View profile

Chart Watch Weekly - May 23rd 2022

James Masterton's Chart Watch Weekly
The UK charts this week gave us a story, even if it wasn’t the story everyone was anticipating. So in this week’s newsletter we look at the exact circumstances which lead to Harry Styles STILL ending up at No.1.
Also flooding the blocked gutter of chart news this week:
  • Resurrecting the lapsed buyers
  • It is Kendrick Lamar week worldwide
  • News from France: they still love their native rap stars
  • Next week is Harry Styles week worldwide

Harry's Arse
It is a sector of the market which rarely makes headlines of its own, but which for many acts is actually the lifeblood of their whole existence.
Direct To Fan or D2F marketing is a core part of the distribution chain for recorded music, filling the gap left by the deteriorating economic viability of high street record stores. But given this opens up the ability for such mail order fulfilment companies to take pre-orders for a premium product, rules have to exist to determine just at what point a “sale” is made.
Said rule is actually straightforward: the day that you post it out. The moment an item is in a package, out the door, and on its way to a customer you are entitled to upload the sale to Kantar Millward Brown and have it counted for chart purposes.
Most such sales occur at the start of the chart week, at the moment of release. That’s one of the main reasons the first midweek sales flashes for albums don’t land until Monday, early numbers are frequently distorted by special edition releases having their entire inventory dumped into the database by the D2F services on a Friday and front-loading the numbers.
Occasionally the postings (physical and numerical) arrive late and ensure it is the early week sales picture that is the distorted one. In April 2020 Calm by 5 Seconds Of Summer beat Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia to No.1 despite trailing it all week, all thanks to a late ‘drop’ of physical albums which wiped out the deficit it had endured up to that point.
But this week it is a matter of relevance to the singles chart, the surprising inability of Sam Ryder’s Eurovision hit Space Man to overcome Harry Styles at the top of the charts eventually down to some shenanigans surrounding the release of a set of limited edition CD singles.
It was an anonymous source who first clued me in that something was afoot.
And so it proved. 9,187 physical sales materialised in the relevant column of the weekly sales tally of As It Was, turning that 4,000 unit deficit into a 4,000 unit lead, propping Styles’ single up at No.1 for the seventh week and denying everyone involved a quite fantastic bit of PR for the charts.
That did prompt a couple of newspapers to note what had instead taken place, The Mail On Sunday deciding this amounted to “dirty tricks” in a piece which managed to get a spectacular number of facts wrong (that’s normally my job). Their piece also blaming the corporate behemoth of Sony for the action, when the decision to release the CDs on Thursday could equally have come from Harry Styles’ actual label (Columbia), his management, or even Merch Traffic who power the online shop for his official site.
Were the singles late arriving and should have gone out at the start of the week? Did they in fact get delivered to the distributors early and they decided to treat customers with a surprise early delivery? Or was it indeed realised that there was a good chance the new album Harry’s House was set for release this week with its lead single awkwardly turfed from the top of the charts and so direct action was required? Only those close to the project know the true answer
Either way, it means Ooh Aah Just A Little Bit by Gina G remains the only United Kingdom Eurovision entry to top the charts in the last 40 years. And that isn’t changing for at least another year.
Break It Down
Sam Ryder’s Space Man was indeed a huge hit this week, irrespective of the circumstances which led to it being “only” No.2. But it is where that popularity manifested itself which is all of the fascinating.
Space Man posted 61,268 chart sales last week. Fully 22,697 of those were downloads with a further 1,274 of them on CD. Leaving 37,297 to be attributed to its online streams. That’s why the top end of the streaming chart looks like this:
This tells us that while Space Man was respectably popular amongst the usual core cohort of chart music fans, it was not “chart-toppingly” popular. Much of the support came from a casual, older, music audience. The lapsed music fans who don’t generally consume modern music. But whenever something comes to their attention in this manner they always go online and buy a copy, because that’s what they remember doing and that’s how they always consumed music. And I’m forever fascinated to see them reappear in this way. Even if they vanish as quickly as they came - just as will, alas, Sam Ryder’s sales.
Meanwhile a reminder of the numbers. This week the market for purchased singles was 370,384, actually a 14% rise on the previous week’s total thanks to the Eurovision effect (many of the other songs performed on the night did notable paid sales numbers). But that’s almost exactly a million fewer than there were this week five years ago. And this week ten years ago (nearing the peak of the download era and prior to Spotify etc. going mainstream) 3,380,000 singles were purchased.
Land Of The Free Reign
Kendrick Lamar placed two singles in the UK Top 10 and one more just outside, this the full limit of the number of tracks any one artist is permitted to have on the Official UK Charts at any one time. Billboard have never contemplated any such restrictions, and reason that such heavily-streamed in their entirety album releases are generally one-week wonders.
So the latest beneficiary of this free-for-all is the aforementioned Mr Lamar, his Mr Morale And The Big Steppers album tops the Billboard 200 with the biggest sales week of the year so far (295,500 album equivalent units).
None of its cuts are able to break the Harry/Jack duopoly at the summit of the Hot 100 but he still manages four entries in the Top 10. For those keeping track this is now the third week in a row that an artist has had as many as four new entries in the Billboard Top 10. And we’ve still Harry Styles to come next week.
Note too the arrival of the uncancellable Morgan Wallen with his second Top 10 hit in just over a month. He’s been dropping singles at regular intervals lately, hitting No.7 a few weeks ago with Don’t Think Jesus, No.12 with Thought You Should Know and now reappears in the middle of all the Kendrick Lamar hits with You Proof at No.6.
A Land Down Under
It is Kendrick Lamar week in Australia too as the rap star grabs himself three Top 10 singles of his own, although you will note that there is still nothing shifting Harry Styles at No.1. 14 of the Top 50 singles of the week in Australia are tracks taken from Mr Morale And The Big Steppers. The other most notable thing about that graphic above is that Stay by Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber came the closest it has come since release to dropping out of the ARIA Top 10 altogether. Now that would be a watershed.
Bonsoir
Le SNEP
Le Top Singles de la semaine est sorti ! 🎧

