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Chart Watch Weekly - October 25th 2021

James Masterton's Chart Watch Weekly
This week we witnessed a half-expected but no less astonishing demolition job of some quite legendary performers by a celebrated name coming back into their own. And as well as Liverpool’s 5-0 victory over Manchester United, Adele released her new single last week. Meaning things are starting to look very different around here.
In Chart Watch Weekly this week:
  • Making it look Easy.
  • The adventure of their recent lifetimes.
  • Other countries like Adele as well as it turns out.
  • The Monday midweeks. But you can probably guess what they say.

Taking The Tottenham Out Of The Girl
Adele - Easy On Me (Official Video)
Adele - Easy On Me (Official Video)
So you all kind of know the story already. After six years away, during which time she moved abroad, got married, decided not to be married any more (we’ll hear about this a lot I fear), transformed herself physically, but also potentially watched the music industry grow and develop without her, Adele returned to reclaim her crown as the biggest female star on the planet.
Easy On Me became easily the most talked about, analysed and deconstructed single release of the year, not least because of the way the video (above) is practically littered with Easter Eggs about her life changes and with callbacks to the kind of imagery she has used in the past. That it made it to No.1 with ease was unsurprising and required no expertise to predict. But as her early numbers last week indicated, she did so in a manner that exhausts even the readiest supply of superlatives.
Easy On Me debuted at No.1 on the British charts this week with a total chart sale of 217,317, making it the fastest-selling single - perhaps extraordinarily -since Shape Of You by Ed Sheeran which stormed to the top of the charts in January 2017 with a sale of 226,808. No single between then and now has managed to exceed 200,000 charts sales in a single week - not even Christmas or charity releases.
Easy On Me sold very well, with over 23,500 people stumping up for a download. But it was with online streams that the single swept all before it. Adele’s total streams this week were an astonishing 23,999,705 (that detail an exclusive for readers of this newsletter). So just 295 sales short of 24 million. That doesn’t so much break the record as obliterate it. Despite what has been reported across the media (because that’s the stat that Official Charts cited in their press release) the previous record holder wasn’t 7 Rings by Ariana Grande, it was actually Last Christmas by Wham which had clocked up 17,131,809 in the final week of 2019. Regardless, the previous record was 17 million, so Adele has just added a whopping 7 million to the record number. And it is hard to comprehend anything approaching that any time soon.
It is the second time she has held this particular record. The release of Hello in 2015, the last time she had previously unheard music out, saw that track debut at No.1 with a sale of over 330,000. 259,000 of those were paid downloads. The rest were from a what was then unthinkable total of 7.32m - more than doubling the previous record. To put that in some context, 7 million streams is what we now expect a No.1 single to accumulate in a normal week.
She's Not Dead Either
Now for the mad part. Easy On Me wasn’t the only Adele music to command huge interest online. Her entire back catalogue sparked into life in a manner that is normally reserved for the aftermath of a superstar death. Everything she had recorded before was suddenly streamed in huge numbers.
This became most apparent on the albums chart which saw 25 rocket back to No.3, 25 zoom to No.6 and 19 ease up to No.15. All represent the highest chart placings these albums have managed since about six months following their release.
The impact on the singles chart was more muted, mainly because all Adele’s previous work is over 3 years old and so subject to permanent ACR status. But that still didn’t stop When We Were Young racing to No,25, and Someone Like You leaping to No34. That accounted for her three permitted concurrent hits, but tracks such as Rolling In The Deep, Love In The Dark and Send My Love (To Your New Lover) would otherwise all have languished somewhere inside the Top 50.
I totted the totals up. Adele tracks from her three albums combined with the new single were streamed a combined 55.2m times last week. That represents just over 2% of the entire streaming universe of 2.7 billion. Or to put it another way, 1 in every 50 songs streamed in the UK last week were Adele recordings.
Spheres The Size Of The Universe
The amazing bit was that Adele wasn’t the only act to enjoy astonishing levels of sales. Coldplay debuted at No.1 on the albums chart with Music Of The Spheres, extending their unbroken run of chart-topping studio albums to nine. That’s a notable feat in itself, the only other acts to have had a long such run are men who have topped the charts both solo and with groups, Brandon Flowers (of The Killers) also on nine-in-a-row with Noel Gallagher just ahead on ten thanks to both his Oasis and High Flying Birds work.
But yeah, numbers. Music Of The Spheres had 101,045 chart sales last week. The biggest weekly sale since - yes, him again - Ed Sheeran with No.6 Collaborations Project. It is easily a far bigger sale than Coldplay’s last album Everyday Life which debuted at the top with 81,000 meaning that unlike so many acts of their ilk Coldplay are actually growing with each release once again.
This may be something to do with their large streaming appeal. I’ve sneered a little at Coldplay singles this year as they have opened huge and then dropped back to more meaningful levels, but My Universe with BTS in tow rockets back to the Top 10 at No,5, their single from earlier this year Higher Power gets an ACR reset and returns to the chart at No.26, while just ahead is the album’s biggest new cut Let Somebody Go (featuring Selena Gomez) which is No.24
For an act whose career began two decades ago and whose rocket to true global stardom took off 16 years ago they are by no means making up the numbers as a heritage act. They are making music that is still exciting, relevant and which needs to be heard by large numbers the moment it is released. That’s something to step back and admire for a moment.
Coldplay X Selena Gomez - Let Somebody Go (Official Lyric Video)
Coldplay X Selena Gomez - Let Somebody Go (Official Lyric Video)
Nugget Of The Week
Even without Adele there remained a fascinating race between the previous two No.1 singles. Cold Heart once again had the edge over Shivers proving that last week’s boost was no fluke. In fact both tracks advanced in sales. Cold Heart had 66,000 chart sales last week, the highest it has managed to date. Shivers was also up too, rising to just shy of 64,000 chart sales - and again the highest level it has reached since release. Neither track seems set to fade away any time soon, even if they are destined to be stranded behind the Adele juggernaut for a bit.
Meanwhile, another former No.1 single Blinding Lights by The Weeknd is worthy of note. It just clings on to life as a chart single this week at No.72 meaning it equals the all-time record of 99 consecutive weeks as a Top 75 single. So keep an eye out for what it does next time around. It will be astoundingly ironic if it too falls short of becoming the first-ever record to have a 100 week unbroken chart run. The latest midweeks have it rallying a little, but down at the bottom there is plenty that can change between now and Friday.
Across The Atlantic
Time zone differences meant that Easy On Me was available for the final few hours of the chart survey week in America last week, the song earning enough streams in those five hours to debut at No.68 on last week’s Hot 100. Inevitably it thus makes a massive jump, straight to the top of the American charts, becoming Adele’s fifth American No.1 single (she’s only managed three over here). She’s topped the US charts in the past with Rolling In The Deep, Someone Like You, Set Fire To The Rain, and Hello.
This week Easy On Me commanded 65 million radio airplay audience impressions, 53.9 million U.S. streams and sold 74,000 downloads. Fascinatingly that’s only enough to make it the fifth most-streamed single of the year in America. Olivia Rodrigo’s Drivers License landed itself 59.7m American streams back in January.
In a fun quirk this comes just two weeks after Coldplay topped the American charts, Billboard noting that this is the first time since February 1992 that two British acts have reached the top of the Hot 100 in the same calendar month. The victors back then? George Michael/Elton John and er, Right Said Fred.
While we are on the subject of Brits doing great in the US, take time to note that Dua Lipa’s Levitating is still hanging in there. This is now the song’s 40th week as a Top 10 single in America, now level with the all-time record set by Blinding Lights.
A Land Down Under
ARIA
Here's this week's #ARIACharts Top Ten singles featuring @Adele, @eltonofficial, @DUALIPA, @pnau, @thekidlaroi, @justinbieber, @billieeilish, @ckay_yo and more.

