The sensational on-record reunion of two men who haven't worked together since 1995 and who have spent the last 15 years apparently alternating their levels of superstardom? To hell with that… there is a large American saying rude words. MUCH more important.
Yes, the big chart story of the week is not the Robbie/Gary reunion but instead a track whose status as the big online viral hit of the summer has inevitably translated in a massive smash hit Number One record. Cee Lo Green may be a new name as far as most casual observers are concerned, but his musical pedigree does already include a starring role on one of the biggest hits of the latter half of the last decade, as lead singer on the Gnarls Barkley track Crazy which made chart history of its own in 2006 when it became the first ever track to make Number One on download sales alone, a week before its physical version became available.
To launch the promotion of his new solo album, Green and his label picked a charming little ditty called F**k You as the first single, knowing that its casual and entertaining use of uncensored profanity would make it an instant talking point for anyone who heard it. When initial reaction far exceeded even their wildest expectations they needed some kind of visual accompaniment in a hurry. In lieu of a proper video, a clip was hurriedly thrown together featuring nothing more than the song lyrics scrolling past the viewer in a range of fonts and colours. It turned out to be the most inspired stop-gap ever, as just sitting and watching the words fly past only served to highlight the gloriously inventive power of the song and allowed even a casual online viewer to appreciate just how clever the record actually is. An instant YouTube smash hit, it all but guaranteed that the track when it finally appeared for sale was going to be huge.
So here it now is, complete at last with a proper video that manages to be even cleverer than the first, featuring the adult Cee Lo leading us through events of his life as he is tormented by the gold-digging ex-love at whom his invective is directed. The song itself is a masterpiece, a deliciously retro doo-wop flavoured track delivered with charm and style by Cee Lo Green in his trademark high pitched vocal range. F**k You is easily one of the best soul, best R&B and best pop records of 2010 and to see it resting at Number One on the singles chart is nothing less than a joy.
There is naturally the thorny question of the profanity used in the song, one which was always going to cause radio programmers a headache when it came to its suitability for airing to a mass audience. Neatly anticipating the problem, the track is available in a more family friendly Forget You version (the one you will note even the singles chart demurely lists as the actual Number One) which is available for purchase alongside the unexpurgated original. True, this dilutes a little of the intended impact of the song, but needs must at the end of the day. Green has at the very least been a little more accommodating towards mainstream tastes than fellow R&B singer Eamon who back in 2004 was the last person to top the singles chart with a record featuring the f-word in the title: F**k It (I Don’t Want You Back). With no alternative version made available, radio was forced to play the original with appropriate muting and censorship, their headache only compounded by the single being replaced at Number One with F**k You Right Back, a direct response to the single performed by Frankee.
F**k You and Forget You storm to Number One in tandem with a total sale of well over 107,000 copies, representing a huge lead over what I will never tire of pointing out was supposed to be the big pop music story of the week.
When 1990s boy band Take That reunited as a four-piece in 2006, bereft still of Robbie Williams who had flounced out on them just prior to their original demise over ten years earlier, questions were inevitably asked as to just why he was not taking part in the reunion and speculation mounted as to just when he would climb down and finally complete the set (as it were).
Now the wait is finally over. After what seemed like endless tentative steps, earlier this year it was announced that détente had been reached. Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow were friends once again and he had been recording with Take That for the first time since 1995. For the moment however we are still left waiting, the first post-rapprochement is not a Take That single but a brand new Robbie solo track on which Gary Barlow takes an equal role as co-vocalist. Shame is lifted from a brand new Robbie Williams hits collection, one which it appears will be released alongside the new Take That album Progress at the end of next month.
