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Music

The Week in Number Ones: Harry Styles, Morgan Wallen, and Oasis go big

@TylerGolsen

Welcome back to The Week in Number Ones, where all the biggest movers from the US and UK charts get condensed into one article. Last week, we saw Jack Harlow take a swipe at Harry Styles’ crown thanks to his massive new single ‘First Class’, openly wondered when it would be Lil Baby’s time at the top, and suffered through an entire summer of The Black Eyed Peas.

Over on the album charts, UK drill star Digga D has landed his third mixtape, Noughty By Nature, at number one in its debut week. The rapper has been the subject of both arrests and censorship from British law enforcement, something that obviously isn’t keeping the 21-year-old rapper down. It’s his first number one album, even though Digga D has yet to break through to the top of the singles chart.

In America, Tyler, the Creator’s now nearly-year old Call Me If You Get Lost has returned to the top of the Billboard 200 album chart. The album recently went gold, a relative rarity in the modern-day, and the rapper recently concluded the North American leg of the album’s supporting tour. All in all, it looks like Call Me If You Get Lost might just represent a new peak in Tyler, the Creator’s still-early career.

This week, we once again welcome Styles back to the top and shine a light on America’s most controversial country superstar Morgan Wallen. We also stop the clocks and wind them back to when Oasis were still Britain’s biggest band, even after their initial heyday had passed. All that and more as we round up all the best chart news of the modern-day and recent past.

Current UK Number One: ‘As It Was’ – Harry Styles

Chalk up another win for the Stylers: after some stiff competition from Jack Harlow in the form of his latest single ‘First Class’, Harry Styles has officially tightened his grip on the number one spot by notching his third week atop the UK Singles Chart thanks to ‘As It Was’. Styles also managed to reclaim his place at the top of the US charts, but more on that in a second.

There aren’t actually any major stories to talk about this week: the rest of the singles in the top ten have all been there for at least a couple of weeks, changing places without much variation to speak of. There’s nothing particularly interesting further down the chart either, with the highest debut going to former American Idol contestant and current TikTok favourite Lauren Spencer-Smith’s ‘Flowers’, which is a completely fine and totally forgettable piano ballad. I don’t pretend to know how and why songs on TikTok get big, mostly because I don’t believe anyone on TikTok knows either.

So… let’s check some evergreen topics. Yup, Ed Sheeran still has a bunch of songs in the top 100, and pretty much all of them blow chunks. My hatred for the ginger-haired crooner is comically overblown at this point, but I can’t back down now: this man has been a superstar for over a decade and still only has about four good songs. Sheeran is not just England’s favourite son but now the world’s as well: massive hits, movie appearances, Heinz ketchup adverts. The world simply can’t get enough Ed Sheeran and I will remain befuddled by it.

What else? Oh, where is ‘Mr. Brightside’ this week? Hey, all the way up to number 58! That means we’re officially on week number 311 of ‘Mr. Brightside’ landing somewhere on the UK Singles Chart. If you want to know about the unparalleled success and history-making impact of The Killers’ most iconic track, we talked about that a few months back.

Alright UK Singles Chart, I’ll be back next week. You better have something interesting up by the time I get back. Although, knowing how the chart tabulation works, I’m not counting on it. Oh well, maybe we’ll finally spend some time talking about ‘Peru’ by Fireboy DML and Ed Sheeran, but I certainly hope not.

UK Singles Top Ten (Week of April 27th, 2022):

  1. ‘As It Was’ – Harry Styles
  2. ‘First Class’ – Jack Harlow
  3. ‘Baby’ – Aitch/Ashanti
  4. ‘Starlight’ – Dave
  5. ‘Go’ – Cat Burns
  6. ‘Peru’ – Fireboy DML & Ed Sheeran
  7. ‘Make Me Feel Good’ – Belters Only ft. Jazzy
  8. ‘Bam Bam’ – Camila Cabello ft. Ed Sheeran 
  9. ‘Where Did You Go’ – Jax Jones ft. MNEK
  10. ‘Down Under’ – Luude ft. Colin Hay

Current US Number One: ‘As It Was’ – Harry Styles

Welcome back to the top, Harry Styles. After being knocked off the peak spot by Jack Harlow last week, Styles signals a Return of the King-esque triumph now that ‘As It Was’ is back at number one. His hordes of fans also have two new tracks to salivate over: ‘Boyfriends’ and ‘Late Night Talking’, both of which Styles previewed during his headlining sets at Coachella. If you can’t wait long enough to get your fill, might I recommend Angel Olsen’s already-existing cover of ‘Boyfriends’ to keep your mind occupied?

The rest of the chart is mostly the same as before: Glass Animals, The Kid Laroi, Latto – we’ve talked about all of you. But there’s one major exception that we can’t ignore sitting at number seven. That would be country superstar Morgan Wallen, whose new single ‘Don’t Think Jesus’ barrels into the top ten during its debut week on the chart.

If you’ve been living under a very heavy rock for the past couple of years, here’s the Morgan Wallen story: he appears on The Voice and builds an audience with his first album If You Know Me. Then he goes supernova with his second album, Dangerous: The Double Album, and the new star almost immediately wrecks his own career by getting arrested outside of Kid Rock’s Nashville Bar, partying without a mask during Covid-19 and subsequently getting briefly barred from Saturday Night Live, and getting caught on video using the n-word.

For most singers, that would be curtains for their career. But something strange happened: Wallen’s fans doubled down on him, boosting sales of his album, increasing his streaming numbers, and selling out his concerts almost immediately. Whether you believe this was Wallen’s fandom trying to protect someone they saw as making a mistake, a conservative backlash against so-called “woke cancel culture”, or simply a large number of music fans deciding that they don’t care that Wallen yelled a racial slur, Wallen remains one of music’s biggest and more controversial figures.

