This week's Official UK Singles Chart

Look at me, look at me everyone. I'm so amazingly happy that the physical act of sitting down at the computer to type this up is currently going against all my natural instincts to dance around the room with joy. The cause of so much undignified hand waving is the occasion of a brand new Number One single, and not just any Number One single either. Instead, we have a chart-topping record that is so unexpected, so out of nowhere (although at the same time so richly deserved) that nobody even had the slightest inkling even at the start of last week that this was on the cards.

The singer of the record in question is the latest female pop-jazz singer-songwriter to go professionally by a single name. Hard on the heels of Adele comes Wales' own Duffy, born Aimee Anne Duffy a mere 23 years ago. Her rise to stardom has been a long time coming, Duffy having come second in Welsh language TV talent show "Wawffactor" back in 2003, a performance which led to her guesting on a handful of Mint Royale tracks a year later. Signed to a major label as a solo star last year, the softly softly promotional campaign that has built her up as the next big thing has followed a suspiciously similar pattern to that employed by Adele's label, Duffy having released a limited edition debut single Rockferry at the tail end of last year as a prelude to her first single release proper.

The musical brains behind her debut album are David McAlmont and Bernard Butler who as McAlmont and Butler have had occasional chart success, dating back to the mid-90s when their initial musical collaboration spawned tracks such as Yes which fused rock and soul in manner that at the time was pretty much unique. For Duffy, they have created a totally different sound, one which transports her warm and rich vocals back to the era of smoky 1960s jazz clubs. It means that debut single Mercy is like nothing you've heard on the chart for years, a rich atmospheric single that can only be described as Lulu singing a Sandy Shaw track as performed by The Doors. It is a potentially divisive record, it will be loved and hated in almost equal measure but after a slow start, it has grown organically throughout the week to wind up, on download sales alone, as the biggest selling song in the UK. Meanwhile Rockferry (also the title track of her forthcoming debut album), which didn't chart at all when released last December has in recent weeks finally picked up sales of its own, charting for the first time in mid-January and climbing as high as Number 45 last week.

The Top 10 gets another much-needed injection of new blood as the latest big clubland sensation crash lands at Number 7 after one week of download sales. What's It Gonna Be by H Two O featuring Platinum is the track in question, one which for the moment will have to defy any attempt by me to categorise it. It looks set to become the second Top 3 hit in a row for Hard2Beat records, the MOS imprint having also been the marque under which Now You're Gone was released. Needless to say a dance track that has gone Top 10 on downloads alone cannot be written off, and with its physical sales arriving next week you need look no further for the track that will be most closely challenging Duffy at the top in seven days time. Oddly enough though it actually isn't the most noteworthy dance new entry on the Top 40 this week. That one is still to come.

Also new to the Top 10 incidentally are both The Feeling with I Thought It Was Over and Goldfrapp with A&E, both acts reaping the benefit of physical releases even if they, for now, can't fight their way into the Top 5.

Next, we'll turn to the single that just misses out on a Top 10 place, Stop And Stare from OneRepublic which enters at Number 11. The American pop-rock band have had a rather out of character introduction to fame, thanks, of course, to Apologize which has already been a hit thanks to a remix by Timbaland which resulted in the track appearing on his own Shock Value album. Released as a single at the end of last year, the track made the Top 3 and remains a consistent seller even now, jumping back into the Top 20 this week on the back of Stop And Stare. Hence OneRepublic are now in the rather unusual position of having to make their own way as a group with guitars having already had a worldwide smash as a dance act. Fortunately, Stop And Stare appears to have negotiated that particular hurdle with aplomb and is already a sizeable hit single three weeks ahead of its physical release. Back on the subject of Timbaland though, and the continuing success of Apologize is for the moment putting follow-up single Scream in the shade, although it continues to make steady progress and advances to Number 28 despite not being due in the shops for another month.

Indeed for an artist whose previous hit is knackering up the followup, look no further than Mark Ronson who goes on the rebound to Number 22 with Valerie. Meanwhile, his next single release, a similarly diverting cover of Radiohead's Just is due out as a CD single this week (Feb 18th) but makes a rather miserable Number 73 on download sales.

OneRepublic aren't the only American pop rockers to have a Top 20 new entry this week as they are joined at Number 17 by Paramore with Misery Business. Fronted by Avril Lavigne-soundalike Hayley Williams, the group do exactly what you would expect, churning out energetic four-minute teen-friendly rock tracks that you somehow feel resonate more with suburban America rather than teenage Britain for whom back of the bus R&B is the height of musical sophistication. This is actually the second time Misery Business has been a Top 40 hit, the track reaching Number 31 upon its initial release last summer. Followup CrushCrushCrush limped to Number 61 before Christmas. This re-release at least has turned their chart fortunes in a more respectable direction and in truth they are rather better than my cynicism would suggest. Cracking the UK in 2008 is a major priority for their label, so don't expect this to be the last you hear of them.

So what is the most noteworthy dance single of the week? Well, it is the track that appears at Number 31 and which is possibly the first ever example of a single charting before it exists in almost any form whatsoever. First the background. Utah Saints are at their core DJs Jez Willis and Tim Garbutt (or as he was better known in my schooldays, "DJ Tim from The Mix"). Harrogate legends both. They broke into the charts in the early 90s with a series of intoxicating club hits that cleverly took the hooks from several pop records and fused them together to create what was in essence, commercial gold and inventing the mashup concept before Richard X even had his first set of decks. Thus first single What Can You Do For Me jammed Gwen Guthrie together with Annie Lennox, a Number 10 smash hit being the result. Second single Something Good was even bigger, turning a single line from the Kate Bush song Cloudbusting and turning it into a floor filler, Bush even authorising the original footage of her from the video to be used in the promo clip for the single. Their last chart appearances came back in 2000 when Love Song and Funky Music were minor hits.

Their 2008 comeback is thanks to a remix of Something Good which to be frank is every good as bit as the original and which thanks to its tongue in cheek video is set for some spectacular chart success. The extraordinary thing is that for the moment it doesn't exist as a single, Something Good 08 not scheduled for release online until March 10. Pre-release airplay and club exposure has in the meantime resulted in demand for the track which has translated into online sales for the only version currently available - the Ian Carey remix of the track which wound up as part of the most recent compilations from Hed Kandi and Ministry Of Sound. So it is that Something Good 08 charts at Number 31 despite technically being nothing more than a white label track used to create a mix album. Needless to say, the track should end up being massive when properly released, and if you haven't seen the Running Man video yet, make it a part of your online viewing this week.


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