A View From The Top #46

by Ben Hughes

Sunday 21st August 2016

It can never be a good sign if you sit down to review a number one single after numerous listens and find you can’t even hum the hook. Cold Water is now at its fourth week at the top but unfortunately I’m not going to be the one to approve of its place. It seems this collaboration between chart regulars has been a long time coming, which makes the results even more underwhelming. The track brings together Diplo of Major Lazer, Ed Sheeran and Benny Blanco, the songwriting team behind Love Yourself and the vocal talents of Bieber and MØ.

This is a real shame in the creative department. Diplo showed huge promise in his earlier albums, collaborating with huge artists and bringing styles like reggae back into the charts. Since then he has made the slow move into the middle ground, retaining just enough of his dancehall roots to remain somewhat different. This track marks his meeting in the middle with Sheeran, who has traversed a similar path from his soulful loop-filled roots. Just imagine a poppy acoustic dancehall tune, smashing together both of the artist’s original styles. It could easily be awful, but at at least it would be something worth reviewing.

Justin Bieber occupies both number one and two in the chart this week. He has shown up so much in the last couple of years that I’m starting to think of his voice as default preset for top 40 songs. It is perfectly plain and inoffensive, while also having an androgynous quality that means anyone can sing along. In a well written song these qualities showcase the rest of the track by handing over the attention. In Cold Water, Bieber’s vocal doesn’t expose anything you want to hear more of.

With the absence of anything else worthwhile to say about Cold Water, it is time for some statistics.

Firstly, Oliver’s brilliant recipe last week was the first View From The Top in 18 weeks not to contain the words one and dance arranged consecutively. We may have even seen the last time as Drake’s hit, the former bain of a PearShaped writers, is set to exit the top ten after dropping to number eight this week.

Next, after trawling through some charts archives I found that there have only been seven unique numbers ones so far this year. The last time that figure was so low was 24 years ago in 1992. It seems the musical landscape was no better back then, with Right Said Fred and Wet Wet Wet both securing multi-week toppers. Interestingly, it was Wet Wet Wet’s record of 15 weeks at number one that Drake matched earlier this year. I never thought I’d be saying that Drake is our generation’s Wet Wet Wet.

The yearly number of unique number ones peaked at 42 in the early 2000’s, a time when I remember listening to the Radio 1 chart show religiously on a Sunday. There was the excitement of knowing that nearly every week we would get a new number one. In the rare occasion a song stayed at the top spot, good or bad, it was significant.

Cold Water? How does that go again?