When I started this blog at the beginning of this year, I said in one of my first posts that I love the female voice. My charts and my favourite songs tend to be dominated by songs sung by women. Today we have a statistic that emphasises that fact with absolute clarity. The Courteeners have achieved their first No 1, as ‘The 17th’ dislodges ‘Impossible Tracks’ from The Kills after three weeks in the top spot. This is the first song sung by a male singer to hit the top spot since Foals and ‘What Went Down’ spent their last week of seven at No 1, just under a year ago. ‘What Went Down’ was dislodged on November 15th last year by Alessia Cara and ‘Seventeen’. Since then, the only sniff of a male vocal in a No 1 is Stormzy’s rap on Ray BLK’s ‘My Hood’. Since Lorde’s ‘Royals’ took the No 1 spot on November 10th 2013, songs sung (or in once case rapped) by male vocalists have spent just 30 weeks out of 154 at No 1. It would be my guess that the overall breadth of released music does not feature female vocalists 80% of the time! The most successful acts in terms of weeks at No 1 over this period of time? Gabrielle Aplin, who spent 14 weeks at No 1 in 2014 with ‘Alive’ (10 weeks) and ‘Salvation (4 weeks): Foxes, who spent 12 weeks at No 1 with ‘Youth’ (9 weeks, 2013) and ‘Let Go For Tonight’ (3 weeks, 2014): and Lanterns on the Lake, who have totalled 11 weeks this year with ‘Through The Cellar Door’ (9 weeks) and ‘Faultlines (2 weeks).
All of this rather detracts from this very impressive performance by ‘The 17th’. The Courteeners have never lived up to their excellent debut single ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ in my book, but ‘The 17th’, a slow burning epic just shows that bands can produce superb songs almost from thin air. ‘Impossible Tracks’ is far and away the most successful song The Kills have ever produced in my charts, to take another example, while The Invisible’s ‘So Well’ has far outstripped anything else they have ever released (it spends its fifth week in the Top 5 this week). And on the other hand, there are those acts who place virtually every release into the top regions of the chart. There are significant climbs for two such acts this week as Phoria’s ‘Loss’ jumps 20 places to No 40, and Laurel’s ‘Hurricane’ climbs 22 places to No 41. Both acts have placed four singles out of five in the Top 10 (Laurel has placed four out of five in the top 5 in fact). ‘Loss’ is virtually certain to emulate its predecessors ‘Emanate’, ‘Saving Us A Riot’, ‘Evolve’ and ‘Melatonin’ – I’m not quite so sure if ‘Hurricane’ will match the success of ‘Blue Blood’, ‘Shells’, ‘Memorials’ and ‘Life Worth Living’ for Laurel, but it has made a very solid start.
But even more impressive is the current record of Daughter. The first three singles from second album ‘Not To Disappear’ all reached the Top 5 – ‘How’ reaching No 1, ‘Numbers’ reaching No 2 and ‘Doing The Right Thing’ reaching No 5. Now they have three songs moving up or towards the chart. Official fourth single ‘No Care’ has climbed to No 33 this week, but there is more potential in their two other songs. ‘The End’ appeared on the Japanese version of ‘Not To Disappear’, strangely enough – this gorgeously melancholic song was also missed off the set list for their recent show at the O2 Academy Brixton. ‘The End’ has entered the Heatseekers Chart at No 8 this week. And then there is ‘Youth’. This song is from Daughter’s debut album ‘If You Leave’, and it reached No 29 on the singles chart on its first release in 2013. Quite why it did not do better is uncertain, because this is one of the most beautifully tragic songs you could ever wish to hear. But the reason why it has suddenly revived, re-entering the singles chart this week at No 52 is entirely down to its performance and reception at the O2 Brixton Academy this week. I have never heard a song sung by the audience with quite as much warmth and passion, and I have certainly never heard the kind of ovation that ‘Youth’ received. It was almost a five minute surge of applause and cheering, matched by Elena Tonra’s delightful giggles. A truly wonderful song – now, will it make up for 2013 by becoming a big hit in 2016?