So I guess it’s time to start talking about the all-time records again. “Shape of You” has now been number 1 for eleven straight weeks, matching the run of Slim Whitman’s “Rose Marie” back in 1955. Only three records have had longer reigns at number 1, though they’re still a little way out of reach: Drake’s “One Dance” managed 15 weeks last year, as did Wet Wet Wet’s version of “Love Is All Around” back in 1994. And the all-time record of 16 weeks is still held by Bryan Adams’ “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” from 1991. That’s consecutive weeks, mind you – if you’re adding multiple reigns, then the record for most weeks at number 1 stands at 18, and has been held by Frankie Laine’s “I Believe” since 1953.
The Sheeran domination finally starts to clear this week. He still has “Galway Girl” at 2 and “Castle on the Hill” at 3, but other tracks are dropping, and four of them are out of the top 40. Mind you, that still gives him twelve concurrent hits, occupying numbers 1, 2, 3, 7, 11, 16, 21, 22, 26, 29 and 34.
4. Drake – “Passionfruit”
So Drake released a new album this week, “More Life”. “Passionfruit” is slated to be the next official single, and it’s very radio friendly, so it’s understandable that it was going to get the most attention.
Well, I say “album”. It’s a collection of tracks by the same artist, and it’s listed on Spotify as a playlist, and it’s on the album chart (at number 2). But according to Drake it’s not an album, it’s a “playlist”. Which I guess is an invitation to consider it as a collection of individual tracks. And, actually, it flags up an obvious problem with trying to re-write the chart rules to stop another Sheeran domination. Let’s say you decide only a certain number of tracks from an album can chart at once. What happens if somebody just doesn’t list it as an album, and claims they’re just releasing a bunch of individual tracks all at once? What’s to stop somebody doing that, and having a suggested playlist to turn them into an album?
6. Clean Bandit featuring Zara Larsson – “Symphony”
By the standards of the last few weeks, this is a glimpse of normalcy – a new Clean Bandit single entering in the top 10. This time, the guest singer is Zara Larsson, who notches up her fifth top ten hit.
Clean Bandit arguably started off as ironic hipsters remixing classical music, but that was getting on for seven years ago now. As they’ve moved towards more straightforward pop and become mainstays of the top ten, they’ve also developed a penchant for hyper-sincerity. Last time, with “Rockabye”, it was birth and motherhood. This time it’s death.
Climbing another four places to enter the top ten. The track’s steady progress up the chart – 40-39-25-12-8 – is more impressive when you remember that it was happening in the face of the Sheeran deluge.
9. Drake featuring Giggs – “KMT”
Oh look, another Drake track. Did I mention he’s got an album out? So, yes, it’s happening again. Not to the same degree as Sheeran – there are 22 tracks on “More Life” and by no means all of them are in the top 40 – but there’s still a huge influx. They’re clustered towards the bottom end of the top 40, so I doubt they’ll stick around as long as the Sheeran tracks have. We’ll see, though – Drake still gets two tracks in the top 10. UK rapper Giggs makes his first appearance on the singles chart, though his album “Landlord” made number 2 last year. “KMT” stands for “Kiss My Teeth”. I gather it’s a Jamaican expression of disapproval.
Climbing 12. Jumps like these seem to be a result of the Sheeran deluge fading out, and other tracks starting to assert the positions they would normally have had.
14. Drake – “Blem”
You can see where this chart is heading. In this song, Drake is going to talk about his feelings because he’s high. There’s a chunk of “All Night Long” by Lionel Ritchie in this one.
17. Drake featuring Giggs – “No Long Talk”
And more Giggs too. Seems like a fairly ordinary “we really are impressive chaps” track to me, but I’m no expert.
24. Drake featuring Black Coffee & Jorja Smith – “Get It Together”
There’s actually more Jorja Smith than Drake on this. This is her first chart appearance, but she placed fourth on the BBC’s annual “Sound of 2017” list. Black Coffee is a South African producer, whose respectable track record of awards in his home country only started to attract serious attention internationally over the last couple of years.
27. Drake featuring Quavo & Travis Scott – “Portland”
Quavo is a member of Migos, who recently got to number 30 with “Bad & Boujee”, and are also guesting on the current Calvin Harris single. Travis Scott has had a couple of mid-table appearances on the album chart, but this is his first entry on the singles chart.
Up eight in its second week on the chart. Given the circumstances in which it finds itself, that’s not bad.
31. Drake – “Madiba Riddim”
“Madiba” is a clan name, but it’s mostly associated with Nelson Mandela. Quite what that has to do with the song, which is mostly Drake complaining about the challenges of knowing who you can trust when you’re famous, is anybody’s guess.
32. Drake – “Gyalchester”
It’s a nickname for Manchester – the Jamaican parish, not the English city. Girlchester, you see.
35. Drake – “Skepta Interlude”
Well, here’s a quirk. Drake isn’t on this track. Nor does he have a writing credit for it. As the title would suggest, it’s a Skepta track that Drake included on his playlist. But for whatever reason, it carries the same artist credit as the rest of “More Life” – Skepta doesn’t even get a “featuring” credit. Presumably the thinking was that the track title was Skepta’s credit. But the upshot is that Drake gets credited with a hit for somebody else’s track.
36. Drake – “Free Smoke”
The opening track on the playlist. Can’t imagine what it might be about.
37. Drake – “Teenage Fever”
Let’s see, what is there to say about this one… Oh, it samples the chorus of “If You Had My Love” by Jennifer Lopez. Number 4 in 1999, so beyond living memory for a lot of listeners.
39. Drake featuring Sampha – “4422”
Sampha had a top ten album last month, but this is her first appearance on the singles chart.
And that’s twelve Drake singles entering the chart in one week, alongside the twelve Ed Sheeran songs that are still hanging around. Blimey.
On the albums chart:
÷ by Ed Sheeran is still number 1.
“More Life” by Drake is 2.
“100” by Vera Lynn at 3, celebrating her 100th birthday – and yes, she is still with us. Technically this makes her the oldest person to have a top 10 hit, though it goes without saying that her contributions were recorded some time ago. That said, this isn’t a straight compilation – it’s got some unreleased stuff, and some constructed duets using her original recordings, a new orchestra, and contributions from the likes of Alexander Armstrong. Sample track: “We’ll Meet Again” (now with added Alfie Boe). Her earlier compilation “National Treasure – Ultimate Collection” re-enters at 30.
“Spirit” by Depeche Mode at 5. Their fourteenth studio album. They’ve never missed the top 10. Single: “Where’s The Revolution”.
“So Good” by Zara Larsson at 7, which is high for a pop album. She’s in the top 10 with Clean Bandit.
The Beauty & The Beast OST climbs to 8.
“Rather You Than Me” by Rick Ross at 29. Ross was last in the chart in 2014 when “Mastermind” made number 11, but two albums have missed the top 40 entirely since then. Single: “Trap Trap Trap”.