[We start this week with what turned into a rather infamous rant. Because I heard the Radio One chart show for the first time in ages. And it really, really annoyed me].
I had an unfortunate experience on Sunday evening. A long car journey meant that just for a change I was in a position to listen to the chart show on a certain national radio station. You'll know the one I mean, the one that used to have a host that actually cared about what he was playing and what it meant for each artist to have each chart position. In his place now, of course, are two giggling imbeciles who use the show as much as a vehicle for themselves as it is for the music, spend half the show not actually doing the chart in the first place and then when they get round to it editorialising in the worst possible manner. Trust me, if there is one cardinal rule of doing a chart show it is respect the tastes of your audience - especially when it comes to the Number One single. Said single is still Axel F, the official Crazy Frog record clocking up a third week at the top. I'm no big fan of it personally, I can't see a reason for its existence at all, but the computer printout I'm looking at at the moment tells me I'm in the minority. In fact, so many people like it and find it appealing that it has outsold everything else on the market for the last few weeks, selling so many copies in the process that in that short time it has outsold virtually everything else this year to wind up as the second biggest seller of 2005. I can scratch my head in bemusement but I sure as heck have to respect and acknowledge that. What I should never do of course is spend a chart countdown show rubbishing the track, hoping that it won't be Number One by the end and howling with frustration when I am forced to announce that my prayers have not been answered. Tweedledee and Tweedledum couldn't manage this of course and demonstrated just why their show has gone so badly wrong. Fun fact: the live chat room that used to run alongside the show doesn't operate anymore. Is this possibly because it was only ever filled with people telling them how useless they were? [Tweedledee and Tweedledum were the then hosts JK and Joel. In an odd twist Joel would subsequently become a good mate and put the blame entirely on the show producers for stopping them doing a "proper" chart show like they wanted].
OK onto brighter things and some real music in the shape of U2 who this week were in the unusual position of gunning for a third successive Number One single after both Vertigo and Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own stormed to the top of the charts upon release. The third single from How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb was briefly a contender but in the end has to settle for the runners up slot. Although they have had three consecutive Top 3 hits on two other occasions in their illustrious career, the performance of City Of Blinding Lights marks the first time they have managed the feat with three singles from the same album. I suspect this is something that even Coldplay won't be able to manage with future singles from X and Y, that album having flown off the shelves in enough quantities to wind up as the second fastest seller ever, anticipation for its release having grown to almost the levels that U2 experienced a decade and a half ago.
A fairly quiet week for new releases leaves the door open for a rather pleasant surprise. Just for a change, one of the most talked about singles of the week was one of the also-rans from the chart - James Blunt's Your Beautiful. Enough people heard the talk of how it was such an incredible single and how the singer was clearly the find of the year that the track put on a spurt of sales and this week advances 12-6. The success of the single is all the more pleasing when you consider that Blunt's album has been in the shops for a number of weeks with most of his promotion until now focussing on the long player, a fixture in the Top 10 for well over a month now. With the success of the single, the album is enjoying its own spurt of sales. Write off the concept of singles if you dare, their use as a promotional tool, in this case, is self-evident.
Just below at Number 7 is another upwardly mobile single in the shape of Audio Bullys' Shot You Down. Now three weeks old, the single has now moved 9-10-7 and is the second climber of the week to have grabbed its highest chart placing to date.
At Number 8 is what for some will be the long awaited return of Jay Kay and Jamiroquai. The UK's premier funk revivalist has been having hit singles for almost 14 years now and has turned out the odd classic along the way. His new album will be his first since 2001s A Funk Odyssey and new single Feels Just Like It Should hits the ground running to become what is surprisingly only his 8th Top 10 single. Sadly it is unlikely to win him any new fans and in truth is a bit of a mess production wise, at times appearing devoid of anything resembling melody. The presence of Space Cowboy and Virtual Insanity on radio playlists even to this day are testament to his ability to write some near perfect pop. This new single sadly isn't.
There is a strong argument that the world didn't really need one Crazy Frog record, let alone two but sadly this is one that falls apart with the arrival at Number 11 of Ring Ding Ding by Pondlife. Before this becomes too painful to bear it is actually worth pointing out that this track is in many ways the best of the bunch. The single is produced by some startlingly familiar names, among them Wes Butters, Daryl Denham and Trevor Jordan. The unholy alliance of radio stars claim to have actually had the idea of a Crazy Frog dance track first, their idea being greeted enthusiastically by Jamster. When the time came to clear the sample, however, the company had gone cold on the idea - they were instead backing their own single. As a result Ring Ding Ding has had to go unofficial with Crazy Frog itself being voiced by a soundalike. Most bizarrely of all the single has been released on Tug records who just happen to have also released Axel F. Despite the odds stacked against it, the Pond Life track has actually made a pretty decent chart showing. This is by no means Denham's first attempt at cracking the charts, having been the brains behind England Boys' Go England which made Number 26 in June 2002. Crazy Frog's Axel F may well have wound up the far bigger hit but it still remains a 20-year-old track with a few noises added over the top. Ring Ding Ding is actually the better piece of work, a genuine attempt to turn the original jingle into a club track to the extent that dare I say it, it moves beyond irritating to become something that is actually worth listening to. Just for a change, when it comes to creativity and inspiration, the "unofficial" Crazy Frog single wins hands down even if it ultimately has lost the chart battle.
Sneaking in next at Number 16 is Boys Will Be Boys, the much anticipated new single from the Ordinary Boys. Their first hit of 2005 follows up three well-received chart hits last year, even if only one of them actually made the Top 20. This new single beats the Number 17 peak of Talk Talk Talk to land the foursome their biggest hit to date although they can feel a little disappointed not to have made that all important Top 10 breakthrough. Fingers crossed the next single from new album Brassbound can further help them into the mainstream. Harry Potter is a fan we are told.
Number 19 sees the welcome return of some chart legends this week, the band it seems who are capable of going on forever. It is now over 25 years since Ali Campbell found himself injured in a pub fight. His compensation was used to buy the band their first drum kit and with that, he and his fellow Brummies were on their way to becoming one of the most successful reggae acts in history. Kiss And Say Goodbye is their first chart hit since 2003 when they performed Swing Low as the official Rugby World Cup song. Better yet though it returns them to the Top 20 for the first time since October 1998 and you never know could be the first step in a long overdue revival. Not that they have any need to too many hits. Significantly this track becomes their 50th hit single, making UB40 only the second group to reach this total and putting them level with Queen as the most charted group of all time. Only 12 other chart acts have ever had more hit singles and all of them are soloists. With one more hit they will break a record they look certain to hold for a long time yet, the only still active chart act to even come close to this total are U2, and they still need another 13 hits to catch up. Although some long-term UB40 fans will bemoan their lack of success in recent times with their own compositions, part of their strength (and the source of some of their biggest hits) has been their ability to turn other people's songs into unique new hits. Such is the case of Kiss And Say Goodbye, the soul classic having originally been a Number 4 hit for the Manhattens in 1976.