[Jedward week. A momentus chart for all the wrong reasons.]
From the moment their tuneless and out of step performances on X Factor began attracting newspaper headlines, there was a sense of grim inevitability that John and Edward Grimes would have career of some degree outside of the show, regardless of how long they actually lasted in the competition. The presence of John and Edward (or 'Jedward' as the press christened them) on the show was in hindsight a cleverly calculated move by the X Factor producers. The pair seemed out of place, being as they were, utterly awful singers and almost completely oblivious to just how terrible they were as performers, but they somehow provoked a debate over whether their contributions as entertainment were subverting or ruining what was theoretically a singing talent competition. Nervous reports that they were actually leading the voting in the early stages turned out to be false, they were never in contention in any sense of the word and their eventual elimination from the public vote was only a matter of time, but while they remained in the contest, Jedward gave good headline in a manner few other talent show stars have ever managed.
Nonetheless they were enough of a nightmare for the show's producers to pass on their option on the pair, leaving judge Louis Walsh to pick up the ball and milk some cash out of the concept before everyone grew bored. Hence the release last week of a full studio recording of a mash-up the pair performed on X Factor last year. It is a clever idea, taking the Queen classic Under Pressure and merging it with the rap hit that famously sampled its bassline hook in 1990 - Ice Ice Baby as originally performed by Vanilla Ice. As one final crowning glory the faded star himself is tempted back out of retirement to team up with the duo on the novelty track, in the process landing himself his first Top 40 hit single since August 1991 - before the Grimes twins were even born.
In itself the track isn't so terrible as far as throwaway novelty records go. Thanks to studio wizardry virtually anyone can be made to sound like a half decent singer and so Jedward are trimmed and tuned to sound like perfectly polished performers. The only downside is that the memories of their half cocked wailings on live TV still live large in the memory, and any attempt to portray them as proper performers is always going to be hamstrung by that lingering doubt in their abilities.
Even so, I suspect people were preparing themselves to declare it the end of the world had the single shot straight to Number One, even though almost exactly five years ago civilisation manifestly failed to collapse when similar X Factor joke act Chico soared to the top with his own five minutes of fame It's Chico Time. In the event Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby) falls at the final hurdle and slots in at Number 2, having spent the week falling ever further behind the still strong sales of Fireflies by Owl City which instead sits solid at Number One. In that sense the true disaster is for Jedward's backers as this was really their one and only shot at a proper chart hit for the novelty pair. More singles may well follow but few will find so many people so ready to share in the joke with them. The presence of Jedward at Number 2 may well still be a slightly awkward moment to explain away, but you can rest assured it is only a passing one.
Rounding out the singles chart Top 3 is a record which under any normal circumstances would be considered more or less a lock to top the charts in the next week or so. Sadly these aren't normal circumstances but we should still cheer the arrival in the Top 3 of If We Ever Meet Again from Timbaland and Katy Perry which makes good on its own commercial promise and takes a 14 place leap up the chart. The single is now Timbaland's biggest chart hit since Apologise hit Number 3 in late 2007. For Katy Perry it is the second single in a row that she has hitched a ride on to the Top 3, following hard on the heels of 3OH3's Starstrukk just a few weeks ago. The latter single finally slips out of the Top 5 this week, falling to Number 7 but still ensuring that the wide-eyed lady has two simultaneous Top 10 hits to her name.
Alicia Keys is also on the rise, primarily with Empire State Of Mind (Part II) now sitting at Number 5 but perhaps more importantly with the single's parent album The Element Of Freedom making a triumphant surge to the top of the album chart. It is a significant moment for the star as she has never before managed a Number One of any kind in this country. Until now her highest charting album had been her debut Songs In A Minor Key which clawed its way to Number 6 when first released in 2001.
Corinne Bailey Rae may have had the biggest new album of the week, landing at Number 5 with her much delayed second album The Sea, but the most headline-worthy long player release of the week must surely be Animal by Ke$ha which lands at Number 8. The almost gloriously juvenile collection of songs makes a strong impact on the singles chart as well with its most popular track Blah Blah Blah storming in at Number 11 as a companion piece to her last single Tik Tok which slides two places to Number 18. Whilst my own personal favourite track Dinosaur doesn't quite make the grade, the track Your Love Is My Drug has also attracted some cherry picking attention and arrives on the singles chart at Number 63.
This all almost threatens to overshadow the appearance at Number 12 of the debut hit for one of the most hotly tipped new acts of the year. Just like Florence & The Machine, Marina and the Diamonds is actually a 'she' rather than a 'they', the name being a front for singer-songwriter Marina Diamandis. The Welsh singer has been a work in progress for some time now, having released a couple of taster EPs last year and having found her performing legs with some low level festival slots last summer. Now it is time for the project to be properly realised and the first stage is the gorgeous single Hollywood which falls agonisingly short of a Top 10 place but which still sets the stage nicely for debut album The Family Jewels to hit the stores at the end of the month. Everyone is falling over themselves to praise Ellie Goulding as the next big female star of the moment, so it is actually quite pleasing to see Marina and the Diamonds beat her to the punch, at least as far as hit singles are concerned.
We've not had cause to mention Glee much in the last few weeks, even though the lower end of the chart is often populated by the latest releases of the week, all corresponding with the episode just aired on TV. As we always suspected, the biggest chart impacts are reserved for the performances which stand out above the rest, and so it proves as the Glee Cast version of Somebody To Love instantly becomes their second biggest chart hit to date as it storms in at Number 26 - by a strange coincidence thus becoming the second Queen remake of the week to enter the singles chart. Glee accounts for four of the Top 75 singles this week, with Don't Stop Believin at Number 4, Take A Bow at Number 74 and the other signature song of the last episode Alone arriving at Number 47. Remember that these chart impacts are without the benefit of the larger terrestrial audience which views the show on Sunday evenings, meaning that Somebody To Love may well rise higher next week. Meanwhile I'm just counting the weeks until we get to episode 13 which climaxes with a similarly storming performance of My Life Would Suck Without You which is almost certainly the Glee Cast's next Top 20 hit in waiting.
That is all we have for this week, but naturally the biggest headlines of all will be reserved for a record which has just hit the shops and which will inevitably dominate the chart talk in seven days time. Get ready, as the biggest charity single of the last five years is about to storm to the top.