Nine Alive

Now be honest. Be completely level with me here. Just over two months ago when this all began, did you really think we would still be sitting here nine weeks later contemplating yet another week where Sprinter from Dave and Central Cee was sitting pretty atop the Official UK Singles chart.

No of course you didn't. Because such a thing had never been done before and there was no reason at all to think that this particular track, as appealing and engaging as it is, would set new benchmarks for rap singles on the UK charts.

But here we are. Sprinter is once more No.1 for the ninth week in a row, now at the point where it can legitimately claim to be one of the longest-running No.1 hits of all time. Its time at No.1 has exceeded that of any other British-made rap hits and indeed pretty much all the ones from overseas too. The only hip-hop oriented artist to have matched or beaten this kind of chart run is Drake, and you can debate all you want whether God's Plan (9 weeks) and One Dance (15 weeks) are "true" rap hits or just pop records gently chanted. The lines tend to blur over time of course. But nobody would accuse Dave or Central Cee of trying to sing.

Nine weeks is the first part of what we term a "golden" chart run, the point where you achieve true perfection with the minimum time you can spend at the top of the singles chart before falling to ACR. But here's the thing, Sprinter isn't going to fall to ACR next week. For this to happen it would need to have declined in streams for three consecutive weeks. But two weeks ago the track actually rose in sales, meaning the clock was briefly reset. However Sprinter is now most definitely on the slide, diving last week to 59,397 sales and this week posting its lowest total yet of "only" 53,518 (278 of which were downloads). So you suspect the single is lined up to "do a Miley" and end up with ten weeks at the top - assuming it dips again next week. But even that isn't a given.

Here's Looking At You Dollface

This naturally all depends how long Barbie-mania is going to go on for. First, a point of order from last week because although everyone (myself included) was enthusiastically trumpeting the fact that Barbie: The Album became the first movie soundtrack to place three simultaneous Top 5 hits on the chart, this isn't actually the case. This is to ignore the fortnight in November 1978 when the Grease soundtrack enjoyed a similar trio of hits - Summer Nights by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, Sandy by Travolta alone and Hopelessly Devoted To You by the much missed Newton-John similarly solo. But this week we do have a genuine first.

The three existing Barbie hits all move up a rung. Billie Eilish's What Was I Made For storms in front to No.2, Dua Lipa's Dance The Night is No.3 and Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice's Barbie World is No.4. But they are joined this week by the surprise package of Speed Drive by Charli XCX which rockets to No.9. Not only is this now her first Top 10 single as a solo or lead artist since Doing It made No.8 in 2015 but it means the Barbie soundtrack now, definitively, becomes the first soundtrack album to spawn four simultaneous Top 10 hits.

As a fun aside, that chink in the rules which means the multi-artist collection can chart as many of its tracks as it wants, as all are by separately billed acts, this makes it the first album to enjoy more than three Top 10 hits at once since the "three per artist" rule was introduced six years ago this week.

Other Barbie hits just keep on coming. Ryan Gosling's I'm Just Ken is now No.14 and Pink by the under-fire Lizzo is No.27. Alas the OG dollface single Barbie Girl by Aqua can't quite maintain its momentum and slides out of the Top 40 at No.42.

Paradise At Last

The battle for supremacy on the Official UK Albums chart this week was a tale of three records. Post Malone's Austin ended up the biggest loser at No.3, edged out by Anne-Marie's eagerly awaited Unhealthy which slides in at No.2. But far and away the biggest deal of the week was Utopia from Travis Scott, the fourth studio album from the American rapper taking him to the top of the charts for the very first time. Another of those records which was streamed out of the door it would in theory have peppered the entire singles chart with every one of its tracks if it were free to do so. But the three which were eligible do at least make up the vast bulk of this week's new arrivals.

Meltdown leads the chart at No.10, becoming his fifth Top 10 hit single, his first since Fair Trade (a Drake single on which he guested) peaked at No.23 in September 2021. Perhaps not entirely coincidentally the roles are reversed on this one, with Drake also on co-vocals. Fein (featuring Playboi Carti) is new at No.13 while the notably solo Hyaena slides onto the chart at No.21.

Promises Delivered

Partnership renewals are all the rage at the moment it appears. The tandem of Calvin Harris and Sam Smith gave both men one of their biggest ever hits when Promises had an extended run at the top of the charts nearly five years ago. They renew the partnership this week with Desire, the highest non-Scott new entry of the week at No.18. I can't for the life of me work out if it is a neat but unexciting callback to that previous smash hit or just an uninspired mess, but suffice it to say the track is everything you might expect of a Calvin Harris production with Sam Smith on vocals. And let's face it, nobody makes music for Sam Smith's still-penetrating voice like Calvin Harris does.

Nice Weather For It

Not for the first time Drake's habit of saying "yes" to everything he is offered means he ends up with a strange passing ubiquity. You will therefore this week find the Canadian star alongside J Hus on the long-running Who Told You, alongside Travis Scott as mentioned on the new entry Meltdown but also on the chart for a third time on the track that debuts at No.26. The track in question is the first big chart entry for an edition of On The Radar Freestyle, an improvised rap recording performed for New York DJ Gabe P's On The Radar series. This particular collision is the aforementioned Drake alongside none other than Britain's Central Cee. This isn't quite the random pairing it seems, Central having been the face of Drake's Nike x Nocta fashion collection two years ago with the pair having popped up at each other's gigs several times in the past.

We don't just have new rap tracks to bring you this week though, we have some quite righteous drum and bass too, this in the shape of Chase & Status' Baddadan, a track which features a gloriously complicated set of credits. Baddadan is technically billed to Chase & Status and Bou, but it also hands full credits to IRAH, Flowdan, Trigga and Takura. Although this is probably one of the few times you will see that written out in full. It is the second Chase & Status hit of the year, hard on the heels of their collaboration with Becky Hill on Disconnect, and starts its chart life at No.31.

Comparisons Fading

The one final track worthy of a mention is Nothing Compares 2 U from the late Sinead O'Connor which continued to be streamed in the week and so as a result makes the Top 40 for the first time in over a decade as it climbs to No.30. That represents quite the dip from its midweek placing, suggesting posthumous interest in the track tailed off as the week went on, but for all that it has still be quite moving to see it briefly doing so well.