When I was younger, the charts were one of the highlights of my week. I rarely missed the chart show with Fearne and Reggie on Sunday evenings. I have such vivid memories of forcing my parents to (begrudgingly) listen to the entire show on long evening drives just so I could find out who had made it to the coveted number one spot. Maybe it’s because I am now at the mature old age of 20 years old, or maybe it’s because of the nature of chart music nowadays, but in writing this column this week, it’s the first time I’ve actually paid any attention to the charts in many years. This year we’ve seen Drake hold the top spot for 15 weeks, the longest in recent history and as many PearShaped writers noted at the time this was partly down to the transition in how the number one single is recorded and the inclusion of streaming. Charts seem to be stagnating a bit, it’s not unusual for songs to stay at the top for at least three weeks and this point is clearly proved by the fact that this week’s top four is exactly the same as last week’s.
In fact, this week’s number one, Rockabye by Clean Bandit, Sean Paul and Anne-Marie, is only the 11th song to get to the top of charts this year, and only one song out of those 11 enjoyed one week at the top; Zayn’s debut solo single Pillowtalk, in February. This is Rockabye’s fifth week at number one and it will undoubtedly hang around in the charts for much longer. As previous writers have noted, Rockabye takes from different genres and creates a kind of dancehall fusion, coupled with the standard Clean Bandit strings, but maybe where this song best stands out (besides from its unusual lyrical influences) is through the input of Sean Paul. As the great Mindy Kaling once put it: “feat Sean Paul are my favourite words in the English language”, and the sheer popularity of this tweet shows that she’s not alone (it currently has more than 44,000 favourites). There’s just something so enigmatic about Paul’s input on songs and he definitely understands how to make a banger and club hit, but as Charlotte noted, Paul’s input here doesn’t sit comfortably with the general theme of the song. Maybe in this song Clean Bandit et al are trying to bring attention to the life of single mothers, and Paul’s introduction of “sing, make them hear” certainly suggests some kind of message being put across. The song itself is actually oddly catchy, if not a little repetitive (not sure how many times I need to hear the word rockabye in the songs 4-minute duration) and I’m sure that I’ll find myself dancing to it on a night out, once I can get past the slightly odd message.
As we approach Christmas it will be interesting to see how this song holds up against the encroaching Christmas songs, Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You has already managed to sneak up 23 places to number six and I can only assume this is down to the role of streaming as who could possibly still be buying this song 22 years after its initial release. But if the trends this year are any indication we’ll be seeing more Christmas songs sneaking up and maybe shaking up the top 10, albeit with the same songs we hear year upon year.