This week's Official UK Singles Chart
We're soooaaarriiinnn', flyyyyyyiiiinnn'. Please excuse me, I'm just warming up the vocal cords for a sing-along a bit later. I'm sure you'll understand when we get to it.
A burst of activity from the lower reaches of the chart last week sees one of the biggest Top 10 clearouts for some time with a 50% turnover rate leading to some long running singles finally coming to the end of their time in the upper reaches. None of this affects the top 2 however as the Scissor Sisters remain locked at the summit for a fourth week with I Don't Feel Like Dancin'. The single is now the third track this year to spend a full calendar month at the top, the others being Crazy and Hips Don't Lie, all you will note by transatlantic artists. Five singles managed the feat in 2005, although the final one by Shayne Ward admittedly only ascended to the top of the chart at the very end of December. Meanwhile just below the Killers remain the eternal bridesmaids with When You Were Young holding firm at Number 2 for a second week.
So it is that as was widely expected, the biggest new physical release of the week is Lil' Chris with Checkin' It Out, the single from the Rock School celebrity leaping 19-3. At 16 years old (his birthday was at the end of August) he is one of the youngest solo hitmakers for some time, younger even than Chris Brown who was three months shy of his 17th birthday when he hit Number 2 with Run It back in February.
Now to the Number 4 single and to put this in context we have to cast our minds back to the summer of 2003. That was when we first came across Evanescence, the not-in-the-slightest-bit Christian gothic rock band fronted by the strikingly voiced Amy Lee. Their debut single Bring Me To Life was one of those singles that screamed smash hit classic from the word go. It lived up to its potential all over the world (hitting Number One here) but sadly was also the kind of record that put its successors in the shade. OK so Evanescence managed two more Top 10 hits in 2003 on the back of that smash hit, but the nagging feeling remained that Bring Me To Life was the only good song they actually had. Now they are back, the band surviving a post smash hit schism that saw founder member Ben Moody leave the fold. The lead single from their new album The Open Door, Call Me When You're Sober removes any lingering doubts over the longevity of the group and charges 32-4 upon its physical release. In a way the three year break was the best thing that could have happened to them, allowing memories of that career opening smash hit to fade away. Bring Me To Life made such an impact that they could never even hope to live up to it. By starting afresh after a break we now have the luxury of judging Call Me When You're Sober on its own merits.
The third arrival in the Top 10 this week is Lily Allen with LDN, the follow-up to her Number One hit Smile which this week finally drops out of the Top 40 after a 13-week stay. Like its predecessor, LDN began life as one of the songs that had everyone rushing to her MySpace profile at the start of the year. Lyrically you can argue that it is a better track than Smile, a bittersweet tribute to the city of her birth whose cynical tone only really becomes apparent on subsequent listens. The rise of the single also helps propel parent album Alright, Still back into the Top 10, the long player resting at Number 4 this week.
Oh yes, and I take back all the cynicism about whether the Pussycat Dolls had released one single too many from their debut album. Far from struggling, I Don't Need A Man also makes a flying leap from its digital only entry point last week, soaring 21-7 to give the Dolls a perfect 5 out of 5 for Top 10 hits. Duplicating the Top 3 success of the first four was maybe too much to ask for this track, but for a fifth single release, you have to applaud it for even getting this far.
So then, after the first audition are you ready for the callbacks? The biggest musical phenomenon of the year Stateside has not been a new rap discovery or the new release from R&B royalty. Instead, it has been "High School Musical". Starting life as a Disney Channel TV movie, the tale of Troy and Gabriella and their desire to break free of the shackles of their social stereotypes has steadily grown into a worldwide phenomenon, the Hot 100 having been clogged up for the best part of nine months with the various tracks from the soundtrack album. Last weekend the film debuted on the Disney Channel in this country, pulling in almost 2 million viewers (ten times the usual audience for the channel) and so inevitably it is now time for the soundtrack of the 21st-century Grease to start making a chart impact.
Breaking Free is the song sung at the climax of the plot as the two protagonists finally overcome nerves, peer pressure and circumstance to clinch their places in the titular musical. It stands proud as the corniest, cheesiest most joyful boy girl pop record we've heard since the demise of S Club 7. In short, a nailed on guaranteed smash hit. Entering at Number 45 last week, the single rises to Number 9 on its physical release. Although credited to Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens in America, here the single is listed as being by "Cast Of High School Musical", thanks to subsequent revelations by the producers that Andrew Seeley performs most of the male vocals on the track.
You can more or less guarantee this isn't the end of the story. Mainstream attention to the phenomenon will almost certainly take off with the arrival of the track in the Top 10 and the film itself is set to reach a far wider audience when the BBC screen it at Christmas - just in time I suspect for the finale All In This Together to be making its own chart assault. Incidentally, in the interests of research, I watched the film myself this weekend. I'll tell you later what I did afterwards. [Scared face emoji].
The highest new entry of the week is, yes, a download only single set to climb even higher next week. The honour goes to Razorlight, already with a Top 3 hit to their name this year thanks to In The Morning which charted back in July. Now it is the turn of the follow-up America which possibly has the honour of being their most commercially accessible release yet. The album track has shot to Number 15 the moment it has become chart eligible and you can more or less bet your shirt on the fact it will be Top 5 in seven days time.
One man who doesn't quite have that prospect to look forward to is Paolo Nutini who could have been forgiven for looking forward to a second Top 10 single to follow his smash hit debut Last Request, a Number 5 hit earlier in the summer. His second single Jenny Don't Be Hasty landed at Number 42 last week but its combined sales are only enough to raise it to Number 20 this week, a shame really as the single moves away from the silky soul of its predecessor and shows the young singer up as a man of versatility and barely tapped potential. He'll be back.
You can also expect a good climb from the second new entry of the week as Bob Sinclar arrives at Number 21 with Rock This Party (Everybody Dance Now) which is selling uncharacteristically well (for a dance record) on downloads alone. A proper analysis can wait until next week but he will be hoping to beat the Number 12 peak of his last chart hit Love Generation from almost exactly a year ago.
Also look out for big climbs from P Diddy and James Dean Bradfield who both sneak into the Top 30 with new releases this week. I suspect also that the Number 48 entry point for Leann Rimes and Bryan McFadden with Everybody's Someone isn't a true reflection of its chart potential. Oh yes, and just to lay all my cards on the table, after watching High School Musical this weekend I immediately sat and watched it again, it is actually that compelling. My punishment will be to be singing the songs all week - but that is actually not such a bad thing either.