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Chart Watch Weekly - November 15th 2021

James Masterton's Chart Watch Weekly
The moment had long been prepared for, but the splash with which the first new ABBA album in 40 years landed took many by surprise. But what was the real reason everyone was snapping it up?
In Chart Watch Weekly this week:
  • Thanking them for the music.
  • Wet flowers have an appeal across generations.
  • The regular roundup of news from abroad.
  • The Monday midweeks. As we move on from old people making new music to newer people making their old music.

Fired Up
First of all, kudos to Official Charts for getting on board with the whole “tweetable graphic” of their Top 10s, just like Billboard and other charts compilers do. Making for some fantastically useful illustrations.
No shock at all really, the ABBA album Voyage smashed its way with some considerable force to the top of the charts. I speculated at the end of last week’s edition whether its initial midweek number of just over 100,000 was front-loaded and doubted by how much more it was actually going to increase. Foolish man that I am. In fact, a batch of vinyl copies had been delayed by a production glitch meaning there was another mass shipment to be added.
For those who aren’t aware, the rule is that direct to fan (D2F) sales are only registered with chart compilers Kantar Millward Brown the day they are physically dispatched to purchasers, so if your shipment is late you don’t show up in the midweek data until later in the week.
It meant that ABBA’s midweek total effectively doubled overnight, and so Voyage debuts at No.1 with a sale of 203,909. That makes them one of only four acts in the last ten years to sell over 200,000 albums in a week. The others are Ed Sheeran, Adele and - perhaps surprisingly - One Direction.
Those sales broke down to 148,471 CDs, 29,891 vinyl and 4,205 cassettes just for the nostalgia buzz. And because there are a subset of people who purchase albums just to own and look at rather than actually play. Something which still amuses me.
ABBA top the albums chart for the tenth time - a useful reminder that in their heyday they were as big a deal as an album act as they were a dominant force on the singles chart. It is just that we are so used to viewing their career through the prism of the hit singles it is all too easy to overlook their other work.
I listened to Voyage the day it came out but have had little inclination to do so again, although there are doubtless devotees who disagree.
Play It Again Benny
So ABBA sold over 182,000 physical copies of Voyage and while there will have been a few more purchased as downloads that still leaves a chunk of their sales to be accounted for by streams. Tracks from the album weren’t a big deal at streaming but there were still enough of them to ensure three of them went flying into the singles chart.
Don’t Shut Me Down re-entered at No.49 (it first peaked at No.9 pack in September), I Still Have Faith In You reappeared at No.60 (original peak was No.14) but they were also joined by When You Danced With Me which arrives at No.67 but which I suspect is now going to take over as their lowest-charting single ever. Although technically it isn’t actually a single, but they all count for the records.
Ed v Adele. The Rematch!
Another week, another two-way battle between Ed and Adele, although this time around it was a case of Adele leading throughout and Ed simply keeping pace as best he could without ever once threatening to take over. Sheeran at least for now retains a moral victory with Shivers and Bad Habits both occupying slots in the Top 3. The continuing success of the latter is all the more extraordinary when you consider it is 20 weeks old this week (exactly five months) yet is still one of the biggest songs in the country. I completely forgive everyone who is bored of the record, but as the streaming era continues to prove, the British public overall like to hear their favourite songs on repeat and take a lot of persuading to move onto anything new.
Easy On Me meanwhile is No.1 for a fourth week. Only Someone Like You topped the charts for longer, but that had a brief interruption after four weeks before returning for one more week of glory. Adele should easily surpass that next week.
Pouring Rain
The highest new entry of the week is the track which becomes the third and biggest Top 10 hit of the year for British rapper ArrDee (better known to his mum as 19-year-old Riley Davies from Brighton) as Flowers (Say My Name) smashes its way to No.5 to become a breath of fresh air amongst the biggest hits of the moment.
It notably becomes the second hit single in the last two years to take direct inspiration from the 2-step garage remix of Flowers which became a No.2 hit for Sweet Female attitude back in 2000 (fully two years before ArrDee himself was born). This follows Nathan Dawe’s reworking of the hit which peaked at No.12 during an extended chart run during those strange Coronavirus-afflicted days of 2020.
To ensure ArrDee’s hit is just that extra bit more derivative, the chorus hook is of course lifted from the old Destiny’s Child track Say My Name which curiously peaked at No.3 a week before the Sweet Female Attitude track charted, meaning that both singles were Top 10 in the same week.
ArrDee - Flowers (Say My Name) | Official Music Video
ArrDee - Flowers (Say My Name) | Official Music Video
One Top 10 hit in means one out, but that one was Joel Corry’s appropriately named Out Out which crashes 39-9 after ACR rules took hold. Which naturally means continuing frustration for hits that have been bubbling under the Top 10 for a number of weeks.
The streaming era means it is becoming increasingly common for hits to end up stranded in particular areas of the chart - hitting a level of listening that persists without ever growing or falling enough to move them up and down the charts. That also means songs can end up stuck at a virtual “glass ceiling”, stranded outside the Top 10 without ever quite managing the luck or the surge to land inside.
Huge sympathies then should go to the Becky Hill & Topic hit My Heart Goes (La Di Da) which is No.11 for the fourth consecutive week. As I noted in the main Chart Watch column this weekend, that makes it effectively only the second single ever to peak at this position for an entire lunar month - the first since Run To You by Bryan Adams way back in 1985.
The list of “most consecutive weeks at a chart position” is a hugely fun one to browse, and indeed is growing all the time. Just a few weeks ago Doja Cat’s Woman became the first single ever to spend 5 straight weeks at No.14 (although it would then rise a place to peak at 13 before spending another fortnight at No.14). No single has ever spent six consecutive weeks at any position outside the Top 10. At least for now.
Becky Hill, Topic - My Heart Goes (La Di Da) | Official Video
Becky Hill, Topic - My Heart Goes (La Di Da) | Official Video
Across The Atlantic
For the second week running the mini British invasion of the American charts continues apace as the Adele, Glass Animals and two Ed Sheeran singles ensure that four of the Top 10 singles across the Atlantic are performed by British acts. Easy On Me remains supreme at the top, and Adele’s interview with Oprah Winfrey which was broadcast on Sunday evening should surely ensure she’s going to remain there until her album is released. Meanwhile, Ed Sheeran has two simultaneous Top 5 singles for the first time ever.
Two new singles smash straight into the Top 10 though, both of them only minor Top 30 chart entries here. One Right Now from Post Malone and The Weeknd lands at No.6 while Silk Sonic’s Smokin’ Out The Window is two places below.
ABBA don’t quite manage to top the American charts, pipped at the post by Summer Walker. But the very fact that Voyage reached No.2 marks an impressive first for them, the first time they have ever managed a Top 10 album. Their previous best showing on the Billboard 200 was the No.14 scaled by Abba The Album in 1978. Americans don’t really do Greatest Hits compilations, so even Gold: Greatest Hits never climbed higher than No.25, doing so in April 2018.
A Land Down Under
I swear I’m continuing this Australian selection out of sheer bloody-mindedness just to see how long it takes for things to actually shake up. Proving once more they are a step behind the rest of the world, Australia keep Cold Heart at the top for a second week although Easy On Me climbs to a brand new peak and is surely knocking on the door to top the charts fairly soon.
One Right Now duplicates its American success and lands an instant Top 10 place. ABBA have the No.1 album, naturally.
Euro-vision
Le SNEP
Le Top Singles de la semaine est sorti ! 🎧

