Typical isn't it. I leave the country for a week and odd things start to happen. Can I join the millions mourning the demise of Smash Hits magazine - an odd situation when you consider that the magazine was the core of the cross-platform Smash Hits brand which includes a TV channel, a radio station and even a chart show at one point. Still, if it was selling to a diminishing crowd of 10-year-olds at a loss then closure was the best thing to happen to it. For those wondering why such a fuss was made last week, those of us of a certain age are mourning the passing of Smash Hits in its 80s prime when it was required reading for an entire generation.
Onto the chart then and surprisingly there is no change at the top this week, the all-star rap single led by P Diddy, Nelly and the late Biggy Smalls reigns supreme for another week. Just to clarify one error from last week, of course, I did Nelly a disservice by overlooking Over And Over which was, of course, his last single to top the charts, in March last year. Nasty Girl is thus his fourth Number One single.
The biggest new hit of the week slides in at Number 2 making for a spectacular debut for Chris Brown [superstar? debut klaxon I guess]. The American singer is scarily young, not due to turn 17 until May but already he has the makings of being a major R&B star. With a voice resembling both Usher and his namesake Bobby Brown, Chris Brown has already topped the US chart with Run It and now storms the UK chart with consummate ease. Musically speaking the single doesn't actually do anything new, indeed you could play it back to back with Usher's Yeah and most people would struggle to tell the difference, but at the very least it crackles with an energy and enthusiasm which makes it well worth its advanced chart position. The single version of the track features an additional rap from Julez Santana, previously best known for his appearances on Cam'ron's hits Oh Boy and Hey Ma in 2002 and 2003.
The climax of Celebrity Big Brother last week has had a positive effect on the chart careers of two of its participants. Leading the pack once again is Preston who as the lead singer of the Ordinary Boys now has a Top 3 single for the very first time, Boys Will Be Boys continuing to climb the chart and advancing 9-3 this week.
Two places below there is what was perhaps the inevitable return to the chart of the Dead Or Alive classic You Spin Me Round (Like A Record), as sung by the bizarre man/woman/beast hybrid that is Pete Burns. One of the all-time great 80s pop records, the song was originally released at the end of 1984 and after an epic chart climb finally topped the chart in March 1985. It was famously the first ever Number One production for three producers Stock, Aitken and Waterman and they have often cited the success of the single for propelling them to stardom themselves. Although they remained mainstays of the 80s Hi-NRG scene, You Spin Me Round remains Dead Or Alive's one and only Top 10 hit. When told of the re-release, Pete Burns complained he was sick of the track - hardly surprising when you consider it was last in the charts as recently as two and half years ago, a remixed version making Number 23 in May 2003. Incidentally, does anyone of singles-buying age actually know what a "record" is anymore?
For the second week running the Top 10 is bereft of any other major action, our next new entry slipping in at Number 12. Boyfriend is the latest offering from Ashlee Simpson and hits the chart almost exactly a year since her last single La La hit Number 11. In the battle of the fresh faced American pop divas it has been a year when Kelly Clarkson emerged as the new queen and even Hilary Duff proved that she can turn out a cracking tune when she wants. Whilst little sister Simpson's debut hit Pieces Of Me remains a great listen, Boyfriend doesn't exactly set hearts fluttering. She'll have to wait for her second Top 10 single.
It's a frustrating time for 50 Cent as it appears that December's hit Window Shopper wasn't just a blip. With his new single Hustler's Ambition, Fiddy misses the Top 10 for the second time in a row, the track charting at a career low to date of Number 13. It's actually a shame as the single is one of his most listenable for a while. Meanwhile, his older tracks continue to sell with Window Shopper still clinging on to a place in the Top 75 and even Candy Shop, first released back in April last year making a reappearance at Number 73 this week.
Next to play at Number 15 is former Blue man Lee Ryan who by the looks of things is going to have to shift some albums to keep his contract alive. When I Think Of You is his third solo single and performs even worse than his last hit Turn Your Car Around which itself only made Number 12 in October. His only solo hit to reach the Top 10 to date has been his debut Army Of Lovers which hit Number 3 back in July. Next week the circle will be complete when Antony Costa becomes the fourth and final former member of Blue to release a solo single. In the interests of fairness I should point out I watched the first half of the Spurs v Charlton football match in his company today (Sunday) so this should be taken into account when the writeup of his new entry appears next week.
The parade of Top 20 new entries continues at Number 17 with a new entry for the also worryingly young Jesse McCartney. Although a relative unknown in this country, McCartney has been famous in America ever since he was out of nappies. He's been a Broadway star, a member of both a child group and a teenage boy band (both hitless here), a soap star and now becomes an international chart star in his own right. In stark contrast to the Chris Brown earlier, McCartney is squeaky clean to the point of nauseating but that doesn't stop Beautiful Soul being a pleasant if inoffensive pop song. He's actually got some slightly more credible material on his album so don't write him off on the basis of this one single.
In honour of the late Smash Hits I'd like to refer to this next act by their honorary title of the 'Jovi. Bon Jovi (for it is they) follow up September's Top 10 hit Have A Nice Day with new single Welcome To Wherever You Are which doesn't quite hit such giddy heights and slips in at Number 19 this week. It still means they are alarmingly consistent with their singles, especially when you consider this August will mark the 20th anniversary of their first ever Top 40 hit. Since this particular decade began they've had nine Top 40 hits, all but one have made the Top 20. The only chart honour to elude them oddly enough is a Number One hit single. Their chart peak to date is 1994s Always which hit Number 2.
Finally for this week if you think there is a refreshingly olde world look about the shape of the singles market (Top 10 bereft of new hits, records climbing to Number One etc.) they you ain't seen nothing yet. This week the remarkable tale of Fall Out Boy's Sugar We're Goin Down continues, the chart career of the debut hit for the Chicago band now reading 54-43-37-24. Top 20 for the single next week perhaps? It is certainly nothing less than it deserves. [And indeed it would, albeit as a 'new entry', this chart run as a result of downloads which were eligible from its previous release. 2006 was about to get even harder in terms of keeping track of what singles were out and why they were charting. You had to study release schedules anally. And even they were becoming less reliable].