A View From The Top #103

by Liam Hill

My prediction was right. Two weeks ago, in this very column, I guessed that it would be Camilla Cabello’s last week at number one. I also said that for some reason once a song leaves number one, it lingers around like a fly to shit. I hate to say it, but I was right on both counts. Havana has finally left the top spot, but in its two weeks away from number one it hasn’t left the top five, no surprises here.

Yet the top five holds even fewer surprises because guess who’s back. It’s him. It’s the ‘boy with a one-man show’ that has dominated and broken chart history this year. Of course, Ed Sheeran (somehow) has managed to take the number one spot, yet again. Despite his album being released in March, he’s back to haunt the charts with a vengeance.

Perfect, featuring Beyoncé, is Ed’s second number one single of 2017, though that’s largely down to the fact that the when he released Divide, tracks from the album took most of the top ten, himself preventing himself gaining more number ones, weirdly. Shape Of You spent a baffling fourteen weeks at the top and forty-eight weeks in the charts altogether. Although this is Perfect’s first week at the top, it has nonetheless had a short stint of thirty weeks in the charts.

But what is so incredibly frustrating about this is that it is clearly an arrogant theft of the top spot. This is a vanity project, a gold star to award himself. No, of course his first single having fourteen weeks at the top or his album having seventeen weeks (a third of the year) at the top just isn’t enough. He had to go and do it again. I don’t want to come across as too bitter, but I can’t help but feel frustrated. Why? Because Ed’s played the system yet again. Rather than getting the top spot with the original version, he has re-released the single with Beyoncé in order to do it. He’s not stupid. This single simply couldn’t make it to the top in March, because he had the top spot. Releasing it again as a single would look too obvious. In a deceptive move, he’s simply got Beyoncé to overlay some vocals and consequently released a music video to go along with it.

Well, well done Ed, you’ve succeeded.

Now my first moan is over, I turn to my second. The song itself. Featuring nearly every cliché under the sun, and a melody in places that reminds me of Enrique Iglesias’s Hero, this song just has so little to offer. It’s bland, boring, and predictable pop music of the most mundane order. It’s so old fashioned in its style, it is beyond vintage, nostalgic or iconic. It’s more Cliff Richard than The Beatles, apologies to any Cliff fans. Of course, the original didn’t quite make it to the top, so now let’s take a look at the new version.

In order to refresh the song, Sheeran has somewhat altered the guitar part. It is slightly more stripped back, and slightly lower in register. There’s less going on and this does actually benefit the track, it sounds less cheesy and more real. Beyoncé’s vocal is well, Beyoncé. I struggle to think of a song that is sung by Beyoncé in which it’s not obviously her. Supported in places by choral vocals, it feels as though this is a deliberate attempt to encourage the song at weddings.

Weirdly, though I hate to admit it, this version is better than the original. Though it is still pretty awful. It’s four minutes of predictability, lyrically and musically. This song is so painfully manufactured to appeal to predominantly three groups of people: 1. fans of Beyoncé, 2. young girls, 3. wedding planners. There is nothing remotely exciting or pleasing about this for me, but maybe I’m wrong.

The rest of the charts remain abhorrently abysmal. Coming in at number two is this year’s X-Factor winners, Rak-Su, whilst Rita Ora and Camilla Cabello take third and fourth. Mariah Carey, Wham!, and The Pogues also enter the top ten with Christmas tracks naturally filtrating into the charts, whilst the rest of the top ten remains incredibly unexciting.

I’m next scheduled to return to this column on New Year’s Eve to see which song takes the very last number one of 2017, and my hopes are not set high.