I love how the way these things work out. On the day that Radio One decides it actually has better things to do than broadcast a proper chart show [I think the BBC had decided to drop the full Top 40 show as it clashed with one of their live events. The chart nerds were MAD.], we end up with an old skool Top 40, boasting no less than 11 new entries and a long awaited brand new Number One. That is even before we have mentioned the extraordinary events at the top of the album chart.
In fact best to deal with that straight away, for the biggest selling album of the week is extraordinarily not one of the big new releases by some up to date artists, but instead an album which is no less than 38 years old this month. Exile On Main St. is the disc in question, the tenth album released by the Rolling Stones and home to the Top 10 hit single Tumbling Dice. First released in June 1972, the album shot straight to Number One, although its chart life was short lived and it dropped off the listings for the final time in late September. The occasion of Exile On Main St.'s chart return is a brand new remastered version which adds 10 new tracks and features alternate takes of two more. To general amazement the album has outsold everything else on the market this week to take a masterful turn at the top of the charts.
Needless to say this shatters all manner of chart records. Never before has an album returned to Number One almost 38 years after it was last at that position, and never before has any act re-released one of their old collections more or less intact and seen it storm the charts in the manner it did when first recorded. Not even the arrival of the CD era in the 80s and the non stop appearance of newly mastered versions of classic albums managed to produce a golden oldie Number One. What the Rolling Stones have done here is a genuine chart first.
Now to turn to a quite hectic singles chart and the news of a brand new Number One there as well. As we noted yesterday evening, the three week reign of Roll Deep comes to an end as American musician B.o.B. storms to the top of the charts with his first ever single release Nothin' On You. The track hardly breaks much in the way of new group but is still yet another perfectly crafted slice of pop/rap fusion with B.o.B.'s heartfelt rap complimented nicely by a sweetly sung lead vocal from guest star Bruno Mars [making his own chart debut here, although we had no way of knowing just how big he would later become]. Whilst an endless parade of rap stars bragging about the size of their egos or how they were masters of their hood got old a long time ago, we are in serious danger of similarly drowning under a flood of urban singles devoted to the sappiness of true love and how their angel is their one and only. Cast such cynicism aside however and it is in truth hard not to be charmed by the hit single. A long running Number One? Well if this weather keeps up then I guess anything is possible.
In a strange coincidence, the Rolling Stones aren't the only act with a record recorded in 1972 riding high in the charts at the moment, for arriving at Number 10 on the singles chart is the odd sight of Leeds Leeds Leeds (Marching On Together) by the Leeds United Team & Supporters. Originally the b-side of the 1972 Number 10 single 'Leeds United', the track technically appears on the chart as a result of another TCC [Tossy Chart Campaign], with fans of the West Yorkshire club ganging up to shoot the superannuated record onto the chart. Technically then we should point and laugh and brand it as a failure, given that yet again it has been demonstrated that simply running a thread on a message-board and a page on Facebook cannot guarantee any record the Number One position.
On the other hand there is a perfectly reasonable reason for the track to be here, as before last week the song had never been available digitally. Used for years as a track for the team to run out to, one can hardly criticise the fans of the newly promoted fallen giants for taking the first opportunity they had to own a brand new copy of one of their club's anthems. The track itself is a genuine snapshot in time, harking back to the days when it seemed all football anthems had to be set to the beat of a marching band. A modern day classic it is not but for all that it is hardly too offensive. The Leeds United single serves as a gentle precursor to the inevitable flood of World Cup linked records set to land on the market over the next few weeks. That said, given that this comes hard on the heels of the Rangers and Celtic sponsored singles a few weeks ago, heaven help us if the supporters of every football team in the land decide that their own club song has a divine right to seven days of chart glory.
Number 11 plays host to a pleasingly high charting new entry for Muse with Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever). A brand new track not featured on their last album 'The Resistance', the track is actually the first chart reflection of the appeal of the bafflingly popular Twilight film series. Neutron Star Collision features on the soundtrack of the upcoming "Twilight Saga: The Eclipse" film and marks Muse's first direct contribution to the film soundtracks, although their songs have featured in both of the two previous instalments in the saga.
New at Number 16 is Make Me Wanna Die from Pretty Reckless. The band are fronted by 16 year old model and actress Taylor Momsen, best known on these shores for her role as Jenny Humphrey in the TV series Gossip Girl. Before you run away screaming, be assured that just for a change this is no freshly scrubbed slice of Disney-pop but is instead a crunching four minutes of female fronted alternative rock that may well have attracted its fair share of attention without the added cachet of a TV star on lead vocals. I genuinely don't see the single gaining any more of a chart foothold than it has already, but if American TV stars are going to use small screen exposure as a springboard for their musical career, then give me Pretty Reckless over Selena Gomez any day.
