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Chart Watch Weekly - September 27th 2021

James Masterton's Chart Watch Weekly
You are reading Chart Watch Weekly, the alarmingly appropriately named romp through some charts facts both British and worldwide that you never realised your life was empty without knowing. Until today.
In Chart Watch Weekly this week:
  • Sheer bloody-mindedness.
  • Don’t piss TayTay off.
  • A sniff around stuff in America, Australia and Italy.
  • The Monday midweeks. In which Coldplay are suddenly cool again. Kind of.

Nope, Still Him
“It must be difficult”, a friend said to me this week, “to be a chart analyst when Ed Sheeran is the only Number One we ever have”.
This isn’t my first rodeo. I took six weeks off in the summer of 1994 and came back to find the same record was at the top. I survived the Summer Of Rihanna, Drake doing his One Dance forever and the slogs of 2017 when Shape Of You and Despacito combined to ensure some things dragged on forever.
But the fun thing about long-running No.1 singles is that beyond a certain point the sheer (no pun intended) length of time they have been there starts to become the story in itself. And with Ed Sheeran we are now in uncharted territory. His present No.1 single (still Shivers in case you have been living under a rock) has only been there for a fortnight and counting, but as an artist he’s been top of the charts for 13 weeks continuously. And in Britain nobody has ever managed that with two different singles.
It did happen a couple of years ago in America though, Drake following an 11-week run at the top of the Hot 100 with God’s Plan with a four week run of Nice For What.
Will that happen here? I’m unconvinced. You see Shivers is No.1 pretty much by default. It’s chart sale this week is actually down on its first week total, diving 4.7% to 56,424. It was “only” streamed 6.1m times which for a No.1 single is actually pretty low. Set aside the fact that Bad Habits, relegated to No.5, is still technically the biggest hit of the moment and enjoyed 7.7m plays over the course of the chart week. Shivers looks alarmingly vulnerable at the top. All it takes is a new smash to sweep in and Ed’s epic run at No.1 will come to a crashing halt.
Take Your Horse And...
The battle on the albums chart was a far more intriguing one. This was one of those weeks where there were no hotly-anticipated new albums which commanded a huge pre-ordered physical sale. This meant that the stage was clear for collections doing impressive streaming numbers to shine instead. So the battle was between two albums which weren’t available physically - Lil Nas X’s Montero and Drake’s Certified Lover Boy.
In the end just 500 chart sales separated them. Drake had 12,414 and Lil Nas X had 11,929. However only 134 people paid for a download of the Drake album. Lil Nas X persuaded 1,063 to part with their cash. But that still isn’t a huge number of people at the end of the day.
Streaming “sales” for albums still remain an awkward conversation point, largely because of the perhaps necessarily complicated NumberWang way they are calculated. But this was actually one of those weeks where they did the job they were supposed to.
Only the 12 biggest tracks on an album are actually counted and the two most popular have their tally “flattened” to the average of the rest. This so sales of albums with a huge smash hit on them but with the rest of its songs don’t have over-inflated numbers. Streaming calculations reward those albums whose popularity is evenly spread across its tracklisting.
That latter point may well have been what counted against Lil Nas X this week. Its two biggest tracks were Industry Baby, which rocketed to No.3 on the singles chart, and That’s What I Want which was the highest new entry of the week at No.10. However, with the exception of Montero (Call Me By Your Name) which rebounded to No.16 after Official Charts once more tore up their own rules and reset its ACR status, few other Lil Nas X tracks actually enjoyed large numbers of streams. Scoop was the next biggest and would have charted at No.44 had it been allowed to, but the next batch of his tracks were all down in the 60s in terms of their notional chart places.
Drake’s two biggest tracks weren’t as big (Girls Want Girls at No.6 on the singles chart, Fair Trade at 12) but he still has far more “starred-out” tracks in higher theoretical positions than his American rival. So the streams of Drake’s big hits flattened out to a far higher level because the overall average of the remaining qualifying tracks on the album was so much higher.
I told you the calculations were complex. But this demonstrates why they are set up this way. The most deserving and more consistently streamed album was the one that edged its way to No.1.
Lil Nas X still has the more awesome videos though. This even had me screaming.
Lil Nas X - THATS WHAT I WANT (Official Video)
Lil Nas X - THATS WHAT I WANT (Official Video)
Wildest Taylor
Having topped the charts with Fearless (Taylor’s Version) earlier this year, Taylor Swift announced a couple of months ago that the newly re-recorded version of her 2012 album Red (the one that re-launched her as a mainstream pop superstar) was next in the queue for release. Ed Sheeran had confirmed that he’d participated in re-making the track he appeared on Everything Has Changed, as if to demonstrate that she really is recreating every last detail.
But then out of nowhere Swift and her people launched Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version) into the market, a track which originally appeared on 2014’s 1989. Which briefly made people go WTF?
But you see Wildest Dreams had suddenly become a Tik Tok anthem, a popular track to dance to. And that was problematic, because everyone was using the original version and making money for people Taylor Doesn’t Like.
So the release of Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version) is not so much a gift for us, it is there to ruthlessly f**k over the owners of Big Machine and the rightsholders of her old music. Do not piss Taylor Swift off. Ever.
Interestingly the original Wildest Dreams was the fifth single to be lifted from the 1989 album and was largely ignored here, limping to a mere No.40 in late 2015. The new recording has smashed its way to No.25, making it the first “Taylor’s Version” cut to out-chart the original.
Taylor Swift - Wildest Dreams (Old vs Taylor's Version Split Audio Comparison)
Taylor Swift - Wildest Dreams (Old vs Taylor's Version Split Audio Comparison)
Nugget Of The Week
This is the part of the newsletter where I try to reveal something you genuinely won’t have read anywhere else.
There is in theory a dead heat for a chart position on this week’s singles chart. Seventeen Going Under by Sam Fender and Provisional Licence by M1llionz and AJ Tracey are placed at Nos.65 and 66 respectively, but both are logged as having 6,837 chart sales.
Now in reality that almost certainly isn’t the case. The upweighting calculations used to plug the gaps where American-based streaming services don’t report their end of week data on time mean that virtually every single actually has fractional chart sales to its name. But to avoid confusion the charts database only displays them as integers.
So the gap between the Fender and M1llionz singles may actually be just over 1, with one of them on 6,836.5 and the other on 6,837.4 with the numbers then rounded up and down to match. But it is still fun to note, as you actually don’t see this too often in the singles market.
Extraordinarily it is one of two possible dead-heats this week. Pipe Down by Drake and Favorite Crime by Olivia Rodrigo both post sales of 5,759. Although neither are actually chart eligible so where they rank is irrelevant.
Across The Atlantic
America joins the “knack all going on here” crowd with Stay by Kid Laroi remaining steadfast at No.1 for a sixth week, commanding 81.3 million radio airplay audience impressions, 26.7 million streams and 10,800 downloads. Lil Nas X’s new album means he impacts strongly, but just as in Britain he is relegated to No.2 as Drake proves immovable at the top of the Billboard 200. There is no clean sweep of hit singles for Lil Nas X and just three of his tracks make the upper reaches although he has 11 different songs presently occupying rungs on the Hot 100, even if three of them are down in the 90s. You will note That’s What I Want has also become an instant success in his home country as well as in other territories worldwide.
Meanwhile, go Taylor!
billboard charts
.@taylorswift13's "Wildest Dreams (Taylor's Version)" debuts at No. 37 on this week's #Hot100.

