They are the two most commercially advantageous tools in the music industry's arsenal. Death and a TV special. Either one when associated with your artist will have an immediate and beneficial impact on sales, although naturally only one of them results in a direct benefit to the artist themselves. Combine the two and you naturally have instant paydirt.
Such then is the story behind Boyzone's extraordinary week, one which sees the 90s boyband rebound up both singles and albums charts in quite spectacular style. It is all thanks to their ITV1 special which aired a weekend ago, serving as both an emotional tribute to the late Stephen Gately and also a timely reminder that they have a new album and a hitherto rather underperforming single available for purchase.
The result is a triumphant reclaiming of the Number One album slot for Brother as Boyzone's latest studio album neatly shoulders Lady Gaga out of the way once more. The biggest surprise move is however reserved for the singles chart as lead track Gave It All Away makes the most spectacular rebound in memory. We are all used to singles going on the yo-yo, falling down the chart and then getting a second wind to rise back once more. Few and far between though are the records that trace chart patterns in a manner which suggests their shelf life is over only to return to equal or even beat their initial peak. Gave It All Away entered the singles chart at Number 9 three weeks ago but then slumped rather dramatically. By last week it had fallen to Number 29 and was set to exit the charts in short order - until the TV special aired. As a result the track now rockets back up 19 places to sit nicely at Number 10, just one place short of its initial chart entry. At the risk of being branded too much of a cynic, it is worth pointing out that this too is something of a one week wonder, the single still lacking anything that makes it appeal beyond either a) the hardcore rump of fans of the group or b) the people who saw them perform it on TV last week and rather liked it. Nonetheless both the single and album chart feats of Boyzone this week demonstrate that even outside of X Factor seasons, getting your product in front of Saturday night TV watchers has a demonstrable and significant impact on your sales over the next seven days.
Incidentally although rare, dramatic chart comebacks for previously dying singles have happened on a number of occasions in the past. It is going back some time, but the feats of two singles during 1984 to this day set the standard for such second winds. First there was the iconic Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood which controversially hit Number One in the early months of the year. It then began a graceful decline, falling as far as Number 31 by early May only for the imminent release of the follow-up single Two Tribes to spark new interest in the band and their music. The following week the single climbed back up the chart, and climbed and climbed, Relax eventually returning to the dizzy heights of Number 2 in mid July to give Holly Johnson et al a rare singles chart 1-2. A few months later one single managed an even greater turnaround. Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jnr peaked at Number 2 in late September 1984, some weeks before the release of the film to which it was the title track. After falling out of the Top 40 to Number 46 in late November, the single gained a second wind thanks to the theatrical popularity of the Ghostbusters movie, motoring its way back up the chart in time for Christmas and ultimately peaking for a second time at Number 6 in early January 1985.
With that out of the way we have to deal with the sad truth that the return of a four week old single to chart heights is pretty much the only interesting action of note inside a becalmed Top 10. Lady Gaga and Beyonce spend a second week at Number One with Telephone, once more holding off Tinie Tempah at Number 2. Justin Bieber may not have had an ITV1 show but he did his fair share of promotional work on these shores last week, helping his single Baby back up to Number 3 and parent album My World to an identical placing on the album chart.
Aside from the Boyzone single, the only other new arrival to the Top 10 is the single we noted last week, Bedrock from Young Money featuring Lloyd which continues its inexorable climb to move three places to Number 9 as officially the charts slowest burning track of the moment.
This all means that the highest new entry of the week sits at a comparatively lowly Number 13, a fact that is all the more surprising when you consider the record in question is the long awaited comeback single from a star more used to hitting the very heights during his first week on release. OMG is the single in question, its title an inadvertently ironic reflection of the reaction to no less a figure than Usher failing to reach the Top 10 with what is his first brand new single for almost two years. The man with three Number One singles to his name (one in 1998 and two in 2004) has kept a low profile since the release of his last album Here I Stand back in 2008, an album that continued his run of well received hit singles thanks to the long-running Number 4 hit Love In This Club. New single OMG is taken from his forthcoming sixth album Raymond v Raymond, a release held back by his label from last year to avoid clogged up release schedules.
On the face of it there is little reason why OMG should be slow off the blocks, particularly given the added injection of star power that a guest vocal from will.i.am provides. Nonetheless midweek reports suggested that the single was struggling even to make a place in the Top 20 and although this final chart placing is respectable enough, OMG is still one of the lowest brand new chart entries of his career to date.
Back on the subject of slow burning singles, check out the chart progress so far of Pixie Lott's Gravity. Her fourth Top 40 hit has now been charting for seven weeks all told and since its first appearance on February 20th has moved steadily 73-43-35-33-26-23-20 where it now sits. It is her second single in a row to be a slow burner after the gorgeous Cry Me Out embarked on an epic chart run back in November, one which saw it peak at a disappointingly lowly Number 12 just before Christmas but then experience a slow decline which saw it seven weeks threatening to drop out of the Top 30 but never quite doing so. Cry Me Out sits at Number 69 this week in what is its 21st week on the Top 75, making it actually her longest running single to date.
The Katy Perry duet If We Ever Meet Again may be only a few weeks old but the Timbaland singles juggernaut rolls on regardless as the follow-up hit begins to make chart waves. Step forward then Carry Out featuring Justin Timberlake which makes its bow at Number 29 this week. Another track lifted from Shock Value II, this is a world away from the pop cheeriness of If We Ever Meet Again but in the process is more in line with most people's expectations of a Timbaland single as the opening rap gradually mutates into a naggingly insistent vocal hook which somehow seems instantly familiar after just one play. The single marks Justin Timberlake's first appearance on a Timbaland single since Give It To Me back in 2007 although the pair were also credited alongside each other as guest stars on 50 Cent's Ayo Technology later that same year. Timberlake hasn't made a record of his own since 2006s Futuresex/Lovesounds album in 2006 but has been a chart regular in the years since thanks to a willingness to duet with just about everyone. Carry Out is now his sixth "featuring.." credit in a row as since 2007 he has appeared as the guest star on records from 50 Cent, Madonna, Rihanna, TI, Ciara and now Timbaland.
Justin Timberlake. If you asked, I'm sure he'd duet with you.