Maybe more worrying is the single at Number 17, a fusion of two acts that can only have been dreamed up by the seriously disturbed. I'm not sure who needed the rub from who or why this was deemed to be a good idea in the first place, but nonetheless the charts are now graced with the first ever duet between the chirpy Sean Kingston and the ever punchable Justin Bieber, Eenie Meenie taken from both Bieber's current album and Sean Kingston's own forthcoming new release. Never before has a single been so much the exact sum of its parts, a carefully calculated blend of Kingston's bubbly and chirpy R&B soul with Biebers own little girl vocals which are sung with such innocence that you feel bad for trying to read innuendo into the lyrics. No, it is by no means a bad record and is heading for the Top 10 in fairly short order. I just can't bring myself to praise any track that has Justin Bieber anywhere near it, I hope you can understand that.
I promised a few weeks ago on the podcast that it would get a write-up if it penetrated the Top 20 at long last, and I am a man of my word. After a small stumble last week Hey Soul Sister by Train makes a four place rise to sit at Number 18 this week with its highest chart placing to date. The American rock group have long been absent from the UK charts. Best known for their 2001 Number 10 hit single Drops Of Jupiter (Tell Me), they have not charted a single on these shores since She's On Fire narrowly missed the Top 10 in 2002. Their fortunes had similarly waned back home as well, and when Hey Soul Sister charted back in America at the end of last year it was their first chart single in five years. Now they break a 9 year Top 20 duck here with this divertingly quirky track, one which uses a Ukulele to trace out the central rhythm in a lilting style that owes more than debt of gratitude to the sound popularised last year by Jason Mraz. A perfect summery track that even takes time out to namecheck 80s MOR band Mr Mister (although that might just be for a convenient rhyming couplet), it has been a frustrating experience to watch its tortuous chart progress so far. Top 20 is good going, but the slow burning song deserves far better than this - check it out as soon as possible before it slips away for good.
I mentioned earlier that we were set for a flood of football records as seems to be traditional with the World Cup on the way, and indeed the first of these arrives at Number 21 - Three Lions 2010 by the newly formed collective of The Squad. As every football fan knows, 3 Lions swiftly became one of the all time great football anthems when first released in its original version back in 1996, the official England anthem of the Euro 96 tournament. Indeed so popular was the track that its creators David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and the Lightning Seeds recorded a brand new version to commemorate World Cup 98, this re-recording flying to Number One just as the original had done two years earlier and making the act one of the few to have topped the charts with two different versions of the same song. Since then the 1998 version of 3 Lions has become something of a World Cup perennial, hitting Number 16 in 2002 and Number 9 in 2006 as the football tournament rolled around each time.
Now it is back for 2010 in a brand new version which still features its original creators but now also includes vocals from several other superstars, most notably Robbie Williams and alleged comedian Russell Brand who are pushed to the fore in the marketing for the record. As a song which makes explicit reference to triumphs of the England football team past and present, it was possibly long overdue for an update - hence the "30 years of hurt" have now become "all these years of hurt" although the second verse now has its original lyrics harking back to 1996 reinstated after being adjusted for the 1998 re-recording. Time will tell just how well this new version does, given that there is a slight suspicion that the song is now more than a little tired for all its classic status. At the very least it will probably wind up the least worst of all the football related records set for release over the next few weeks, the lack of any "official" England anthem having prompted many others to try their hand this time around - and I say that as someone who has participated in at least two of these in the past. Mind you, with talk of even a new version of World In Motion circulating as well, I can't help but wonder if a little more original thought about the songs themselves is in order. Just imagine where we would be if in 1990 New Order had sat around a table and said "I know, let's put new lyrics to Back Home and see how it sounds."
Starry Eyed may still be winding its way down the Top 40, but it is joined this week by Ellie Goulding's second single Guns And Horses which jumps to Number 26 after just missing the 40 last week. I confess to still remaining immune to her charms but this new single allows her warbling vocals to shine through in far better fashion than her overproduced first hit. Given the similarity in vocal style of the pair, surely it is only a matter of time before we end up being assaulted by a Goulding/Vickers duet? [Still waiting.]
Token Glee Cast hit of the week? That would be Jessie's Girl at a comparatively lowly Number 33, their take on the song that Rick Springfield originally took to Number One in America in 1983. On these shores, the Glee Cast have managed to beat the chart peak of the original which stalled at a lowly Number 43 in March 1984.
Finally we should wrap up this epic with something nice and relaxing, as the ever crystal clear voice of Katie Melua rings out on The Flood at Number 35. The first single from her forthcoming fourth album The House, much has been made of the fact that the singer-songwriter has enlisted the talents of William Orbit on production duties for the new album. His influence is clear on this lead single, as its string-drenched first part replete with middle-Eastern influences swiftly gives away to an uptempo two-minute coda which drags Katie Melua kicking and screaming onto the dancefloor for the first time ever. In a way it is a shame that that its release has come when she has long moved past any mainstream singles chart appeal and will instead serve as merely the appetiser for the inevitable surge of album buyers who will snap up the long player upon its release this week. Katie Melua's first Top 40 single since If You Were A Sailboat in 2007, it will wind up as one of her smaller hits, and given the superb way The Flood is constructed, that is actually a matter for some regret.