analysis

Charts analysis: Ariana Grande replaces herself at singles summit

Ariana Grande tops the singles chart for the fourth week in a row… but after three weeks at the summit, 7 Rings is pushed to No.2 (80,816 sales) by the chart-topping debut of another Grande hit, Break Up With Your ...

Charts analysis: Huge streaming tally for Ariana Grande

It’s a banner week in the career of Ariana Grande, who racks up her third consecutive No.1 album with Thank U, Next, which simultaneously provides her fifth (and its third) No.1 single in the form of Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored, which dethrones her fourth (and its second), 7 Rings. Grande’s fifth studio album, Thank U, Next’s release comes less than six months after her fourth, Sweetener, which opened on sales of 44,755 copies last August – a personal best for Grande that Thank U, Next shatters, with first week consumption of 65,214 units (including a massive 43,811 from sales-equivalent streams, and 540 from its similarly chart-topping cassette version) – the highest for an artist album since the Motion Picture Cast Recording of The Greatest Showman topped the Christmas chart eight weeks ago on sales of 68,606 copies. Thank U, Next’s arrival also generates increased interest in Grande’s catalogue: Sweetener jumps 26-18 (3,845 sales), May 2016 album Dangerous Woman climbs 76-61 (1,716 sales) and August 2014 release My Everything advances 93-69 (1,509 sales). Their current chart positions are in reverse order to their all-time sales: My Everything leads the way on 361,102, followed by Dangerous Woman (278,720) and Sweetener (224,143). Grande’s August 2013 debut album, Yours Truly, fails to return to the chart but sold a further 444 copies to raise its cumulative sales to 98,487. The 175 days (25 weeks) that elapsed between the No.1 debuts of Sweetener and Thank U, Next is the shortest interval between consecutive No.1 debuts of studio albums by any artist in chart history, eclipsing the 238 days (34 weeks) that elapsed between the chart-topping openings of The Beatles’ last two albums, Abbey Road and Let It Be – though it should be noted that debuting at No.1 was harder in the past when sales weeks didn’t align with chart compilation weeks, and both The Beatles and The Monkees landed consecutive No.1 albums in a shorter timeframe, without meeting the No.1 debut criterion. AJ Tracey’s eponymous first full length album is diverse and creative, spanning grime, garage, rap, dancehall and even a little country, and has earned almost unanimously positive reviews for the 24-year-old Londoner. Considering his limited chart profile hitherto – one Top 20 single collaboration with Not3s, and a No.13 album chart posting from eight song, 25 minute EP Secure The Bag! In 2017 – it opens at an impressive No.3, with consumption of 12,894 units, 10,668 of which are from sales-equivalent streams. Debuting at No.8 on sales of 7,095 copies, Restless Minds is the third album by twins Catherine and Lizzy Ward Thomas, non-identical 24-year-old twins from Hampshire. Ward Thomas are a contemporary country duo, and made chart history in 2016 when their second album, Cartwheels, became the first No.1 album by a British country act and also the first No.1 by an act consisting only of twins. It was the follow-up to Ward Thomas’ No.41 2014 debut, Where We Stand, and has thus far sold 93,555 copies, of which 12,127 came from that chart-topping debut. There are recoveries for recent blockbuster soundtrack sets The Greatest Showman (3-2, 17,689 sales), Bohemian Rhapsody (6-4, 10,322 sales) by Queen and A Star Is Born (8-6, 9,827 sales) by Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper. Bohemian Rhapsody was released on vinyl for the first time and sold 883 copies in that format to top the vinyl albums chart. Elsewhere in the Top 10, The Specials’ Encore heads south (1-5, 9,888 sales), George Ezra’s Staying At Tamara’s is the only stationary album (7-7, 8,403) and there are re-entries for The Platinum Collection (11-9, 5,970 sales) by Queen and Always In Between (13-10, 5,225 sales) by Jess Glynne. Half of last week’s Top 10 are no longer in that elevated chart bracket. They are: Half Way There (2-15, 3,949 sales) by Busted, Amo (10-17, 3,876 sales) by Bring Me The Horizon, Third Avenue (5-22, 3,487 sales) by Fredo, Ripples (4-46, 2,009 sales) by Ian Brown and My Wildest Dreams (9-108, 1,140 sales) by Claire Richards. Mercury Rev provide the fourth and final new entry to the Top 75 this week, with their ninth studio album, Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete, providing their seventh chart album, debuting at No.32 (2,399 sales). The album is literally a remake of Bobbie Gentry’s second album, The Delta Sweete, which was released in 1968 and failed to chart. The Mercury Rev interpretation includes different guest vocalists on each track, among them Norah Jones, Beth Orton, Lucinda Williams and legendary British folk singer Vashti Bunyan. Valentine’s Day used to make a major impression on the chart – 10 years ago this week, for example, sales surged 39.99% week-on-week from 1,713,255 to 2,398,317. With physical sales at a low ebb, and streaming the major factor in chart success these days, not much sees any benefit this week, though Michael Buble’s latest album, Love, is an honourable and understandable exception. After falling for seven weeks in a row, it soars 92-25 this week, with sales up 132.95% at 3,012. Also, a 2014 album which seems to be called both Al Green: Greatest Hits and The Best Of Al Green debuted and peaked at No.52 (2,003 sales) after being the subject of a Valentine’s-inspired TV advertising campaign last February and now returns at No.55 (1,752 sales). Bumped to No.2 last week after 10 weeks atop the compilation chart, Now That’s What I Call Music! 101 regains its crown, on sales of 5,210 copies. Overall album sales are up 2.44% week-on-week at 1,747,787, 1.25% below same week 2018 sales of 1,769,952. Sales-equivalent streams accounted for a record 1,149,536 sales, 65.77% of the total. Sales of paid-for albums are down 2.20% week-on-week at 598,251, 27.86% below same week 2018 sales of 829,287.

