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Chart Watch Weekly - October 18th 2021

James Masterton's Chart Watch Weekly
Let eternal joy rain down on us all. For the first time since the start of the summer someone other than Ed Sheeran is top of the British charts. Although how they got there requires a small amount of explanation. But let’s not ignore the massive elephant in the room. Nothing that happens this week will matter a jot in seven days time. The Adele show is about to roll (in the deep) into town.
In Chart Watch Weekly this week:
  • I think it took a long, long time.
  • Dignity. Little Mix have heard of it.
  • What the hell is going on overseas.
  • The Monday midweeks. Records are set to tumble.

Zero Hour, 9AM
Superstars don't have to get dressed for photo ops. Don't think about asking him to.
Superstars don't have to get dressed for photo ops. Don't think about asking him to.
By a strange quirk of fate this week marks the first time since release that Shivers by Ed Sheeran is the most-streamed track of the week. For the past month it has lagged behind its predecessor Bad Habits numerically, but finally edges its nose in front (6,527,000 streams versus 6,449,000) this time around. Alas, this also coincides with the exact moment the track is knocked off the top of the charts, making this the first time since the schools broke up for summer that an Ed Sheeran song isn’t No.1 in Britain.
The slender lead Elton John and Dua Lipa’s creative mashup Cold Heart had in the early midweeks was maintained right to the end, and the Pnau-created delicacy finally makes it to No.1 after a nine-week climb, landing 63,928 chart sales. Ed Sheeran eventually finished some 4,000 copies behind on 59,865. Despite its streaming deficit, the Elton/Dua single did indeed benefit from a strong push for sales. They sold 5,057 physical copies and 8,466 downloads. So even in an era when purchases don’t really matter anymore, this is one occasion when they gave an otherwise lagging behind single the chart edge it needed.
Dua Lipa is No.1 for the third time but this isn’t really about her (sorry). Despite the fact that he doesn’t appear to perform a single new note on Cold Heart nor lift a finger in its creation Elton takes his chart career into the realms of the extraordinary. He joins Cliff and Elvis in the elite group of artists to have topped the charts in four separate decades - the 70s, 90s, 00s and now 20s. But having made his chart debut back in 1971 it means Elton has a No.1 single further into his career than any other artist before him, doing so over a chart career spanning over 50 years means he narrowly beats Elvis who was last at No.1 in 2005, a mere 49 years after he debuted.
It is Elton John’s first No.1 single since July 2005, that gap of 16 years meaning he joins a select band of artists who have had two extended spells between No.1 hits, this after he previously went from 1976 to 1990 without a chart-topper.
So why wasn’t more made of this? Well, the problem was that Elton John had already been trumpeted as a record breaker earlier in the week. This was largely the fault of the chart analysts at Billboard who noticed that now Cold Heart is climbing the US charts as well, Elton had become the first man in history to have Billboard Top 40 hits in five decades - 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and 20s. This seemingly prompted Official Charts over here to take a similar stance, noting that (Christmas songs excepted) Elton John had managed a Top 10 hit in five decades as well. “The first man EVER to do this” they shouted in a press release.
Except he wasn’t. Within a few minutes of them tweeting it people were noting that no, Cliff had actually done this many years earlier. When Santa’s List charted in 2003 he could claim Top 10 status in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s. His failure to make the Top 10 since 2009 is the only reason he hasn’t extended that record further.
By this time the trumpeting of Elton’s “record” had been picked up by many news outlets, meaning it wasn’t feasible to walk it back. I’m really in no position to gloat, on many occasions I’ve spotted a “first” only for someone with an eagle-eye to notice it isn’t. We have 70 years of stats and history to work with. Stuff will get memory-holed on a regular basis unless you make it a full-time job to keep track.
So Cold Heart making it to No.1 was dealt with in a kind of “he’s No.1 after 16 years, OK bye” manner. Which really it doesn’t deserve. Here’s another fact then: at the age of 74 Elton John is now the second-oldest act ever to have a No.1 single. Only beaten by Captain Tom Moore who was 99 years old when he hit the top last year.
Elton John, Dua Lipa - Cold Heart (PNAU Remix) (Official Video)
Elton John, Dua Lipa - Cold Heart (PNAU Remix) (Official Video)
Girlz Will Be Girlz
All of this only served to kind of eclipse the big new release of the week, although bless them the ladies involved tried their best to counter this.
A year on from quitting Little Mix in dismay, Jesy Nelson has launched a solo career. You may, like me, wonder out loud whether a woman who has spoken publicly about the way the pressures of celebrity and performing caused her severe mental health issues really should be continuing with a career keeping her firmly in the public eye, but clearly some people feel they can continue to make money out of her and that’s apparently more important.
Originally planned for a summer release (in order, so the gossips say, to steal some focus from her former group’s tenth anniversary celebrations) but delayed until now for reasons that may or may not be related to the schedule of her guest star, Boyz is finally here and smashes its way to No.4 as the highest new entry of the week.