It's her 81st career top 40 hit, which ties @ElvisPresley for the third-most of all time, after @Drake (143) and @LilTunechi (87).
A Land Down Under
ARIA
Here's this week's #ARIACharts Top Ten singles featuring @thekidlaroi & @justinbieber, @edsheeran, @LilNasX, @eltonofficial, @DUALIPA, @pnau and more.

Head to https://t.co/bfON5Bzzfk for all of this week's charts. https://t.co/bcFgJVUaRE
This was a genius idea to feature the Australian charts every week wasn’t it? What one tweeter referred to as “the new Australian national anthem” remains top of the pile, this is now the 11th week at the top for Stay. The only real change this week is the swapping out of Drake album cuts for those by Lil Nas X. And That’s What I Want is just as popular there.
What is fascinating is that Fancy Like by Walker Hayes (which we mentioned last week for going Top 5 in America) is nudging the Australian charts as well, new at No.50 for them. It has barely caused a ripple here. For now.
Euro-vision
Happily, Italy remains the one territory that unabashedly ploughs its own furrow. Native acts dominate almost to the exclusion of everything else, and every record to top the Italian charts this year has been a track performed in Italian. International hits just don’t get a look-in.
This isn’t anything to do with the way they compile their charts either. Take a look at their Spotify charts which are rammed full of Italian-based music. But in a world where musical tastes seem to homogenise across the globe and the biggest hits in a nation are the biggest hits of others, Italy stands proudly unique.
But they are also experiencing a Sheeran-esque singles chart domination of their own. Rapper Blanco has taken over from himself at No.1 and as you can see the top of the Italian charts are dominated by tracks from his latest album BluCeleste. The title track is lodged at No.1 with others following close behind. He’s the biggest thing going in Italy at the moment, yet has barely any international presence at all.
BLANCO - Blu Celeste
BLANCO - Blu Celeste
Midweek Teases
Early sales flashes suggested that the extraordinary collision between Coldplay and BTS on the former’s new single My Universe was going to be a genuine challenger for No.1. But Coldplay aren’t quite the force they once were and for all their hard work trying to cross over still further BTS still remain something of a niche appeal. So the single has sunk back just a little and has slipped to No.3 on the Monday midweeks. It means Shivers seems almost certain to enjoy a third week at No.1, sorry.
The albums chart is more interesting and the leading collection of the week is How Beautiful Life Can Be by The Lathums who are in pole position to grab the No.1 position with their first chart record of any kind. Once upon a time you had to have even a small degree of singles success to sell albums, but the Wigan-based indie band haven’t managed a chart single of any kind to date. Full credit to their loyal fans who are set to make sure they grab all kinds of headlines at the end of the week.
Bright Magic by Public Service Broadcasting and Firebird by Natalie Imbruglia are also both slated for Top 5 new entries, but that is going to depend on how many sales they continue to add beyond the first batch of pre-orders that have propelled them this far. The albums chart is the one listing that can change quite dramatically between early midweeks and the published table.
The Lathums - The Great Escape (Official Video)
The Lathums - The Great Escape (Official Video)
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.
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. Or some petrol. Somebody must have some, right?
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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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