CHART COMMENTARY from JAMES MASTERTON
There's a delightfully retro look about the singles chart this week. we've
got a sprinkling of new entries lower down the chart rather than clogging up
the top end, we've a record that makes an impressive climb from the lower
reaches into the Top 10 and best of all we have a new Number One in the
shape of a single that has itself climbed the chart.
First let's deal with the battle at the summit. This has of course been a
week when the monumental stupidity of the record industry manifested itself
once again. This was a week when the BPI crowed loudly at its success at
once more suing its own customers for thousands of pounds for the heinous
crime of downloading music off the net. At the same time the Arctic Monkeys
broke sales records with the fastest selling debut album of all time, an
album which consists of songs which spent most of the last year, er, being
downloaded and shared online by fans who thus helped to spread the word
about one of the most exciting new bands of the decade. Do you really need
me to spell out the contradiction here?
All the attention being paid to the Arctic Monkeys album actually deflected
attention away from the single 'When The Sun Goes Down' and although it
began the week with a relatively healthy lead over the competition as the
week progressed it became clear that their lead was in peril. So it proved
as over the course of the weekend 'Nasty Girl' by Notorious BIG, P Diddy and
Nelly overtook the Artics to end the week supreme as the nation's Number One
Although climbing to the top of the chart isn't quite the unheard of feat it
was a few years ago it is still extremely rare. 'Nasty Girl' does however
become the fourth single in just under two years to do so. James Blunt's
'You're Beautiful' was the last of course, preceded by Steve Brookstein's
'Against All Odds' in January last year and DJ Casper's 'Cha Cha Slide' in
Notorious BIG thus becomes the latest act to have a posthumous Number One
hit to his name, the 11th in total and the first new name since 2Pac hit the
top last year with 'Ghetto Gospel'. The synchronicity of the two highest
profile victims of the east and west coast rap wars of the mid-90s both
topping the charts within a few months of each other will surely not be lost
on anyone. Biggie Smalls passed away on 9th March 1997, the 8 years and 11
months gap between his death and his Number One single now the longest in
chart history, beating the 8 years 2 months record set by 2Pac just a few
'Nasty Girl' marks the third time that P Diddy or Puff Daddy has topped the
charts. His last appearance at the top was back in 2004 when he contributed
to Mario Winans' 'I Don't Wanna Know' but of course his most famous single
was his first to hit the top - 'I'll Be Missing You' which spent a total of
six weeks at the top in 1997 and which was of course a tribute his fallen
friend - Notorious BIG. For Nelly it is his first Number One single since
'My Place/Flap Your Wings' topped the chart back in September 2004.
A little further down we have the unusual situation of the biggest new
release of the week not actually ending up as the highest new entry -
instead it is the highest climber. The Ordinary Boys' 'Boys Will Be Boys'
reappeared on the chart two weeks ago, fuelled by download sales after lead
singer Preston raised his profile to new levels by participating in
Celebrity Big Brother. After a mad scramble to cash in, their record company
this week finally managed to get a new pressing of the single (originally
released in June last year) into the shops and as a result the single this
week takes off, soaring 30-9 to give the group their first ever Top 10 hit.
Just one place below them is the track that does have the honour of being
the highest new entry - and would you believe it is yet another jaw-dropping
surprise. 80s pop legends A-Ha have attempted several comebacks in the past,
most recently in 2000 when the single 'Summer Moved On' hit Number 33 to
give them their first Top 40 hit in six years. Six years down the line from
that hit, Morten, Mags and Pal hit paydirt as 'Analogue (All I Want)' bounds
past the competition to land at Number 10, their first Top 10 single since
'Stay On These Roads' hit Number 5 way back in April 1988 - before most
people buying singles were even born. If this comeback proves to be more
than a one-off it will almost certainly be the most welcome career
resurrection since Duran Duran's indian summer of hits in the mid 1990s. The
Norwegian trio were responsible for a string of classic hits in their own
80s heyday, most famously 'Take On Me' which boyband A1 took to the top in a
note for note cover version in September 2000.
The only other two Top 20 new entries this week both have hip-hop roots.
First up is Pharrell Williams who slips in at Number 15 with 'Angel'. It's
the followup to 'Can I Have It Like That' which hit Number 3 (with Gwen
Stefani in tow) at the back end of last year and believe it or not marks the
first time that the Neptunes and N.E.R.D. man has had a truly solo credit on
the UK singles chart.
One place below is 'Soul Survivor', the first ever solo hit single for
former Boys N' Da Hood member Young Jeezy. Featuring a guest turn from Akon,
the single is taken from his solo album 'Let's Get it' which came out last
year alongside the first Boyz N Da Hood album. In an odd contractual twist,
Jeezy was only signed as a member of the group for their first release, his
solo career now taking priority with his former bandmates bringing out their
next album without him later this year.
Lower down the Top 40 this week there is a debut for Starsailor at Number 24
with 'This Time'. Once hailed as "the next Coldplay", the group appear to
have been on a downward spiral chartwise over the last couple of years. Top
10 singles 'Alcoholic' and 'Silence Is Easy' seem a world away, this single
the followup to 'In The Crossfire' which similarly could only reach Number
22 in October last year.
At Number 27 is 'Where's The Pleasure', the first ever chart single for
Manchester group Protocol. The group have picked up airplay for this single
from places as diverse as XFM and Radio 2 and with one listen you can
instantly identify why. Catchy pop-rock is the order of the day here as the
group combine guitars and indie-style harmonies with a bubbling pop beat. It
is enough to make it one of the better singles of the year so far and the
fact that it is nestling so far down the chart this week is actually
something of a shame. It isn't cool to say it but I love this track to bits.
Still, there is at least one bit of good news to finish on this week.
Remember LMC and their single 'Take Me To The Clouds Above' which took the
best bits of U2 and Whitney Houston classics and turned them into the
musical equivalent of a Big Mac two years ago? Well they are back with a
similarly frothy remake of 'You Get What You Give', the one and only hit
single for the New Radicals back in 1999 and which frontman Gregg Alexander
used as the template for just about every other song he wrote for the next
five years. It would have been all to easy for the new LMC version to float
to the top of the chart on a cloud of naff. We can take heart from the fact
that it is languishing at Number 30 this week and almost certain to be
forgotten in seven days time.