Those who pay attention to these matters will note that the release of the single was overshadowed by a week of back and forth she said/she said sniping between Jesy and her former bandmates in a manner which suggests someone lost control of the PR narrative along the way. But it meant we all got to learn a new word, even if nobody really knows what it means.
The track itself isn’t as half-arsed as some past Little Mix efforts, but nor is it quite as good as it could have been. Hype is an amazing thing though and the single entered at No.4, which is a far better showing than Little Mix’s last effort.
I’m reminded, just as I always was when One Direction solo projects emerged, that we all witnessed Jesy and her former crew effectively fail their X Factor auditions as solo performers and were flung together in a group as an afterthought. But I guess anyone can be groomed for stardom if you spend long enough doing it.
Top 5 off the bat then, but the midweeks suggest the track is set for a Week 2 collapse. Meanwhile you will note with amusement that now Nicki Minaj has actually got around to recording her bit it becomes her first Top 10 single since Woman Like Me, as performed by… Little Mix!
Jesy Nelson Ft. Nicki Minaj - Boyz (Official Music Video)
Jesy Nelson Ft. Nicki Minaj - Boyz (Official Music Video)
Fending For Himself
It was a very quiet week for new albums this week, the calm before the storm you might say. But the one big new release turned out to be very big indeed.
Sam Fender, a chart-topping artist first time out when his debut Hypersonic Missiles fired its way to the front of the line in 2019, made it a perfect 2/2 with the follow-up Seventeen Going Under. Its sale was a huge 43,717 (34,000 of these physical purchases) but his nearest rival was Drake who managed a mere 6,854.
Official Charts trumpeted that he outsold the rest of the Top 10 put together, which is a tiny white lie. The next 9 albums had combined sales of 46,103 which means he really only outsold the Top 9. But that’s still pretty amazing.
Fender did well at streaming too, so well in fact that the album’s title track which had originally peaked at No.44 when released as a single back in July burst back into life. It returned at No.26 (after one of those discretionary ACR reset things - something which didn’t take place until after all the midweek had it languishing lower down) to believe it or not become the first Top 40 single of his career.
Sam Fender - Seventeen Going Under (Official Video)
Sam Fender - Seventeen Going Under (Official Video)
Nugget Of The Week
This isn’t so much a hidden detail given that plenty of people know about it already, but it still bears spelling out here. Elton John is No.1 for the eighth time this week but continues his extraordinary record of only ever topping the charts with remixes, re-recordings or re-releases of older hits.
Check this out:
  • Cold Heart. A mash-up of lyrical phrases sampled and hewn from four older recordings, including Sacrifice, itself a No.1 single in 1990.
  • Ghetto Gospel. A 2005 2Pac track sampling Elton’s 1971 track Indian Sunset.
  • Are You Ready For Love. A 2003 remix of a track which originally made No.42 in 1979.
  • Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word. A 2002 duet with Blue on their cover of a track he took to No.11 in 1976.
  • Candle In The Wind 97. The bloody Diana record. A re-written cover of his 1974 No.11 hit which he had also taken to No.5 in a live version in 1988.
  • Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me. A 1991 live duet with George Michael on a song that - yes! - he had first recorded in 1974, the original making No.16.
  • Sacrifice/Healing Hands. A 1990 double-sided reissue of two tracks which had first been separate singles a year earlier but had famously become the first singles of his career to miss the Top 40.
His only No.1 hit to have never been heard before was his first, 1976’s Don’t Go Breaking My heart which he performed with Kiki Dee. Although just for completeness he re-recorded it in 1994 with RuPaul taking the “female” vocals, the pair reaching No.7 concurrent with hosting the Brit awards together that year. Yes, this was a thing that happened.
Don't Go Breaking My Heart  -  Elton John e Ru Paul
Don't Go Breaking My Heart - Elton John e Ru Paul
Across The Atlantic
It is all change in America (at least for the moment) as Industry Baby climbs to the top of the Hot 100. It is Lil Nas X’s third No.1 single there (Old Town Road and Montero the others). Kanye West is a credited co-producer making this the fifth No.1 hit over there that he has helmed. Industry Baby enjoyed 64 million radio airplay audience impressions, 23.2 million U.S. streams, 34,300 downloads, that last figure representing a week on week jump of over 500%, so you can probably figure why it has climbed to the top.
You’ll notice Ed Sheeran has two Top 10 hits as well, as Shivers finally breaks cover across the Atlantic. It is his 9th Top 10 hit in America and the second time he’s had two simultaneously - naturally enough the Shape Of You and Castle On The Hill duo were the first.
Meanwhile, Walker Hayes’ Fancy Like continues to stand out as the one uniquely American smash hit of the moment, an outlier amongst the parade of established worldwide hits. The song has accumulated almost 39,000 chart sales in Britain since it first became available back in June and has averaged about 2,500 a week for the past six weeks.
A Land Down Under
Here's the #ARIACharts Top Ten singles for this week with @thekidlaroi & @JustinBieber, @eltonofficial, @DUALIPA, @pnau, @edsheeran, @LilNasX, @ckay_yo and more.

