A large part of the fun of chart-watching is waiting to spot the unusual. You know, the things that only happen every once in a while, the new benchmarks and the strange statistical quirks that are thrown up by a listing that is updated on a weekly basis. Sometimes you get weeks like this which make all the dull times in between seem worth the while - for on this weeks singles chart there are no less than four, in fact, make that five, extraordinary events which whilst they may not be unique are certainly very unusual.
Let's start with the very top of the singles chart for we have a quite spectacular debut at Number One. It seems almost odd to suggest that Pixie Lott has been groomed for stardom for several years, given that she is barely 18 years old, but the truth of the matter is that her emergence into the mainstream comes after she has spent four years in development, notoriously signing her first management contract when she was just 14. Her debut single is Mama Do, a glorious example of just what has made the starlet such a sensation, with one listen answering all the questions people might have as to why this unknown teenager has flown to the top of the chart with her very first release. She has a rich, velvety voice which is part Joss Stone and part Amy Winehouse whilst Mama Do is the most richly soulful Number One single since Mercy, one of those songs that wraps itself around you and all but compels you to settle back and lose yourself in its atmosphere.
Plus it is with Pixie Lott that we get extraordinary event number 1 for she achieves the unusual feat of charting both the a-side and b-side of her single at the same time. Languishing down the singles chart at Number 52 is her rendition of Kings Of Leon's Use Somebody which is Track 2 on both the CD and the digital single. This isn't a totally unique occurrence, the same thing happening to Leona Lewis back in 2007 when Forgiveness landed just outside the Top 40 in the same week that 'Bleeding Love' debuted at the top, nonetheless, it is still quite baffling as to how this can come about. Use Somebody has only charted because people are buying it as a standalone track, selecting it for individual purchase from an online store. It is surely inconceivable that people are only buying the throwaway b-side and not the lead track so it must be a consequence of purchasers snapping up both - and thus wasting money. Mama Do is available as a digital bundle, listed on iTunes for £1.49 for both tracks together. Sales of that will have counted towards the chart position of Mama Do alone. Therefore the only way Lose Somebody has charted is if people have bought the 79p standalone of the a-side and then gone back to repurchase the b-side, thus spending a total of £1.58 and costing themselves 9p in the process. Hey, there is a recession on and every penny counts surely.
Extraordinary event number 2 is a minor one, but worth noting nonetheless. Languishing at Number 5 is Red from Daniel Merriweather which has remained locked in the same position ever since it was released. This week is thus the single's fourth straight week at Number 5. Whilst singles spending extended periods at Number One and even Number 2 is not so unusual, it is something quite notable for a record to lock at the same mid-chart position for so long, considering there are so many other places for it to go. For those who care and who like to keep track of these things, Red is the first single to spend four straight weeks at Number 5 since How To Save A Life by The Fray in early 2007.
The second highest new entry on the singles chart lands at Number 7, a single which in many ways was just as anticipated as the Pixie Lott single. Kelly Rowland currently finds herself without a record deal and casting around for new projects, but to fill the time she agreed to supply vocals for When Love Takes Over, the brand new single from French producer David Guetta. No ordinary club single this, When Love Takes Over is an inspiring pop record based heavily around the piano riff from Clocks by Coldplay. The single is David Guetta's third Top 10 hit and his biggest chart smash since Love Don't Let Me Go (Walking Away) hit Number 3 in August 2006. For Kelly Rowland, it is her first chart single since Daylight hit Number 14 last year and her sixth non-Destiny's Child Top 10 single.
The single would have almost certainly have charted higher had it been available for a whole week, but it originally wasn't meant to be available last week at all. When Love Takes Over was raced online in a panic when not one but two spoiler (and indeed near-identical) cover versions started to race up the iTunes rankings and threatened to have a negatively impact on the "official" version. So here indeed is extraordinary event number 3 for there are two different versions of the song inside the Top 40 this week as the note for note remake by Ari L lands at Number 22. It is extraordinary, but by no means unique as almost exactly a year ago the same thing happened to Katy Perry's I Kissed A Girl which was denied the chance to debut at the top of the charts by a midweek rush release to see off a spoiler version by Nicki Bliss which was climbing the chart at the same time.
