Charts analysis: No hope for Florence as Drake's Scorpion album powers to summit
by Alan Jones
Aiming for her/their fourth straight No.1 album, Florence + The Machine’s high hopes for High As Hope end in stinging disappointment as Drake’s Scorpion hightails it to the summit.
Drake’s fifth official studio album – and his first double – Scorpion contains 25 songs and almost 90 minutes of music, including the No.1 hits God’s Plan and Nice For What, the No.37 hit I’m Upset and a trio of new hits that debut in the Top Five of the singles chart this week.
Not released on CD until July 13, Scorpion racked up first week sales of 63,690 copies, including a massive 49,715 from sale-equivalent streams a total surpassed only by the 78,944 streaming sales registered by Ed Sheeran’s ÷ on debut 69 weeks ago. Scorpion’s first week sales are 18.76% below the 78,397 sales (including 12,232 from streams) that attended the debut and coronation of Drake’s last album, Views, in May 2016. (Note: subsequent release More Life, which debuted and peaked at No.2 with exactly 1,000 fewer sales than Scorpion – 62,690, including 36,411 from streams – was officially a mixtape).
Drake’s seventh Top 10 album/mixtape, Scorpion was always going to struggle to match Views and More Life, and has had a lot of negative reviews in the press, while also leaving some fans underwhelmed. Its average iTunes rating of 3.66 stars out of five at the time of writing is substantially below the 4.43 average achieved by Views and the 4.48 average achieved by More Life; and even further adrift of 2018’s best received albums: George Ezra’s Staying At Tamara’s (4.52) and Kylie Minogue’s Golden (4.49). The Greatest Showman – technically a 2017 release – beats them all with ease, however, with a 4.72 average from 1,237 ratings.
On a more positive note, Drake is the first artist to have two No.1 albums without physical sales. Apart from Views and Scorpion, the only albums to do it are Compton by Dr. Dre (2015), Lemonade by Beyonce (2016) and Blonde by Frank Ocean (2016). Radiohead’s 2016 release A Moon Shaped Pool would also be on the list but for the fact a stray 12-inch sale was registered as it debuted.
Had High As Hope had as high a sale as hoped – or as high as any of its predecessors – Florence + The Machine would be No.1 but its first week sales of 40,304 copies see it debut at No.2. That’s a 41.41% downturn on the introductory sales of 68,788 copies for Florence + The Machine’s last album, How Big, How Bold, How Beautiful in June 2015. Debut album, Lungs, sold 63,032 copies on debuting at No.2 in 2009 while 2011 follow-up, Ceremonials, sold 94,050 copies to debut at No.1 in 2011. Lungs did reach No.1 eventually – but not until its 28th week on the chart. However, it is by far the biggest seller of the three with a to-date tally of 1,775,511, followed by Ceremonials (820,942) and How Big… (364,617). All tallies include sales-equivalent streams.
With a pair of debuts thus outperforming it, The Greatest Showman is not No.1 for only the fifth time in 26 weeks and not in the top two for the first time in 26 weeks. Its sales off a mere 0.45% to 26.650 to a 10-week low as it dips to No.3, while its consumption has exceeded 20,000 copies for the 26th week in a row.
Arriving just 14 months after their last album, Humanz, debuted at No.2 on sales of 44,465 copies, virtual band Gorillaz – fronted, as always by Blur’s Damon Albarn – chalk up their fifth top five albums with The Now Now debuting at No.5 (16,535 sales).
Remastered for the first time, and released in much-expanded deluxe and super deluxe editions across several formats, Guns N’ Roses 1987 debut album – Appetite For Destruction – which peaked at No.5 in 1989 – is in the Top 10 for the first time since, re-entering at No.6 (10,576 sales). The album was last in the Top 40 in 1992 and most recently returned to the chart in June 2016, when it got to No.60, powered by new vinyl availability.
The rest of this week’s Top 10: Staying At Tamara’s (3-4, 20,493 sales) by George Ezra, ÷ (5-7, 7,798 sales) by Ed Sheeran, Cruising With Jane McDonald (6-8, 6,951 sales), Pray For The Wicked (2-9, 6,856 sales) by Panic! At The Disco and Beerbongs & Bentleys (7-10, 6,848 sales) by Post Malone.
