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Chart Watch Weekly - September 13th 2021

James Masterton's Chart Watch Weekly
Oh my word what a week. Two huge stories landing at the exact same time, and that alone meaning other less superstar-related events of note get pushed to the sidelines. So let’s see if we cannot cover everything in this week’s issue.
In Chart Watch Weekly this week:
  • Drake. Bloody hell.
  • ABBA. Bloody hell.
  • Roundups from America, Australia and Sweden. All featuring at least one of the above.
  • Your sneak peek at the Monday midweeks. Also bloody hell.

Sheer-longevity
So as expected the Drake 1-2-3 predicted in the first midweeks never did materialise (although he came damn close, as you will doubtless know). That meant that although it had to come from behind for the first time since it was released, Bad Habits by Ed Sheeran landed an 11th straight week at No.1 in the UK.
That’s enough to make it one of the ten longest-running No.1 hits of all time and one of only seven to reach this total consecutively. Naturally we should note that four of these have all come in the last five years, long runs at the top becoming far more common thanks to the slow-moving rate of the streaming market.
The definitive list is available in many places, but just for the record the list of all-time longest-running No.1 hits is as follows:
18 Weeks
Frankie Laine - I Believe (total - consisting of 3 spells at the top)
16 Weeks
Bryan Adams - Everything I Do (I Do It For You)
15 Weeks
Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody (total - an amalgam of its 1975 and 1991 runs)
Wet Wet Wet - Love Is All Around
Drake featuring Wizkid and Kyla - One Dance
14 Weeks
Ed Sheeran - Shape Of You (total - 13 consecutive)
11 Weeks
Slim Whitman - Rose Marie
Luis Fonsi/Daddy Yankee - Despacito (total - consisting of 3 spells at the top)
Tones & I - Dance Monkey
Ed Sheeran - Bad Habits
But this is a list we can now set in stone. The ACR clock (counting the consecutive weeks in which a track’s streams have declined relative to the market) has now ticked three times meaning Bad Habits will now see its streams halved in value for chart sales purposes. Making its replacement at the top more or less inevitable. And as regular subscribers will know, there is a ready-made replacement waiting in the wings. But we’ll come to that soon enough.
Quack
Sheeran aside this was mostly Drake’s week. Love him or hate him (and there is surprisingly very little in-between), a new record from Aubrey Graham will always be a big deal. Streams of tracks from his sixth full-length album Certified Lover Boy (and there are 21 of them in total, because he just doesn’t know when to stop) utterly dominated the reporting this week.
It means Drake cuts do what you might call the “superstar slam” as all three of his permitted chart hits land in the Top 5. Girls Want Girls is No.2, Fair Trade is No.3 and Champagne Poetry is No.5. We should I guess congratulate Stay by Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber for holding its own and breaking up that otherwise complete sequence at No.4 on what is also its final pre-ACR week on the charts.
This is where the “Ed Sheeran rule” comes into play, restricting Drake to just the three concurrent entries. It means the British charts are comparatively cleaner compared to some which don’t apply this restriction. If the rule did not exist then Drake tracks would account for the vast majority of the Top 10 (details below), and 19 of this week’s Top 20 singles. All of this just a week after Kanye West tracks did similar kinds of streaming numbers. Having single artists dominate the listings, even if it is just in the week that they release an album, looks a little absurd. Even if there are some artists who strain the regulations to the absolute limit.
Watch out for something similar in a few weeks time when Ed Sheeran’s new album emerges.
Drake - Girls Want Girls (Music Video) ft. Lil Baby
Drake - Girls Want Girls (Music Video) ft. Lil Baby
Drake is triumphant on the albums chart, topping the list for only the fourth time. But as the midweeks suggested he had to come from behind to do it, lagging behind the Iron Maiden album Senjutsu for most of the week and indeed only emerging into the lead on the final calculation after the lagging streaming data had caught up.
This was one of those weeks when the gulf between the different formats used to define an album was quite notably pronounced. Drake’s album is not yet available physically, so 44,000 of its 45,500 sales were as a result of calculated streams. Meanwhile Iron Maiden fans are the kind to want to collect physical versions, so fully 39,000 of Senjutus‘s total of 44,500 chart sales were based on sales of shiny plastic discs.
