I'm a little late appearing this week as I've been distracted listening to the White Lies album on Spotify [and there, with one throwaway comment, the next seismic event to shake up the charts and indeed the entire music industry gets a mention in these pages for the first time. Invitation-only since October 2008, within a couple of weeks of this piece, the service would be open to all]. , enjoying it enormously until I realised that the "who do they sound like" mental stroll was leading me down the darkened alley labelled Cock Robin. Nonetheless, the boys from West London do good this week, seeing debut long player To Lose My Life soar to the top of the album chart to prove once and for all that there are some advantages to unleashing hot new product in a January lull. Their success on the grown-up chart is all the more impressive given that it comes without any high profile singles chart appearances. The title track from the album still languishes lower down the Top 40, rising just one place to Number 34 this week. The implication here is clear - they have tapped into an eager audience of fans who were willing to snatch their CD off the shelves the moment it appeared, bypassing the cherry-picking market altogether. I'm still hopeful that they can turn this into singles success at some stage however, they deserve the larger audience that comes with hit singles and mainstream airplay.
The top end of the singles chart is pretty much as we expected, the battle between Lady Gaga and Kid Cudi extending to a second week. Victory spoils quite rightly go to the underdressed one as Just Dance retains its singles crown for a third week running. She does it with another impressively strong sale, selling in excess of 70,000 copies for the second week in succession. As you may have heard me mention on the podcast last week, this level of sales is incredibly impressive for January and her totals to date makes Just Dance one of the fastest selling January releases of the decade. Four years ago this week, Ciara was topping the chart after selling just 21,000 copies of Goodies. Just Dance, by contrast, has now shifted a quarter of a million copies in its four weeks on sale.
Meanwhile what is theoretically Lady Gaga's next single Poker Face continues to race ahead of all plans, moving four places to Number 26 and surely leaving her label on the horns of an awkward dilemma. If they wait too long before pushing it as her next hit, it could well have been and gone from the singles chart already. Yet with Just Dance selling so strongly and surely set for a slow and graceful burnout any attempt to move on to a different track too soon is likely to be ignored by an enraptured public.
Honours for the biggest chart climb of the week go to Tinchy Stryder and Taio Cruz who soar 39-3 with Take Me Back. As I mentioned last week, the single had previously charted thanks to sales of two dance mixes alone, this rocket to mainstream stardom coming after the full single package was made available along with a more commercial friendly radio edit. Also climbing into the Top 10 this week is Pink who moves 26-9 with the now fully released Sober. The second single from her album Funhouse, the single sees her bring the unexpected once more, ploughing a refreshing alt-rock furrow to wonderful effect.
Also pleasingly on the rise is Alesha Dixon who rises to Number 13 with the dreamy ballad Breathe Slow, a track she debuted live on the River Thames on new years eve. A track designed to show off her vocal strengths and a world away from the happy go lucky party vibe of The Boy Does Nothing, the single is a clever way of stating her case as a versatile and talented singer. A part of me still misses her days as part of Mis-Teeq when all their songs were built around the moment when stepped forward and let rip with a thousand mile an hour ragga toast ("My time, show time, hook line, let 's roll, let's ride...").
To find the highest new entry of the week we have to look as far down as Number 20 and the arrival of Ulysses, the brand new single from the returning Franz Ferdinand. It is the first single from their new album Tonight: Franz Ferdinand which hits the shops properly this week and which I suspect may well distract from the chart potential of the single itself. Ulysses follows the usual Franz Ferdinand formula to welcome effect, based around a central guitar riff which not only drives the rhythm of the song but which acts almost like a complementary vocal line. Enormously catchy and incredibly worthwhile.
Another new arrival is at Number 23. Tonight is a brand new track, specially recorded for a deluxe re-release of Jay Sean's 2008 album My Own Way, its chart appearance coming after its predecessor Stay limped to a rather miserable Number 59 in July last year. The aim with this new single is to launch him in the US market, hence the presence of Lil' Wayne on the single to give it that extra bit of appeal Stateside.
Bringing up the rear at Number 37 is the third and final new entry of the week, Blood Bank by Bon Iver. The group became as a nom de band for American folk singer Justin Vernon and he released his first album For Emma, Forever Agoto good critical reaction last year. This new single sees Bon Iver become an actual group for the very first time with Mike Noyce and Sean Carey now confirmed as full-time members of the outfit. Blood Bank a wonderfully relaxing single awash with lush harmonies and well worth five minutes of your time if you haven't already had a chance to hear it.
The very fact that this is the last of only three new entries to the Top 40 this week throws into sharp relief the debate that was sparked in many place online about just how "interesting" the singles chart had become now that the number of songs passing through it has dropped dramatically thanks to the tendency of big hits to sell in steady quantities over a much longer period of time. I can remember ten years ago being flooded with emails and queries from people questioning the validity of the singles chart when it was suffering from breathtaking levels of turnover, with around 15 new entries every week being considered normal. "How much better it was," they would complain "when singles climbed the chart slowly and hits were allowed to develop, it is just rubbish these days". Fast forward to the present day and the grumbles can now be heard from those used to such a rollercoaster ride, complaining that a chart that moves gracefully and steadily just does not hold any interest for them. If I'm still around when the pendulum swings back again, I'll make sure to dig out this piece as an example of how nobody is ever truly satisfied.