[The advantage of the then-blog format of the Chart Watch pieces meant that it was feasible to publish two articles in quick succession, unlike in 2004 when I had to wait four days to post a second instalment after devoting an entire column to the Band Aid single. Here then is Part 2, as we reflect on the alternate universe in which Michael Jackson hadn't died and messed up everyone's chart prospects].
So what of the non-Jackson bits of the chart? This is the place to learn all.
When the news broke late on Thursday night, some friends were quick to make the pithy but still prescient comment "Poor La Roux". Although the worst fears that they would be eclipsed totally by the Jackson bandwagon were not realised, it is still a rather regrettable fact that their sensational debut at Number One with their second single Bulletproof will be all but overlooked by all but the dedicated few.
Ben and Elly can already boast one of the biggest selling singles of the year so far, with In For The Kill having sold close on half a million copies already. Still selling strongly (it is locked at Number 16 this week), the track is the year's third biggest seller to date, despite never having made Number One. It is a stat that Bulletproof corrects with some style. The track itself sounds for all the world like a four-minute tribute to the entire career of Vince Clarke. At the risk of presenting an incredibly tortured metaphor, it is like Erasure performing a Yazoo single with a chorus lifted straight from the early works of Depeche Mode. Perhaps more so than any other single so far this year, Bulletproof wears its 80s influences proudly on its sleeve in what is not so much a celebration of the sounds of the decade as an out and out homage to it.
As an interesting aside, Bulletproof is the 1099th Number One single in chart history which naturally means whichever track supplants it at the top will go down in history as yet another centennial chart-topper. Naturally, the possibility exists that Man In The Mirror will make the leap, assuming its sales hold up during the course of the week (which is for sure by no means a given). At the time of writing it has finally overhauled Bulletproof at the top of the iTunes live chart, something it had previously been unable to do. Watching the battle develop over the next seven days should be quite fascinating.
It is the world of the electrogirls which gives us the highest "new" entry of the week as Florence & The Machine fly to Number 12 with Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up). It is the first Top 40 hit for Florence Welch and her collaborators and only their second chart hit of any kind. Debut release Kiss With A Fist made Number 51 just over a year ago whilst follow-up singles Dog Days Are Over and You've Got The Love both missed the Top 75. All four tracks are taken from their debut album Lungs which hits the stores next month. If you are tired of 80s synth throwbacks then you could do far worse than to check this single out, an enigmatic and ethereal track which climaxes in an anthemic chorus which makes everything seem worthwhile. Yes, there are 80s influences in there, but they are Siouxsie and the Banshees and Kate Bush which is nothing less than a joy.
The rest of the Top 20 is characterised by the usual frustrating lineup of hot new singles which find themselves crashing against the glass ceiling of the Top 10. They can't even blame Jackson sales for this lack of progress. The Freemasons' Heartbreak (Make Me A Dancer) stalls at Number 13, Jordin Sparks' Battlefield slips back three to Number 14 whilst even more surprisingly Hush Hush ; Hush Hush from the Pussycat Dolls holds firm at Number 18. The double-barrelled title is designed to flag up that this is actually two songs in one. The original Hush Hush was a ballad and was one of the tracks on their Doll Domination album. The new version is taken from a special edition which is being released as "version 2.0" of the album in some territories but in a sensible move is being pushed here as a six track mini-album featuring the reworked tracks from the new version. The single rendition of Hush Hush was the arrangement the girls performed on tour, leaving the first verse of the single intact before it takes off in a totally different direction in a house remix that ultimately climaxes in a rendition of I Will Survive just for the hell of it. I'm a huge fan of records that change tone or tempo or shoot off at right angles and to me, this has the same kind of fun vibe as disco classic No More Tears (Enough Is Enough). I hope this isn't the end of this story.
Also new at Number 21 at Basement Jaxx who make a chart return after a long absence with Raindrops. Messrs Buxton and Ratcliffe have been silent since the release of 2006 album Crazy Itch Radio but now return with this bhangra flavoured track which duly settles in to become their biggest chart single since Oh My Gosh made Number 8 in early 2005. New album Scars is currently pencilled in for a September release.
Finally, there is also a Top 40 new entry for Never Forget You from the Noisettes which moves 48-31. The follow-up to smash hit Don't Upset The Rhythm, the differences between the two tracks could not be more marked. The new track is a rock/reggae fusion complete with pizzicato strings and a girly vocal from Shingai which all combine to make this one of the summeriest, brightest most nostalgic singles you will hear all week.
There is a genuine fear that a whole string of worthwhile hits are about to be roughly shouldered out of the way by the continuing Jackson bandwagon. As I mentioned earlier, the tribute sales of his records have continued unabated over the weekend and you can bet your life that there are plenty of acts and their labels who are about to find their carefully laid release schedules and promotional plans swept away in a tide of mourning. The only relief is that radio stations got bored of back to back Jacko records by Friday afternoon and reinstated their usual playlists. Normality is still just around the corner, it just depends how many more steps we have to take to get there.