They couldn’t quite manage a sixth No.1, but this is still Iron Maiden’s 26th Top 10 album, meaning they now have the same number as Queen. The Beatles and The Rolling Stones are the only groups in chart history to have had more.
Since Many Years They Haven't
So yes, we haven’t even dealt with the big story of the week. The return of ABBA, as the long-mooted and much-delayed reunion project was announced a week ago. They’ve built an entire arena (pretty much in secret) in East London to stage a series of holographic live concerts, there’s a brand new album on the way, and there’s the small matter of two brand new singles.
The release of them got everyone very excited, people asking me if they were going to deny Ed Sheeran his 11th week at the top. That turned out to be a little optimistic, the two tracks I Still Have Faith In You and Don’t Shut Me Down were in demand, but not in chart-knackering amounts. It is extraordinary enough that four people all in their 70s and making their first pop music together for four decades should be able to produce something as fresh and exciting as they did. But it also would be decidedly weird if people as old as your nan were making music at the cutting edge of pop culture.
Despite early predictions that both singles would reach the Top 10 in the end only one of them did, handing ABBA their 20th Top 10 single on these shores. The surprise was in which single ended up charting higher. I Still Have Faith In You was to all intents and purposes the lead track, the one which was played in full in the live stream that announced the project and the only one with a formal video so far, which sees the Abba-tars make their public debut.
Yet it was the pop song, Don’t Shut Me Down which won out, charting at No.9 with 26,111 sales to its name. Its companion made a mere No.14 with 23,325 sales. Fascinatingly the difference came at streaming. I Still Have Faith In You sold the most physical copies and the most downloads (they are 1 and 2 respectively on the old-school sales chart in that order) but it was Don’t Shut Me Down which was the more popular at streaming, enjoying 2.3m streams with its twin lagging behind on 2.16m.
Alas, both look like being one-week wonders and are sinking fast in the midweek updates. But the truth is it will all be about the album which is already setting pre-sale records as speak.
ABBA - Don't Shut Me Down (Lyric Video)
ABBA - Don't Shut Me Down (Lyric Video)
The above track is the first ABBA single to make the Top 10 since One Of Us in December 1981, meaning they have genuinely gone almost 40 years between Top 10 hits. That’s quite easily a record, although neither Official Charts nor I could definitively pin down what the previous record gap was. Because most previous chart returns had some kind of caveat attached to them.
Paul McCartney for example went from 1987 to 2015 without a Top 10 hit. But he did perform on the two new Beatles songs which went Top 10 in 1995 and 1996. So he doesn’t really count.
Tony Christie went 34 years between Top 10 hits, but his return in 2005 was with a re-issue. Lou Reed was 1973-2004, but his comeback was with a remix. And he also appeared on the charity Perfect Day single which topped the charts in 1997. And while the likes of Brenda Lee, Wizzard and Shakin’ Stevens all returned to the Top 10 after long absences, all were with reactivated Christmas songs and not with new material at all.
So it is perhaps best to view what ABBA have done as utterly unique. Waiting 40 years and then returning with brand new original material, music which returned them to the charts at the same level as if they had never gone away.
Nugget Of The Week
For this week’s slice of info you genuinely won’t get anywhere else, how about a look at what the Top 10 would have been like if the three tracks per artist rule wasn’t in force. Just how dominant would Drake have been?
Well your bizarro-world Top 10 would look a bit like this:
1) Ed Sheeran - Bad Habits
2) Drake - Girls Want Girls
3) Drake - Fair Trade
4) Kid Laroi/Bieber - Stay
5) Drake - Champagne Poetry
6) Drake - Way 2 Sexy
7) Drake - Love All
8) Drake - In The Bible
9) Becky Hill/David Guettta - Remember
10) Drake - Papi’s Home
The ABBA singles would have been No.17 and No.25 respectively. And we probably wouldn’t have been talking about them so reverentially.
Across The Atlantic
Now, on the one hand: Drake *yawn*
But by being free to chart anything he wants he has utterly shattered some rather famous records.
