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Dec 21

Charts – 21 December 2018

Posted on Friday, December 21, 2018 by Paul in Music

It’s the Christmas number one!  And… this was not expected.

1.  LadBaby – “We Built This City”

So, after two years of regular singles as the Christmas number one – Ed Sheeran last year, Clean Bandit in 2016 – it’s a novelty record.  We’ve had a lot of charity records and X Factor winners as Christmas number one, but the last time an out-and-out novelty record did it was in 2000 when the theme to Bob the Builder managed it.

Novelty records – and charity releases or chart campaigns generally – have struggled in the streaming era, for the obvious reason that you can’t generally make number one without significant streaming support.  But as a rule, people don’t actually listen very much to the charity singles they buy, and people who want to show their support tend to do it with the gesture of making a purchase rather than by listening to the thing repeatedly at no marginal cost.  Result: they don’t chart very often.

But if you can really get enough people to buy your record in one week, it can still be done.  Which is what happened here.  Even allowing for that, this isn’t something that people saw coming at the start of the week; LadBaby is Mark Hoyle, who’s basically a YouTube vlogger.  He has getting on for half a million subscribers, but by YouTube standards that’s not an earth shattering amount.  Zoella has 4.9 million.  There are 2.7 million people subscribed to the maths video channel Numberphile.  He even made a video about bookmakers refusing to let him bet on his own record because they’re never heard of him.

But he got strong enough pre-orders to place highly on the first sales report as the week, which led to some media coverage, which led to more sales, which meant he was number 2 in the midweek update, which led to… and so on, and the stars aligned, and here we are.  He’s sold over 70,000 of this thing, and that’s enough to be a number one single even without significant streaming support.

The actual record… is a cover of Starship’s “We Built This City” (number 12 in 1985), rewritten to be about sausage rolls.  It’s slightly better than that makes it sound, which is to say that it’s moderately listenable and there are some proper jokes in it, though it’s still basically a harmless mid-ranking YouTube channel that’s escaped into the wild.  It’s here almost entirely on sales, and since the narrative of it being Christmas number one is over now, it’s a pretty safe bet that it won’t be here next week.  But stranger things have happened.  Like it making number one in the first place.

The number two single is Ava Max’s “Sweet But Psycho” (a non-mover), while Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” drops to 3.  Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” climbs to 4, and…

8.  Ariana Grande – “Imagine”

Ariana Grande is the only regular act to release a single this week, though quite why is a mystery, because the effect is probably to distract from “Thank U Next”.  It’s not an especially instant single.  The lyric video above is quite odd – the background image has been taken from the thing below, which in turn is an experimental remix of a video of the calving of the Smeerenburg Glacier.  None of which seems to have anything very much to do with the song.

And that’s all you’re getting this week in terms of normal new entries.  Further down the chart, “Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Band Aid climbs 15-13; “Step Into Christmas” by Elton John climbs 22-18; “One More Sleep” by Leona Lewis climbs 28-19; “Merry Christmas Everybody” by Shakin’ Stevens climbs 21-20; “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee climbs 26-21; “Driving Home For Christmas” by Chris Rea climbs 36-22; “Santa Tell Me” by Ariana Grande climbs 30-23 (this week is a rare case of an artist maxing out the three-song rule with two current releases and a back catalogue song); “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” by Wizzard climbs 33-24…

29.  John & Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band – “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”

Climbing from just outside the top 40 last week.  This reached number 4 on its release in 1972, but its all time peak was number 2 on its reissue in 1980 (this was just after Lennon’s death, and the number 1 was “Imagine”).  There is a proper video for this song on Lennon’s official YouTube channel but it’s the 2003 version with disturbing documentary footage of children in war zones – you can see it here, but be warned that it’s really quite unpleasant viewing.

Number 30 is “Baby Shark” by Pinkfong, which has been hanging around the lower reaches of the chart since September and now finally beats its previous peak of 32.

35.  Paul McCartney – “Wonderful Christmastime”

Originally a number 6 hit in 1979, this has poked its head into the chart for three years running now.

36.  Slade – “Merry Xmas Everybody”

And finally for this week – though not this year, we’ve still got the dead-week chart to come – good old Slade are back again, with the Christmas number 1 of 1973.

Over on the album chart, you will be entirely unsurprised to learn that The Greatest Showman soundtrack celebrates its 52nd week on the chart with a 23rd week at number one, and that nobody releases new albums in Christmas… oh hold on, one person did.

6.  Bruce Springsteen – “Springsteen on Broadway”

Don’t worry, it’s not an album of musical standards.  It’s a live album from his solo run at a Broadway theatre, which is also the subject of a Netflix special.  This is his twentieth top 10 album,

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