Special Roast

Her crown never truly in any doubt, despite the attempts to hype up a race following the release of the Sunday "first look" data, Sabrina Carpenter continues to percolate nicely at the top of the Official UK Singles chart. Four weeks at the summit means we are rapidly running out of coffee metaphors to be cute with, but no matter. Espresso remains the champion of the late spring. The track continues to do impressive numbers, 8.3m streams last week translating into just shy of 73,000 chart sales meaning Carpenter enjoys a considerable lead over the rest of the competition.

It means the shutout of British acts from the top of their own singles chart extends to a 21st week - still some way short of the modern day benchmark of 27 weeks we noted a few weeks ago. But the gap between it continues to narrow.

Is She William In Formal Situations?

Most of the weeks chart headlines however are grabbed by activities over on the elder house as it were. Billie Eilish's third studio album Hit Me Hard And Soft had little in the way of pre-release hype or even a lead single but hailed as her strongest and most complete work so far it made short work of becoming far and away the biggest new release of the week. The album debuts at No.1 with 67,100 chart sales. That's more than enough to ensure it is the biggest opening week of her career, surpassing the 48,000 sales with which her debut When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go opened in 2019. So yeah, this was duly huge. She also now has the unusual distinction of becoming the youngest female artist to have three No.1 albums, beating previous record holder Avril Lavigne by a mere 48 days.

Although fully a quarter of Eilish's album sales came from vinyl copies (that fact alone remaining extraordinary), Hit Me Hard And Soft was far and away the most streamed record of the week, to the extent that its three biggest tracks all debut with ease inside the Top 10.

The biggest is the album's second track LUNCH (they are all capitalised and I might as well respect that for this week at least) which appropriately enough debuts at No.2, never quite having the legs to make a play for Sabrina Carpenter's crown but still easily the biggest of the also-rans. The lady whose style is impossible to pin down pivots once again, the big hit a nod back to the bass-heavy alt-pop of her earlier work. Naturally for the lady who dgaf it is a quite deliciously explicit track as she describes in loving detail just what she would like to do to the (female) object of her affections. It is effectively her second Top 3 hit in a row, following on from last year's No.1 What Was I Made For and the sixth such single of her career.

SHOUTING

Nest in the queue is Track 3 CHIHERO which is the No.7 hit of the week, followed in short order by Track 4 BIRDS OF A FEATHER which perches at No.10. Quite what streamers had against the opening track SKINNY is something for the rest of us to ponder, particularly as the next biggest track (starred-out from just outside the Top 10) is WILDFLOWER which is fifth in the running order. The three charting tracks take her career tally of Top 10 singles to 12. And I note with some fascination that she has this week released what you might call a stemless version of the record, a special edition featuring completely isolated vocals. A worthwhile listen given the always compelling nature of her lyrics and ASMR-inspired vocal delivery. Although given that the production of tracks such as WILDFLOWER is constructed in such a way that the instrumentation drowns out her melancholia you wonder if that defeats the point of some of it. Check it out anyway, it is actually a worthwhile listen.

The British Have Vanished

This week's parade of Top 10 artists are Carpenter, Eilish (x3), Shaboozey, Hozier, Malone/Wallen, Boone and Dasha, meaning a total shutout of British artists. The highest charting homegrown star remains Artemas even as I Like The Way You Kiss Me loses its Top 10 status (perhaps temporarily) and plunges to No.12.

The albums chart was similarly a battle of the American superstars, with Taylor Swift clinging doggedly on as The Tortured Poets Department remains insanely popular and sits at No.2. Rolling up in third place however was a homegrown hero as former 1D star Zayn Malik unleashed his fourth studio album Room Under The Stairs. This particular release is notable as his last two releases - Icarus Falls (2018) and Nobody Is Listening (2021) were notable for a total lack of promotional work by the singer, the records flung out and allowed to speak for themselves. But this largely meant they played to his core fanbase and nobody else, the two records charting at 77 and 17 respectively with suspiciously similar first week sales. Room Under The Stairs is different. He's reinvented himself as James Morrison (in a good way) and done a large round of mainstream interviews and personal appearances, culminating on these shores in his first live gig in 8 years with a one-off show at the O2 in Shepherd's Bush. And it has all worked, his first release for a new label returns him to the Top 10 for the first time since his chart-topping debut Mind Of Mine. 15,000 chart sales is five times as many as the opening week tallies for his last release. Although none of its cuts do enough online to reach the singles chart.

Keep Up Grandad

An otherwise phenomenally quiet week for new singles activity means the most notable part of the rest of this week's singles chart is the curious parade of golden oldies that are mingling at the lower end or at the cusp of the Top 40. Natasha Bedingfield continues to have the two biggest, the untouched Unwritten sneaking back up to No.26 with the remixed These Words still in hot pursuit a place behind. Harry Styles' As It Was holds steady at No.33 with Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse's take on Valerie sitting pretty at No.38. Back in the Top 40 for the first time since its original 2006 chart run (when it peaked at No.29) is American rock band Disturbed's compelling cover of the Simon and Garfunkel classic The Sound Of Silence. Sudden virality following the release of a remix prompted its reappearance at the end of April but after several weeks floating around it now reaches No.39 - a brand new peak possibly within reach?

But the parade of oldies doesn't end there. The Script's 2008 No.2 hit The Man Who Can't Be Moved re-debuts at No.4 while Bronski Beat's 1984 No.3 hit Smalltown Boy reappears at No.63. This is its first chart showing since a remixed version made No.32 in early 1991. Odd really, given the extra streams it will have picked up in 2021 when people mashed it up with the markedly similar sounding Bad Habits by Ed Sheeran.

Oh yes, and we shouldn't forget Mr Brightside by The Killers (No.72) and Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac (No.75), but they aren't so much golden oldies as golden ever-presents.

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