Do you know what my favourite Sunday afternoons are? The ones when the brand new charts land on my desk and I get to squeal with excitement at something unexpected happening.
The only problem really is what else to say beyond squealing, as in truth we are running out of superlatives to describe the career and chart fortunes of Lady Gaga. This week the story of the charts is pretty much all about the former Miss Germanotta as she claws her way to a single and album chart double.
The singles chart is headed up by Telephone, her duet with Beyonce which makes a strong and sudden 12-1 leap to unexpectedly depose Tinie Tempah from the top of the charts. Behind for most of the week and expected at best to land a slot in the Top 3, Telephone grabbed the Number One position over the weekend by the narrowst of margins - just 1,500 copies separated her from the runner up. The sudden surge in interest for the single is almost totally attributable to its eye-popping Jonas Akerlund video which runs to 9 minutes in its full version and which has already clocked up over 21 million views on YouTube in the week and a half it has been available. Not that the single doesn't deserve to chat on its own merits either of course, the track another almost exquisitely perfect electropop track that only adds to the list of potential classics she has produced since she first burst into our lives a year ago.
It really has only been a year as well. Telephone is now Lady Gaga's fourth Number One single in a little over 14 months, a strike rate that is almost unprecedented for a female artist - the only other member of the fairer sex to have topped the charts four times in a shorter period naturally being Madonna who managed a quartet of Number Ones in 54 weeks between July 1986 and July 1987.
Telephone almost inevitably helps to haul its parent album back to the top of the album chart, three weeks after it was last at the summit and now set for its third run at Number One. Honourable mention has to be made here of Beyonce who duets with Gaga on Telephone and makes her own star turn in the video, even if her nice girl image means her utterance of the oedipal compound is bleeped out even in the "uncut" version. This is her first appearance at Number One since If I Were A Boy had a one week run at the top in November 2008. Counting her Destiny's Child work along with her solo offerings, Beyonce has now appeared on seven Number One singles since 2000.
The only other Top 10 activity of note comes at Number 8 as Hot by Inna grabs itself the highest new entry. The singer (real name Elena Apostoleanu) hails from Romania and first released her hit single across Eastern Europe in early 2009. Having topped the charts in countries as diverse as Moldova, Lebanon and Ukraine and been showered with awards as one of the most successful Romanian pop stars of all time , it was more or less inevitable that an assault on the west would follow. Hence an American record deal for her debut album and a licensing deal that saw dance label All Around The World pick up the rights to promote her music here. For all the hype, Hot isn't exactly the spectacularly innovative dance track many reviews may have led you to believe. Underscored by a bubbly electrohouse beat, Inna performs a vocal that is pretty much indistinguishable from most other dance divas with the song itself rarely reaches levels of inanity beyond that of a typical Eurovision entry. As a pop record it is serviceable enough and more than deserves at least a brief Top 10 run. As the East European future of pop music, I'm not completely sure it shows us the way forward.
Just outside the Top 10 honourable mention should be made of Bedrock from Young Money featuring Lloyd which has spent the last nine weeks making slow but inexorable progress up the chart. First appearing in the week of January 30th, the single has been edging its way forward ever since, moving 61-40-34-28-27-22-18-18 before now making another jump and resting at Number 12. With a tenacity like that it would be almost a shame if the single, a multi-artist collaboration featuring acts signed to Lil Wayne's Young Money Records, gave up now and failed to make the Top 10. Off all the chart moves next week, I think this is the one I'll be looking out for with the most interest.
By taking so long to climb to a peak, the Young Money single is bucking a trend of sorts. Although there is no shortage of hit singles to have taken the long walk to success on the chart at the moment, the past few weeks have seen a curious return to the old days of hits entering high and then vanishing swiftly off the radar. Aside from expected one week wonders such as the Jedward single and the last Boyzone release, there are several other chart acts who appear to be finding consolidation to be beyond them. Every single one of last week's new entries has taken a tumble. Justin Bieber not so much admittedly with a 3-4 fall for Baby, but Gabriella Cilmi crashes 9-17 with On A Mission, McLean fall 10-13 with My Name whilst hot club track I'm In The House from Steve Aoki falls 29-41. Not that every single which tumbles after a week is necessarily destined for whatever the digital equivalent of the bargain bins is. Opposite Of Adults by Chiddy Bang this week spends a third straight week locked at Number 16, the position it fell to a week after debuting at Number 12. These guys are out to wear us down just through attrition.
Down at Number 26 is another new entry, this one for Skepta with Bad Boy. Yet another new British rap star, 27 year old Skepta hails from Tottenham and has been a fixture on the grime scene for some time, only now making a bid for the mainstream. Not that he is entirely unfamiliar with hit singles as Skepta is closely associated with the Roll Deep Crew who scored with two Top 30 singles in mid-2005, reaching as high as Number 11 with The Avenue in June that year.
It kind of says it all that in a quiet week for new singles, the final chart headlines have to be left to the Glee Cast who once again pepper the lower end of the chart with their latest episodic releases. Leading the charge this week is True Colors (sic), their remake of the Steinberg/Kelly song which was first recorded by Cyndi Lauper in 1986 and which has since been covered by a wide variety of acts. The Glee Cast are now the third to have a Top 40 hit with the song, following Lauper's own Number 12 version and a rendition by Phil Collins which made Number 26 in 1998. One of my favourite versions of the song is by Aztec Camera, their take on the track appearing on the b-side of their 1990 single The Crying Scene. Back to Glee though, and True Colors now gives them seventh Top 40 hit of 2010, seven coincidentally also being the number of singles they have on the Top 75 this week. Volume 2 of the first series soundtrack album was widely expected to top the album chart this week, having been given a rush release some weeks ahead of its theoretical release date as per the pace of the show on TV. Instead Lady Gaga gets in the way, leaving the album to soar to Number 2 after spending the last 8 weeks languishing lower down the chart thanks to imported sales.