Classement complet 👉 https://t.co/q4RHkq9Wn5

"Le Classico Organisé" prend directement la première place du Top 👏 https://t.co/AaZaE6pJR0
It is the French charts that are worthy of the biggest attention this week, their top end notably free of the Ed Sheeran and Adele’s of this world (Bad Habits is No.12, Easy On Me is No.16 both of them falling).
Narrowly missing topping the albums chart (behind ABBA, naturally) is Le Classico Organise, a vast collaborative effort between what is claimed to be no fewer than 157 different rappers drawn from the Paris and Marseille regions. The title track is No.1 by some considerable distance, the top of a Top 10 chart which is largely rammed with native language rappers. Whoever it is that drives French music tastes of late, they are eschewing rock and pop music of all genres in favour of their own particularly local urban flavours. But French rap always has a uniquely beautiful poetry to it, so it is hard to tire of listening to tracks like this.
Le Classico organisé - Koba LaD / JuL / PLK/ SCH/ Gazo / Soso Maness / Kofs / Guy2bezbar / Naps
Le Classico organisé - Koba LaD / JuL / PLK/ SCH/ Gazo / Soso Maness / Kofs / Guy2bezbar / Naps
Midweek Teases
For the third week running it appears there is a tight battle between Ed Sheeran and Adele for the No.1 position. I’ve a feeling that once more Adele is going to triumph, although it will be quite an extraordinary sight if Shivers climbs back the top. It would return after five weeks away, the first single to do this since Happy by Pharrell Williams back in 2014. Interestingly no single has rebounded back to the top of the charts so far in 2021. If that doesn’t happen this will be the first year since 2008 that every No.1 hit has had just a single ruin at the top.
The most notable “new” album release of the week is the “Taylor’s Version” re-recording of Red by Taylor Swift although the first midweek flashes suggest that there are just 9 sales between it and Little Mix’s Between Us hits collection.
But the Taylor Swift album has a surprise of its own to spring, with much of the attention focused on the new 10 minute version of All Too Well. Intriguingly Official Charts have taken the view that this is a different song to the “standard” version which appears elsewhere on the album and their sales are being counted separately. It means the long version is presently No.7 on the midweeks with the regular version at No.13 (State Of Grace is the other cut that is doing well on the singles chart and is presently at No.12, the original having only reached No.36 back in 2012). If this situation persists Taylor Swift will be in the almost unique position of having Top 20 hits with two different versions of the same song. And I can guarantee that story is the one that will dominate the Chart Watch column this coming weekend.
Taylor Swift - All Too Well: The Short Film
Taylor Swift - All Too Well: The Short Film
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The new UK charts are announced by Radio One from 5pm 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. My words deserve a bigger audience than Music Week’s paywall could give them. So they are now back at their true home.
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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. The deep dive facts there just wasn't room for in the magazine and a summary of events taking place worldwide.

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