Cast your minds back a couple of weeks ago when we, and the industry as a whole, rubbed our hands with joy at the Sony/Universal announcement that they were moving to a system of On Air On Sale, closing what had become known as the "airplay window" which saw tracks released to radio several weeks before they arrived in the shops. This, we speculated, was about to usher in a completely new era of singles growing steadily, of tracks finding their own feet in the market rather than relying totally on pre-release hype.
What the hell do we know really? This week the first OAOS release arrives on the singles chart, many weeks ahead of what would otherwise have been its planned release date - and wouldn't you just know it, the single charges straight to Number One almost as if it had been hyped for weeks.
In a sense this was kind of inevitable, given that the record in question is Price Tag from Jessie J featuring B.o.B. A hitherto unheard new single from the hottest new artist of the moment and still some weeks ahead of the release of her debut album was inevitably going to become one of the more essential single purchases of the week and so lack of pre-release airplay notwithstanding, the track has flown to the top to give the star her first ever Number One hit single. Arriving as it does in close proximity to her last hit Do It Like A Dude it means Jessie J is the latest in a long line of recent acts to be able to boast two simultaneous Top 10 singles, her recent Number 2 hit slipping a place this week to Number 7. Guest rapper B.o.B can claim his third Number One single, his first as a guest star following his own brace of chart-toppers Nothin' On You and Airplanes last year.
Jessie J's debut album Who You Are is down for release at the end of this month, its issue having been yanked forward a month due to what we are told is "public demand" but I suspect also because a March release would have coincided with the original release plan for Price Tag. We are doubtless going to see plenty more extraordinary chart moves as the OAOS era gets properly underway, for this week at least it has given us something quite spectacular.
Sympathies should be extended to Bruno Mars I guess, as but for the unexpected Jessie J release he was more or less guaranteed a return trip to the top with Grenade, after Ke$ha saw her single We R Who We R slump to Number 3. Mars sees his album Do Wops And Hooligans slip to Number 3 on the long players chart, shouldered out of the way by the much anticipated Chase & Status release No More Idols which lands at Number 2, still some way behind the still dominant Adele who spends a second week at the top with 21 (in the process notching up another huge sale that is more than her Top 5 rivals put together) whilst the three year old 19 clings on at Number 4.
Now is it possible that pop music is getting ever more obscene? Hard on the heels of Cee Lo Green and 'F*** You' and Pink's current hit single F***in' Perfect (which climbs to Number 11 this week) comes the hitherto saintly and chaste (it says here) Enrique Iglesias who storms to Number 5 with his brand new single Tonight, a track which is either subtitled (I'm Lovin' You) or the rather ruder (I'm F***in' You) depending on which mix you happen to be listening to. [Amusingly the video is still up on Vevo listed as the clean version but as the embed below demonstrates the audio is actually the profane edit]. An original single, for now not available on any album, the delightfully profane track is possibly the most exciting piece of music Iglesias Jnr has released in years. Yet another invigorating electropop track in a chart crammed with them at the moment, the single features an entertaining guest turn from rapper Ludacris, propelling him to his second Top 5 hit in just under a year hard on the heels of his credibility-sapping turn on Justin Bieber's Top 3 hit Baby. For Enrique the single triumphantly gives him a third Top 10 hit single in a row for the first time in his 11 year chart career, with his last two singles I Like It and Heartbeat having made Number 4 and Number 8 respectively. Some may lament the loss of the tender balladeer that we heard on Hero all those years ago, but for now Enrique Iglesias is reaping the benefits of his current club friendly vibe and is on the hottest chart streak of his career.
Now it may not quite have been an OAOS release, but the overwhelming demand for the remixed version of Taio Cruz' Higher and the rather worrying way the album version was safely becoming a hit in its own right has resulted in the release of the star-studded EP of new mixes being released online a week earlier than the original release plan had us believe. Hence the single leaps 17-8 in its new EP form. A tremendous pop song to begin with, Higher is enhanced to the nth degree thanks to the clever way it has been pitched internationally, with a different version of the song being pushed as the main mix in a variety of different territories. The remade Higher essentially exists in three main versions, one featuring a guest vocal from Travie McCoy which has been pushed to the fore across the Atlantic, one with Kylie Minogue taking the guest role (a choice down under and in many European countries) whilst in the UK we are rewarded with the best of both worlds, a mix which features both guest stars together. On that basis Higher isn't so much another random track lifted from Cruz' album Rokstarr, but a genuine treat and another triumphant hit single. The sycophantic commenters on iTunes aren't actually far wrong for a change - this actually deserves to be Number One.
Whilst on the subject of album tracks being remixed for single release, we should note that whilst Taio Cruz' label reacted to the demand for the new version of Higher, JLS are still stuck watching the album version of Eyes Wide Shut meander around the Top 20, the single down this week at Number 17. The Tinie Tempah-starring single version remains under wraps as far as the purchasing public are concerned, its release still stubbornly one week away.
For the moment however Tinie Tempah has another hit single of his own making, Wonderman which makes a 40-14 vault up the singles chart. Another track taken from his debut album Disc-overy, the song boasts a guest vocal from Ellie Goulding, who narrowly misses out on side by side Top 20 hits as her single Your Song dips to Number 29. Always one of the most popular tracks from the album, the cut charted briefly at Number 45 back in October as the cherrypickers dived in. Set to be promoted formally to single status in March, as airplay for the track has kicked in, so the track has shot into sales contention all on its own.
Take a wide scan of the entire Top 40 this week and you will note the rather large number of artists taking up more than their fair share of the chart. In fact the number of multi-hit acts this week has reached rather astounding proportions. No less than 7 performers - Jessie J, Bruno Mars, Adele, Pink, Tinie Tempah, Skylar Grey, Ellie Goulding make an appearance on two Top 40 hits this week, however even they are trumped by a lady who can now lay claim to four. Who else but Rihanna would occupy no less than 1/10 of the Top 40 as her current chart hits Only Girl (In The World), What's My Name and Who's That Chick are now joined by S&M, the latest single to be lifted from her Loud album. As the title suggests, it is one of her racier offerings lyrically, so much so that headlines were made this week when Radio 1 elected to avoid the song during daytime hours, requesting an edited version instead before they would allow tender ears to be subjected to her tale of whips and chains. Even the video has sparked outrage in some quarters, despite the lady herself pointing out that she appeared pretty much naked in the 'Umbrella' video four years ago and nobody batted an eyelid. S&M first charted back in November in the wake of the initial release of Loud but is now well on its way to smash hit status as a single in its own right.
Now I mentioned Skylar Grey above as one of the acts with two Top 40 hits to her name right now. The rising star already features on the Diddy Dirty Money single Coming Home at Number 6 but now has a further guest role on the Dr Dre single I Need A Doctor which lands on the chart as a new entry at Number 21. The track is Dre's first hit single as a lead artist in almost a decade, his last hit single Bad Intentions making Number 4 in January 2002. He has been back on the Top 40 more recently than that of course, making a guest appearance on Crack A Bottle alongside Eminem and 50 Cent and indeed it is the former who makes a guest appearance of his own on I Need A Doctor, repeating the helping hand he gave to the hit Forgot About Dre way back in June 2000. Counting the Eminem single Guilty Conscience from 1999, this now marks the fourth time that Dre and Slim Shady have appeared on a chart single together. I Need A Doctor is taken from what Dre insists is his farewell album Detox, set for release later this spring [it wasn't, quite famously so, but that's a whole other story].