Music Week's 2022 half-year analysis: Ed Sheeran and Harry Styles compete for supremacy

Music Week's 2022 half-year analysis: Ed Sheeran and Harry Styles compete for supremacy

The sales results are in for the half-year of 2022, which is shaping up to be a close contest between Ed Sheeran and Harry Styles.

Read on for the Music Week analysis of the first six months and Q2, based on exclusive Official Charts Company data…

Ed rush

Ed Sheeran’s = (Asylum/Atlantic) had to make do with No.2 overall in 2021 behind Adele, but the UK superstar’s album is out in front so far in 2022.

With sales so far this year of 256,609, = is setting the pace with Sheeran’s stadium run (and consistent singles chart presence) helping to maintain consumption. The album has sales to date of 689,104, according to the Official Charts Company. It means that = is in hot pursuit of 30 (Columbia) by Adele, which is on 720,990 sales. Adele's album is No.4 in 2022 with sales of 120,934.

Catalogue is also strong for Sheeran in 2022 with ÷ at No.8 overall in 2022 - fully five years after its release - with sales this year of 105,889. Based on its current rate of consumption, it will pass four million units by the end of 2022 (current sales: 3,929,331).

Sheeran is also at No.51 this year with X (48,132) and No.77 with No 6 Collaborations Project (40,482). And he has five tracks in the Top 30 of the year’s biggest singles.

House music

While Sheeran reigns supreme on the albums rundown for 2022 so far, Harry Styles was the star performer of Q2.

Released in May, Styles’ third album Harry’s House (Columbia) was the biggest seller of the second quarter on 244,349 sales. The LP broke 21st century first week vinyl sales with just over 36,000 copies moved in the opening frame.

For the first-half of the year, the sales for Harry’s House are enough to secure second place behind Ed Sheeran. But with a gap of just 12,000 units, Styles could pull ahead of his chart rival in the weeks ahead if the album maintains its current momentum. In terms of catalogue, Fine Line is No.14 for the year to date with 89,398 sales (from a total of 631,003), while the self-titled debut is No.63 with 44,599 sales (total: 428,138).

Harry Styles does already have the biggest single of 2022 so far with As It Was (855,355). The track pulled ahead of Peru by Ed Sheeran & Fireboy DML (821,163) in the final weeks of June. We Don't Talk About Bruno (Walt Disney/UMC) from Encanto, which was No.1 in Q1, is now in third place at the halfway stage of 2022 (773,660). With 110 million UK streams, ...Bruno is the most streamed track of the year so far, although its substantial video streams (36m) have a lower weighting in terms of chart 'sales'.

Tracks from Harry’s House have not had enough time to make an impact on the year-to-date rankings. But three of them have made the Top 50 for Q2, including Late Night Talking (No.28, 201,493), Music For A Sushi Restaurant (No.33, 176,535) and Matilda (No.50, 141,331).

Sour times

Olivia Rodrigo performed at Glastonbury last month, and her debut album still remains a favourite in the UK.

Released in May 2021, Sour (Polydor/Geffen) is the third biggest album of 2022 so far with sales this year of 127,069. Sour has sales to date of 522,392.

The record had a Glastonbury boost but it’s actually seen pretty consistent consumption so far this year. Sour was No.5 in Q2 with 63,022, just 1,000 sales below its Q1 consumption figure. So the album should finish the year with 250,000 sales in addition to its 2021 tally of 395,323. 

Olivia Rodrigo was Music Week’s Artist Of The Year for 2021. Sour was the front runner for much of last year until the release of big Q4 albums from Adele, Ed Sheeran and ABBA.

Catalogue jam

The scale of catalogue streaming meant that half of the Q1 Top 10 albums were not current releases (or they were greatest hits collections).

In Q2, there was more room for big new albums to come through and make an impact, including Harry’s House, C’mon You Know (Warner Records) by Liam Gallagher at No.3 (85,186), Gold Rush Kid (Columbia) by George Ezra at No.4 (63,114) and Kendrick Lamar’s Mr Morale & The Big Steppers (Polydor) at No.7 (59,349).

Overall, three catalogue titles made the Q2 Top 10 - Little Mix’s Between Us (RCA) collection, Harry Styles’ Fine Line and 50 Years - Don’t Stop (Rhino) by Fleetwood Mac.

For the year to date, however, half of the Top 10 can be classified as catalogue with Little Mix and Fleetwood Mac joined by Ed Sheeran’s ÷, The Weeknd’s The Highlights (Island/Republic/XO) and Eminem’s Curtain Call - The Hits (Polydor/Interscope).

Of course, we shouldn’t forget Kate Bush and the revival of Running Up That Hill (Fish People) thanks to Stranger Things. The 1985 single made No.6 in Q2 and is No.23 for the year to date (387,245).

Break a leg

Wet Leg are the biggest UK breakthrough act of 2022 so far with their self-titled debut - although there was only three sales in it. 

The Domino-signed duo stand at No.39 with sales of 55,566, following a strong week one vinyl performance. Released in April, the LP was No.9 overall in Q2.

ArrDee’s debut mixtape Pier Pressure (Island) is just  behind Wet Leg in the year-to-date sales rankings. It finished the half-year at No.40 with 55,563. That tiny gap means that it will be an interesting tussle for this year’s biggest breakthrough between the Isle Of Wight indie act and the teenage rapper from Brighton. ArrDee made No.40 in the singles rankings for the first half of the year with Flowers (Say My Name) on 542,547 sales.

Yard Act made an impact in Q1 with their debut, The Overload.

Last year’s biggest new UK act, Central Cee, is building on his success. The UK rapper’s mixtape 23 (Central Cee/ADA) is at No.20 for the year to date (70,603).

In terms of a singles breakthrough, Cat Burns is this year’s significant developing UK artist. The singer-songwriter from Streatham is at No.7 so far in 2022 with Go (RCA/Since ‘93) on 672,396.

Irish DJ duo Belters Only made No.9 in the half-year Top 10 with Make Me Feel Good (Polydor) feat. Jazzy on 622,237. 


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