Next week is where it should start to get very interesting indeed. This is of course Ed Sheeran week, with his new album Equals set to debut very strongly at No.1. By the close of play on Sunday the album had already accumulated over 80,000 chart sales meaning it seems almost certain to sail past the six-figure total Coldplay managed last week to become the fastest-selling album since er, the last Ed Sheeran release.
But the singles chart is where it gets crazy. Ed Sheeran of course is the main reason we have the rule that restricts artists to three concurrent chart hits, owing to the way he blew away the rest of the market back in 2017 and nearly managed a clean sweep of Top 10 hits. Just as when No.6 Collaborations Project was released, he will end up straining that rule to its very limits.
But the added complication is the continuing presence of Easy On Me at the top, meaning we have a genuine superstar on superstar collision on our hands. You will have seen the early chart update indicating that the Weeknd-alike track Underpass Graffiti is the most popular of all the tracks on the new Ed album. That remains the case so far, however both Easy On Me and Shivers are both very close behind meaning there is as it stands a genuine three-way race to be No.1 this coming Friday.
The big wild card though is Bad Habits which, as you might imagine, has also enjoyed a jump in its consumption since the release of the album. The summertime smash has been loitering around the Top 10 for the past few weeks despite being relegated to ACR status, such is its continuing popularity online. As it stands the older hit is at No.5 on the current midweeks but it is hard not to rule out the possibility that it will be granted the kind of discretionary ACR reset that has been handed out to similarly surging hits from newly released albums - that’s the reason Coldplay’s Higher Power returned to the Top 30 last week after all. Should that happen it raises the possibility of an Ed Sheeran Top 3 clean sweep. But then again, if you are only going to lift the single a couple of places, is there any need for a reset?
All will be revealed at the end of this week. Oh yes, and the two most popular chart ineligible cuts from the album so far are First Times and Tides. Although there’s no certainty that either would make the Top 10 if the Ed Sheeran rule wasn’t in place.