It is funny how some things only seem significant after the fact. When Phil Collins' ...But Seriously album spent its 15th and final week at Number One in March 1990 the fact did not rate a mention in Alan Jones' "This Week's Chart" column in Record Mirror that week. Similarly in May 1997 when Spice by the Spice Girls topped the album chart for the fifth time, Music Week merely took time out to note that "...it has sent an impressive 15 weeks at Number One in 27-week chart career during which it has n never dipped lower than number four".
14 years on from that moment however we can appreciate the true significance of both these events, being as they were the only two albums of what I guess we should call the CD age to notch up 15 week totals at Number One. Over the past few weeks we've watched Adele and 21 edge ever closer to this magical number, meaning now she has finally done it we have pretty much run out of superlatives. Nonetheless, take nothing away from this feat - equalling the record of the longest running Number One album of the last 30 years. At least now for those eternally annoyed by this airbrushing of anything of the 60s and 70s from chart history, we can now cast the net a little wider and note that the last long playing record to spend as many as 16 weeks at Number One was the 'Saturday Night Fever' soundtrack which had an epic 18 week spell at the top starting from May 1978. The post-1970 record incidentally, is held by Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel which clocked up a grand total of 33 weeks at Number One between 1971 and 1972 [or at least it did before Melody Maker charts were inserted into the canon to make up for missing weeks during a postal strike. This ended up being a debate on the podcast]. Somehow I suspect that is beyond even Adele.
Something else we've been anticipating for weeks is the fun feat which Bruno Mars can now claim for himself. The chart world first heard of the Hawaiian singer on the chart dates May 29th 2010 when he landed himself an instant Number One hit single as the guest singer on B.o.B.'s hit Nothin' On You. Now exactly 52 weeks on from that debut, and following solo chart-toppers of his own with Just The Way You Are (Amazing) and Grenade, Bruno Mars squeaks his fourth Number One hit in 12 months by the skin of his teeth as The Lazy Song finally brings LMFAO's four week residency to an end.
Mars is the first act in well over a decade to manage the stunt. Two different Irish acts were the last to race to the 12 month total, both at the end of the 1990s. Bizarre though it sounds, one of them was B*witched who raced to four chart-topping singles in just ten months, dating from C'est La Vie in June 1998 through to Blame It On The Weatherman in March 1999. Just a few months later however they were beaten by Westlife who in April 2000 achieved the unprecedented feat of landing their fifth Number One single in just 49 weeks - beating the 53 week benchmark for this set by both Elvis and The Shadows back in the 1960s. Food for thought then when we note that during the course of the last 12 months Bruno Mars also sang vocals on Travie McCoy's Billionaire which only peaked at Number 3 in August last year. But for a couple of chart places he too could have joined the exclusive five-in-a-year club.
For a man who has spent a measurable proportion of his chart life guesting on other people's records, it is worth noting that Bruno Mars stands out this week as the only true solo star in the Top 5. All the other singles are the product of extensive collaborations: we have LMFAO/Lauren Bennett/Goonrock at 2; David Guetta/Flo Rida/Nicki Minaj at 3; Pitbull/Ne-Yo/Afrojack/Nayer climbing 12-4 and finally the comparatively lightweight collaboration of Chris Brown and Benny Benassi at Number 5.
Now I think we need to pause here and recap where we were up to in the great Lady Gaga singles saga. Just five short weeks ago she rush released the second single from her forthcoming new album into the shops, citing an online leak of a pre-production version of Judas. After its initial rush of interest, the single tumbled from a Top 10 berth straight out of the Top 20, and when the appearance of its controversy-baiting video only helped it back up to Number 20, I suggested both in podcasts and on these pages last week that this might indicate that the Gaga bubble had burst. Such a suggestion naturally did not go down well with her dedicated fans and acolytes, many of who were queuing up to insist that my ill chosen words were about to be rammed down my throat.
This did indeed seem at one stage to be the case, for Judas gathered momentum during the week and experienced a rather pleasing second wind, flying out of the online stores and looking set to reclaim a deserved place back in the Top 10. Only then just after the week began, Lady Gaga and those marvellous wizards at Interscope records did something really weird. They released ANOTHER new single. Onto the air and into the shops surged The Edge Of Glory, possibly the best of the three tracks we’ve heard from the still unreleased Born This Way album so far and a track that once again has given the superstar an instant Top 10 single as it lands at Number 6. The only unfortunate side effect I guess is that it has essentially denied Judas its return to the Top 10 as what may or may not be her "current" hit single stalls instead at Number 11.
I've yet to meet anyone who has a clear idea of just what Gaga and Interscope are attempting to do here . Fine, first single Born This Way had been given two months to find its feet and had sold in reasonably respectably quantities and whilst Judas was something of a rush release, it had still only appeared a week or so ahead of the original schedule. Now however just as that single was picking up airplay, gaining new fans and attracting enough attention to ram the sneers of supposed chart experts back down their throats, it is in direct competition with another new track which has outsold it out of nowhere. I mean if you run a music radio station, just which track are you supposed to be pushing? You can't playlist both surely.
