Not since Blur v Oasis has there been a pop battle this epic.
With the release of their new album, reunited pop group Steps valiantly challenged Ed Sheeran’s dominance of the album charts and, at the start of the week, it seemed they would win.
On Monday, Tears On The Dancefloor was 4,000 sales ahead of Ed’s Divide.
But Ed refused to say Sheerio, overtaking his competitors at the last minute and claiming the number one slot for the seventh week in a row.
Divide eventually finished 16,000 units ahead of the Steps album, beating H, Faye, Claire, Lisa and Lee in both the streaming and physical charts.
Steps did, however, have the most-downloaded album of the week.
Their comeback follows a bitter break-up in the early 2000s. Before that, the band clocked up three number one albums and 1
4 top 10 singles, including three chart toppers.
Top five albums (source: Official Charts Company)
1) Ed Sheeran Divide
2) Steps Tears On The Dancefloor
3) Rag ‘N’ Bone Man Human
4) Imelda May Life Love Flesh Blood
5) Kendrick Lamar Damn.
Other new entries in this week’s album chart came from Imelda May (at number five), Texas (six), Maximo Park (11) and Ray Davies (15).
David Bowie also scored two new entries thanks to Record Store Day. Cracked Actor, which features a rare live performance from the 1970s, debuted at 20; while Bowpromo, an early assembly of tracks from the Hunky Dory album, landed at 38.
Top five singles (source: Official Charts Company)
1) Clean Bandit ft Zara Larsson Symphony
2) Ed Sheeran Shape of You
3) Ed Sheeran Galway Girl
4) Harry Styles Sign Of The Times
5) Drake Passionfruit
In the singles chart, Clean Bandit succeeded where Steps failed – ousting Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You from the pole position with their Zara Larsson-featuring dance hit Symphony.
The song enjoyed a slow, six-week journey to the top and becomes the band’s second consecutive number one, after Rockabye, which topped the Christmas countdown last year.
“We are all amazed,” said the band. “After everything that happened with Rockabye, we didn’t think it would be possible to replicate that but now we’re Number 1 again!
“We’ve been in the US the last few weeks touring with Zara Larsson and we got the chance to tell her it was Number 1. She was so excited!”
Clean Bandit’s chart success means a British act has had the number one single for each of the last 30 weeks.
It is the first time this millennium that homegrown acts have dominated the top 40 for so long.
Other artists making waves in this week’s singles chart included Canadian star Shawn Mendes, whose new single There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back, climbed 136 places to number seven; and Lady Gaga, who scored her 17th top 20 hit with The Cure, a non-album track she premiered at the Coachella music festival.
Further down the chart, Paramore’s Hard Times debuted at 34, just ahead of Lana Del Rey’s new single Lust For Life at Number 38.
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