Airplay analysis: Sam Smith & Normani increases lead at radio summit

Double-digit audience losses are the order of the day for the top three on the radio airplay chart. But they remain frozen in place for the third week in a row, with Sam Smith & Normani’s Dancing With A Stranger continuing to lead the way and – by dint of suffering a smaller percentage dip in audience – actually increasing its victory margin over runner-up Mark Ronson’s Nothing Breaks Like A Heart (feat. Miley Cyrus) and Calvin Harris & Rag’n’Bone Man’s third-placed Giant. With 82.94m audience impressions, Dancing With A Stranger is 21.01% ahead of Nothing Breaks Like A Heart - up from 12.73% in the previous frame – even though it suffered a 12.94% dip in audience. The track looking most likely to challenge the top trio is Don’t Call Me Up, which has simultaneously become Mabel’s third Top 10 entry and highest-charting track by sprinting 12-4. It increased plays 33.91% from 2,705 to 3,622, while its audience soared an even more impressive 47.03% from 42.40m to 62.34m. It made gains in all major areas, most crucially increasing support from 15 to 27 plays at Radio 1 and from eight to 13 plays at Radio 2. Mabel previously made the Top 10 with 2017’s Finders Keepers (feat. Kojo Funds) and 2018’s Fine Line (feat. Not3s), which peaked at No.9 and No.8, respectively. The only other song in the Top 10 to reach a new peak is Ariana Grande’s 7 Rings, which has moved 14-10-9-7 thus far – but its future prospects must be compromised by Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored, a track from Grande’s album which dethrones it on the OCC chart this week, and which racked up 327 plays and an audience of 6.20m to debut at No.158 on the radio airplay chart. 7 Rings moved to the top of the TV airplay chart last week but has already been dethroned, slipping back to No.3 with 524 plays, while Ava Max’s Sweet But Psycho – which was No.1 for four weeks until 7 Rings toppled it last week – returns to the summit, albeit with support down from 579 plays to 557.    

Charts analysis: 7 Rings rules them all on singles rundown

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Charts analysis: No.1 encore for The Specials after four decades

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Airplay analysis: Sam Smith & Normani extend lead at No.1

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