There have been plenty of apologies from Wallen, but the near-defiant refusal of his fanbase to do anything but defend the singer continues to make him radioactive. Few names seem more synonymous with ignorance in the world of music right now than Morgan Wallen, and to millions of fans, ignorance is indeed bliss. ‘Don’t Think Jesus’ is another hit, and the hits probably wont stop coming any time soon for Wallen. Think whatever you want about him, but as long as you have an opinion, he’ll continue to profit off of it.

US Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten Singles (Week of April 30th, 2022):

  1. ‘As It Was’ – Harry Styles
  2. ‘First Class’ – Jack Harlow
  3. ‘Heat Waves’ – Glass Animals
  4. ‘Big Energy’ – Latto
  5. ‘Enemy’ – Imagine Dragons X JID
  6. ‘Stay’ – The Kid Laroi & Justin Bieber
  7. ‘Don’t Think Jesus’ – Morgan Wallen
  8. ‘Woman’ – Doja Cat
  9. ‘Super Gremlin’ – Kodak Black
  10. ‘Ghost’ – Justin Bieber

This Week in Number Ones: ‘The Hindu Times’ – Oasis (#1 on the UK Singles Chart, Week of April 27th, 2002)

Contrary to popular belief, pop music isn’t actually about music. It’s about narratives, the kind that can elevate previously unknown artists to superstardom and topple them down when they’ve gotten a little too cocky about it. The merits of songs very rarely come into play when we’re talking about number one hits: ‘The Ketchup Song’, ‘The Macarena’, ‘(You’re) Having My Baby’, ‘Mr. Blobby’, and ‘Knock Three Times’ are just a few examples of why you should never trust the charts when it comes to good taste. For better or for worse, though, those songs captured a cultural moment.

So with that in mind, when did Oasis officially go past their sell-by date? If you listen to the narrative that has taken hold now that the Manchester rockers are officially a past tense entity, it’s probably around the release of 1997’s Be Here Now. The basic idea was that Britpop was fully dropping out of view as shiny pop acts like the Spice Girls took over, and Oasis were so far up their own asses that they couldn’t string two good songs together anymore. Coke was there, overexposure was there, and restraint was certainly not invited to the party. The 2016 documentary Oasis: Supersonic fails to even get into it, opting to stop when the band were at their peak, playing to hundreds of thousands of fans at Knebworth.

Here’s the thing though: Oasis were still massively popular. Britpop was fine too, considering how The Verve were right on top of British pop music with Urban Hymns while acts like Travis and Coldplay were waiting in the wings. Be Here Now might not have actually been all that great, but it was still the highest-selling album of 1997. Oasis were still at the forefront of British music, even if hindsight has proven that their glory years were coming to a swift end.

The strange thing is that Oasis actually had more hits after their peak than before it. From their two unimpeachable albums, 1994’s Definitely Maybe and 1996’s (What’s the Story) Morning Glory, came only two number one singles, ‘Some Might Say’ and ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’. But after that meteoric rise, Oasis landed six more number-one singles and five more number-one albums. Oasis might have been done with their time as the unmatched kings of British rock, but the British public wasn’t done with Oasis.

‘The Hindu Times’, the lead single from 2002’s Heathen Chemistry, is a bizarre middle period track for Oasis. Liam Gallagher’s voice sounds strained and nasally, even more so than normal. There are the standard overbearing layers of guitar overdubs, but there doesn’t seem to be the same punch or vitality that had existed on previous albums. For anyone who thought that perhaps former Ride frontman Andy Bell or Heavy Stereo frontman Gem Archer were going to bring some new personality and freshness to the Oasis formula, ‘The Hindu Times’ swiftly slaps down that notion. 

By this point, Oasis were simply too big to fail. ‘The Hindu Times’, despite being relatively hookless and unmemorable when it comes to Oasis singles, was the band’s sixth number one in their home country. Heathen Chemistry rose to the top of the album charts as well, solidifying Oasis’ ability to sell out stadiums even as they transitioned into their less-vital second half.

When ‘The Hindu Times’ hit number one, Oasis had seven more years and two more number ones in them. Liam and Noel’s relationship continued to deteriorate through drug use, divorce, and the same old quibbles that were starting to seem less endearing when they came from two guys in their mid-30s. 

Although signs of the old Oasis poked through on Don’t Believe the Truth and Dig Out Your Soul, Oasis began to buy into the narrative that they were past their prime. A final brawl before a Paris gig in 2009 was the final straw, with Noel officially leaving the band while the rest of the members carried on briefly as Beady Eye. ‘The Hindu Times’ doesn’t show Oasis at their best or worst, just at their most confusing middle ground. It proved to be an important lesson: by the end of the 2000s, there was simply no more truth to believe about Oasis.

UK Singles Chart Top Ten (Week of April 27th, 2002):

  1. ‘The Hindu Times’ – Oasis
  2. ‘Girlfriend’ – NSYNC
  3. ‘There Goes the Fear’ – Doves
  4. ‘Unchained Melody’ – Gareth Gates
  5. ‘Lazy’ – X-Press ft. David Byrne
  6. ‘Whenever Wherever’ – Shakira
  7. ‘How You Remind Me’ – Nickelback
  8. ‘4 My People’ – Missy Elliott
  9. ‘I’m Not a Girl Not Yet a Woman’ – Britney Spears
  10. ‘Me Julie’ – Ali G and Shaggy