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Chart Watch Weekly - December 6th 2021

James Masterton's Chart Watch Weekly
Christmas -3 as far as the charts are concerned and this alas is the point where it becomes even more of a slog as the slew of golden oldies wipes out any chances of ordinary contemporary hits asserting themselves. But there’s still plenty of news to discuss, even as the somewhat chilling prospect of Ed and Elton dominating December looms.
In Chart Watch Weekly this week:
  • Adele is unmoved in most places.
  • Those where she isn’t have succumbed to Mariah fever.
  • I nail my Christmas No.1 colours to the mast.
  • The Monday midweeks. With further bad news for all Christmas haters.

Hold Separate
Official Charts
The Official Singles Chart is now live! Check out the Top 10 below 👇 and the full Top 100 here 👉 https://t.co/wdfNlqm5TB https://t.co/jbccEyS2wA
I guess you could call this week the demilitarised zone. The big names have flung their product out and are now sitting back and waiting to see how it all does over Christmas. There’s no chance of any new “regular” chart hits surfacing or even being released as the festive streaming market starts to dominate. So all we could do really was sit back and watch.
That’s meant another window for Adele to dominate and she duly does the singles and albums chart double for a second week. The 30 album notably pulled in yet another chart sale of over 100,000, and driven once more by paid purchases rather than just streams. If you get a copy of the album for Christmas from a well-meaning relative, just try to look surprised.
Easy On Me is comfortably No.1 on the singles chart once more for what is now its seventh week in succession. While that is still nothing compared to the recent epic runs of female-led singles by the likes of Tones & I (11 weeks) and Olivia Rodrigo (9 weeks) it still notably means Adele has spent longer at No.1 than any British artist since Leona Lewis also clocked up 7 weeks with Bleeding Love way back in 2007.
It is worth noting that this is now the 23rd week in a row that the No.1 slot has been occupied by a British artist, a run that stretches back to the start of June when Ed Sheeran’s Bad Habits turfed Olivia Rodrigo from the top. It seems quite possible, based on how things are set to map out for the rest of the month, that it will be well into the new year before any overseas artist manages to top the British charts. Go UK!
Easy On Me by the way will be wedged at or very near the top of the singles market from now until the Christmas chart itself. It cannot crash to ACR any earlier than the chart of December 24th. You’ll note above that Overpass Graffiti is now Ed Sheeran’s only single in the Top 10. That isn’t due to the Christmas invasion but because Bad Habits and Shivers have both been relegated and so have plunged down the rankings, this ending the five-month unbroken Top 10 run of the former.
She May Have To Give A...
The most notable move of the week is that of Gayle’s quite enjoyably sweary ABCDEFU which has a rocket lit under it and actually shoots to No.2, accelerating past both Adele and some festive favourites.
The track has been kicking around since late summer but only now has gone viral, another terrific example of the way nothing truly “flops” any more. Anything can surface as a hit at any time. Britain is way ahead of the curve with this track, but it is starting to creep up other charts worldwide, including America.
ABCDEFU is nicely placed it seems to be this year’s Sweet But Psycho, a hit which is in the mix at Christmas but which spreads its wings properly in the new year. Can she build a career on this though? I mean, just where do you go after this kind of statement?
GAYLE - abcdefu (Official Music Video)
GAYLE - abcdefu (Official Music Video)
The Rest Have Bells On Them
We joke about how they seem to arrive earlier every year, but in actual fact the Christmas chart invasion is following precisely the same pattern that it did 12 months ago. It means bang on cue the biggest of them all - All I Want For Chistmas Is You and Last Christmas make their annual Top 10 arrivals, the Mariah track at No.3 and Wham at No.4.
This does however prompt the most extraordinary bit of trivia of the week, to which my cap is well and truly doffed:
David of Stourbridge
@ChartUpdate Trivia: All I Want For Christmas Is You has never been at No.3 before this week, and Last Christmas has never been at No.4.
I checked, and he is absolutely right.
This does however mean we have indeed hit the festive chart horizon. The point at which the Official UK Singles chart ceases to perform its primary function of surfacing and celebrating the best in contemporary pop. It isn’t that people cease to consume current hits, just that they are buried in the avalanche that results from the long tail of the streaming market collapsing, as online plays coalesce into the same set of traditional songs.
Proof of this comes in the rather startling way the sales figures stack up this week. A mere 4,964 sales separate the Gayle single at No.2 from Taylor Swift at No.10 as every single one of this week’s Top 10 singles (the No.1 excepted) sold in remarkably similar numbers.
