With the 2010 FIFA World Cup occupying just about every one of my waking thoughts at the moment, it seems entirely appropriate that the UK Singles Chart this week has also caught football fever with just about every chart movement of note having some connection to football.
The charge of the soccer singles is led by the record which makes a storming debut at Number One, and does so after only half a week of sales as well. The track in question is Shout as credited to an eponymously named act Shout For England and which features the unlikely pairing of Dizzee Rascal and comedian James Corden as featured lead performers. The record is another SyCo creation, the idea we are told of Simon Cowell and based heavily around the chorus of the famous Tears For Fears track of the same name from 1985. If you haven't heard it yet then really you don't actually need to to work out what it is all about - a typically mindless terrace anthem that expertly presses all the right buttons to become an instantly popularist cheerleading football record but which actually under the surface is rather cynical and insubstantial. The rather strange way in that the record is credited as being "in association with" telecoms company Talk Talk makes it all a rather corporate and calculating affair and even the presence of Dizzee Rascal on the track fails to contribute to any sense of actual musical artistry. Only the inevitable fact that proceeds from the record will go to charity offer any kind of redemption of its merits at all.
So why has the single become such an instant smash hit? Exposure is all that matters of course and the single received a high profile public performance on the final of Britain's Got Talent the weekend before last, thus gifting it a status as the most recognisable World Cup related single of the moment. Rush released on Wednesday last week, Shout shifted an impressive 113,000 copies in just four days on sale, the highest single week total of any single since another Cowell creation, the Helping Haiti charity single back in February.
For Dizzee Rascal his presence on the track gives him a rather extraordinary chart feat as the single arrives at the top of the charts just two weeks since his own Dirtee Disco was also at Number One. Such a rapidfire success of Number One hits is rare but by no means unique, especially when you consider that acts such as The Beatles and John Lennon have gone one better and actually replaced themselves at Number One in the past. Nonetheless the last time any act managed to follow a Number One single with the "next but one" chart topper (not counting singles that have returned to the top after being deposed) was as long ago as 1989 when the two Jive Bunny Number One singles Swing The Mood and That's What I Like were separated only by Lisa Stansfield's All Around The World. Honourable mention should also go to George Michael who during the summer of 1984 appeared as lead singer on 3 out of 5 consecutive Number One singles - Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, Careless Whisper and Freedom. In both of these examples the acts in question were helped by the intermediate chart-toppers being long running Number Ones of no less than 6 weeks. Dizzee Rascal has returned to the top with a different record after a gap of just a single week - faster even than the late John Lennon in December 1980.
Customary sympathies to the Number 2 act are even more appropriate this week as early week leader Tinie Tempah found himself almost completely blown away by the Shout For England single come the end of the week. He gave a good account of himself as well, his second single Frisky arrives on the charts with an equally powerful sale of 87,000 copies - the highest weekly sale achieved by any single since his own Pass Out shifted 92,000 copies back in March. It means that Frisky is the highest selling Number 2 single since the tail end of last year and the notorious Rage/McElderry chart duel.
The Top 3 singles this week are rounded off by another football related single - this thanks to a surprise 16-3 leap for K'Naan with the Coca Cola advert jingle Waving Flag. The move for the track is all the more startling given that the single has been on the chart for three weeks already and until last week had shown little sign of becoming anything more than a minor Top 20 hit. Clearly it was just keeping its powder dry and waiting for football fever to grip the nation properly.
Grip the nation it truly does as the lower end of the chart plays host to an invasion of some classic football singles of years gone by in a chart invasion of oldies that we generally only see at Christmas. Undoubtedly this has been prompted by the release of a series of football themed compilation albums which has led to cherrypicking of some of their more famous tracks and naturally this is the first World Cup of the digital download era so perhaps this was to be expected.
