For the second week running, tracking the Number One battle on the UK singles chart has been a fascinating experience. Once again what seemed at first to be a neat battle for the top between two hot new releases was mixed up by a dramatic late surge for the Usher single.
Unlike last week however the American star was unable to completely spoil the party and after a slightly late scare we have a brand new Number One single for the legend that is Diana Vickers with her debut single Once. Vickers is yet another chart graduate of the X Factor having come in fourth place in the 2008 series. Always a candidate for greater things, she managed to avoid the pitfall of being swallowed up by the Syco or Walsh machine of naffness and instead forged her own way in the business, focusing initially on performing onstage via a hit run in the lead role of The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice in the West End and only now making a push for chart stardom. Those who fell in love with the cute hooting and warbling vocal style she demonstrated on the show will be reassured that the same voice is present and correct on her debut single, the song maybe not the blow away pop stormer it had designs to be with but the proven songwriting team of Cathy Dennis and Eg White at the helm it was never going to be too terrible.
The X Factor Class of 2008 has so far proven to be one of the most prolific yet in terms of chart talent, Vickers now the third act from the series to go on to top the UK charts, hard on the heels of both winner Alexandra Burke and runners up JLS. Third place Eoghan Quigg also had a Top 20 album a year ago (although no hit singles) whilst fellow contestant Laura White also had a Top 40 hit with You Should Have Known at the back end of last year. There are even rumours of a Ruth Lorenzo single to come later this year, which would make her the sixth act from the series to have a chart career afterwards.
At one stage in contention for a comfortable Number 2 behind Diana Vickers, the second biggest new release of the week has to instead content itself with a place at Number 3 behind a still resurgent Usher with OMG gaining enough sales at the end of the week to land the runners up slot on the singles chart and indeed to wind up selling more copies this week than he did seven days ago at Number One.
The single at Number 3 then is Until You Were Gone which duly gives Chipmunk the third Top 3 hit of his career and his biggest hit single since Oopsy Daisy hit the top in October last year. Collaborator of choice on this single is Dutch star Esmee Denters, the Chipmunk single thus her second UK Top 40 hit following the Number 7 single Outta Here last summer. Until You Were Gone is a brand new track and one of four that is set to be added to the forthcoming "Platinum Edition" of his debut album I Am Chipmunk - the trick of re-releasing albums in enhanced versions to stiff fans for more money in lieu of actually releasing a brand new record remains one of the music businesses lowest stunts and a nice healthy raising of two fingers to the loyal fans who snapped up the original version when it came out. Best then to buy the tracks individually, just like this single, and leave the con trick CD on the shelves of the record shops where it belongs.
Turning to the album chart for the moment, it is something akin to veterans week this week with three of the Top 5 albums coming from acts who began their careers back in the 1970s. Leading the charge are AC/DC who land a surprise Number One with their soundtrack to the film Iron Man 2. It is the veteran rockers' second Number One album in a row, hard on the heels of 2008s Black Ice and marks only the third time in their long career that they have topped the charts in this country. [This apparently random soundtrack album was the closest thing the group had ever come to a Greatest Hits collection, hence its popularity.] At Number 2 is Paul Weller with his well received new release Wake Up The Nation whilst Meat Loaf sits comfortably at Number 4 with brand new concept album Hang Cool Teddy Bear, his first album of original material since 2006s Bat Out Of Hell 3 - The Monster Is Loose. It is left to Kate Nash to fly the flag for the younger generation, charting at Number 8 with her second album My Best Friend Is You.
Now as I am sure you are aware, the British record charts attract a great deal of attention from overseas, with music fans around the world looking to these shores for the kind of inspiration it has been providing since the 1960s. From time to time records appear on the singles chart for what appear to be completely random reasons and it is the role of columns such as this one to offer some kind of explanation for it.
This week is no exception with the odd appearance of Tina Turner's 1989 single The Best at Number 9 and even more extraordinarily You'll Never Walk Alone by Gerry and the Pacemakers (a 1964 vintage) at Number 33. Fortunately the explanation is fairly straightforward as both are the product of what we now officially call "Tossy Chart Campaigns", in this case the fans of one football team ganging up in a spectacularly failed attempt to shoot their club's anthem to Number One and supporters of a rival team attempting a spoiling tactic by charting a song relevant to them. The stupidity of such actions has been documented on these pages many time before, so going over it once again is unnecessary, particularly as it only serves to provoke a storm of fury from the dwindling band of individuals who mistakenly believe I am wrong about it. Given that this particular chart invasions is fuelled even less by a love of music and is based almost entirely on sectarian bigotry it is perhaps for the best that we treat it with the contempt it deserves and move on. I do however hope that you find it as amusing as I do that in the same week that music fans around the world paid tribute to the memory of Malcolm McLaren, a man who did more than most to inspire, innovate and stand musical convention on its head, we have people competing to fiddle the charts by buying as many copies as they can of records that are 21 and 46 years old respectively.
After a three week break to finally catch up with the American pace of the series, hit TV show Glee returned to UK screens last week and so this inevitably results in a scattering of chart singles as the cast performances from the episode are made available. Four songs from episode 14 sit on the Top 75 this week, the biggest being the Number 14 rendition of Gives You Hell. For a change the song in question isn't so old, having first been a hit for All-American Rejects as recently as early last year when it climbed to Number 18 without many people really noticing. The Glee version has now reignited interest in the original which makes a chart reappearance of its own at Number 50, although I suspect this is once again just a flash in the pan. Back to the Glee Cast, and their other chart entries are Hello (the Lionel Richie Number One from 1984) at Number 35, a rendition of the Beatles' Hello Goodbye at Number 48 and an extraordinary rendition of Hello I Love You as made famous by The Doors down at Number 69. Airing this week is Glee's Madonna themed episode, and if Vogue doesn't end up in the Top 20 as well I will wear a conical bra to write the column next week.
Finally back on an X Factor note, the aforementioned Alexandra Burke has spent the past few weeks apparently struggling to break through with her new single All Night Long which has thus far failed to reach the Top 40 and rises just one place to Number 43. These sales so far are actually of the version of the song on her album Overcome, with the single version set to differ dramatically from this with a brand new mix and some guest vocals from Pitbull. All Night Long isn't set to be a single for real until mid-May, but with the video for the track set to debut on TV it is more than likely that the track will continue to chart in the "wrong" version for some weeks to come.