For all of this week's charts, head to
Oh look, the Australian Top 10 is - not for the first time this autumn - fundamentally identical to last week’s. Not one single new track makes an appearance at the upper end of the market. Although at the very least we can continue to note that native acts occupy the top two places with Kid Laroi and Pnau (who produced Cold Heart) all proud Australians.
Only two new hits make the Aussie charts - from Justin Bieber and Lisa. Both of which most pop fans will be familiar with. Do better next week Australia, this part of the newsletter is depending on you.
Le Top Singles de la semaine est sorti ! 🎧

Classement complet 👉

CKay garde la première place 👏
France appear enamoured with CKay, riding high in many worldwide charts and top of the table in the SNEP countdown for a second straight week. The track he deposed, Oboy’s TDB holds firm at No.2.
Their No.3 hit is Pepas from Puerto-Rican star Farruko, a colourful individual who first emerged on MySpace about ten years ago and who has had a rollercoaster career in Latin circles ever since, including a 2018 smuggling charge for which he’s only just finished probation.
Farruko - Pepas (Official Video)
Farruko - Pepas (Official Video)
Midweek Teases
Next week we are looking at something quite extraordinary.
That Adele will be No.1 with Easy On Me is not a secret. But she is doing some quite astonishing business in all sectors of the market. Selling downloads in impressive quantities and being streamed to astounding levels.. As of Monday she is just shy of 100,000 sales already, meaning she seems almost certain to land herself the highest weekly chart sale of the year so far (117,355 is the current high water mark set by Good 4 U earlier in the summer). But with close to 10m streams to her name already (and that’s essentially just for Friday and Saturday, Sunday’s data isn’t in yet for several services) it is entirely possible she is on course to set a new weekly streaming record. Bizarrely enough, this was exactly what she did in 2015 with Hello, the last time she released new music.
Adele’s older hits are also doing some extraordinary stuff. They will make slightly less of a chart impact than they could, all her older hits are beyond the 3 year threshold so will remain on permanent ACR no matter what. But When We Were Young seems set to be Top 30 regardless. It would be on the cusp of the Top 10 if its streams counted for full strength.
But that isn’t all. Coldplay are busy doing astonishing things on the albums chart, the first official midweek update putting them way out in front with 81,000 sales to their name already with Music Of The Spheres. The last act to post 800K sales in an entire week were er, Coldplay themselves with their previous album Everyday Life back in 2019. The last album to surpass 100,000 sales in a week was Ed Sheeran’s No.6 Collaborations Project in July of that same year when he landed 125,000 first week sales.
All this and we still have Ed, Abba and Adele to come before Christmas arrives
Watch out for some Coldplay tracks hitting the singles chart as well. Doing Graham Norton (with a fangirling Jodie Whittaker moistening the stage) will have helped no end - My Universe seems likely to rebound back to the Top 5.
Coldplay X BTS - My Universe (Live on The Graham Norton Show)
Coldplay X BTS - My Universe (Live on The Graham Norton Show)
Don’t forget the new UK charts are announced by Radio One from 5pm every Friday, can be seen in full on and, and subscribers to the latter can read my exclusive chart analysis from 6pm that day.
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. Ready for the next time I have to sit up until midnight to wait for the American charts.
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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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