Okay… so, I was planning to review the Extraordinary X-Men tie-in issues of Inhumans vs X-Men last week, but with one thing or another I haven’t got to that yet. So we’d best do the chart post before it gets completely out of date. Reviews soon.
1. Ed Sheeran – “Shape Of You”
Eight weeks. Since the previous number one, “Rockabye”, also managed eight (nine, in fact), this matches the all-time record for chart slowness. We haven’t had two eight-week number ones in a row since the 50s, which is practically chart prehistory.
This week saw the release of two new mixes of “Shape of You” which are selling well in their own right – one by Major Lazer, and one with Stormzy (a version of which is above – though it’s being described as a remix, it’s really just the same track with a guest verse). The Stormzy version was performed on the Brit Awards as well, just before the start of the chart week. Because the chart rules combine all versions of the same song by the same artist, the result is that in its eighth week “Shape of You” is still pulling in over ten million streams. “Castle on the Hill” rebounds to 4, while “How Would You Feel (Paean)”, a little surprisingly, drops from 2 to 11 in its second week. The previous album, “x”, climbs back to 3. The new album is now out and will be swamping the chart on Friday.
2. The Chainsmokers & Coldplay – “Something Just Like This”
Climbing 28 places, but that’s hardly surprising because it was only released right at the tail end of the previous chart week, and it was on the Brit Awards. It now becomes Coldplay’s biggest hit single since “Paradise” made number 1 in 2011.
So, “Big For Your Boots” rebounds from 17 to 6 to reach a new peak, thanks partly to exposure on the Brit Awards, and partly to the release of the parent album “Gang Signs & Prayer”. This now becomes his biggest hit single, overtaking the number 8 peak of “Shut Up” in 2015. But wait… there’s more. Because it turns out that Stormzy is one of those rare acts where people stream the entire album, and heavily. “Shut Up” re-enters at 37, four other tracks appear in the top 40, and everything on the album at least makes the top 100.
This isn’t unprecedented. Obviously, it wasn’t possible until the digital era allowed album tracks to qualify for the singles chart if they were getting enough downloads in their own right, and it only became seriously likely to happen once streaming came into play. (You could download all the tracks from an album individually, but why on earth would you want to?) In that time, a handful of artists have seen their entire album make the top 100 singles in the week of release – Justin Bieber, Beyonce, and The Weeknd. Perhaps albums will find new life on streaming after all.
The thing is, this is going to happen against next week with Ed Sheeran – the midweek chart speaks for itself – which is the sort of thing that’s going to raise questions about whether the chart rules are handling this situation properly. If all the tracks on an album are being heavily streamed, do you really want them showing up on the singles chart? Is that really what the singles chart is supposed to be measuring? Or is the basic concept of a single just artificial in the streaming era – if people are listening to all the tracks on an album, and listening to them individually rather than just playing the album the whole way through, why shouldn’t it swamp the chart?
10. Calvin Harris featuring Frank Ocean & Migos – “Slide”
The first of ten singles to be released this year, which basically means he’s releasing everything from his next album as a single. Fair enough, he did that with the last one, and it worked well. We’re off to a slow start here – his last single, “My Way”, debuted at number 5 and spent three weeks in the top 5. But this really isn’t great. Nothing wrong with Calvin Harris trying a different tack, but he’s not somebody you turn to for soul, and Frank Ocean sounds half-asleep.
Migos are responsible for “Bad and Boujee”, which drops out of the top 40 this week; and Frank Ocean makes only his second appearance in the UK singles chart, the first being a guest appearance on “No Church In The Wild”, which scraped to number 37 in 2012.
Another one for the annals of overly elaborate lyric videos. Zedd’s biggest UK hit was in 2014 with “Stay The Night” featuring Hayley Williams, which got to number 2; he’s a couple of mid-table appearances since then, but nothing particularly significant. Alessia Cara had a number 28 hit in 2015 with “Here” – you might vaguely remember it for sampling “Glory Box” – but her 2016 follow-ups fails to make the top 40, so this is something of a UK relaunch for her.
“Hndrxx” by Future at 21. Yes, the same one from the Maroon 5 track above. His sixth album, his fourth to chart in the UK; he’s made the top 10 once, but that was a collaboration with Drake. In his own right, hie previous best was number 15. Single: “Selfish”.
“Drunk” by Thundercat at 37.He’s a bass player, probably best known from Suicidal Tendencies. This is his third solo album, and the first to chart in the UK. Sample track: “Show You The Way”, featuring Michael McDonald & Kenny Loggins.
“Freedom Highway” by Rhiannon Giddens at 39. Folk music. Single: “Hey Bébé”.