Let's list them all anyway. Leading the charge is 3 Lions by Baddiel/Skinner/Lightning Seeds from 1996 which soars 53-10. Originally recorded as the official England anthem for the Euro 96 tournament, the single has become something of a World Cup anthem ever since and has made a chart return for every such contest ever since. In 1998 the trio re-recorded the track with new lyrics, sending it back to Number One two years after it had originally reached the top. For the 2002 World Cup the original version was re-released and made Number 16, the single bettering that with a Number 9 peak four years later in 2006. With this leap 3 Lions is now a rare example of a single reaching the Top 10 on no less than five separate occasions. Ironic then that the 2010 version of 3 Lions failed to catch fire and peaked at Number 21 at the end of last month although the single from The Squad does make a small turnaround this week and moves back up to Number 28.
Next in line is World In Motion by EnglandNewOrder, the official FA anthem of the 1990 World Cup and which famously spent that summer at Number One as England progressed all the way to the semi finals. The track sits at Number 22 this week, its highest chart placing since its initial release 20 years ago. The single has only returned to the chart once since then, creeping to Number 43 when re-released for the 2002 World Cup.
One place below at Number 23 is an oddity, a strained rendition of the old Elvis Presley track If I Can Dream as sung by former England football manager Terry Venables. Performed by him in TV adverts for The Sun newspaper, this is another charity record with all proceeds going to the Help For Heroes appeal. Even as a young player Venables fancied himself as a crooner although his singing career until now has never really taken off. This isn't the first time El Tel has made a record as a World Cup tie-in however, as he appeared on the Rider track England Crazy which made Number 46 in June 2002.
Another oldie appears at Number 32 - Vindaloo from Fat Les, an unofficial World Cup single released by comedian Keith Allen (dad of Lily no less) and which was a celebrated Number 2 behind 3 Lions in time for the 1998 World Cup. Vindaloo hasn't been seen on the charts since, although Allen resurrected the Fat Les project for the Euro 2000 championships when their rendition of Jerusalem was the official England anthem and peaked at Number 10.
The final Top 40 straggler is oddly enough the only World Cup song on the chart that has any kind of "official" status at all, Waka Waka (This Time For Africa) as performed by Shakira featuring Freshlyground, the track being one of two formal FIFA anthems for the football tournament. Time will tell as to whether this one catches fire in quite the way that has been intended, "official" tournament songs tend to be rather poorly received as a general rule and smacking of being chosen by committee rather than for their artistic merits. This is actually Shakira's second straight association with the World Cup as her 2006 single Hips Don't Lie whilst not being a football anthem as such was still performed by her and Wyclef Jean at the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2006 event in Germany and will forever be associated with that particular summer.
So what of chart movements that have nothing to do with the World Cup? Well actually there are very few, and indeed the two most interesting chart moves of the week are both from acts who have received a Britain's Got Talent rub. We mentioned Pixie Lott's Turn It Up last week which moved to Number 25 after she performed the track on the TV show. This week its momentum continues and the single makes a strong climb to Number 11, still however five places lower than Usher who rebounds back into the Top 10 at Number 6 with former Number One single OMG. Despite having topped the charts well over a month ago, the track was performed by the star on the BGT final and announced as being "his new single", to much amusement from anyone paying that much attention. Sympathies though for Miley Cyrus who seems destined never to have a Top 10 hit at this rate [destiny can lie]. After charging to Number 13 after her own BGT performance, Can't Be Tamed takes a dip to Number 16 leaving her well short of the target yet again. At least it didn't peak at Number 11 like so many of her other singles have done.
There was an intriguing chart battle of a different kind on the album chart this week as the race for Number One came down to a duel between a brand new release and an album which has been available for some time. The final result saw Alicia Keys narrowly relegated to Number 2 behind Christina Aguilera's new album Bionic which tops the charts despite the rather disappointing performance of its lead single Not Myself Tonight. Not that the album market as a whole was particularly dynamic this week - rather worryingly Music Week reports that Bionic sold a mere 24,000 copies last week, the lowest total for a Number One album in eight years.