Departing the Top 10 are: ? (4-11, 6,454 sales) by Xxtentacion, Speak Your Mind (9-12, 5,553 sales) by Anne-Marie, The Beach Boys With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (8-14, 4,969 sales) and Everything Is Love (10-18, 3,571 sales) by The Carters.
Bullet For My Valentine's last studio album, Venom, earned the Welsh heavy metal band its highest chart placing to date, when it opened at No.3 on sales of 9,595 copies in August 2015. Follow-up Gravity – their sixth studio set – can’t match either the sales or position achieved by its predecessor, and can’t deliver their fourth Top 10 entry, debuting at No.13 (5,301 sales). BFMV’s best first week sale – of 23,476 sales - came in February 2008, when Scream Aim Fire debuted at No.5. Although their debut album is their only studio release to fall short of the Top 20 – peaking at No.21 in 2005 – it remains their biggest seller, with a to-date tally of 187,800. By the same token, although Venom achieved the group’s highest chart placing, it is their smallest seller, with to-date sales of 39,067.
Legendary jazz saxophonist John Coltrane died at the age of 40 in 1967 without impacting the UK charts, although an adaptation of his song A Love Supreme was a No.14 hit for Will Downing in 1988. He finally makes it this week with Both Directions At Once: The Lost Sessions – comprising of previously unheard 1963 sessions – debuting at No.15 (4,736 sales).
It is 50 years since hugely successful Manchester band The Hollies rejected Graham Nash’s demo of a song called Marrakesh Express, an event which triggered his departure for pastures new. The following year, the song reached No.17 for his new trio Crosby, Stills & Nash and set him on an even more successful career which continues to this day. With Nash now touring Europe, a new anthology, Over The Years…, cherry-picks his best work with various combinations of Crosby Stills Nash & Young, solo highlights and adds unreleased demos and alternative versions. It debuts at No.27 with 2,694 sales of which 13 are from digital downloads – and even that is higher than it should be. Amazon charge £16.99 for the album on mp3, iTunes £17.99. However, the cost of the 2 CD set at Amazon is just £5.99, with instant AutoRip available, rendering mp3 purchase an expensive nonsense.
Also new to the chart: I’m All Ears (No.28, 2,588 sales), the second album but first Top 75 entry for Norwich duo Let’s Eat Grandma; Free Spirit (No.30, 2,565 sales), a live set recorded at The Royal Albert Hall, by Paul Rodgers, comprising new interpretations of songs he recorded with Free, which he fronted between 1968 and 1972; The Re-Up (No.37, 2,226 sales), the first chart entry from London trap/drill artist K-Trapp; and Remember (No.40, 2,109 sales), a collection of patriotic new and traditional songs recorded by Military Wives Choirs to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Also, Our Country: Americana Act 2 (No.58, 1,685 sales), a second set of autobiographical songs written and arranged by 74-year-old Kinks leader Ray Davies, based on his experience of America over 50 or more years; The Reworks (No.61, 1,578 sales), a remix album by Australian drum and bass dup Pendulum, who last charted here in 2010, when their third and last studio album, Immersion, sold 58,859 copies to top the chart; Erratic Cinematic, which has been available for nine months and finally debuts at No.66 (1,502 sales) for Glasgow singer/songwriter Gerry Cinnamon; and Equals (No.72, 1,359 sales), the eighth chart album by Welsh band The Alarm, who were last in the Top 75 in 1991.
Released on vinyl for Record Store Day in April, when it reached No.22 (2,910 sales), Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ‘78) - the first legal release of a 1978 Earl’s Court concert by David Bowie is now available on CD, and a re-entry at No.16 (3,846 sales).
Now That’s What I Call A Summer Party 18 tops the compilation chart for the second time (11,847 sales). It is the third album in the series, following Now That’s What I Call A Summer Party and Now That’s What I Call A Summer Party 17, No.1 in 2015 and 2017 for five weeks and two weeks, respectively.
Overall album sales are up 5.04% week-on-week at 1,744,526, 5.02% above same week 2017 sales of 1,661,060. Streaming accounted for 978,996 sales – 56.12% of the total. Sales of paid-for albums are up 11.55% week-on-week at 765,530, 16.29% below same week 2017 sales of 914,529.
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