I may have mentioned it before, but one very large consequence of the drastic change in singles chart regulations this year is that pretty much everything we know is wrong. Only for a few months of course, but until such time as we have seen examples of the way singles respond to certain circumstances it is impossible to even begin to make predictions.
Such was the uncertainty over the fate of Take That's second comeback single Shine. Here was a track which was due a proper single release in late February but which had theoretically been available as a download since its parent album was released at the back end of last year. Consequently, it hit the chart more or less immediately once the new era had been ushered in and over the next two months slowly but surely edged its way up the chart until last week when it rested at Number 10. But what would happen next?
Obviously, in the old days, we knew. The CD release of a new Take That single would propel it into the upper reaches of the chart. But what if like today the single had been a chart fixture for almost two months? Would its full release still have the same impact and send it soaring? Today the question is answered and proves that whilst everything we know may well be wrong, the stuff we used to know still applies, as Shine gets a huge boost in sales and charges straight to the Top 10 to give Take That yet another Number One single.
It is their tenth in total and the very latest in a run which began back in the midst of their first career in the 90s and which has now seen 10 of their last 11 singles top the charts (the shocking failure of Love Ain't Here Anymore to rise beyond Number 3 in 1994 their only release to spoil this run). Perhaps more significantly it is their sixth chart topper in a row, putting them level with the Spice Girls and only one behind the modern day record of seven held by Westlife. Once upon a time the Beatles were credited with the all-time record and were listed as having 11 in a row, but this total required the books to ignore the chart runs of pre-fame singles My Bonnie and Ain't She Sweet which appeared as unofficial re-releases at the start of this run. Applying the rules strictly means the fab four's best run was also seven in a row.
The Beatles reference is more than appropriate as more than one newspaper writer has described the rather wonderful Shine as a Beatles tribute which I'm not sure is quite the intention of the track. I much prefer to see the intention of the guitars and strings arrangement as being a rather lovingly constructed ELO pastiche, a fact backed up by the way the harmonies on the track are up there with Jeff Lynne's most inspired moments.[Let's split the difference, the piano in the verses is indeed a take-off of Lady Madonna but the choruses are pure ELO. Happy?] Indeed for all the accolades that were heaped upon it, their last single Patience sounds positively anaemic compared to this new track. With the possible exception of Back For Good, most of Take That's original body of work was very much of its time and quickly dated in comparison with the Max Martin-inspired high points that pop reached at the end of the decade. I'd suggest that Shine is worthy of attention as one of the best singles they have ever released.
With the Kaiser Chiefs slipping to Number 2 after their week in the sun with Ruby, the rest of the Top 3 is rounded off by Gwen Stefani who moves up four places to see The Sweet Escape match the peak of its predecessor Wind It Up as she equals her best ever solo performance. Co collaborator Akon can now boast three Top 3 hits in a row with his own I Wanna Love You also having recently hit Number 3.
In another of those strange rule quirks that the download era has produced more than once, the highest new entry on the singles chart isn't really a new entry at all. When The Gossip charted with Standing In The Way Of Control back in January the track was still associated with the catalogue number it had been granted from its last release back in November 2006 when it peaked at Number 64. That number stayed with the single right up until last week when it crept to Number 13. This week the single was officially re-released as a new CD which has resulted in the track now qualifying under a new catalogue number and its online sales being credited to the "new" release rather than the older one. Thus not for the first time we have the strange situation of last week's Number 13 hit Standing In The Way Of Control vanishing from the chart, to be replaced by The Gossip's new single Standing In The Way Of Control which is a brand new entry at Number 7. Don't you just love red tape? [Nonsense such as this would finally vanish when the digital single became the primary format for all releases and everything was just folded into the same chart run]. Anyhow, the continuing rise of the single comes at the end of a week when the band played a series of London gigs, further elevating the amazing Beth Ditto into her rightful place as a true icon for all overweight lesbian lead singers everywhere. Plus she gets to be a hero to the rest of us as well.