Ripping up the rulebook on singles releases certainly is one way of getting attention I guess. I can only conclude that the intention is to hype up Lady Gaga's forthcoming second album (due to finally hit the shops next week)to the point of fever pitch by flooding the download market with its most impressive tracks in advance. The only downside of this might be to ensure that with everyone having already been exposed to what are in theory its best tracks, the only people really interested in the full work are the hysterical hardcore - resulting maybe in Born This Way (the album) becoming a four week wonder on the charts, selling in large numbers for a fortnight before vanishing from sight. Then again maybe this won't be so much of a problem. Based on past form her label probably have a "deluxe edition" with a punning title of (Re)Born This Way boxed and ready for the Christmas market. Version 1 of the album doesn't really have to sell so much - it just needs to exist. [Gaga just pioneered the concept, within a couple of years drip feeding an album with a single a week would become a well worked promotional tactic].
Quick, let’s get some normality back. Welcome then the second highest new entry of the week, Finish Line which becomes an instant Number 13 hit for Yasmin and her first Top 20 single as a solo artist. Her last single release On My Own crept to Number 39 back in February but she has hit these kind of chart heights before as the featured singer on Devlin's Runaway which was a Number 15 hit in November last year. Her biggest hit to date breezes into the chart like a breath of fresh air, a dance-pop single that doesn't drown its performer in autotune or shoehorn a rap or urban star into the mix in a desperate attempt to give it crossover appeal. Although Finish Line works as a club track (particularly in the well received Freemasons remix), the production is trip-hoppy enough for the track to be taken as a mellow and relaxed pop record which allows you to sit back and let Yasmin's crystal clear vocals wash over you in a manner which is far from unpleasant. Early signs are that this single could be a one week wonder which would actually be something of a travesty. Go check it out if you haven't had the chance to do already.
Lady Gaga wasn't the only act unexpectedly unleashing new material onto the world this week. Landing on the chart after an unconventional midweek release are Take That with brand new track Love Love, a previously unheard cut which is taken from the soundtrack of the new "X-Men: First Class" movie". The hope clearly is that this single restores Take That's chart fortunes a little, their last single proper Kidz stalling at Number 28 in February despite being all over the radio (although Happy Now also charted in April, this was never intended to be anything more than a promo release to tie in with the Comic Relief sketch in which they participated). The single hit the online stores on Wednesday in an OAOS move, coinciding with their first performance of the track live on TV at the National Movie Awards that evening. Something tells me we are best to judge it on its merits in a couple of weeks time rather than necessarily on this initial chart entry.
Some refreshing Eurodance arrives on the chart at Number 17 as Sun Is Up gives Romanian star Inna her third Top 20 hit single, her first major hit since Amazing scaled Number 14 in August last year. Sun Is Up gave her a hit single in her home country and across Eastern Europe last summer, at around the same time that her debut release Hot was making her name on these shores. Continuing to play catch-up, Britain finally gets a chance to buy the single and has sent it chart-wards.
Spookily enough Inna is not the only Romanian star to have a Top 20 hit this week as just one place behind her is fellow countrywoman Alexandra Stan who moves 31-18 with her debut hit single Mr Saxobeat. Both women's singles are released by All Around The World records who appear to have tapped into a rather profitable vein with this pair of licences.
If you are further into chart coincidences, then check out the lower end of the Top 30 where two totally different songs with the same name sit back to back with each other. The Black Eyed Peas' Just Can't Get Enough is at Number 29, just one place ahead of the Good Child Foundation and their rather charming rendition of the old Depeche Mode song of the same name. The single is the work of British ex-pat Paul Lennon whose Downs Syndrome son attends the Good Child Foundation charity school in Thailand. Having worked at the school for some time, he was asked to come up with ideas to raise money for the institution and hit on the idea of tapping into his Celtic-loving roots by having the children record songs that are linked with his favourite football club. Hence the arrival on the charts of this recording, with newly minted lyrics singing the praises of the Glasgow side (with unfortunate timing given the track has charted on the same day that they lost the SPL title to Rangers). Fans of the club have supported the release with gusto and given the often rather tribal nature of football records, and not to mention the air of nastiness that has tainted the end of the football season in Scotland, there is something rather magical about hearing a group of children from the other side of the world singing the praises of their teacher's favourite side. A truly exceptional chart single, no doubt at all.
Football is also the reason for the otherwise random reappearance of Paul Hardcastle's 1985 Number One single 19 at Number 40, all part of what theoretically is a chart campaign by supporters of Manchester United football club to use the charts to mark their side winning a record-breaking 19th league title. Just for a change the artist himself has embraced the product wholeheartedly, doing the promotional rounds to talk up the single and donating all the proceeds to charity. The only downside really is that the whole thing has gone off half cocked. Whilst Manchester United did indeed win their 19th title this weekend, this wasn't necessarily a given and the idea was actually for the single to chart NEXT week as the football season reached its climax. Sadly along the way the message got mixed up and fans started enthusiastically buying the track this week, leading to it charting here - and in the process nixing what we all know was the pie in the sky idea of seeing it at Number One on the day United lifted the Premier League trophy. We'll gloss over the breathtaking incongruity of celebrating a football side with a record that is actually about American soldiers dying in the Vietnam war. If it doesn't bother Paul Hardcastle, why let it bother us?
Still, if old 80s hits making a comeback floats your boat then watch out for We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off by the sadly missed Jermaine Stewart, originally a Top 10 smash in 1986 and back on the singles chart at Number 45 thanks to its use in a Cadbury's Dairy Milk TV commercial. If the momentum keeps up it should be Top 40 next week, along with the expected handful of Eurovision-related entries.
I told you Blue didn't stand a chance.