"It's all just a little bit of history repeating" sang Shirley Bassey a decade ago. She could well have been predicting the behaviour of the singles chart over the last few weeks, with the movements of the Number One singles following strangely familiar patterns.
Last week it was the Black Eyed Peas yo-yoing to the top of the charts for the second time this year. This week they are replaced at the summit by David Guetta who lands his second Number One single of 2009 in similar circumstances to the first. Both his previous hit When Love Takes Over and new single Sexy Chick faced some unexpected competition from unauthorised cover versions which had appeared in the shops a week before the scheduled release of both singles. As a result, the "real" versions were raced to the market several days early, resulting in their charting after just half a week of sales. In the case of When Love Takes Over this resulted in a Number 7 entry for what was at the time one of the hottest new club tracks of the year, prior to its ascension to Number One a week later. Sexy Chick had an even slower start, debuting at Number 21 last week and as a result, makes a huge 20 place jump to rest at Number One.
The 21-1 jump to the top of the charts is the ninth highest in chart history. Three other discs have climbed to the top from the same chart position, Hey Jude, (Just Like) Starting Over and most recently Deja Vu from Beyonce and Jay-Z. Sexy Chick is the first single to climb to Number One from outside the Top 10 since So What by Pink made a 38-1 leap last year.
As we mentioned in Chart Bite last night, the lead singer on Sexy Chick is Akon who thus tops the chart for the third time in his career after Lonely in 2005 and Smack That in 2006 both made Number One. David Guetta has the rare honour of replacing himself at Number One as he co-wrote and is co-credited with will.i.am as producer on I Gotta Feeling which dips this week to Number 2. He makes chart history as the first Frenchman ever to have two Number One hits in this country. His only other compatriots to top the charts across the Channel - Charles Aznavour, Mr Oizo and Modjo - have only managed one apiece. Mention must also be made naturally of the rather cute way the title of the single is adjusted to Sexy Chick to make it a little more radio friendly than its unexpurgated Sexy Bitch original form. One suspects this change is to make it more palatable in other territories, given that the b-word has cropped up in song titles in the past with barely a murmur.
The week's highest new entry is Outta Here by Esmee Denters which flies in at Number 7. If you believe the hype, the Dutch singer came to prominence as one of the more notable YouTube singalong stars, her inch perfect renditions of popular R&B hits resulting in her discovery and swift elevation to the big time. She is signed in America by no less a figure than Justin Timberlake, who contributes to the writing and producing of her debut single. In itself, the single is nothing too spectacular, a colour by numbers R&B and electropop single that risks making her sound like little more than a Lady Gaga clone. What she does have going for her, however, is her distinctive and powerful voice which we heard used to fine effect on the amateur videos of her which are still in circulation. That is enough to give you hope for the future, whether or not Outta Here grows on you or not.
Arriving at Number 11 is Just Jack with his second single of the year The Day I Died. Reaction to his comeback hit Embers earlier this year was lukewarm, to say the least, but this new single goes at least one step further, charting three places higher than its predecessor. His new album All Night Cinema, from which both singles are taken, hits the shops this week.
One lady who is used to rather more lofty chart position is Lily Allen who has in the past few weeks found herself in the unusual position of watching latest single 22 struggle to gain a foothold. The follow-up to Top 5 hit Not Fair, the single has moved 60-44-37-23 in the last four weeks, causing some doubts as to whether it can add to her tally of Top 20 singles. The choice of single was a surprise in some quarters as the reflective track was never flagged up as one of the highlights of the It's Not Me, It's You album, particularly when moments such as the censor-baiting F**k You are just crying out for promotion [that ended up as a single in Europe and topped the charts in Belgium, the UK label bottled it here]. Still, if there is one thing Lily Allen is a past master of it is charting singles that take their time to embed themselves in people's heads. 2007 single Alfie took five weeks to reach its eventual Number 15 peak and even Not Fair took four weeks to reach the Top 10 from its initial entry at Number 16, and a further four to reach its peak. Don't write this one off too quickly.
New at Number 25 is So Fine from a returning Sean Paul. Back in 2003, the Jamaican star was a byword for ubiquity, appearing on smash hit singles by Blu Cantrell and Beyonce as well as chalking up a string of Top 10 hits from his own album Dutty Rock. His 2005 follow-up The Trinity got off to a strong start with the Number 2 hit We Be Burning but subsequent singles tailed off and his last chart appearance was at a lowly Number 31 with (When You Gonna) Give It Up To Me which charted in November 2006. So Fine is no better or worse than any of his past offerings, but you can't escape the nagging feeling that he was, by and large, a phenomenon of his time. What worked in 2003 just doesn't flow in 2009 and Sean Paul sounds for all the world like a man trading still on past glories. [Six years later he'd be performing on the Christmas Number One. Go figure].
Making a jump up the chart to Number 30 are Kasabian with Where Did All The Love Go. The second official single from the West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum album, it is actually the third to chart after the Sony-advert soundtrack Underdog crept to Number 32 a week after its predecessor Fire hit Number 3. One suspects this single is for completists only, unless it somehow becomes a huge mainstream smash but as an exercise in reminding people that the album is still available and as an example of what it contains, it does the job perfectly. Whilst on the subject of singles from acts probably best known for selling albums these days, it is worth noting the brief reappearance of Crying Lightning from the Arctic Monkeys. Making a rather lowly (for them) Number 12 when first released digitally back in July, we wondered at the time whether it would hang around long enough for the eventual physical version to make an impact. That moment arrives this week, just as sales for the digital single had dropped off to such an extent that the single had fallen out of the Top 75 altogether. After reappearing at Number 72 last week, the single now charges to Number 45 - a long way short of becoming the sixth Top 10 hit single that we could have been forgiven for expecting.
Meanwhile on the albums market there is a refreshing change as the long run of Michael Jackson finally comes to an end. Replacing him there are no less than two new entries in the Top 2, the mini race won by Calvin Harris whose Ready For The Weekend gives him his first ever Number One album. Trailing in his wake is Tinchy Stryder whose Catch 22 album is home to both his Number One hits, Top 3 hit Take Me Back and also forthcoming single You're Not Alone (based on the Olive hit of the same name from 1997) which is set to be its fourth single and begins its chart life in tandem, hitting Number 50 on the singles chart.