Charts analysis: Hozier scores first No.1 single with Too Sweet

How sweet it is: Bouncing Beyonce’s Texas Hold ‘Em (1-3, 45,999 sales) from pole position, and blocking Benson Boone’s Beautiful Things (2-2, 51,533 sales) from reclaiming it, Too Sweet becomes the first ever No.1 for Hozier. Taken from Hozier’s Unheard ...

Charts analysis: The Libertines land first No.1 album in 20 years

The Libertines’ first album in more than eight years, All Quiet On The Eastern Esplanade, is also their first No.1 for nearly 20 years, debuting atop the chart on first week consumption of 21,706 units (10,183 CDs, 8,601 vinyl albums, 370 cassettes, 1,371 digital downloads and 1,181 sales-equivalent streams). The follow-up to Anthems For Doomed Youth – which debuted and peaked at No.3 (23,620 sales) in 2015 – it returns them to the top of the chart for the first time since their eponymous second album sold 72,189 copies to open at No.1 in 2004. Their other studio set, 2002 debut Up The Bracket, sold 7,576 copies debuting and peaking at No.35. All four members of The Libertines – Carl Barât (45), Pete Doherty (45), John Halsall (43) and Gary Powell (54) – have been with the group since pre-fame, although they have disbanded and reformed on two separate occasions. That self-titled 2004 album achieved sales of 183 units in the latest frame, enough for it to become their first album to pass the half million sales mark, with to-date consumption of 500,140 units. Nearly seven years after the release of their first single, Sarajevo, indie/rock/punk band The K’s, from Earlestown in Merseyside, have finally got round to releasing an album, specifically I Wonder if The World Knows?, which makes a strong debut at No.3 (12,546 sales). The K’s members are Ryan Breslin (30, lead guitar), James Boyle (28, vocals and guitar), Dexter Baker (28, bass) and Nathan Peers (23, drums).  Californian singer/songwriter Conan Gray, 25, has his highest charting album yet, debuting at No.4 (9,505 sales) with third release, Found Heaven, having reached No.30 with 2020 debut Kid Krow and No.8 with 2022 follow-up Superache. Kid Krow has to-date consumption of 76,609 units, and Superache 70,392. Gray’s only hit single, Heather – from Kid Krow - reached No.17 in 2020, and has achieved to-date consumption of 796,840 units. Rapper J Cole scores his seventh Top 40 and fourth Top 10 album with Might Delete Later (No.7, 7,933 sales). It follows consecutive No.2 albums with 2018’s KOD and 2021’s The Off-Season, both of which topped 20k first week sales here - KOD opening with 20,749 and The Off-Season with 21,050.  Feeder’s 12th studio release, Black/Red, is their 15th chart album, and 11th Top 10 entry, debuting at No.8 (7,358 sales). Originally a quartet, they are currently a duo, comprising Welshman Grant Nicholas (who also writes all the songs) and Japanese colleague Taka Hirose, who have both been members of the band for more than 29 years. The rest of the Top 10: Cowboy Carter (1-2, 14,879 sales) by Beyonce, Guts (2-5, 8,669 sales) by Olivia Rodrigo, The Highlights (3-6, 8,665 sales) by The Weeknd, Eternal Sunshine (4-9, 7,182 sales) by Ariana Grande and Stick Season (5-10, 7,019 sales) by Noah Kahan. The bottom half of last week’s Top 10 all take their leave of the top tier. They are: 50 Years: Don’t Stop (7-14, 5,445 sales) by Fleetwood Mac, 1989 (Taylor’s Version) (10-15, 5,140 sales), Diamonds (9-17, 5,029 sales) by Elton John, We Don’t Trust You (6-23, 4,540 sales) by Future & Metro Boomin and – no longer in the Top 200 – last week’s No.8, Interplay (628 sales) by Ride. It is the busiest week of 2024 for new entries with 12 in the Top 75. Among them is space rock legends Hawkwind’s 36th studio album and 28th chart entry, Stories From Time And Space (No.51, 2,499 sales). Still fronted by 1969 founder member, Dave Brock, now 82, the quintet also includes 67-year-old Richard Chadwick and 65-year-old Tim Lewis. The ages of its two other members – Magnus Martin and Doug MacKinnon – have proved elusive.  Hawkwind’s labelmates at Cherry Red Records – itself 46 in a couple of months – Cock Sparrer also nearly made the Top 75 this week. Their eighth and final album, Hand On Heart, falls short of that target but manages to make the Top 100, debuting at No.96 (1,787 sales). In so doing, it makes the East Enders the oldest group to start its Top 100 album chart career. Originally a glam rock cover band formed by four schoolboys in 1972, Cock Sparrer went on to become one of the top punk bands, despite their lack of chart success. They have gone on hiatus twice along the way but original members Colin McFaull (vocals), Mick Beaufoy (lead guitar), Steve Burgess (bass) and Steve Bruce (drums), have been ever-presents on their records. Bruce and Beaufoy are both 69, Burgess is 68 and McFaull is 67, while their fifth member – ‘new boy’ Daryl Smith (rhythm guitar) who joined a mere 32 years ago - is 51, meaning their average age is 65. Cock Sparrer also make their first ever chart appearance in Germany this week, with Hand On Heart making an impressive debut at No.13. Also new to the Top 75: Only God Was Above Us (No.11, 6,964 sales), the fifth Top 20 album (their entire output) by New York indie trio Vampire Weekend, whose last release – 2019’s Father of The Bride – was their top title, reaching No.2; Ohio Players (No.13, 5,484 sales), the 12th studio album by Ohio duo The Black Keys and their ninth chart album ending a sequence of five Top 10 entries in a row; Fireworks & Rollerblades (No.16, 5,044 sales), the first album by 21-year-old Benson Boone, and home to his recent No.1 single Beautiful Things; A La Sala (No.18, 4,999 sales), the fifth chart entry for Texan trio Khruangbin; Humble As The Sun (No.22, 4,635 sales), the second release and chart entry by self-styled DIY grime/punk duo Bob Vylan from London; and Bryson Tiller (No.34, 3,471 sales), the eponymous fourth album and fourth chart entry by the Kentucky singer/rapper. Seventeen artist albums had consumption in excess of 5,000 units – the highest tally for 16 weeks. One compilation also crossed that threshold - Now That’s What I Call Music! 117, which debuts atop the compilation chart on sales of 10,351 copies (9,141 CDs, 1,210 digital downloads). That’s 6.61% above the 9,709 units that earned its immediate predecessor, Now! 116, a No.1 debut last November but 5.44% below the 10,946 sales its 2023 equivalent, Now! 114, sold on debut last April.   Overall album sales are up 2.11% week-on-week at 2,384,366, 15.28% above same week 2023 sales of 2,068,404. Physical product accounts for 330,121 sales, 13.85% of the total.  

