This week's Official UK Singles Chart
Top of the charts? Nothing happening here really. Singles-wise it is Katy Perry who once again takes top honours with I Kissed A Girl comfortably clocking up a third week as the best-selling single in the country. She is now the first solo American female to spend more than a fortnight at the top since Madonna's three-week run with Hung Up in late 2005 - hits from Rihanna and Madonna's own 4 Minutes have had longer runs at the top since of course but both their singles also had equally credited male guest stars and so technically weren't "solo" singles.
Once place behind Katy are The Script who ease their way to a new peak of Number 2 with The Man Who Can't Be Moved, the continuing success of the single corresponding to the continuing success of their self-titled album which remains supreme at the head of a static Top 4 on the albums chart. The monotony is broken by the arrival at Number 5 of Monkey - Journey To The West, the musical concept album from Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett which forms the score of the acclaimed stage adaptation of the famous Chinese novel of the same name. Its chart arrival neatly coincides with the use of the music as the theme to the BBC's TV coverage of the just-concluded Beijing Olympics.
What is theoretically the most notable single release of the week is through a now well-known technicality absent from the charts. The promotion for the forthcoming Oasis album Dig Out Your Soul (released on October 5th) began this week with pre-orders being made available on iTunes. As seems to be the fashion, the pre-orders came with an "instant gratification" promotion which saw copies of Track 7 Falling Down made available to purchasers as a taster. Although also available as a single download, it's bundling as part of the album purchase disqualifies it from the chart - the same fate of course that befell Viva La Vida a couple of months ago. This bar won't be lifted for another month when the full album is made available, so the first chart impact of the new album will actually be the official lead single The Shock Of The Lightning which will hit stores on September 29.
So what is the biggest new hit of the week? Well, that honour goes to Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro whose career reaches a whole new peak as brand new single Mountains lands at Number 10 to give them their first ever Top 10 hit after six years of trying. Its popularity can be explained by its status as a true standalone single. Theoretically, it will be one of the tracks on their forthcoming fifth album but with no release scheduled until next year at the earliest, Mountains represents the only chance for fans of the band to get their hands on brand new material. I know I said in the Podcast last week that physical release dates were now so irrelevant I wasn't going to pay much attention to them anymore, but it is still worth noting that a physical version of Mountains hits the shops this week which should help to sustain its Top 10 status for at least one more week.
Also new, albeit in a rather more understated manner than some fans were hoping is Steve McQueen, the brand new offering from The Automatic. The sparkling new single represents their return after a self-imposed hiatus to integrate new member Paul Mullen, the group keen not to make him a direct replacement for keyboardist Alex Pennie who left the band last year. In truth, their main problem is not a change of personnel but the need to escape the shadow of breakthrough hit Monster which made such an impact in the summer of 2006 that they have struggled ever since to follow it up adequately. Just for a change then, the two-year break between albums may actually have done them a favour and we can hear their new material with fresh ears and hopefully without the need to refer back to that earlier hit.
So here is one fresh perspective - Steve McQueen is a quite inspiring comeback, a statement of intent from a group sounding refreshed, renewed but one which keeps intact the thundering gothic basslines that made their earlier work so instantly addictive. People had their fingers crossed for a Top 10 debut but its actual entry point of Number 16 will do for now - particularly as the track does indeed become their biggest hit single since The One We Shall No Longer Name.
Heading upwards with some vigour is She's Like A Star, the latest track from Taio Cruz which vaults 32-20 (and yes, OK, that can also be put down to its CD release last week). The track is his third Top 20 hit of the year, the successor to I Can Be which hit Number 18 in the wake of Come On Girl which made Number 5. Intriguingly whilst the track is available in a remixed version which features both Busta Rhymes and The Sugababes, it is the original album version which appears to be the most popular and even more strangely it is this, rather than the remix, which features on the just-released CD.
At least Cruz hasn't had to compete with himself for follow-up hits. This is, on the other hand, the rather large problem faced by Gabrielle Cilmi who is brand new at Number 33 with new single Save The Lies (Good To Me). Her challenge (and that of her label) is getting people to notice it as its predecessor Sweet About Me shows no sign of burning out, this week marching back up three places to rest at Number 15 in what is now its 24th week on the singles chart. As addictive as her first hit was, it is this release that shows what the Australian teenager is capable of, an intoxicating uptempo pop single of the kind some of us have been longing to hear all year.
The risk of the summers mega hits eclipsing their successors has already claimed one victim in the shape of Sam Sparro whose second single 21st Century Life effectively bombed at Number 44 a couple of weeks ago, going almost unnoticed as radio and the public at large are still enchanted by Black And Gold which ranks at Number 28 this week, having first appeared in the same week as Sweet About Me. It is an issue which A&R departments at major labels are having to wrestle with carefully. Multiple singles from an artist help to stimulate album sales and keep them in the public eye, but promotional activities have to be carefully scheduled to dovetail with the availability of their acts and available slots on TV and in the press etc. In the old days, it was simple, you just ran down stocks or even deleted an older hit to remove it from the shops and thus the charts. That, of course, is just no longer possible. Singles cannot be pushed back indefinitely but if an earlier hit refuses to stop selling, there seems very little anyone can do.
Finally this week the chart welcomes the return of Metallica with their first single release in four and a half years. New single The Day That Never Comes was only made available online last Saturday and so charts at Number 36 on the strength of one day's sales - suggesting a huge flying leap up the chart will result in seven days time. Their appearance at the Leeds festival last week has also prompted a surge of interest in their back catalogue and in particular tracks from their 1991 album Metallica which represented their historical commercial peak. Hence the reappearance for the first time in 16 years of Nothing Else Matters at Number 53 (original peak: Number 6 in May 1992) and Enter Sandman at Number 60 (original peak: Number 5 in August 1991). Their last Top 10 hit came back in 2003 when St Anger made Number 9 - place your bets on The Day That Never Comes making an assault on a similar placing that next week.