When the music industry made its messy and noisy transition to an almost entirely digital era, the genre which arguably suffered the most was dance music. For so long tied inexorably to a physical form which could be manipulated by hand with extreme skill, the move from records to computer files seemed to all but kill off the spectacle of unknown club tracks making almost random and spontaneous appearances in the sales listings.
It is therefore worth noting and indeed celebrating that this week for the third time in four weeks, the Number One single on the Official UK Singles chart is a record which has its roots in clubland and which has been propelled there as much by the loyalty of those whose Saturday nights it has soundtracked as those who have enjoyed hearing it on the radio. Appropriately enough at the end of a year in which he has set new chart benchmarks and prompted all manner of arguments as to just how many singles he has taken from his most recent album, it is the man who is one of the new breed of superstar producers: Calvin Harris who helms what is destined to be one of the last Number One singles of 2013.
The new single Under Control is the closest thing you can get to a duet of DJs, the track credited as a co-production between Harris and Swedish DJ Alesso. For Harris it is his fourth Top 10 single of the year and marks the first time he has been at the top of the singles chart since Sweet Nothing with Florence Welch on vocals spent a week at the summit almost exactly 13 months ago. His Scandinavian counterpart has made his name largely with remixes of work by others, his only prior chart credit coming alongside Sebastian Ingrosso on the track Calling (Lose My Mind) which hit Number 19 in June 2012. The vocals on Under Control are notably supplied by Theo Hutchcraft of electropop duo Hurts, the duo having attracted much praise for their own work to date even if so far they have singularly failed to translate that into large mainstream success. The highest charting Hurts single to date is Wonderful Life which climbed to Number 21 in September 2010, a peak they now surpass thanks to a group credit on this new single which means they too claim a first-ever Number One hit single.
The remainder of the singles chart Top 3 is an almost mirror image of the two-way battle which raged at the top end of the Official UK Album chart this week - featuring acts that you will note have differing levels of X Factor connections. With a sense of grim inevitability, the biggest selling album of the week is Midnight Memories, the third album in as many years from One Direction and one which duly becomes their second straight chart-topper with the biggest first-week sale of their career. The album sold a massive 237,000 copies last week, far and away the biggest single week total of 2013 and making even Daft Punk's 165,000 copies of Random Access Memories seem rather miserable. Anyone would think it is present-giving season or something. Just as notably the release of the album has prompted a singles chart invasion of a greater than usual number of cherry-picked tracks. Having performed it on the X Factor results show last week, current single Story Of My Life rebounds 10-3 to beat the Number 4 peak it first scaled four weeks ago. It is joined on the Top 40 by You & I at Number 19 and Don't Forget Where You Belong at 21 whilst former Number 2 hit Best Song Ever leaps 57-42 and sits alongside Strong at 48, Midnight Memories at 49 and Diana at 58.
Second place on the singles chart is however taken by Gary Barlow whose Let Me Go climbs a place to a brand new peak, one which is matched by its parent album Since I Saw You Last which also lands the runners-up slot. The title is more than appropriate, the X Factor judge having been absent from the charts as a solo star since his second album Twelve Months, Eleven Days was a notorious and quite spectacular bomb, its chart life measured by just a solitary week at Number 35 in October 1999. That failure sent his career into a tailspin, one which was only arrested by the now celebrated Take That reunion in 2006, a personal and creative revival which now culminates in his most significant solo chart achievements since he hit Number One with his first post-Take That release Open Road back in 1997. Furthermore, it should be noted that the album Let Me Go sold 116,000 copies last week - 8,000 more than Robbie did to top the charts a week ago.
The second biggest new single of the week is a track which has sold as many copies in an 'alternative' mix as it has in its official lead version. Love Is On The Radio is ostensibly the first single from McFly's forthcoming sixth album and their third since they cast off their major label ties to go their own way. Entering at Number 6, the single is duly their highest charting release since Party Girl also landed one place outside the Top 5 in September 2010. Much of the appeal of the single has however come via the "McBusted remix", an alternative version which features James Bourne and Matt Willis, the two thirds of the band's immediate predecessors Busted who appeared alongside McFly on their tenth anniversary shows in September and who will be participants in a full arena tour next year.
The final Top 10 new entry of the week is another dance track, Everything You Never Had (We Had It All) the second straight Number 9 hit of the year for Ben 'Breach' Westbeech following on from Jack which charted back in July.
The other notable chart moves inside the Top 20 are also dance tracks, the way lead by Avicii's latest single, the C&W flavoured Hey Brother which is making uncharacteristically gentle progress up the listings, moving 27-14 this week. He is joined by The Spark by Afrojack, the Dutchman landing his biggest ever chart hit under his own steam as the single enters at Number 17, beating out the Number 21 scaled by As Your Friend which stalled outside the Top 20 in June despite the presence of Chris Brown on guest vocals. Afrojack can at least claim to have a Number One single to his name, thanks a co-credit on the Pitbull track Give Me Everything which topped the charts in April 2011.
Potential future big hits nicely poised to enter the fray as we head towards Christmas are Sail from Awolnation (31-22), Hand On Heart by Olly Murs (new at 25), Trumpets by Jason Derulo (49-26), Unconditionally by Katy Perry (47-35) and Thunder by Jessie J (82-40) [none of which, you will note, ended up as huge hits. Although Sail had a bloody good go]. Meanwhile 8 weeks into the ten week Music Monday project, Justin Bieber comes close to missing the Top 40 altogether with his latest release, Roller Coaster just sneaking in at Number 38 to become the lowest charting of the package so far.
As the calendar flips over to December it seems pertinent to note that we are now just three charts away from the official Christmas singles chart (published this year on December 22nd) although this column now officially disregards the race for Christmas Number One given its recent elevation to an accolade entirely separate from the normal workings of the singles market and thus something that can be seen as anomalous rather than a true reflection on seasonal popularity. Instead, we can note the way the perennial festive favourites are edging ever closer to their regular Top 40 appearances, All I Want For Christmas Is You moving 68-47 and Fairytale Of New York rising 85-53. Meanwhile, Mary J Blige debuts at Number 28 on the album chart with her festive collection A Mary Christmas, some distance behind Michael Buble's ubiquitous Christmas album which seems set to spend its third year running in the Top 10, this week moving 14-13.