Classement complet 👉 https://t.co/GSN0AZxdZg

"Céline 3X" de Gazo prend la première place 👏 https://t.co/O1xYNgcGam
To the complete lack of shock amongst longtime subscribers or followers of the SNEP charts in France, they have a local rap star at the top of their singles chart. Effectively rocketing straight to the top (he was No.161 on last week’s full classification) is French-Guinean performer Gazo. Celine 3X is actually his second No.1 hit of the year, following on from Filtré which hit the top a few months ago.
There’s no sign at all of France’s Breton-language Eurovision entry Fulenn, given a by French consumers in the same manner as the watching voters.
The winning Ukrainian entry Sefania by the Kalush Orchestra has had limited success on charts across Europe. It made No.38 in Britain but has gone Top 10 in both Finland and Sweden and is Top 10 in Switzerland and Iceland.
GAZO - CELINE 3x
GAZO - CELINE 3x
Midweek Teases
Oh boy, this is where it gets really interesting.
(I’ve left the above line in from last week’s newsletter because it still applies).
The slow but steady growth of Harry Styles from “the guy from One Direction” into “full-blown superstar” has finally come to fruition. Because his new album Harry’s Place will be literally all anyone is talking about next week.
It is already the fastest-selling album of the year and is set for the biggest debut week since Adele’s 30 at the tail end of 2022. Its midweek sale of 61,000 (comprised of 42,063 physicals, 16,408 streams and 2,959 downloads) has already surpassed the opening week tallies of both Harry Styles (57,000) and Fine Line (49,000) and we are still only just beyond the weekend.
Meanwhile, the album’s tracks are set to strain the “3 per artist” rule to its absolute limit (one glance at the live Spotify table will show that since the weekend Harry Styles cuts are literally all anyone appears to be listening to). It means he is on course to become only the third artist ever to manage a clean sweep of the Top 3. As It Was is still comfortable at No.1, with Late Night Talking and Music For A Sushi Restaurant set to enter at 2 and 3 respectively.
As for the highest new entry that is not a Harry Styles track, well it could be one of three singles which are all neck and neck just outside the Top 20. Will it be 1989 by Aitch? Will it be 21 Reasons by Nathan Dawe and Ella Henderson? Or perhaps it will be - extraordinarily - Charmer by the returning N-Dubz, on course to become their first chart single since 2011.
N-Dubz - Charmer (Official Audio)
N-Dubz - Charmer (Official Audio)
If you have enjoyed this newsletter, please tell everyone you know and send them the link to subscribe. Share this email with a friend, tweet a link or post on Facebook about it.
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.
There’s no charge for this newsletter, and never will be. But if you fancy thanking me for the work that goes into putting it together, then you can always buy me a coffee. Click away to reward my aching fingers!
Buy James Masterton a Coffee. ko-fi.com/chartwatch - Ko-fi ❤️ Where creators get donations from fans, with a 'Buy Me a Coffee' Page.
Did you enjoy this issue? Yes No
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.

In order to unsubscribe, click here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Created with Revue by Twitter.