It would seem that my decision to name Sigrid as winner of my Music Futures award for 2017 was the right one, as the Norwegian pop superstar-in-the-making is dominating my singles chart this week. ‘Dynamite’, the acoustic version of her orchestral ballad spends a second week at No 1 this week, and Sigrid has replicated the recent success of Gabrielle Aplin and Lanterns on the Lake and taken the top two places in the chart as ‘Strangers’ climbs a place to No 2. ‘Strangers’ has enough chart points to be No 1 itself in a normal week, and with ‘Plot Twist’ climbing to No 14 and her European hit of 2017, ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ entering the Top 40 at No 39, it is possible that she might achieve unheard of dominance of the survey in the next few weeks. No artist has ever placed four songs within the top 10 in the same week – Sigrid might be timing this unprecedented event for our trip to see her live at Shepherd’s Bush on March 14th.
Four songs enter the Top 10 this week. We have discussed The Jezabels’ version of ‘If You Go’ previously. This song sits next to Outlya’s ‘Heaven’, which has found new momentum after stalling for a week and which gives the likeable trio a Top 10 hit with their debut single. Outlya are by far the most successful band we have seen playing as a support act, aside from those (such as Meadowlark) who had already featured on the chart – their sparky set supporting Gabrielle Aplin at Student Central before Christmas will now expand into a full set for their upcoming UK tour. Instantly memorable songs full of hooks are their stock in trade. It is fascinating to see these newcomers adjacent to Sufjan Stevens in the chart – Stevens climbs from No 12 to No 9 with ‘Wallowa Lake Monster’, his first ever top 10 singles hit after a 17 year career. He has had a number of very successful albums – his 2015 release ‘Carrie and Lowell’ reaching No 1 in the album chart. ‘Carrie and Lowell’ was of course largely inspired by Stevens’ complex relationship with his mother, who suffered from depression, schizophrenia, and substance abuse, who abandoned Stevens when he was 1 year old and who died in 2012. Wallowa Lake itself is in Oregon, destination of many family trips during Stevens’s childhood, and the monster of the song’s title refers to his mother’s illness. Astonishingly this song missed the cut for ‘Carrie and Lowell’, eventually appearing on Stevens’ 2017 mixtape ‘The Greatest Gift’. I suspect it has not stopped climbing the chart yet.
The final top 10 entry is ‘Backseat’, Charli XCX’s collaboration with Carly Rae Jepsen and the first member of the invading party from XCX’s No 1 album ‘Pop 2’ to make the top 10. Sigrid is not the only artist with four songs in the chart this week – and the other three singles from ‘Pop 2’ are all climbing the chart too. I am slightly awed by XCX’s breadth of talent, to be honest – and her already remarkable career deserves a longer discussion at some point soon. I am particularly taken by the eclectic mix of collaborators on ‘Pop’ – from worldwide stars such as Jepsen and Tove Lo to lesser known performance artists such as Brooke Candy and Dorian Electra. One other name to watch for from ‘Pop 2’ is Cupcakke, whose debut hit ‘Crayons’ jumps to No 70 on the survey this week. ‘Crayons’ is a joyously witty anthem of support for love of all shades – gay, lesbian, trans – and calls out those sad members of society who are unable or unwilling to deal with it. It’s going to be colossal.