Well this hasn't been a wholly dull week, has it?
The moments we chartwatchers live for were happily sprung upon us as suddenly everyone was invested and excited to learn who was top of the Official UK Singles chart and were celebrating the outcome as it stood. Which is naturally all rather marvellous, although perhaps you will forgive me for sounding a note of regret that headlines, think pieces and cooing appreciation of the public's musical tastes only took place when a sixty-something year old woman reached the stars with a piece of music she made almost four decades ago. As opposed to say, a contemporary act making music for their own generation. The same people cheering Kate Bush to the rafters are the same ones who would have found it all kinds of messed up if a record made in 1948 was outgunning Running Up That Hill at the time of its first release.
I jest of course, it has all been a wonderful time to enjoy. Although just as at Christmas time we will shortly get to marvel how the people enormously invested in what is top of the charts this week will revert to caring little once more in fairly short order.
For the moment however that is delayed as RUTH fever continues to sweep the nation. Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill tops the charts for the second week in succession, leaving poor Harry Styles floundering once again in her wake, although he can quite possibly continue to curse his luck, in the wake of his current concert tour sales of As It Was are up once again, meaning it will still be several weeks before he's subject to ACR.
8.7m streams means that Running Up That Hill posted another 78,568 chart sales - Kate Bush also on the rise as these figures are around 700 up on her numbers from last week. Rather fascinatingly those numbers derive from a considerable rise in paid sales (prompted you suspect by casual interest resulting from all the media coverage surrounding her rise to the top) while her streams actually dip week on week. So tellingly it is possible the fad has already peaked. Time will tell.
Afraid Of The Real World
Meanwhile back in the world of normal the inexorable rise of Afraid To Feel continues apace as LF System climb to another new peak of No.3 and add themselves to the mix of the "who gets to be No.1 next" debate when everything finally returns to normal.
Speaking of Harry Styles he upsets the apple cart in quite spectacular fashion this week as Harry's House enjoys an unexpected late surge and reclaims the No.1 spot on the Official UK Albums chart at the expense of two of this week's biggest new releases. Harry actually wins the race by a margin of just 350 chart sales, meaning that Drake is left rueing his lost opportunity as Honestly, Nevermind debuts at No.2.
Drake does however have the last laugh as the album was inevitably streamed in huge numbers. These weren't quite Styles-esque levels of attention but it still means the Canadian gets to add another three to his ever-growing tally (now 35) of Top 10 singles. Aubrey is No.7 with Jimmy Cooks (careful how you type that), No.8 with Massive and No.10 with Falling Back. The latter sits on the bottom rung at the immediate expense of Harry Styles' Music For A Sushi Restaurant. Without that it would have meant Drake and Styles both enjoying three concurrent Top 10 singles - or if you like two artists accounting for 60% of the biggest hits of the moment. All while we were distracted by Kate Bush.
A Glimpse Of The Future
The next big phenomenon of the summer is, without a doubt, Glimpse Of Us by Joji. The laid-back ballad is doing some quite extraordinary things on charts around the world, although in Britain its success hasn't quite been so instantaneous. But it is getting there, new at No.31 last week it rockets up to No.14. Radio playlisters are starting to pay attention, as indeed are the curated ones online. Top 3 or even a potential chart-topper? It is No.1 in Australia already and (at least at the time of writing) Top 5 in America. That's a major clue as to where it could end up here as well. Take careful note.
Alert The Beyhive
Now, choosing my words carefully here, it has been a long time since Beyonce has been shall we say commercially relevant. There are multiple reasons for this. Making her last solo studio album proper Lemonade exclusive to her husband's streaming service Tidal didn't help, restricting its audience and the chart potential of any of its tracks. Then there was the heavy-duty concept project The Carters (alongside said husband Jay-Z) and the fact that her contributions to the live-action Lion King soundtrack didn't really have much resonance outside the movie. It is not that she's been absent from the charts altogether, but her last two Top 40 singles were both thanks to cameo roles - on Eminem's Walk On Water and J Balvin's Mi Gente and both were fully five years ago. Beyonce is overdue a comeback.
And suddenly she has one. New single Break My Soul was a midweek release, arriving only on Tuesday and so naturally enough was always playing catch up. But its sales and streams have been sufficient to propel it to No.21 even with a four-day handicap. Lucky for us the record is the sort of intriguingly magnificent creation worthy of her return. As is the fashion at present it is a 90s throwback, using a Korg synth line that while not a direct sample was close enough in inspiration for her to make a point of crediting the composers of Robyn S's Show Me Love (originally a worldwide hit in 1993), along with those of Explode by Big Fredia (which is directly sampled). We await a video and the full tracklisting of her new album Renaissance (due at the end of July), along with evidence of how it will do with a full week of sales behind it. But for the moment Beyonce is unequivocally back. Perhaps the next No.1 after Kate Bush is right here under our noses.
On the rise as well is Stay The Night from Sigala and Talia Mar which has apparently benefitted from soundtracking packages on the current series of Love Island and so hauls itself up to No.28 after a month of sculling around the lower end of the singles chart. And while it hasn't quite yet made the Top 40, keep a close eye on Doja Cat's Vegas which hits a new peak of No.43. It is taken from the soundtrack of Baz Luhrmann's forthcoming Elvis biopic and notably samples Hound Dog - not the Elvis Presley version but that of Big Mama Thornton, famously the first person to record the Lieber and Stoller composition way back in 1953.