Deep into the middle of August we go and the eerie calmness that has overcome the chart of late becomes even more pronounced this week. In fact ever since James Blunt ascended to the top of the singles chart, the Top 10 has experienced its slowest level of turnover for decades featuring just 2, 3, 2 and this week 3 new entries only. Compare this with the increasing number of incidences of 5, 6 or even 7 new entries inside the Top 10 in a single week. Just a year ago we were speculating how long it would be before we saw a Top 10 made up entirely of new entries. Instead, the chart trend is suddenly heading in the opposite direction.
At the very top is James Blunt whose stranglehold over the charts continues. You're Beautiful spends a fourth week as the biggest selling single whilst Back To Bedlam notches up a fifth week of outselling Coldplay to be the biggest selling album. The James Blunt phenomenon has now even extended to newspaper columnists who gleefully swap tales of how many dinner parties they have been to where the Back To Bedlam CD gets slipped on whilst all the women coo about how lovely it is.
You're Beautiful presides over an entirely static Top 3 with Daniel Powter and 2Pac holding firm from last weeks positions, the first time this has happened since November 28th last year.
Honours for the biggest new hit of the week thus go to Ciara who lands her third hit single and second straight Number 4 hit with Oh. Following collaborations with Petey Pablo (on the Number One single Goodies) and Missy Elliott (on her last single 1 2 Step) she now teams up with Ludacris on this slow and slinky new single - a candidate for her best release to date in truth. Oh is Ludacris' highest charting single since his starring role on Usher's Yeah which of course topped the singles chart in March last year.
The most celebrated new single of the week has to be the one at Number 6, Getaway being the brand new single from Texas. Sharleen Spiteri et al began their chart career way back in 1989 but found chart form in the late 90s thanks to a transformation from bluesy rockers to sophisticated MOR pop stars and singles such as Say What You Want, Black Eyed Boy and Summer Son. Their star never really waned but the two-year breaks in between albums they have indulged in since the turn of the millennium have dented their momentum somewhat. Nonetheless, they still can turn out some awesome records, as witnessed by their 2003 comeback single Carnival Girl which featured Kardinal Offishall and which peaked at Number 9. New single Getaway is their most upbeat and commercially appealing single for some time and the resultant heavy radio airplay has led to it landing here at Number 6 to rank as their biggest hit single since Inner Smile charted in the same place back in 1999. It remains to be seen whether this is a return to chart form or just a one-off. We had similar hopes back in 2003 but the follow-up to Carnival Girl was the Number 40 hit I'll See It Through after which the band fell silent once more.
Rounding off the Top 10 (and indeed the Top 20 for that matter as no new singles enter between 9 and 20 this week) is The Game at Number 8 with new single Dreams. This is his third hit single and the first not to feature a chart credit for friend and mentor 50 Cent. Being neither a fan nor a hater of hip-hop I can't presume to comment on the quality of the record - it is enough that it is his third Top 10 single of the year.
So down we go to Number 21 where we find Lemar who misses the Top 10 for the first time in his chart career with his sixth chart single Don't Give It Up. It is the third single to be lifted from his second album Time To Grow and whilst there is nothing particularly wrong with it musically speaking, for whatever reason it has been lost in the mix. To have charted this low down in a week when there is very little other competition, however, ever can be seen as a huge disappointment.
Just below him the erratic decline of The Bodyrockers' I Like The Way continues. The single hit Top 3 back in April but since then has spasmodically shot up and down the chart as if on springs. The full chart run of the single now reads 3-4-5-8-12-13-16-14-14-19-15-19-20-23-25-23. It does help of course that it is such an awesome track.
In at Number 28 are the Rakes who land their third chart hit overall and second Top 40 hit with Work Work Work (Pub Club Sleep). Whereas last single Retreat channelled the Stranglers, this new hit comes over like a cross between Ian Drury and XTC whilst telling a suitably wry tale of the rigours of working life. This deserves more than to be a chart also ran - as do they for that matter.
Finally, this week at Number 31 is a wonderful example of the way the new chart rules can create some genuine oddities. Whilst the music industry can do some incredibly brainless things at times (such as suing their best customers), embracing online stores, albeit five years too late, has opened up the catalogues of some of the big labels in an unprecedented manner. To prevent such sales from clogging up the singles chart too much there are of course strict rules as to when online sales can count towards the singles chart. As we've documented in the past, an electronic single has to have a physical counterpart available in the shops (a rule instantly circumvented by Gorillaz of course) and online sales of the track are only valid for up to one calendar year after its physical release. Got that? Good, because this particular rule is this week responsible for the appearance at Number 31 of I Predict A Riot by the Kaiser Chiefs, originally a Number 22 hit back in November. The single has picked up online sales thanks to the fact that it is due for a physical re-release next week. Of course, as its first release is less than a year old, these new online purchases are already chart-eligible and listed under the catalogue number of the original 2004 release. When the single re-appears in the shops next week as a newly-packaged double a-side the online sales will instantly transfer to this new release which, having a new catalogue number, will be a new entry rather than a continuation of this chart run.
Yes it is odd, and yes it has all kinds of forum posters getting their knickers in a knot without good reason but for those of us who love and interesting singles chart it is enormous fun. Incidentally, the new radio audience figures released this week show that the Tweedledum and Tweedledee chart show (which this week played 20 seconds of some of the Top 20 songs and ended up spending 45 minutes on the Top 7) lost 170,000 listeners during the last three months. All this at a time when the singles chart means something for the first time in years. Excuse me, I'm going for a lie down for a week.