally charted at No.36) with the title track just behind at No.22 (originally a No.26 hit in October 2012). Red (the original album) spawned three Top 10 hits first time around, but We Are Never Getting Back Together, I Knew You Were Trouble and the Ed Sheeran duet Everything Has Changed barely seem to have registered in their new editions.
Everything Else Has Changed
There's a nice refreshing look to the Top 10 this week as all talk of a "glass ceiling" is er, shattered. The remarkable viral rise of Sam Fender's Seventeen Going Under continues as it becomes his first Top 10 hit single with a leap to No.9. Just behind the similarly viral Coming For You by SwitchOTR/A1 & J1 moves up four places to No.10.
Many of the week's other chart moves are directly inspired by album releases. Silk Sonic's An Evening With album debuts at No.9, the result of which is an instant boost for many of its tracks. Smokin' Out The Window rockets to No.12 to become far and away the biggest of the three hits enjoyed by Bruno Mars and Anderson.Paak. Meanwhile their first single Leave The Door open re-enters at No.31 after what is almost certainly an ACR reset. It first peaked at No.20 back in the spring.
Unrelated to any album release however is Already Dead, the irony of whose title it scarcely requires me to point out as it becomes the latest posthumous release from Juice WRLD. It is taken from the forthcoming album Fighting Demons which serves as the soundtrack to a new documentary film about the late performer Juice WRLD: Into The Abysss which is set to be released by HBO in December. The single debuts at No.25, Juice WRLD's biggest hit single since Smile peaked at No.23 in August last year.
Begin The Hate Mail
Little Mix have what is effectively a greatest hits album out this week, but although early midweeks suggested Between Us would potentially contend to be No.1 it eventually faded badly and ends up at No.4. That's not necessarily a total shock given that the group have never been the "straight in at the top" type when it comes to albums, 2016's Glory Days their only long player ever to top the charts. But given the fuss that has been made of them, the breathless press tributes noting they are "more than just a manufactured girl group" there does seem to be a sense of don't ask don't tell when it comes to just how lukewarm the reaction to the hits collection has been. There are token new tracks on the album too, but they have themselves limped almost apologetically into the charts, No is new at No.35 and Cut You Off at No.59. The former even has a video, so there is no pretending that it wasn't intended to be a "proper" single. All the chatter is that the remaining trio will promote the hits collection and then knock it on the head. You can't help but wonder if they are set to fizzle out rather than end with a bang.
One final new entry of note, sneaking in at No.40 is the tender ode ABCDEFU from Gayle, a teen from Nashville who has been mentored since a young age by no less a music industry figure than Kara DioGuardi and who is now seemingly due for a push as pop's next big thing in waiting. All her debut single does for now though is make me lament the day the taboo on saying "fuck" in pop songs was shattered. Sometimes it works (as when Olivia Rodrigo screamed it in Good 4 U) but this just makes you want to cringe.
Remember, the window for mainstream pop hits to establish themselves in the charts is rapidly closing. We've got about three more weeks before things start getting completely silly. Mariah Carey is now up to No.44, Wham! make their seasonal appearance at No. 54, The Pogues are at 87 and Michael Buble is 99. And remember all of these are ACR-depressed positions. Holiday songs are dominating playlists already, and it is still technically only mid-November. The Grinch will see you all on Monday for the newsletter. Sign up now!