To put this in some perspective, it is more usual for sales of the No.10 single to be approaching half those of the No.2. Remove the Christmas songs from the equation and the sales of this notional Top 10 start to resemble something approaching normal. The festive hits are inserting themselves into a market which by and large continues invisibly as normal. Perhaps that’s a theme we should develop over the next couple of weeks.
Baby Please Come Home
For the past few years the Chart Watch UK site has been home to a regularly updated liveblog of the Christmas No.1 race. I’ve not done one this year, mainly for time reasons, but also because of my total lack of engagement with the whole farrago this year. The streaming era has done away with the idea of the Christmas charts being filled with the best of what modern pop has to offer, and the prospect of it being yet another toss up between a 30 year old song or some charity gatecrasher with a shelf life of mere days does not fill me with any excitement.
What was fascinating though was the reaction to a graphic that Official Charts tweeted out during the week, listing the last ten years of Christmas No.1 singles. A graphic which of course had one jovial YouTuber listed for every one of the last three years.
Admittedly Twitter should never be considered representative of the views of the majority on anything, but it does illustrate how little the exploits of Mark Hoyle and family have actually cut through. Even those with only a passing interest in pop music would register what had topped the charts for Christmas. These days I’m not so sure.
One other response caught my eye:
KC
@officialcharts That’s just fucking shocking. The state of music today 💩
Keith, the good news is that a list of Xmas No.1 singles in no way represents “the state of music today”, it merely represents the state of what bandwagon people jumped on board for the holiday week. Perhaps making it all the more regrettable that it might be the only singles chart of the year that people outside the pop world actually pay attention to. The surprise domination of Rockabye was only five years but seems a lifetime ago.
Still, we have to at least acknowledge that the race is taking place. And as of Monday afternoon these are the latest odds:
Most markets have it down as a two (three?)-horse race between the Elton John and & Ed Sheeran collaboration (of which more shortly) and yes, Ladbaby again. Despite rumours that he wasn’t going to bother making a sausage-roll themed single for the fourth year running it seems that yes, there is indeed a Ladbaby single on the way for Christmas week.
The position of the Have A Word podcast as third favourite represents a fascinating bit of marketing. The song is Laura’s Gone as performed by Adam Rowe and Dan Nightingale which proceeds, naturally, going to charity. It won’t be anywhere near No.1 at Christmas but fair play for them for getting the bookmakers to rank them that high.
Have A Word Pod ft. Finnlay K - Laura's Gone (Official Music Video)
Have A Word Pod ft. Finnlay K - Laura's Gone (Official Music Video)
So what will I be cheering on? Frankly I’m hoping for something that will make it really really awkward when it comes to compiling graphics in the future. Given that The Kunts made it as far as No.5 last year with their sweary tribute to Boris Johnson it is perhaps astonishing that it has only just started to creep into the odds tables (if not on Paddy Power from which that list above was grabbed).
I’m being grumpy and misanthropic about Christmas No.1 this year, so I’m more than happy to see the Top 10 or even Top 3 gatecrashed by something gratuitously offensive.
Across The Atlantic
Adele’s translatlantic domination remains undimmed as she tops both the Hot 100 singles and Billboard 200 albums for a second week. She’s one of only three British women ever to do the American chart double (this incidentally the second time she has managed it). The other two are - perhaps bizarrely - Leona Lewis and Olivia Newton-John. The latter of course Australian by nationality but British by birth.
Christmas has also arrived Stateside, with many radio stations switching to all-Christmas formats the moment Thanksgiving was in the can. We (or rather I) moan about the vintage nature of the festive songs that British audiences are obsessed with but America arguably has it far worse, making Mariah Carey’s 27 year old song a relative breath of fresh air. The hot and happening and up to the minute Hot 100 Top 10 thus contains entries from Brenda Lee (1962), Bobby Helms (1957) and Burl Ives (1964). Billboard compile a separate holiday chart for this time of year, the Hot Holiday 100 but just like in Britain their policy of allowing vintage singles into the main chart bites them on the backside at this time of year - particularly when you consider radio airplay is still a core part of the compilation of the Hot 100.
Incidentally Mariah Carey’s track has topped the Hot 100 twice in the last two years. All eyes on whether she can make it three years in a row. And to think we are nervous about the prospect of her doing it a second time on these shores.
A Land Down Under
ARIA
Here's the #ARIACharts Top Ten singles for this week with @Adele, @eltonofficial, @DUALIPA, @pnau, @thekidlaroi, @justinbieber, @whoisgayle, @taylorswift13 and more.

