Disclaimer: I'm violently ill and writing this with a temperature that has my wife wide-eyed with amazement. Forgive me if the motivation this week is to get it over with and to get back to bed.
I'm not a fan of self-indulgent awards ceremonies at the best of times, so the fact that last week saw the staging of the annual Brit awards left me rather cold. Don't be fooled by the hype. No awards voted by an internal clique of label execs will ever be truly representative of "the best of British music". The gongs reward coolness and whoever gave out the best freebies at their album launch rather than genuine popularity or, dare I suggest it, musical quality.
That said of course the ceremony always manages to have a beneficial effect on the sales of the acts thus featured, neatly shown by the top end of the albums chart which has the Deluxe edition of Amy Winehouse's Back To Black rocketing up to Number 3 (the original release also in the Top 20) and with "Best British Male" Mark Ronson one place behind with Version.
On the singles chart, the activity is rather more restrained. Duffy spends a second week at Number One with consummate ease, Merc' still of course only available online, the physical version hitting the shops this week (Feb 25). As was widely expected her closest competition came from H Two O featuring Platnum, What's It Gonna Be charging 7-2 as physical sales are added to the mix. The track from the Nottingham duo has been kicking around for well over 18 months now, originally recorded when one of the pair was lodging at noted local music venue the Golden Fleece. In fact, they revealed this week that the unique ambient qualities of the vocals on the track are down to the fact that they were recorded in a toilet cubicle. Just as long as they put the seat down first.
One act who can point to both physical release and the Brits factor in their chart move is, of course, Kylie Minogue, who after spending most of 2008 at the lower end of the chart with Wow finally gets to see it in the Top 10 as the single rockets 18-5. It probably isn't entirely coincidental that the single release comes just over 20 years to the week since her very first British single release I Should Be So Lucky ascended to the top of the chart - technically her recording career stretches back even further with The Locomotion having been an Australian hit in the summer of 1987. A twenty-year span of hits is a phenomenal achievement for any act, and the number of female stars to have managed this are even fewer in number. Only her most ardent and blinkered fans will dispute the fact that she has managed this through the quality of the material she is given to sing, rather than her own talents as a performer. Wow is a good case in point, it is actually just a rather good pop-dance track that so happens to have Kylie Minogue as lead singer. Nonetheless, it is because of who she is that to this day people queue up to have her record their material, simply for the cachet she brings with her. Wow is now her 31st Top 10 hit.
The only other new arrival to the Top 10 this week is OneRepublic's Stop And Stare which creeps up two places, the success of this new track continuing to have a knock-on effect on sales of their last hit, the Timbaland fronted remix of Apologize which creeps up to Number 18 this week. The single is replaced at Number 20 by its immediate follow-up, Scream which rises 8 places ahead of a March 10 release.
Apologize isn't the only pre-Christmas hit on the rebound either as the Brits effect has a beneficial impact on Valerie by Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse which moves 22-13, its highest chart placing since the end of January. Sadly it does looks as if the older hit will totally overshadow the latest single release from Version which is set to give the Best British Male his first flop single. Languishing at Number 31 is the fully released 'Just', another enormously entertaining reworking of an unlikely old song, in this case, the September 1995 Number 19 hit by Radiohead, dating from before they had eschewed melody and form. For the Ronson version of Just to miss the Top 30 altogether will be a crying shame as it is another work of inspired genius, plaudits that extend to the video which apes the famous "man lying in the street" original. Picking up the storyline from where the first one left off, the prostrate crowd are approached by a street cleaner who implies it isn't the first time it has happened, only to be told by the crowd to go away because "…we are starring in a Mark Ronson video". Thus a decade-old mystery is solved.
Lower down the singles chart, more future releases are starting to make their voices heard. Something Good 08 from the Utah Saints looks set to be a smash, advancing to Number 21 and Low from Flo Rida [here making a rather understated debut, although we talk about him further next week] and T-Pain moves 40-22 ahead of its March 3 release. New to the Top 40 is With You from Chris Brown, already at Number 35 single with the release not scheduled until March 24. In short, the Top 40 may look startlingly becalmed this week, but a succession of new hits are literally just around the corner.