So whilst theoretically Shame is a moment we never thought we would say, the true historic comeback is going to be the next Take That single. For now, it is one of the best singles Robbie has released in some time, a song head and shoulders ahead of some of the misfiring tracks on his last album. Number One would have been nice, but the track does at least match the peak of his big comeback single Bodies from almost exactly a year ago and now extends Robbie Williams' solo career into a third decade. It seems almost taboo to point it out, but it is actually a unfamiliar feeling to hear Robbie and Gary duetting side by side on a track. Even in their early days, lead vocals on Take That tracks were handled by each member in turn, so whilst Gary sang lead on Pray, Sure and Back For Good, Robbie performed on his own on I Found Heaven, Everything Changes and Could It Be Magic. Believe it or not Shame marks the first time ever that the two men have shared lead vocals equally.
In terms of overall chart impact, the man of the week is possibly not of Green, Williams or Barlow but instead Tinie Tempah, the man whose single Written In The Stars is knocked down to Number 3 after a solitary week at the top. His main consolation is the strong sale of his debut album Disc-Overy which blasts through the competition to rest comfortably at Number One on the long players chart. Demand for the album is reflected on the singles chart as well, with previous hits Pass Out and Frisky climbing back up at Numbers 43 and 50 respectively and album cuts Wonderman (Number 45) and Invincible (Number 57) also making the Top 75. To add to that Tinie Tempah also has the third highest new entry of the week with a track that whilst also featuring on Disc-overy is actually promoted independently of the star and his album. The single in question is Miami 2 Ibiza, a huge club smash from the Swedish House Mafia and which features Tinie Tempah on prominent guest vocals. The track is the second hit single in three months from the Scandinavian production team, the direct follow-up to One (Your Name) which made Number 7 back in August. Whilst under any normal circumstances it would be confirmation that the Swedish House Mafia are force to be reckoned with in dance music, by a happy coincidence it also confirms that its guest star is one of the biggest names of the moment in British pop.
It has been two years since Kings Of Leon released their career-transforming Only By The Night album, a collection which featured the singles Sex On Fire and Use Somebody and which transformed them into household names and the men behind two of the eras biggest rock anthems. Like so many acts before them in a similar position, embarking on a follow-up to such a record is a challenge and a half. Hence new album Come Around Sundown is reported to be a slight step back from the stadium-filling frenzy of its predecessor, a collection of songs that represents more a retreat back to the mellow sound of their early albums. The first clues as to just how it will sound come thanks to lead single Radioactive which makes a chart debut at Number 7 this week although pleasingly there is little in it that will come as too much of a shock to the system. Distinctively a Kings Of Leon record, the track is a slow building epic that may lack a pub-friendly chorus but which has enough melody and high level musicianship to satisfy most of their fans, regardless of when they came on board. Radioactive isn't a smash hit single and is more likely to be a one week wonder in chart terms, but it has at the very least given them their third Top 10 single, just a few months shy of the 8th anniversary of their singles chart debut.
Tinie Tempah isn't the only hot British star with simultaneous chart hits thanks to a fortuitous collaboration this week. To go alongside her strong selling debut Katy On A Mission which dips out of the Top 10 for the first time since its release this week, Katy B also features strongly on the song that is new at Number 16. Perfect Stranger is a track from Dubstep collective Magnetic Man who reached Number 10 back in August with their own debut single I Need Air. Both that single and the newcomer are taken from their self-titled debut album which in a masterpiece of timing is released this week.
Amongst the also-rans this week, and worth keeping an eye on, American star Mike Posner arrives at Number 22 with his debut single Cooler Than Me, already a Top 10 smash back in his home country and one which is slowly gathering steam around Europe. Professor Green's latest single Monster makes a slow start but is at least a Top 40 hit already, rising 51-29 and finally Plan B grabbed many good reviews for his new single The Recluse but sadly it seems on course to become one of his smallest, limping to a mere Number 35 despite this week marking its full single release. Better luck next time I guess.
Next week: the glorious words "to protect the integrity of the competition" mean we are spared the spectacle of purchased downloads of live X Factor performances from the contestants flooding the chart, but strange things appear to be going on thanks to enthusiastic purchases of the original versions of some of the live songs performed on the show. Plus big Joe McElderry is back for his first single proper. Rumours that he is going head to head with Bullet In The Head for Number One are some distance wide of the mark.