Check out https://t.co/bfON5BRaDU for all of this week's charts! https://t.co/MGhcGtOCYL
Who is Gayle indeed? Well, she’s suddenly gatecrashed the Australian charts too, breathing new life into their generally moribund Top 5. Brand new at last week’s No.17 she has flown to No.4, and on that basis you wonder if she won’t end up topping the charts there for the end of the year. How very festive.
For those wondering if people for whom Christmas hits in the height of midsummer are still able to enjoy songs themed around snowfalls and sleigh rides, the answer is yes.
Euro-vision
OffizielleCharts
All They Want For Christmas Is Mariah. No sooner said than done: @MariahCarey is the brand #1 in this week's Official German Single Charts. „Last Christmas” comes in 2nd place. Highest new entries by Apache 207 („Sport“, #10) & Die Ärzte („Kraft, #11). https://t.co/Z60mgLrWRj https://t.co/1kCyYTDCao
It is probably best to leave this here without much in the way of further comment. Who doesn’t love a Bavarian festive scene after all? So of course Mariah Carey is top of the charts already. Good to also see the Gayle single making waves of its own in other European states too.
Germany’s highest new entry is from Apache 207, the rapper who has topped the charts over there twice already this year is making a play for a third - or will he too have to wait until the new year like everyone else?
Apache 207 - Sport (Official Video)
Apache 207 - Sport (Official Video)
Midweek Teases
With what you might regard as depressing predictability the long-awaited duet between Ed Sheeran and Elton John, the snappily titled Merry Christmas appears to be running away with this week’s chart race, the Monday midweeks suggesting it has 33,000 chart sale to its name so far with Adele a somewhat distant second on just over 19,000. I described the song to friends as like having two embarrassing uncles empty a bucket of warm piss over you, but they have grabbed December by the balls and you have to wonder at what point they intend to let it go.
Rather fascinatingly the Gayle track is nowhere to be seen in the Top 5 (she tumbles to No.7), with Wham, Mariah and The Pogues taking up the remaining three spaces. That in itself is rather fascinating as this was the week last year in which All I Want For Christmas Is You finally ceremonially ascended to the Number One position.
What is absorbing is that for the first time Mariah Carey does not have the most popular festive oldie, instead Last Christmas is in the lead, Music Week reporting Wham have 4.2m streams so far this week, just over 100,000 more than Mariah.
Meanwhile the Amazon originals, new recordings of Christmas songs that are not encumbered by the ACR rules that older hits are subject to, are starting to assert themselves. George Ezra’s Come On Home For Christmas is presently at No.10, the last of eight different festive records set to dominate this week’s Top 10.
George Ezra - Come On Home For Christmas (Amazon Original - Official Video)
George Ezra - Come On Home For Christmas (Amazon Original - Official Video)
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The new UK charts are announced by Radio One from 4pm every Friday, can be seen in full on officialcharts.com and musicweek.com, and I’m now back on chart-watch.uk with my own detailed charts analysis later that same evening.
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James Masterton
James Masterton @chartupdate

From the world famous chart analyst, a weekly roundup of everything fit to print from charts worldwide. Considered coverage of the stories generated by the UK charts along with a summary of events taking place on pop charts in Europe, across the Atlantic, and on the other side of the world.

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