Circolata Percolata

Sabrina Carpenter is top of the Official UK Singles chart for the third straight week with Espresso. And I'll level with you, that is not the story any of us were expecting to be telling this week. Trailing the biggest new release of the week by some distance from the very first midweek updates, the American singer slowly but surely chipped away at that advantage - and if I'm being honest by the time of the Wednesday update the writing was on the wall. What helped in no small way though was the late-week release of a CD single, giving Sabs the final boost she needed. The gap in sales in the end wasn't quite as narrow as Official Charts spent Friday evening stoking it - a matter of 2,000 units or so - but it still goes to prove that a chart race, any chart race is truly a marathon and not a sprint. The story of the charts for w/e May 23rd 2024 is admittedly about what didn't happen. But what did happen was a further step towards the disco-pop track becoming one of the most memorable songs of early summer.

So what then of the runner-up?

The first streaming reports of the week generally don't come from the British end of things. There are American chart watchers online who are plugged directly in to the early numbers from the Billboard survey. They were unequivocal - I Had Some Help from the initially unlikely pairing of Post Malone and Morgan Wallen was set to do some huge numbers.

"Well sure", went my internal monologue, "that's America for you. It isn't going to do quite as well over here". My inner voice knows NOTHING. For yes it was indeed the American pair whose country fusion track rode the zeitgeist even on these shores, spent the week contending for a spectacular debut at No.1 but in the end settles as the week's highest new entry at No.2.

This isn't without justification for I Had Some Help is in so many ways quite jaw-droppingly brilliant. I mean, most Post Malone songs are, but this song marks the zenith so far of Austin Post's refusal to be confined to any one genre or style. A roistering bar anthem from the heart of Americana, and indeed so easily does he blend with the genre that it isn't until you watch the video that you can be absolutely certain whose voice is whose. However obvious it is in retrospect.

The track becomes Post Malone's second Top 3 hit in a matter of weeks, hard on the heels of his contributions to Taylor Swift's No.1 hit Fortnight (the track which was replaced at the top by Espresso). The two singles combine to make this his best year on the charts for five years, not since 2019 has he had back to back Top 5 hit singles (Sunflower and Wow the two hits in question). But it is really his singing partner whose career has enjoyed a huge shot in the arm. We've watched agog over the past couple of years as the uncancellable Morgan Wallen fought his way back from playlist boycotts to a place at the top table in America. Yet prior to this year's C&W fad he was very much an also-ran as far as the British charts were concerned, his one and only hit single being Stateside smash hit Last Night which limped to a token No.28 peak almost exactly a year ago. Fast forward twelve months and he has come within an ace of featuring on a British No.1 single.

Dollar Dollar

I speculated last week that Tommy Richman's Million Dollar Baby had enough momentum to be contending to top the charts at some stage. For now he has to continue to join the queue, but the rather banging funk revival still advances as far as it possibly can, arriving in the Top 3 to further consolidate the ongoing American domination of the top end of the charts.

Also making some startling upward progress is Kendrick Lamar's Not Like Us which rises to a new peak of No.6, matching the peak of the beef-starting Like That from a few weeks ago. The Lamar/Drake war appears to have calmed down a little since last week (rumours abound of a truce), so it remains rather amusing that the biggest hit to result from it all is the most Canadian rage-inducing cut. There was a time when one rapper using a Top 10 single to accuse another of out and out noncery would be a colossal scandal with questions asked in the house. In 2024 it appears to just be par for the course.

Meet The Smiths

Artemas' I Like The Way You Kiss me slides to No.9 this week but he does at least cling on as the only British act in the Top 10. Unlucky not to join him though was rising viral star Myles Smith who has the second highest new entry of the week with his self-recorded cut Stargazing. The track is his first mainstream hit (he reached No.69 with Solo a couple of months ago), although his online audience has been enough for him to be garnished with "Next Artist" awards from the likes of Apple Music and Deezer with a series of low-key showcase gigs having now expanded into a sold-out British tour across Europe - culminating in an appearance at Latitude later this summer. Stargazing is extraordinarily good, if oddly familiar. It is essentially the country bits of Avicii's Wake Me Up reimagined for a new generation. Heck, he even sounds like Aloe Blacc with a touch of George Ezra stirred in for good measure.

Still climbing is Benson Boone's Slow It Down, up to No.16 to make the Top 20 for the first time while its predecessor Beautiful Things continues to chug along inside the Top 10 (it slides to No.7 this week). How long until they cross over each other?

Lazy Susan

Perhaps it is just as well that Post Malone and Morgan Wallen didn't distract us too much, as this week is also the post-Eurovision chart. Audiences for the contest were slightly down on last year (the novelty of being hosted in the UK no longer present) but the most popular hits from the contest all managed chart places that were more respectable than early sales flashes suggested - those streaming numbers do indeed take some time to filter through properly. Part of Eurovision tradition has now become enjoying the fun disconnect between the local juries and the wider public vote, although the 2024 contest appeared to stand convention on its head with the professional judges selecting songs on musical merit and the public vote going on markedly political lines.

Pleasingly this still meant the votes converged to anoint the most interesting performance of the night as the winner, and it is duly Switzerland's Nemo who lands the biggest Eurovision hit of the week as victorious track The Code takes its bow at No.18. No direct rap hit has so far won the contest, despite valiant attempts in the past by the United Kingdom, but The Code is surely the closest we have come to that moment as Nemo's hit glides between electropop, rap and even opera. It wasn't my favourite song of the night (they never do well), but even if you didn't watch you can completely understand why it emerged on top.

Unlucky to lose, especially given the number of friends who had backed it heavily, Croatia's Baby Lasagne was the ultimate winner of the public vote on the night and the second most-streamed contes entrant of the week. Once heard, never forgotten, Rim Tim Tagi Dim lands at No.36. Fascinatingly just behind comes the Dutch entry Joost with Europapa, disqualified from performing on the night after he got into a shoving match backstage, the singer perhaps benefits from people still wanting to hear what his song would have been like. So he saves a little face with a No.37 hit.

Olly Alexander's performance of Dizzy fell a little flat on the night - his "look how gloriously gay we are" staging was very him but largely failed to read the room - but I'll freely confess that I still couldn't get the song out of my head for the rest of the weekend. It makes a small chart comeback, reappearing at No.48 having limped to No.42 when first released back in March. But heck, even Mae Muller was one of now fewer than four Eurovision hits that made the Top 10 last year. And her performance was even worse.

Completing the Eurovision parade, Ireland's Bambi Thug reaches No.67 with Doomsday Blue. Although perhaps the less said about that the better.

Uncrowned

The story of this week's albums chart is once more not the story we anticipated telling. Kings Of Leon led the chart race for most of the week, but instead have to play second fiddle to Taylor Swift and The Tortured Poets Department which rebounds back to the top. Proving once again that she is the lady who does things others do not, this is the first album to climb back to No.1 since Midnights by a certain Taylor Swift in 2023.

Two details highlight just how strong the singles market is right now. Hozier's Too Sweet is at No.5 with the highest chart sale (58.5k) for a single at that position (outside of Christmas) since 2016. And our patience for the last few weeks has been rewarded. 30,971,000 singles units were tracked this week, taking the market above 30 million for the first time ever. The streaming universe continues to grow to ever more exciting heights. Meanwhile a mere 278,000 single tracks were purchased as the legacy sales market continues its steady heat death.

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