They may irritate us enormously but those who have the ability to connect with the neandertal minds of the back of the bus teenage set who tinnily blast bad club records from the speakers of their mobile phones are the ones who have control of their purse strings. Step forward Germans Yanou and Manian who are the brains behind Cascada and who to date have clocked up two long running Top 10 singles with cheesy sub-Vengaboys tosh such as Every time We Touch and December's cover of Savage Garden's Truly Madly Deeply. This week the dynasty is extended with the release of third single Miracle. A poor seller online, the dance hit finds its niche as a physical release and charges into the Top 10 at Number 8 this week to become the highest "proper" new entry of the week. In fairness, the track is their least terrible to date and the I Need A Miracle chorus goes a long way towards redeeming the Teutonic stomper as a worthwhile pop record in its own right. Nonetheless, that admiration will, I guarantee, be tempered the next time you have a headache inducing journey home from work thanks to the Nokia-tastic presentation of the track by the unwashed scrote on the back seat. You have been warned.
Just to prove I don't know everything (who said "anything?") the rise of Read My Mind from the Killers remains at the time of writing a mystery. Up from Number 29 to 15 this week, just about every resource going insists that the single came out physically this week, yet the chart is still listing it under its online only CatCo reference number which would imply that physical sales have not been tracked yet. Should this turn out to be the final peak of the track it will become their second Number 15 hit in a row, matching the peak of Bones from December last year.
The plot thickens still further with the appearance at Number 16 of The Creeps from Danish star Camille Jones which is listed as hitting shops this week (March 5th) but which arrives on the chart with a physical catalogue number. Those who are paying attention will note that the Take That single which most definitely did hit the shops this week still has its CatCo number which would imply that the database at Millward Brown and the OCC isn't quite up to date - so let's assume then that the Number 16 entry of The Creeps is by downloads which would imply a surge to the Top 10 next week. If that is the case then it will be very welcome. The rather understated track from her album Surrender is transformed for this single release by Fedde Le Grand whose work earns him a co-credit on the chart. An addictive and quite exciting track this single actually deserves to be massive.
With the Kaiser Chiefs currently experiencing their biggest hit to date, it is nice to welcome to the Top 20 the band who shot to prominence as their support act at the end of last year. Also hailing from Leeds, the Pigeon Detectives released three singles last year and finally broke the Top 40 with the last, I Found Out which crept to Number 39 in November. Their mainstream recognition takes a step further forward with new single Romantic Type which lands comfortably at Number 19, and if the experiences of their fellow citizens are anything to go by will probably go Top 5 on a re-release sometime in October.
Finally for this week a genuine oddity. Searching for a way to make headlines with something more than a never ending series of marches of the unwashed, anti war campaigners hit on the idea of releasing a single for download. A rather by the numbers cover of the famous Edwin Starr soul classic War, they hit on the wheeze of calling the band Ugly Rumours in honour of the outfit that Prime Minister Tony Blair fronted in his student days. With the addition of the lead singer performing in a Tony Blair mask, the joke is nicely rounded out and at the start of the week the call went out - buy this single and send a message to Tony or something.
Enough people heeded the call to ensure that after just a single day of sales the record was projected to go Top 5, something which made the organisers get very excited. Sadly it turned out that like so many niche issue-led releases, the track sold somewhere in the region of none and bugger all for the rest of the week. The result is War sitting at a rather less headline grabbing Number 21 from where it is set to tumble next week. As you may have guessed, I'm never a fan of singles that tie themselves to a particular cause, whether social or political. All it does is devalue the artistry involved in actually making the music and reduces it to a "right on" statement. What happens if you like the song but don't agree with the cause? Or like the cause but think the song is rubbish? You can't win either way. Anyhow, all such debate is moot. A shame really, I was rather looking forward to shovelling dung on the track and pointing outs its high profile flaws. It looks like the indifference of the public at large have rather done that for me. [I don't like political records].