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Chart Watch Weekly - December 20th 2021

James Masterton's Chart Watch Weekly
I’ve been very remiss in not acknowledging people lately, so they deserve a mention right at the top. My grateful thanks to Smylers, Giogio, Lee and Ashton for your Ko-Fi support over the last couple of months. You know who you all are. The link to join them as supporters is at the bottom, if you manage to get that far.
T'was the week before Christmas and not a single was stirring. But that’s not to say there isn’t other stuff to contemplate. Warning: newsletter may contain detailed discussion on the art of exchange trading.
In Chart Watch Weekly this week:
  • ZZZ-zzz-ZZZ-zzz-ZZZ
  • Betfair Choose Violence
  • Viva Spain, a week behind everyone else as usual.
  • Can anything at all stop Ladbaby? Spoiler: No.

Nobody Move!
Dear Official Charts,
For Christmas I’d like you to return to putting your Top 10 graphics in embeddable tweets which is a lot less faff than scraping them from your Insta.
This week’s singles chart pretty much resembles last week’s as every one of the Top 7 singles remains in place. People know what they like during December and stick to it rigidly it seems. Or at the very least have little reason to change up the default playlists served up by smart speakers (I know the running order of Deezer’s “Christmas Songs” stream by heart). One glimmer of brightness is the mixture of the usual Christmas suspects and a smattering of current hit singles which are more than holding their own. We’ll include Ed and Elton in this as it is at least a brand new release, and they sit alongside Adele, Gayle and Sam Fender in a blow for the (mostly) younger generation.
The chart performance of the Fender single is possibly the most fascinating move of the week. Having exited the Top 10 after a three week run last time out, Seventeen Going Under rockets back into place at No.9 this time in a move which caused me to puzzle if there wasn’t some kind of strange anomaly going on.
Better informed observers suggested that the release of a new mix that adds co-vocals from Holly Humberstone may have been a factor in this turnaround, a point of view with which it is hard not to concur.
Sam Fender & Holly Humberstone - Seventeen Going Under (Acoustic)
Sam Fender & Holly Humberstone - Seventeen Going Under (Acoustic)
Much as I dislike fantasy charts and what-if scenarios this is the one time of year when it isn’t inappropriate to wonder just what things would look like if the old Christmas hits weren’t registering. This is a pertinent exercise given that in precisely two weeks time they will indeed all vanish from view and a presently “hidden” parade of big hit singles will reveal itself for the first week in January.
As noted, we have to include Merry Christmas (spending its second - and probably final - week at No.1 this week) and also George Ezra’s Amazon original cover as both are contemporary releases, but it would head up a Top 10 that reads like this:
1) Merry Christmas
2) Easy On Me
3) ABCDEFU
4) Seventeen Going Under
5) Flowers (Say My Name)
6) Overseas
7) Come On Home For Christmas
8) Coming For You
9) Overpass Graffiti
10) Do It To It
Remember, something has to end up at No.1 in a fortnight, even if by default. And who is to say it isn’t going to be one of the above.
Easy Easy
We can take it more or less as read that Adele will have the No.1 album for Christmas, the release of 30 at the tail end of the November release rush proved to be a masterpiece of timing. In an age when nobody really gifts CDs as Christmas presents she will represent a revival of that tradition, a token that you know your mum is going to appreciate. Middle of the road rules all at Christmas time and Adele might as well have a white stripe painted down her middle.
The album is No.1 for the fourth week running, and as has been widely reported while this isn’t quite enough yet to make it the longest-running No.1 album of the year (Olivia Rodrigo managed five weeks in all) she is the first artist since Ed Sheeran over two years ago to spend four consecutive weeks at the top of the charts. Nothing but nothing can prise her away.
Murder On The Trading Floor
Dan @ TellyStats.com: #StrictlySpoiler #Strictly
In adding "Ladbaby, Elton John & Ed Sheeran" as a selection this morning, #Betfair woke up and chose violence.

The "LadBaby" selection was matched as low as 1.15.

