CHART COMMENTARY from JAMES MASTERTON
Make that three weeks and running for James Blunt as he continues his
all-encompassing chart domination. Single 'You're Beautiful' consolidates
its position at the top of the singles chart once more, the single also
moving up to become the biggest selling download of the week. Parent album
'Back To Bedlam' also clings onto top spot leaving Coldplay's 'X & Y' in
runners up slot once again. The rise from nowhere of the singing sensation
has led to ever increasing amounts of media coverage with everything from
his upbringing to the true story of the girl described in the lyrics of
'You're Beautiful' coming in for scrutiny. This is of course nothing short
of fabulous. Whilst Crazy Frog and Tony Christie may have also had Number
One singles this year which attracted mainstream attention they were both in
their own way hits with novelty value. Just for once a major new star has
emerged by the simple means of being at the top of the bestsellers. He is
Number One and it matters. That is a great feeling.
As if in sympathy the second biggest selling single of the week and the
highest new entry on the chart is a track that musically and artistically is
not a million miles away from James Blunt's all-conquering hit. Daniel
Powter hails from Canada but his success to date has been confined to Europe
where 'Bad Day' has already been a major hit - his place on the bill of the
German Live-8 concert a testament to this. Now with just about every radio
station in the nation playing the single in heavy rotation he storms to
success in the UK. Comparisons with Blunt are pretty much inevitable
although to continue to mention Powter in the same sentence is to do his
talent a disservice. 'Bad Day' is an awesome single, a mid-tempo ballad that
comes complete with an uplifting chorus that all but demands a second
listen. Whatever the circumstances the single would have become a major hit
all by itself, but with 'You're Beautiful' at one and 'Bad Day' at two the
singles chart has a complementary brace of self-penned debut hits by sweet
voices male singers at its summit. You could hardly have scripted it better.
The only other new splash in an otherwise largely calm Top 10 lands at
Number 4 in the shape of Eminem and the fourth single from the 'Encore'
album 'Ass Like That'. An innovative Turkish-flavoured production backs a
back to basics cheeky rap about ladies rear ends which whilst it may not be
the height of Eminem's lyrical genius does just about enough to bring a
smile to your face. It matches the peak of his last single 'Mockingbird'
from back in May and extends his run of Top 10 singles (under his own name
at least) to 13. The single is of course joined in the chart by the
continuing Top 3 run of 2Pac's 'Ghetto Gospel' which Mr Mathers also had a
hand in producing.
Next up at Number 14 is what was hoped would be the most spectacular
comeback of the year. Notwithstanding the efforts of the Spice Girls, All
Saints, Girls Aloud and countless others since the 1990s it is Bananarama
who have the honour of being the most successful all-girl group in British
chart history (at least in terms of total chart hits) with a run of 26 chart
singles between 1982 and 1993. Famously they never managed a Number One hit,
peaking instead at Number 3 with three different singles (including 'Robert
De Niro's Waiting' in 1984 and the pop perfection of 'Love In The First
Degree' in 1987). After keeping the same lineup throughout the 80s they lost
Siobahn Fahey to Shakespear's Sister in 1988, added new member Jacqui to
their ranks briefly and were finally reduced to a duo of Sarah and Keren
when the hits finally dried up in the early 90s. It is the latter pair that
have now set out on the comeback trail with the europop 'Move In My
As comebacks go it all seems rather pointless. Bananarama had no more
songwriting nous than Girls Aloud do today and their career rose and fall on
the strength of the material they were given to sing (witness the way their
mid-80s decline was arrested by a timely arrival on the
Stock/Aitken/Waterman roster). As a result their celebrated comeback is
nothing more than two middle aged women singing a generic pop song that
might as well be a Girls Aloud b-side for all the originality it shows.
Where they go with this is unclear, 'Move In My Direction' works as a
one-off nostalgia trip but their legacy as a great pop act deserves more
than the renewed flogging of a horse that expired over a decade ago. Still
at the very least Number 14 isn't a bad chart entry, making the single their
biggest hit since the heady days of 1989 when the Comic Relief Beatles cover
'Help' hit Number 3.
Just below at Number 15 are Uniting Nations who belatedly follow up 'Out Of
Touch', the Hall and Oates sampling looped house track that may only have
peaked at Number 7 in December last year but which rode the new year
rollercoaster to clock up an impressive 16 week Top 40 run. Paul Keenan and
Daz Simpson were also the producers behind Cabin Crew's 'Star To Fall'
earlier in the spring but have now turned their back on the whole looping
house craze to produce a brand new original song - albeit one which
coincidentally resembles 'So Much Love To Give' which was a hit for the
Freeloaders back in April. Although available online, like many club singles
the track is selling predominantly in the shops and as a result finds its
chart performance hampered somewhat.
Anyway the looping house phenomenon itself is far from dead, as proved by
the next new entry from the Dancing DJs having been kicking around as a
white label for what seems like months the single finally gets a full
release having obtained the appropriate clearances for the tune it samples.
Said tune is 'Fading Like A Flower', originally a Number 12 hit for Swedish
superstars Roxette back in 1991. Craftily their approval of the sample came
complete with the insistence that they get full chart credit and as a result
the track ranks as the first Top 40 hit for Per and Marie since 'I Wish I
Could Fly' hit Number 11 in March 1999. Yes, if you are a big fan of the
original you are entitled to curse this bowlderisation of the track into a
brainless club tune. Come to terms with it however and like all others in
its genre, 'Fading Like A Flower' is damn good fun.
Fun is almost certainly the last thing on the mind of Trent Reznor as he
takes Nine Inch Nails into the Top 20 for the second time this year with
'Only', the followup to 'The Hand That Feeds' which spectacularly gave him
his first ever Top 10 hit when it made Number 7 back in April. The new
single (the second to be taken from the album 'With Teeth') can't quite
replicate that feat but at Number 20 it is still the second biggest hit the
group have ever had in their 14 year chart career.
Down in the Top 30 there are mixed fortunes for many of the artists. Winner
amongst them all is Martin Solveig who lands at Number 22 with new single
'Everybody', the followup to 'Rocking Music' which hit a mere Number 35 in
April. The news isn't quite as good one place below for Natalie Imbruglia.
No matter how many people loved Top 10 single 'Shiver', not enough of them
raced out to buy 'Counting Down The Days' which disappoints in a big way
with its chart showing. Still, she has done better than Lucie Silvas who
nestles in the depths at Number 34 with 'Don't Look Back'. This is now her
second single in a row to miss the Top 30 compared with the two Top 10
singles with which she opened her account.
Finally let's focus on a single which is either a winner or a loser
depending on which way you view it. After topping the charts for weeks and
selling over a million copies of 'Is This The Way To Amarillo', Tony
Christie continues his comeback with another classic re-release. This time
it is possibly his second most famous single 'Avenues And Alleyways' which
doubled as the theme to the 1970s TV series The Protectors. Compared to
'Amarillo' it fares poorly (and at the end of the day it doesn't have the
Peter Kay cachet to help it to the heights) at a mere Number 26 but even
this chart placing is enough for the single to have beaten its original
chart peak, a lowly Number 37 which it scaled in early 1973.