Oh Here's A Shock
The top of the charts does not look quite the way we were expecting. After its steady rise and joyful post-Christmas surge, surely the stage was set for Escapism to enjoy a comfortable second week at No.1. But that was to reckon without Lewis Capaldi and something he casually dropped on, of all places, his Insta stories over the weekend.
If you believe the story of "oops we ordered far too many and cannot shift them" then I have a social media company you might like to buy. Truth be told his current hit single Pointless had done OK, but nothing well, Capaldi-esque in terms of its chart run. Its immediate post-Christmas placing (15) wasn't too far removed from its first (20) a fortnight before the holiday. A middling mid-table position was surely its destiny unless something drastic was done. And the release of those 99p CDs over the weekend appears to have been the magic that was needed, because the single's status this week as the second new No.1 hit of the year and the Scotsman's fourth overall is entirely down to the number of people who purchased those physical copies.
So here are the details. Pointless tops the charts with 55,903 chart sales of which a mere 17,177 were from its streams - a total which in isolation would have placed it at No.13. But he also sold 22,396 CDs along with 16,330 downloads. A sale is a sale is a sale. And that my friends is why Lewis Capaldi is No.1 this week, the sixth different No.1 single in as many weeks in the fastest rate of turnover since 2015. But it is also why there are valid questions as to just how close (or distant) it will be next time around. But at least we get to benefit once again from the Scotsman's own unique form of dry wit as he celebrates in the way that only he knows how.
4 uk number 1’s!!!! over the moon to finally have as many number 1’s as a do STI’s 🏆x pic.twitter.com/LLT78Oh0fG— Lewis Capaldi (@LewisCapaldi) January 13, 2023
This however was a chart race which went right to the wire. Because even though Pointless had opened up a 12,000 sales lead over Escapism as of the Monday midweeks, it was clear that this was a gap that was going to shrink dramatically. RAYE's single still had vastly more streams than the Capaldi hit. The only question was whether there were enough days left in the week for her to close the gap.
Alas there were not, but it was genuinely the case this week that it was only the publication of the final chart which finally settled the race once and for all. Escapism is desperately unlucky to post a sale of 54,705 - fully 9,000 more than last week but ultimately a 1,000 copies or so behind. Just one more day would have been enough.
The New Old Hits
The highest new entry of what seems set to be the final quiet week of January turns out to be the surprise chart arrival of a hitherto unloved oldie. Sure Thing by Miguel dates from his 2010 debut album All I Want Is You and was first released as a single exactly 12 years ago this week. Although a Top 40 hit on the Hot 100 at the time, it was ignored by the British market, the American singer having to wait until Mariah Carey gave him a leg up with a feature on her 2013 single Beautiful for him to make his British chart debut. Over a decade later the track finally becomes a UK hit, almost needless to say thanks to it being the latest "lost" track to benefit from being part of a viral trend on Tik Tok. Although plays on the video app don't contribute towards the charts, the resultant "what's that song" interest inevitably rebounds into streaming success. After poking its nose over the horizon last week Sure Thing rockets to No.14, much of this climb thanks to a manual reset of its ACR status.
It is far and away Miguel's biggest ever chart success in this country, eclipsing the aforementioned Mariah Carey collaboration which crept to No.22. His only other Top 40 entry until now was his presence on Diplo's Don't Forget My Love which reached No.30 during an extended wander around the lower rungs of the chart last summer.
Also new to the Top 20 this week and pleasingly rising fast, just as we dared hope last time, is Stephen Sanchez' dreamboats and petticoats-era throwback Until I Found You which makes a pleasing climb to No.16.
Green Light Good Times
Three places below is the next new entry, Rumble debuting at No.19 for the fascinating combination of Skrillex and British collaborators Fred Again and Flowdan. It serves as the first single from the American producer's forthcoming album, set to be his first formal studio collection for nine years. The track first leaked last summer when Fred Again dropped it into a set at the Boiler Room in July, resulting in multiple unofficial YouTube uploads of fragments of the track. So just for a change you can be forgiven for wondering if you haven't heard all this before. The track hands Flowdan his first solo chart credit although he was previously a member of Roll Deep who topped the charts twice in 2010 as part of a five-year run of hits.
Two more hits poke their noses into what you can only acknowledge is a becalmed Top 40. Tory Lanez arrives at No.36 with The Colour Violet to land his first Top 40 single since The Take made No.35 in November 2019. Just below at No.38 is the enormously entertaining Shut Up My Mom's Calling from Texan brothers Mike and Chris Fiscella, aka Hotel Ugly and who have themselves benefitted from a small degree of Tik Tok exposure for this track, one which has been kicking around since May 2020 and only now seems set to fulfil its destiny as a hit.
There's a distinct lack of female presence in this piece so far, but this isn't the BRITs so let's talk them up rather than erase them. Taylor Swift's Midnights is still stranded at No.1 on the albums chart (for a fifth time) and seems set to remain there until there's a big new release to blow her away. The only new album release of any note this week however was Phosphorescent by Gabrielle Aplin, a record which caused great excitement when it posted a Top 5 place in the first midweeks and raised the prospect that she might land herself her first Top 10 record in ten years. Alas this was a false dawn, but it is still the highest new entry of the week at No.15.