The source listed in the rules is the only place I can see where the LadBaby song is NOT listed with a "ft/feat". https://t.co/vqxCosTH1L
The era of multiple artist collaborations and indeed “surprise” alternative versions threw a massive curveball into the previously sedate world of running a betting market for the Christmas No.1. Selections there are normally made on a particular artist rather than a specific record, but this meant things were briefly thrown into chaos four years ago when Ed Sheeran unleashed his multiple versions of Perfect in what turned out to be a successful attempt to land Christmas No.1 that year.
Bookies were wrong-footed and weren’t sure whether to treat the Beyonce duet as a separate act or not, leading to Betfair to realise they’d made a mess of the whole thing and void the entire exchange market, never to reinstate it.
To prevent similar situations arising again there are now specific rules in place as to what counts as a different artist or not. So those who wished to trade on Betfair’s live Xmas No.1 betting market were advised to note the rules carefully which stated:
For those struggling to read, “featuring” artists are to be disregarded, the lead credited act the only one which counts for bet settlement purposes, but full-blown co-credited duets are to be considered separate lines to any solo release. So far so good.
Until last Friday there were only two lines on which significant money had been traded (people both backing and laying as they felt appropriate). “Ladbaby” and “Ed Sheeran & Elton John”. The moment the existence of the Ladbaby single was confirmed it moved into a clear favourite, Ed and Elton priced out of the running.
Then, as the embedded tweeter above noted, on Friday morning Betfair did something odd, adding in a new line to the market for a single which credited Ladbaby. Ed Sheeran and Elton John all together. The implication was that this was the race entry on which winning bets would be settled. The price for “Ladbaby” collapsed as everyone who had lumped on it frantically traded out to minimise their losses. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was another cockup that was going to lead to a mass market void and everyone having their traded money returned.
It was only on Sunday when the first official midweek update arrived and it became clear that Sausage Rolls For Everyone would be credited (as it is listed in online stores) to Ladbaby FEATURING Ed Sheeran and Elton John. Meaning that as per Betfair’s own rules, bets on “Ladbaby” solo would be winning ones.
It meant another dramatic reversal of the markets, as Ladbaby’s odds collapsed (they had shot out as high as 8/1 at one stage) while the three-way credited entry moved to an outsider once more.
If none of the above makes any sense to you, don’t worry. But for canny traders it meant a gift-wrapped way to make money on a betting race which is pretty much already sewn up.
…which is precisely what I ended up doing. Last week I’d risked a small sum of money laying (backing to lose) Ladbaby at very short odds, gambling that something would cause the odds to lengthen so I could trade out (back it to win at longer odds) and thus guarantee a profit. The momentary market confusion was therefore a gift. The green numbers under each artist indicates the amount of profit I’ll receive should that selection win, so I’ll win at least £56.24 (minus commission) regardless of who makes No.1 on Friday.
Across The Atlantic
So let’s take a trip to America and trust that their charts are behaving sensibly and rationally in the run-up to the season and oh…
Mariah Carey’s popularity may if anything have sagged in relative terms in many territories, but in her home country she rules the roost once more. For those who have lost track this is now the third year running that All I Want For Christmas Is You has topped the Hot 100, the first single ever to top the American charts on three separate occasions.
Billboard reports that the track enjoyed 37.6 million U.S. streams, 26.1 million radio airplay audience impressions but only sold 7,400 copies at download. This is the song’s sixth week in total at the top of the American charts. They also note that this is the second time in her career that she’s been top of a chart dated December 25th, having also done so in 1993 when Hero ruled the roost for the festive season.
Full marks though to Wham, as Last Christmas also holds its own and heads into the American Top 10, matching the No.9 peak it scaled last year. The song never charted in America the first time around, Wham had only just broken through in the States at the end of 1984 and so Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go had just finished a run at No.1 at the same moment George and Andrew were writing themselves into festive immortality back home. The track’s original double a-side Everything She Wants would top the US charts in its own right in the summer of 1985. Last Christmas wouldn’t appear on the American charts until 2016, but it has returned every year since and grown bigger every time.
A Land Down Under
The penultimate Australian Top 10 before Christmas sees our old friends present and correct, Cold Heart still comfortable at No.1 but now being chased by Gayle who, just as in Britain, seems primed to take over at the top shortly into the new year. Meanwhile Stay (a hit single back in July and August) simply refuses to die. But as I’ve noted before, at least Kid Laroi is holding up the local side of things in a chart otherwise dominated by overseas acts.
There’s a fair scattering of festive classics elsewhere in the ARIA Top 50, even if references to snow and frost have little resonance in the southern hemisphere. Ed and Elton actually take a dive though, down two places to No.29.
Euro-vision
Listas Ventas España
VENTAS OFICIALES SINGLE ESPAÑA 🇪🇸
Semana 49 (03 al 09 de diciembre de 2021)

1️⃣ @zz0ilo y @Aitanax 💿💿💿💿
2️⃣ @rosalia y @theweeknd 💿
3️⃣ @Aitanax y @naikinai19
4️⃣ @SebastianYatra 📀
5️⃣ @c_tangana y @NathyPeluso 💿💿

