Stat Dump Ahoy

It is one of those facts which is surely burned into the minds of the most enthusiastic chart historians. When The Stargazers topped the UK singles charts with Broken Wings in April 1953 they were not only the first group of any kind to enjoy a No.1 single but also the first native British act to do so. For the first 21 weeks of the NME hit parade, the biggest-selling single each week was indeed performed by an American act.

By spending her fourth week at No.1 last week, Sabrina Carpenter ensured that this opening run of foreign acts had been matched, with every one of the charts published so far in 2024 having been headed by an act from outside Britain. This week Espresso lands itself a fifth week at the top of the Official UK Singles chart, in the process ensuring that run of foreign acts at the top of the charts now extends to a 22nd straight week.

It means we have now matched the run we last saw over 31 years ago. Starting in October 1992 No.1 singles from Boyz II Men (American), Charles & Eddie (American), Whitney Houston (American), 2 Unlimited (Dutch), and Shaggy (Jamaican) meant that foreign acts also topped the charts for 22 straight weeks, the run only ended in March 1993 by The Bluebells with Young At Heart - itself a reissued oldie first released 9 years earlier.

There have only ever been three longer stretches without British acts topping the British charts. The first of these is the one mentioned before on these pages, the 27 weeks between May and November 1991 which saw No.1 hits from Cher (American), Color Me Badd (American), Jason Donovan (Australian), Bryan Adams (Canadian) and U2 (Irish).

The two longer runs both date back from the dawn of chart history - 31 weeks running from July 1957 to February 1958 followed by a further 40 week stretch lasting from February to November 1958. Those two runs were broken up by a solitary British single - The Story Of My Life by Michael Holliday who kept the UK end of things up for an all too brief fortnight.

YeahBut

As with any chart statistic there is always a footnote, what I like to call the "Yeahbuts". Technically we also enjoyed a 33 week run of foreign No.1 hits running between February and October 2016. No.1 hits from Lukas Graham (Denmark), Mike Posner (American), Major Lazer (American) and The Chainsmokers (American) were all unequivocally by foreign acts. The awkward part is the track that spent 15 weeks at the top during that run. One Dance was performed by the notably Canadian Drake but it also afforded an artist credit to British singer Kyla Reid whose 2008 track Do You Mind was heavily sampled on the track. So strictly speaking it doesn't count as a completely foreign hit single, even if Kyla herself didn't directly contribute to its recording.#

Cee This

However while there remains an all-American Top 3 this week we aren't totally bereft of British acts in the Top 10. The charge is led by the highest new entry of the week as Band4Band marks the triumphant return of the always reliable Central Cee. With Lil Baby in tow the No.4 track becomes the rapper's first Top 10 single of 2024, his first since his co-credit on Kid Laroi's Too Much and his biggest chart hit since he accompanied Dave on long-running No.1 hit Sprinter almost exactly a year ago. But Band4Band is also notably Cee's biggest chart hit as the lead artist since Doja peaked at No.2 in August 2022. So this has indeed been a long time coming, although even longer for Lil Baby who hasn't had a Top 10 hit single in this country since he featured on Drake's Girls Want Girls which reached No.2 in September 2021.

It does say it all that to land a big Top 10 entry a British act still needs an American companion in tow.

The More Things Stay The Same

Also new to the Top 10 is Myles Smith (another Brit!), Stargazing finally making good on its early momentum and enjoying a five place climb to No.9. We should also pay due tribute to the staying power of Billie Eilish. Multiple hits from a well streamed album tend to fade away in fairly short order, but she remains No.2 with LUNCH, sees BIRDS OF A FEATHER actually climb to No.5, while CHIHERO is unlucky to lose its Top 10 status with a slide to No.11. But none you will notice have charged for the depths.

The chart climbs of both BIR.. Oh forget this, Birds Of A Feather and the Myles Smith single are both particularly notable as they are almost alone amongst hits in the Top 30 in moving more than two places from their positions last week, this being one of the more static singles charts we have seen in some time. The only other notable shifters are Too Sweet by Hozier and I Like The Way You Kiss Me by Artemas, both hurtling down 10 and 12 places respectively thanks to moving to ACR. Believe it or not the only other single in the Top 30 to have moved more than three places is Harry Styles' reactivated As It Was which rises three to No.30.

Knees Up Grandma

The second-highest new entry of the week (and indeed the only other new song of note in the Top 40) is… a country track! Zach Bryan was arguably the trailblazer of the current vogue for all things Nashville, his hit I Remember Everything embarking on an extended chart run at the end of last year (during which time it peaked at No.19), vanishing over Christmas and then returning for another wander around mid table in January which saw it reach a new high of No.14. So here he is once more with Pink Skies which becomes his third chart single on these shores as it debuts at No.31. Banjos and a Dylan-esque harmonica line are the order of the day here on the kind of record that once upon a time would have zero chart appeal on these shores but as of right now for all we know has smash hit written all over it.

The album chart has Taylor Swift's Tortured Poets Department returning to No.1 once more as she now appears to be keeping the seat warm while waiting for the next big release. This however isn't quite by default, Swift this week issued yet another CD variant, prompting a surge of a further 18,000 paid physical sales helping it to a healthy chart sale overall of 40,000. You would be hard pressed to find any album capable of moving those amounts of sales in its sixth week of availability, regardless of the circumstances. Interestingly Music Week reports that physical sales in the albums market overall this week amounted to 336,000. Meaning Taylor Swift accounted for 5% of all physical albums purchased this week.

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