The eternal number one just won’t go away. Kungs’ “This Girl” spent four weeks at number 2, but this week it drops to number 5. So Drake sees off another challenger. And that’s fourteen weeks – matching the combined total of “Bohemian Rhapsody” across both its runs. One more week and it ties with “Love Is All Around”. Sales and streams are both dropping, so it has to stop some time…
Okay, so… yes, I was going to do a Watch With Father post before this, but it’s been a busy week, plus there’s been a lot of mesmerisingly distracting stuff on the news, plus there haven’t been any storylines wrapping up in the X-books. But we’re settling down again now, so we really should be getting back into a more regular schedule.
Meanwhile… in a terrifying and uncertain world, one thing is immutable.
Thirteen weeks. Thirteen. On a pure sales chart it wouldn’t even be in the top 10 any more, but it’s just not shifting from the streaming charts. The sales number one would be “This Girl” by Kungs vs Cookin’ on 3 Burners, which is stuck at number 2 on the combined chart for the fourth week.
So let’s take a step back to consider what on earth is going on here.
We’re going through another of those phases when all the X-books are in mid-storyline (not least because the three core X-Men titles are in the middle of a supposed crossover that isn’t actually crossing over), and with one thing or another I’ve been distracted from following up some of the other regulars, but we should be getting back to a more normal posting schedule over the next week or so. In the meantime, on the singles chart, all is quiet – three new entries, all outside the top 30.
And that’s twelve weeks. This is entirely due to continued streaming popularity – at this point, “One Dance” is number 9 on the pure sales chart – and there are starting to be murmurings that the chart compilers may be looking again at the weighting of sales to streams. Time will tell whether these sorts of extended runs are going to be the new normal in the current era, but it does seem to be something of a fluke, given more normal turnover of records at number 2 over the same period: “Cheap Thrills” by Sia (3 weeks), “This is What You Came For” by Calvin Harris featuring Rihanna (2 weeks), “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Justin Timberlake (4 weeks) and “This Girl” by Kungs vs Cookin’ on Three Burners (3 weeks).
I was going to do a Watch With Father over the weekend but, well, I’ve been otherwise diverted. No matter! In these interesting times we need an oasis of stability, and the UK top 40 more than delivers.
Clinging on by a 5% margin over the number 2 single, it’s still here after eleven weeks at number 1. It is flagging in both sales and streams, but nothing else has come along to replace it yet. Even allowing for the general slowing of the chart in the streaming era, this is pretty amazing: only two records have ever had longer runs at number one, namely “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” by Bryan Adams (16 weeks in 1991) and “Love is all Around” by Wet Wet Wet (15 weeks in 1994). Since its notional total sale of 60,000 is the lowest for a number 1 single since October, this surely has to be it – doesn’t it?
9. Sigala featuring John Newman & Nile Rodgers – “Give Me Your Love”
And that’s ten weeks, matching “Umbrella” from 2007. “One Dance” was not number one in the midweeks, and it only held on by a relatively narrow margin – the equivalent of 178,000 streams, compared with its streaming total this week of 4.77 million. On a pure sales chart it would be number 9, but it’s the streaming data that matters these days.
That’s nine weeks. Just one more needed to match “Umbrella”‘s ten-week run from 2007. I’ve already explained why the change to streaming data, which has slowed down the charts generally, means that this isn’t strictly comparable, but it’s still impressive. If it does manage to match “Umbrella” – and the midweeks say it won’t, but you never know – then the next record in sight will be the epic 15 week run of Wet Wet Wet’s “Love Is All Around” in 1994. (more…)
Posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2016 by Paul in Music
So, after a bit of experimenting, I’m thinking a better way of doing these things is to go back to doing them weekly and accepting that they’re going to be fairly short. Let’s try that for a bit and see how it goes. On this week’s singles chart…
Eight weeks at number one, the longest reign since “Umbrella”, but I’ve said before that these things aren’t entirely comparable, because adding streaming to the charts makes sustained replay appeal much more of a factor than it ever was in the past. On pure sales, this would be number 5 (and Justin Timberlake would be number 1). The top three has now been static for three weeks, with Timberlake and Calvin Harris in the other two slots. The era of stasis.
6. Clean Bandit featuring Louisa Johnson – “Tears”
Another month, and turnover isn’t exactly picking up. “One Dance” by Drake remains at number 1 for the whole month, a total of six weeks. That’s the longest run at number 1 since “Uptown Funk” at the start of 2015, and the longest uninterrupted run at number 1 since “Bleeding Love” in 2007. The next record in sight is “Umbrella”, which managed 10 weeks earlier that year.
Of course, this is not a direct comparison because of the shift to streaming data. “One Dance” still doesn’t have a video – which, incidentally, may work in its favour under UK chart rules, because only audio streaming services count towards the chart, and presumably a bunch of people who would otherwise be watching “One Dance” on YouTube are listening to it on Spotify instead. More to the point, it hasn’t been the top selling single for several weeks. It’s staying at number 1 because people are continuing to listen to it. And if the charts had always been based on sustained popularity rather than first week sales, one suspects we’d have had a lot more epic-running number ones over the last twenty years or so.
The charts of 2016 are a still pond into which a stone occasionally falls. This makes them fairly tedious to follow week to week, but at least the big stuff stands out. The Official Charts Company are well aware of this, and of the need to remind the public of the chart’s ostensible function as a barometer of public mood. So it didn’t take long after Prince died before the OCC put out an excitable announcement, which several papers dutifully parrotted, that he was on course to have a number 1 hit. Which he wasn’t, but we’ll come back to that.
First, this month’s actual number ones. “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” by Mike Posner hung on for another couple of weeks, managing a total of four. And then we had “One Dance” by Drake featuring WizKid & Kyla, which doesn’t have a video, so you’ll have to make do with Spotify.
It looks as if we’re deeply embedded in one of the slowest chart eras for years. The main reason for that, of course, is that the charts are increasingly determined by streaming data rather than sales. And while sales measure how many people were interested enough to buy a track in the first place, streaming data is more interested in how long they keep listening to it.
In many ways this is a good thing for the chart, because it puts an end to the days when you could engineer a number one by releasing your single in a quiet week and relying on fan base sales. In that sense, a chart position is arguably more meaningful than it’s been in quite some ways. But in other ways, it’s a problem, because there simply isn’t very much happening, which doesn’t greatly serve the chart’s other role of promotion.
So when we left off at the end of February, “7 Years” by Lukas Graham had been at number for three weeks. It went on to stay there for another two, so evidently this rather maudlin reflection on ageing has more appeal than I can comprehend. Perhaps it’s the video. Maybe it reminds people of Wayne’s World.