  • The first artist to have 9 of the Top 10 singles. You’ll notice that the only non-Drake hit still features a Canadian performer anyone. With all due acknowledgements to the Australian Kid Laroi
  • He duplicates The Beatles’ famous 1964 feat of a clean sweep of the Top 5.
  • Certified Lover Boy now surpasses the record (pretty much by default) for the album with the most Top 10 hits (9).
  • Thriller, Born In The USA, Rhythm Nation 1814 and his own Scorpion were the previous record holders with 7 Top 10 hits in their grooves.
Oh yes, and the No.1 single in the USA is Way 2 Sexy. That means that not only did RIght Said Fred’s original I’m Too Sexy top the American charts in 1992 but two singles based on its beat and groove have also made it to No.1 - Taylor Swift’s Look What You Made Me Do was the other.
I think we all need to calm down here.
Drake ft. Future and Young Thug - Way 2 Sexy (Official Video)
Drake ft. Future and Young Thug - Way 2 Sexy (Official Video)
Down Under
ARIA
Here's the Top Ten singles on this week's #ARIACharts featuring @thekidlaroi & @justinbieber, @Drake, @edsheeran, @eltonofficial & @DUALIPA and more.

Check out https://t.co/bfON5BRaDU for all of this week's charts. https://t.co/rnIbshzxEk
Inevitably Drake did big business down under but you will note that just as here he was denied the chance to top the singles chart in a clean sweep by a long-running home-grown incumbent. No restrictions on the number of his tracks which could make the ARIA charts either, meaning the two ABBA singles languish at #27 and #39 respectively. And there, as here, it is Don’t Shut Me Down which is the bigger of the two.
Euro-vision
We couldn’t not look at Sweden this week could we, even if their local charts compilers have a pretty miserable social media profile. But here’s a gratuitous screengrab of this week’s Sverigetopplistan:
That’s pretty much as you would suspect isn’t it? Although you may be surprised to learn that Abba’s historic performance in the charts of their native country isn’t all that impressive, and Don’t Shut Me Down is perhaps rather startlingly only their fourth No.1 single in Sweden. That’s partially because the Swedish charts were a bit of a mess historically (for decades they used to produce them only once a fortnight rather than weekly) but also because their songs would always struggle for airplay at home, perhaps because of the way they performed in a foreign language. So promoting singles “back home” was never a priority for the superstars and the list of famous singles which were never given a Swedish release is actually quite startling.
The biggest Swedish-language hit of the moment is the one that is just cut off the above graphic, sitting at No.5 on the Swedish charts. Ever enjoyed Scandinavian Grime before? You may still not do even after hearing this.
ADAAM x VC BARRE - TOPP (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
ADAAM x VC BARRE - TOPP (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
Midweek Teases
So as noted the No.1 run of Bad Habits will come to an abrupt end this week as it gently eases to ACR. I say “gently eases” as the track is still the most-streamed hit of the week so far and seems quite likely to only come to rest at No.2.
As predicted a few weeks ago Ed Sheeran seems set to replace himself at the top of the charts (astonishingly for the second time in his career) as with immaculate timing - almost as if they planned it that way - his new single Shivers is set to debut at No.1.
Preliminary numbers do show that there is at least nothing particularly artificial about this. Shivers would have probably had the edge even if the streaming status of Bad Habits had been left alone. But it will end up a close-run thing.
Obsessed With You by Central Cee seems set to land inside the Top 10 as well.
The albums chart is turning out to be a wonderful clash of genres and a clash between two veteran acts of the 1990s. The Ultra Vivid Lament from The Manic Street Preachers is in the lead at the top, but is being chased surprisingly closely by What The Future Holds - Pt2 by Steps. This is an extraordinary recreation of the week in September 1998 when the two acts went head to head with This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours and Step One. That time the Manics won the race, selling 136,305 albums to the pop stars’ 41,022.
Somehow I think the Welshmen will retain their edge by the end of the week. Even if not by quite the same margin.
Oh yes, and that new Little Mix single which debuted limply at No.33 last week? It looks set to tumble down the chart next week. Could it be that Jade was secretly the source of their powers? Or just that a group with 2/3 of their members away on maternity leave aren’t really in a position to properly promote a brand new single.
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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