#TopCanciones https://t.co/cMLlovKi5G https://t.co/JP3rmpimaL
The Spanish charts are always awkward ones to cover here as despite following the same (Friday-Thursday) sales pattern as the rest of the world they don’t actually publish the new tables until Tuesday, meaning anything we refer to here is always a week out of date.
But still, like Italy they remain refreshingly local and happily free of Christmas cruft. Rather startlingly their No.1 single is the same one that was there the last time we wandered this way, although that isn’t because it has been there for weeks. Mon Amour by Zzolio and Aitana has actually spent eight weeks away from No.1 following an extended six week spell at the top at the end of the summer, but extraordinarily has returned to the summit.
That’s meant an end to the three week No.1 run of La Fama, the lead single from the forthcoming third studio album from Spanish singer-songwriter Rosalia. International interest comes thanks to the presence of The Weeknd on co-vocals, but Spain remains the only territory where it has made any kind of impact.
ROSALÍA - LA FAMA (Official Video) ft. The Weeknd
ROSALÍA - LA FAMA (Official Video) ft. The Weeknd
The highest-charting Christmas song in Spain? All I Want For Christmas Is You, naturally. It was at No.22 last week.
Midweek Teases
Despite attempts by Official Charts to create any kind of intrigue, suggesting in their Sunday afternoon press release that the Ed and Elton version of Merry Christmas was “running Ladbaby close”, our first glimpse of the numbers indicates that with depressing predictability Mark and Roxanne Hoyle, along with their celebrity guest stars are some distance out in front. Sausage Rolls For Everyone has reached just shy of 80,000 sales as of close of play Sunday, almost 68,000 of those as downloads, naturally. Ed and Elton have only 32,000 to their name, which isn’t even remotely close no matter which way you spin things.
This is however the first year I’ve seen unabashed hostility towards the Ladbaby concept. No matter how terrible the records have been in the past, people just rolled their eyes and accepted the charitable aspect of it gave it a free pass. But this time around that’s not enough. Is it the rather cynical way Ed Sheeran and Elton John have been shoehorned in, making this all now rather corporate and a world away from the “one man making a difference” concept with which Ladbaby first launched his run of Christmas singles? Or is it just the fact that the record itself is lazy, uninspired, and not particularly funny? Not that that any of this matters given that it will almost certainly follow its predecessor and exit from the charts immediately in a week’s time. In the meantime all we can do is wistfully remember five years ago when absolutely no charity or stunt records made any kind of impact and Clean Bandit strolled to Christmas No.1 to widespread shock.
Tony Rudd
Ladbaby is like the Mrs Browns Boys of the Christmas charts

It’s unfunny, long in the tooth, 2-dimensional crap, yet it baffles anyone who can think for themselves how so many people actually consume it.
Much will be made of the way The Kunts are in the mix, presently at No.5 with the wonderfully sweary song I won’t dignify by naming. It is still fun to see something unexpected and awkward there in the grand spirit of punk rock and online rebellion, but don’t get too excited about its prospects for catching up. Last year’s Kunts single steadily climbed the midweek charts as the week went by but actually drifted further behind the leaders in pure numerical terms as time went on. I’d love the song to finish second, but you can be sure it will be a very distant second indeed.
If you want an insight into the expected state of play without knowing exact numbers then keep an eye on the aforementioned Betfair Exchange market for Christmas No.1. This is subject to what you might call insider trading, as those in the industry with direct access to sales flashes are able to react the moment they go online around 11am each day. As of around 6pm Monday evening Ladbaby are priced at 1.18 and The Kunts at 80. Nobody but nobody expects anything other than Sausage Rolls For Everyone to be top of the charts this Friday (especially with the release of a new “Food Bank Choir” version released today).
Up, Up And Away Rudolph
The Newsletter is taking a two-week break for Christmas, so we’ll be back with the details of the first proper chart of 2022 on Monday, January 10th. A full commentary on the Christmas and New Year charts will appear on the Chart Watch UK site (link below) as usual, meaning I can’t start drinking on Christmas Eve until the full chart comes out. Feel for me. In the meantime, I hope everyone reading this has a quite fantastic holiday. Thank you for all your support and feedback over the past year.
I’ll leave you with one amusing thought. We began 2021 with sea shanties as the craze of the moment, resulting in a Scottish postman named Nathan Evans finding himself at the top of the charts and signed to a speculative record deal with Polydor Records.
Someone, somewhere constructed a marketing plan where “Nathan Evans’ Christmas Single” was the final flourish in a year-long campaign turning him into a fully-fledged superstar. Two flop singles later it is flung out as an afterthought, this I can almost guarantee the biggest exposure it has enjoyed since it sneaked online to very little fanfare just over a week ago.
Nathan Evans - Merry Christmas Everyone
Nathan Evans - Merry Christmas Everyone
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James Masterton
James Masterton @chartupdate

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