The Official UK Albums Chart is a funny place. It’s often a wasteland of unimaginative ‘best of’ albums that people feel compelled to buy for their mums, copies of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back To Black’ they’ve picked up at the checkout in Tescos, dry releases by faceless mega-DJs, and something, anything by Adele. As such, trying to take the temperature of the pop cultural climate by looking at the charts is like trying to guess when Frank Ocean will release his next album – utterly impossible.
But something strange has happened this week. Something good. The Top Five is varied, brilliant and makes you kind of proud to be a member of the record-buying British public. The ever innovative Radiohead are firmly at Number One with their ninth album, ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’, closely followed by grime comeback king Skepta’s ‘Konnichiwa’, while Beyonce is next with ‘Lemonade‘, celebrating a third week in the charts. In fourth it’s last week’s Number One, Drake’s ‘Views’, and behind that is honey-lunged, Blue Note-signed jazzman Gregory Porter and his new album, the somewhat suspiciously named ‘Take Me To The Alley’. So that’s a bit of pop, a bit of grime, a bit of indie, a bit of R&B and a bit of old school soul. No cheese, no awful euro-house and no strange old men in shit jumpers. Well done, Britain.
And it doesn’t stop there – there’s even more good stuff the further down you go. Sure, the reason for the multitude of Prince in the Top 40 isn’t the best, but damn, we can’t think of a better way to remember him than by bingeing wholeheartedly on his music. Justin Bieber’s oh-actually-he’s-quite-ace ‘Purpose’ is still hanging on in the Top 10. James Blake’s third, emotive electronic soundscapery is new in at Number 13, Anohni’s awe-inspiring ‘Hopelessness’ is there at 26, hip-hop producer Kaytranada’s downright marvelous ‘99.9%’ is at 31 and of course it wouldn’t be the Official UK Album Chart without Bob Marley’s greatest hits ‘Legend’, holding strong at 40 after a mere 720 weeks – that’s just over 13 and a half years, by the way.
Record purchasers – we like your style.