I like the way this feels.
For the first time in a long time, your average casual observer will glance at the very top of the singles chart and have a genuine "who the hell are they?" moment. For the first time in a long time, we have a genuine shock, in your face, in from nowhere record sitting pretty at the very top of the singles chart. True, nobody had really heard of the Pussycat Dolls before they hit the top last month but it had at least picked up some mainstream coverage before its release. No, this week is different.
[Superstar debut klaxon] The Arctic Monkeys are perhaps the first ever example of a group shot to stardom thanks to little more than internet word of mouth. Alex, Jamie, Andy and Matt hail from Sheffield and made their first record earlier this year - a limited edition EP entitled Five Minutes With The Arctic Monkeys. Of course in the digital age there is no such thing as "limited edition" and copies of the tracks were shared widely across every p2p network you can think of. The music press began to rave about them in the summer, thanks to a set at the Reading and Leeds festivals and the phenomenon came to a head last month when the boys played the London Astoria to a sell-out crowd who sang along to every single track. Normally that isn't so weird - but of course, this was for a group who had yet to release a full blown official record.
Thus it was that their debut single I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor was released last week and with few big singles from established artists hitting the shops the way was clear for the record to charge to Number One, ensuring at a stroke that a lack of mainstream coverage is unlikely to be a problem any more. Hearing the record you can see just why hey have got people so excited. Their style is reminiscent of early Libertines tracks, music that crackles with an energy that commands you to sit up and pay attention. Cries from the trendy press that they have found the next big thing aren't always that accurate but we are long overdue for the next big British musical "find" and for the moment it is entirely possible that the Arctic Monkeys are fit to wear the mantle.
In a cute coincidence, the last British guitar-based act to shoot to Number One with their debut release were McFly so it seems only appropriate that the teen stars have the honour of the second biggest new hit of the week and indeed become one of only two acts to see their records debut inside the Top 10 this week. I Wanna Hold You, another track taken from their Wonderland album breaks their run of Number One hits but still becomes their seventh straight Top 5 hit single, the track having a slightly harder edge than some of their other releases but still retaining the nod backwards to the golden age of 60s pop that characterises much of their work. Strange but true: McFly have yet to have a single peak at an even numbered chart position, all their singles to date having made either 1,3 or 5.
Lower down the Top 10 and in Daniel Powter watch this week I am pleased to report that Bad Day stays true to form and holds steady at the Number 8 position it ascended back to last week. It means that the only chart position that the record hasn't spent at least two weeks at is the Number 10 position it dropped to three weeks ago. Place your bets on the record dropping two places next week to keep that particular run intact.
Slipping in at Number 11 (and unlucky not to make the Top 10) is Minogue the younger, making yet another chart comeback with a tactic that has worked to her advantage before. Dannii Minogue had been absent from the charts for four years in late 2001 when she reappeared, not with her own record as such but as the credited guest singer on Riva's Who Do You Love Now. Rather than risk being written off as a has-been, she instead became the special guest star on a trendy club hit and was rewarded with a Top 3 hit and enough momentum for a run of four more Top 10 hits. So it is that a year after her last single You Won't Forget About Me she returns with a brand new hit single with producers Soul Seekerz given a co-credit on Perfection. Frustratingly the throw away dance tune cannot quite make the Top 10 and thus brings to an end her run of six straight Top 10 hits which stretches back to 1997. One artist who can be forgiven a small howl of frustration is former Atomic Kitten Jenny Frost who last week tried the same tactic by teaming up with Route-1 for her solo debut Crash Landing. The prophetically titled single crashed and burned at Number 47 last week and this week is simply nowhere to be seen.
Making their debut at Number 13 are the sensitively named Love Bites, an all-female pop band who are being positioned as the girl Busted. The four girls from the Midlands claim to have written their songs at school during science lessons and reportedly secured themselves a management deal by scouring the internet and writing directly to potential candidates. Their debut single You Broke My Heart is a fun and energetic three minutes of guitar pop, detailing how they broke the nose of the boy who wronged them and aren't even regretful for getting blood on his clothes. Charming. This isn't the first time an attempt has been made to push a female teen band on the pop market but despite this slightly disappointing Number 13 entry, Love Bites have actually done better than many others. They need Top 10 next time out though, that much is certain. [Their only other chart single missed the Top 40 in early 2006, rendering them effectively one hit wonders, sadly].
The absence of many new singles in the Top 20 this week gives some older records the room to make some unusual gains. Up a place at 14 is Bob Sinclar, up two at 15 is Mylo, up two at 16 are Gorillaz and most impressively of all, up three at Number 18 is Kelly Clarkson to regain a place in the Top 20. Down however are U2 who are used to being one-week wonders, All Because Of You plummeting 4-19 this week.
At Number 22 is a fun curiosity, the debut single for Little 'Ans, better known to his mother as Andrew Aveling. His first single has the kudos of a guest slot for a certain "Peter Doherty" who lends his vocals to this gently strummed folk-rock track which contains more than its fair share of charm. Aveling, of course, isn't the first artist to have found himself propelled into the charts by the press' favourite musical bad boy - Wolfman having shot to Number 7 with For Lovers in April 2004 thanks to the help of the Babyshambles frontman.
Finally, this week at Number 35 is a fun curiosity, at least for us, not for the artists involved. Clea you may remember were the group whose name was made from the initials of their four members - Chloe, Lindsay, Emma and Amy who along with Javine Hylton were the members of the final 10 on the Popstars - The Rivals TV series who weren't picked to be part of Girls Aloud. Releasing their own records they scored two hits in late 2003 and early 2004: Download It and Stuck In The Middle, both singles missing the Top 20. Since then they have regrouped - literally. Chloe has been ditched and the girls have now teamed up with Scandinavian producers Da Playaz for a hyper-speed remake of We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off, originally a Number 2 hit for Jermaine Stewart way back in 1986. The intent was clearly to relaunch them as chart stars but instead the single has bombed big time, barely scraping the Top 40. Sadly this comeback looks set to be over before it has even begun.