Check out https://t.co/bfON5Bzzfk for all of this week's charts. https://t.co/TwyZc7mSwS
Some quite shocking scenes in the Australian charts as this marks the second week running that Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber haven’t been No.1. Hope everyone is OK over there. Almost needless to say the track which tops the charts there is Easy On Me, although last week’s No.1 single from Lil Nas X surprisingly dips all the way down to No.7.
The most notable Australian chart debut is the album from Indigenous rapper Baker Boy which debuts at No.3. Here’s the latest track to be lifted from Gela:
Baker Boy - Survive ft. Uncle Jack Charles
Baker Boy - Survive ft. Uncle Jack Charles
Euro-vision
Regular readers of these pages will know it is a long-standing fascination of mine as to how resistant Italian music fans are to music from outside their own shores and in languages other than their own. Well go figure, Adele just obliterated the competition on the Italian charts as well. She is the first British star to reach No.1 in Italy since - YES! - Ed Sheeran (alongside Justin Bieber) with I Don’t Care back in 2019. The last time a female British act made it to the top of the charts in Italy was back in 2015. Ellie Goulding and (of course) Adele herself the ladies who both made the grade during the year.
Farruko - Pepas (Official Video)
Farruko - Pepas (Official Video)
Midweek Teases
Change at the top of the singles chart this week is going to be very unlikely, last week’s Top 3 singles all line up in the same order on the midweeks. The highest new entry is set to be Moth To A Flame, the much-teased collaboration between Swedish House Mafia and The Weeknd, although it is struggling to gain the traction that would push it into the Top 10.
The albums race is far more interesting, a four-way dance at this early stage between Elton John, Duran Duran, Lana Del Rey and Biffy Clyro. And the lead has already changed hands at least once.
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Don’t forget 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 subscribers to the latter can read my exclusive chart analysis from 6pm that day.
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James Masterton
James Masterton @chartupdate

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