Rare indeed are the weeks when the battle for Number One is settled by tens rather than hundreds or even thousands of copies. Despite this, we've now had two such occasions in the last month as this week just 67 copies separate Kanye West and Robyn at the top of the singles chart.
The winner of this battle actually comes as rather a surprise to many. Increasing her week on week sales along the way, Robyn lead for most of the week with With Every Heartbeat and even as late as Friday could safely have banked on a second week at the top. Tenaciously, Kanye West nipped at her heels, finally moving head over the course of the weekend to ultimately land his first ever Number One hit single.
The success of Stronger in topping the charts means he finally has revenge on the way Gold Digger was held at Number 2 by the Pussycat Dolls back in 2005. As if in sympathy, the track that is now usurped as his biggest ever hit makes a chart reappearance at Number 59.
As a fun point, it is worth noting that for the second week running an act has hit Number One with a title concept which has been used by many other acts in the past. Songs about a “heartbeat” date back to 1954 in chart terms, Ruby Murray's Number 3 hit of that title having the honour of being the first. Robyn was actually the second act to use the word in the title of a Number One hit, Steps topping the charts with a song called simply Heartbeat in early 1999. “Stronger” as a song concept is comparatively recent, Shannon kicking things off with Stronger Together, a Number 46 hit in 1985. In recent years Gary Barlow, Britney Spears and the Sugababes have all had hits called Stronger but Kanye West is the first man ever to take the subject to Number One.
The, ahem, strongest Top 10 entry this week is arguably I Found U by Axwell and Max C which takes advantage of a physical release to surge 27-6 and ensures that Swedish acts make up 20% of the Top 10 this week. The track is Axwell's second Top 40 hit and easily his biggest, the popular club track soaring past the Number 16 peak scaled by Feel The Vibe (Til The Morning Comes) back in the summer of 2005. A quick check of the various appearances of the video for the track on YouTube and attendant comments of “wicked track, reminds me of being in Ibiza earlier this month” should provide some clue as to where its appeal lies. [That might be one of the first references in these pages to the influence of YouTube and how it was y now the go-to destination for online viewing of music videos].
The highest new entry lands at Number 8 in another triumphant performance for Gym Class Heroes and their second hit single Clothes Off. Like its predecessor Cupid's Chokehold, the track delves back into musical history for its inspiration, in this case, the 1986 Number 2 hit We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off which became the first and most famous hit for the late Jermaine Stewart. The song was also covered more recently by girl band flops Clea whose version made Number 35 in 2005. If you want the honest truth this new single is possibly less immediate than their first although there is no denying it has got away to a very strong start. The CD single hits the shops this week which should see it in contention for the Top 3 in seven days time.
Also new in the Top 10 is David Guetta with Love Is Gone which leaps 21-9. It is his second Top 10 hit (following Love Don't Let Me Go (Walking Away) last year) and his third Top 40 hit in total.
Now for something that will either excite or scare you, depending on your point of view. The charts of the first half of 2005 were, you may remember, dominated by a mass Elvis Presley re-release programme, with every one of his 18 Number One hits re-released week by week. The result was a further three Number One hits for the King and a seemingly endless succession of Top 10 hits. The programme inspired Michael Jackson to try a similar thing last year, with perhaps slightly lesser results – and now in 2007, it is the turn of Elvis again. The occasion, of course, is the 30th anniversary of his death and so from now until December, a different Elvis single (non-chart-toppers this time) will appear.
The campaign opened at the start of the week with a chart-ineligible release of Heartbreak Hotel, essentially the commemorative box to collect all the re-releases. Although the list of forthcoming singles isn't that inspiring, the first chart single proper is at the very least one of his most famous hits. Written by Mark James (who also wrote Always On My Mind), the single hit Number 2 here when released in 1969. Since then it has been covered by many acts and even these have become classics themselves. Candi Staton's disco remake reached Number 31 in 1982, the Fine Young Cannibals hit Number 8 in 1986 and even the Pop Idols got in on the act, Gareth Gates' performance of the track was the double A-side to his chart-topping duet with Will Young in October 2002.
The Elvis version has now been a hit three times, having charted as recently as 2001 when it reached Number 15. The re-release this week did not appear in the shops until Thursday so we cannot read too much into the Number 11 placing of the track. Every single one of the 2005 re-releases made the Top 5 but of course, they were former Number One singles all. Whether the likes of If I Can Dream or Wear My Ring Around Your Neck will have the same attraction outside of hardcore collectors remains to be seen. The next few months should be very interesting, even if having the charts clogged up with golden oldies for no apparent reason will quickly become incredibly tedious indeed.
One place below Elvis at Number 12 are Hard-Fi with the first single from their eagerly anticipated second album, the follow-up to 2005s Stars Of CCTV. The single is Suburban Knights which arrives on download sales ahead of a full physical release this week. At a stroke, it becomes their second biggest hit to date, their only single to chart higher being Hard To Beat which scaled Number 9 in 2005. It seems almost a given that this personal record is about to be shattered.
At Number 14 there is a surprising reverse for Rihanna with Shut Up And Drive which tumbles three places. The single still has a fortnight before it becomes available on CD. The concept of whether there is such a thing as “burnout” for big download hits is still hotly debated, but one would expect nothing less than continual upward momentum for a track that will ultimately turn into a smash when it finally hits the shops. [This would spend a couple of weeks going into an odd reverse before physical release. After which it hung around forever].
Also new to the Top 20 is the still beleaguered Amy Winehouse, missing from her V Festival dates but still it seems, able to sell singles. Tears Dry On Their Own moves 24-16 to now rank as her second biggest hit single, easing past the Number 18 peak of You Know I'm No Good. Only her semi-ironic signature track Rehab charted higher, hitting Number 7 in October 2006.
The full release of Take Her Back from Leeds' Pigeon Detectives helps their latest single land a Top 20 berth, the track soaring 58-20 this week. It is the third Top 20 hit in succession for the group and the follow-up to I'm Not Sorry which was a Number 12 hit in May.
As for future hits on the way up, keep a close eye on the next big superstar collaboration, 50 Cent and Justin Timberlake with Ayo Technology. Not due out until September 3rd, the single is racing up the chart already, making a 50-23 leap this week. Collaborations with other artists aside, this is 50 Cent's first hit as lead artist since Number 13 hit Hustlers Ambition in early 2006. He hasn't had a Top 10 hit in two years, although it seems a fairly safe bet that this is the single to end the dry run.
Meanwhile, the erratic chart progress of Same Girl by R Kelly and Usher continues. The single appeared to be on for a very strong chart showing when it made a download only appearance a month ago. Since then it has stalled somewhat, peaking at Number 27 in its first week and it had slipped as far as Number 35 last week. The single finally hit the shops on the 13th and this gives it renewed impetus, helping it to a new peak of Number 26. Hardly the impact you would expect this superstar collaboration to have.
Finally, for this week, cast your eyes way down the bottom end of the Top 75 where Imagine by John Lennon makes its first chart appearance since 1999. The occasion is the arrival of Lennon's solo work online for the very first time, the appearance of his most famous hit single being a logical result. Even if it is at Number 75.