Centre Stage: Mark Davyd

Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd’s monthly deep dive into live music’s biggest issues… One thing I am often asked about, or challenged with, is the idea that the downturn in the grassroots music venue circuit is representative of changes in how people are choosing to consume live music. There’s no need to have all these venues across our towns and cities, runs the argument, because these days people only encounter new music through social media and streaming platforms, not through live gigs. In January, the BPI published statistics about, and commented positively on, another successful year for the British music industry. The statistics that were released are an interesting insight into where music comes from and where it ends up.  Firstly, the very positive: whilst there is still a lot of work to be done, there is great progress being made in the representation of, and success for, female artists. Women spent 31 weeks at the top of the UK singles chart, accounted for seven of the year’s 10 biggest singles and more than half of the Top 20. Plus, 48.5% of songs that reached the Top 10 were by women, representing female artists’ highest annual share of Top 10 hits this century. The general picture for the UK music industry in 2023 was very positive overall. It was the ninth year of growth, sales and streams increased by 10% and streaming hit a new high of 179.6 billion streams – up 12.8% on the previous year, and almost double that of 2018. The first thing that might trouble us, however, is what the BPI means by the phrase ‘British music industry’.   Of the top 10 albums of 2023, only four were made by British acts: Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Harry Styles and Arctic Monkeys. None of these albums was recorded in 2023 and two of them were Greatest Hits releases by legacy acts. Despite this, news was slightly better for UK acts in the vinyl chart, where five of the top 10 selling albums were released by British acts: Blur, Lewis Capaldi, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones. Three of those were also released in 2023.    There are certainly lots of profits being generated from the ongoing fad for ‘retromania’ – consumers buying albums from the distant past as well as supporting the latest works from artists 20, 30 0r 40 years into their careers. However, there is also a second element to these chart results that challenges the idea or suggestion that grassroots venues are closing because they simply aren’t needed any more.  What is absent from these statistics is evidence of artists being able to build sustainable careers exclusively from the array of new online platforms that have emerged in the last 20 years. This is not to say that TikTok, YouTube, Spotify, Deezer and Instagram – among others – do not have an important role to play in marketing and promoting artists. Indeed, platforms like these feature strongly in movements on the singles charts. But these platforms alone might not necessarily be developing album-shifting artists from the first release up.  Meanwhile, we must ask, what about the acts that emerged from the grassroots music venue sector? With the exception of Harry Styles, who, despite an early outing with his first band, hasn’t dropped into the Hull Adelphi too much (although he has played shows at such venues as London’s Garage and Electric Ballroom), every single British artist making an appearance in the Top 40 selling albums and the Top 40 selling vinyl albums launched their careers in the UK’s grassroots circuit.  You might wish to imagine that this is just a historical legacy and, of course, the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd are all good examples of that history. But it’s not just a legacy; it’s an active part of the current success of British artists. And that applies whether it’s Lewis Capaldi, Dua Lipa, Ellie Goulding or Ed Sheeran.     The UK music industry has ready access to an incredible research and development department literally on the doorsteps of fledgling artists up and down the country. That grassroots network of independent venues has an incredible track record of producing world-conquering British artists, and yet our industry is letting that proven testing ground rot away while it puts time, money and effort into other methods of development.  These two things, the grassroots live sector and online platforms, act very well in tandem. But that relationship is only going to succeed if grassroots music venues exist so that social media platforms can amplify what artists are doing in them.  In summary, here is a top tip: put your phone down. The next big British act who will fill the album charts for decades to come isn’t just making a 30-second viral video. They might have also booked themselves a 15-date tour across the country in all the grassroots music venues that their heroes played, and they are building a real audience. Don’t let them do it without you.  

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