Topping the album chart this week with few surprises are Kasabian who land their second Number One album in a row with West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, hard on the heels of 2006s Empire. Lead single Fire slips down the chart slightly in its wake, dipping 3-8 but the availability of the other tracks from the album means it spawns its very own halo hit as cherrypicked sales of lead track Underdog are enough to see it land at Number 32. The popularity of the non-single track is thanks to its use in a series of TV commercials for Sony and so it is perhaps no surprise that people were keen to snap it up the moment it was available in its own right. Chalk this up as extraordinary event number 4 then, particularly as 'Underdog' isn't scheduled for the moment to be an official single, Where Did All The Love Go scheduled to be the album's next formal release.
Two singles rush the Top 40 from lower down the chart this week and in a strange coincidence, they both create extraordinary event number 5. Leading the charge is Lady Gaga's third single Paparazzi which was finally granted a physical release last week and so gets the boost in sales it needed to become a hit single properly, vaulting 30 places to Number 13. In the process, she lands herself consecutive chart positions, with its predecessor Poker Face sitting pretty at Number 14. The exact same thing happens to the Pussycat Dolls who make an identical 30 place climb with new single Hush Hush to sit at Number 25. That just happens to be one place below their last single Jai Ho leaving the girls to chart at both 24 and 25 in the most tidy way possible.
Naturally, all of this means that the remaining new singles on the chart risk being something of an anticlimax, having nothing particularly remarkable about them. For the record though, we should acknowledge the impressive debut of New Divide which gives Linkin Park their first standalone hit single in almost two years. The track serves as the theme to the new Transformers movie Revenge Of The Fallen, thus continuing the group's association with the movie franchise after 2007 single What I've Done appeared in the first instalment. With no announcement yet made on a new Linkin Park album, this one-off single may stick around for a little while, especially once the film hits the cinemas here.
One place below at Number 21 is a single which many are hoping will give Jordin Sparks her biggest worldwide success yet. Battlefield is the title track from her second album and caused an online stir the moment it was first unveiled back in May. Simply put it is her most lavish and elaborately constructed production yet, a multi-layered track with an anthemic chorus that you feel needs a stadium full of flag-waving supporters to contain it. Jordin Sparks has suffered in the past from being given some rather weedy songs to sing, but this one is her most worthwhile yet. The only downside (and there has to be one naturally) is that you cannot escape the feeling you may have heard it all before. The problem is that co-writer Ryan Tedder appears to be suffering from what we in the business call Gregg Alexander disease, a condition which means you write one great song and then get stuck in a rut of churning out endless clones of it. Hence whilst Battlefield may be a grand, epic and potentially award-winning track, musically it isn't so different from similarly anthemic and epic songs such as Halo and Bleeding Love which you will note were all co-written and produced by the OneRepublic frontman and which all use a similar formula - right down to the rhythm track. Mix it up a bit, please! [I worry that this was an unnecessary bit of shade thrown over what was, let's face it, an utterly magnificent single and the defining moment of Jordin Sparks' brief career. Yes OK, it was a by the numbers Ryan Tedder track - Bleeding Love on steroids if you will - but it also goes down as the greatest ever interpretation of his song].
Finally for this week, Number 33 is the rather surprising low entry point for one of the most referenced singles of the last six months. The Show is the debut single from Australian actress Lenka and a single which had found itself used as a popular culture reference in TV shows and in commercials all over the world. Musically it is fun and engaging, starting off with just her and a piano before building up to a climax with a full band. For those of us who have watched with frustration as acts such as Regina Spektor fail to gain a commercial toehold, it is something of a joy to see a multi-layered anti-folk track such as this one make a chart appearance. I'm kind of hoping this is just the start of big things for this single, but there is always the fear that this is one of those gleefully good singles that simply falls by the wayside and remains a well-kept secret. Here's hoping anyway.