This week's Official UK Singles Chart
This week's Official UK Albums Chart
There was admittedly a kind of inevitability about it, but the event is still nice to see all the same. After debuting at Number One four weeks ago, Just The Way You Are (Amazing) from Bruno Mars appeared to have begun a gentle chart decline, dipping as far as Number 4 a fortnight ago. Then last week the single rebounded, easing back up to Number 2 and in the process it seems kick-starting a whole new wave of interest in the rather charming song. This week the track completes the charmed circle, climbing one place again to reclaim the Number One position after a three week absence. Even more impressively the single does so with a larger sale than it had to top the charts first time around, selling 116,000 copies last week - up on the 83,000 it sold at the start of the month in its first week on sale.
Technically the single is the second in 2010 to manage to ultimate in chart rebounds, although given that the last to do so was Lady Gaga's Bad Romance which had a week at Number One either side of Christmas, Mars is the only act to have had two different runs at Number One with the same record in this particular calendar year. In spending a full three weeks away from the top of the charts, Bruno Mars has mounted the slowest chart comeback since Shakira also returned to Number One after a three week gap with Hips Don't Lie in the summer of 2006. As I'm sure almost every fan of chart stats is aware, the all-time slowest Number One yo-yo came in November 1963 when She Loves You by The Beatles returned to the top of the charts after a gap of seven weeks. Oddly enough given the way the singles market behaves and the way singles can suddenly find a new market and spark entirely new levels of interest weeks after they first arrived, this famous chart benchmark stands a better chance of being broken now than perhaps any time since it was first set.
As to just why the single has suddenly forced its way back into contention as the biggest of the moment, well that is open to some debate. Many will point to an X Factor effect, with the song having been performed by contestant Matt Cardle on the show the weekend before last. Whilst the usual sales kick may well have helped to give the single the edge it needed to move back to Number One, the fact that its sales had been growing again even before the X Factor show aired suggests that there are other factors at work as well. Could it just be that people have realised just what an uplifting pop record it actually is and are rewarding it with purchases accordingly?
Bruno Mars' climb back to the top also has the neat effect of throwing into sharp relief the relative failure of the single which under any normal circumstances might have been expected to parade unopposed to the summit. The track in question is Heart Vacancy, the much-heralded second single from The Wanted, follow-up to All Time Low which itself made a comfortable debut at Number One back in August and a single which sadly cannot duplicate the chart peak of its predecessor and instead has to be content with a new entry at Number 2. The problem The Wanted have is that their popular appeal is almost entirely confined to the dedicated army of teenage fans that their label and their management took time to carefully cultivate. Heavy airplay and other public exposure for the act is rather more limited, so their chart performances depend on just how much of that fan base can be rallied to get downloading the week the single comes out. Hence All Time Low when it came out during the summer was something of a one week wonder, dropping straight to Number 5 during its second week on sale - although I've been at pains ever since to point out that in actual fact the single has proved something of a grower in other areas of the market and has to its credit sustained a consistent chart run as a lower end hit, the track still on the Top 40 after 13 weeks and rising to Number 34 this week in tandem with the new release.
You only have to look at the sales of the two singles to see the story unfold. All Time Low topped the charts back in August after selling 84,000 copies inside a week. Heart Vacancy this week saw their first week interest dip to 66,000 copies - good enough in a particularly quiet week to maybe give them a second Number One, (and you will note its release was carefully calculated to avoid most other big new singles), but as it turns out a figure that was a long way short of the numbers needed to block Bruno Mars and his march back to the summit. The truth is inescapable - by appealing directly to a self-selecting (and even more crucially shrinking) bunch of record buyers, The Wanted never stood a chance of topping the charts for the second time of asking. [Final score: Simon Cowell 1 Ashley Tabor 0 - see last week for details].
Another act who conceivably could have benefitted from an X Factor related sales boost this week was Katy Perry, her performance of new single Firework on the results show last weekend quite possibly assisting the track to a chart debut at Number 5. That said, Katy Perry has hardly needed any help selling singles thus far this year, topping the listings with California Gurls back in the summer and landing an easy Number 2 with Teenage Dream in September. Firework is now her fifth Top 10 hit in a row (counting the collaborations with 3OH!3 and Timbaland earlier this year) and the seventh in total of her career to date.
Overlooked by most for much of the week, there is a pleasing glut of brand new hits just around the cusp of the Top 10. Leading the charge at Number 9 is Jay Sean who appears in tandem with American rapper Nicki Minaj on 2010 (It Ain't The End). [Her first ever mention on these pages, although her own chart debut had come earlier in the summer]. His first single as lead artist since the January Top 20 hit Do You Remember, the track is the first single to be lifted from Sean's forthcoming fourth album Freeze Time. Grasping unashamedly the commercial pop end of the musical stick, the bubbly and appealing track is Jay Sean's fourth Top 10 hit single, his biggest chart success since Down made Top 3 almost exactly a year ago.
Hard on his heels at Number 10 are N-Dubz who chart with new single Best Behaviour. Once again the single is a brand new track that has previously not appeared on either of their two studio albums - a product of the deal the band signed with Def Jam records in America which will see their debut album over there featuring tracks from both of their studio albums to date as well as a sprinkling of new songs. Charting hard on the heels of last single We Dance On this marks the first time that N-Dubz have managed back to back Top 10 singles.
Completing this trio of new hits at Number 11 is Just A Dream, the first chart hit in over two years for American rapper Nelly. One of the biggest international hip-hop stars at the start of the last decade, Nelly scored no less than three Number One singles between 2002 and 2005 as well as appearing as a guest star on a fourth. Just A Dream is his first chart hit since he featured as a guest artist on the Chris Brown track Kiss Kiss in September 2008, his first Top 20 appearance since Body On Me made Number 17 in August that same year and indeed his biggest chart single under his own steam since he made Number 6 with N Dey Say way back in June 2005. Comeback much? After many delays, some of them down to personal and family tragedy, Nelly's new album 5.0 will hit the stores in November, to the delight of a great many.
Now for a curiosity, for one act who it appears did not quite get the X Factor rub she was hoping for is Diana Vickers, star of the 2008 series and who also appeared last week on the results show to perform her new single My Wicked Heart. Despite opening her solo career back in May with a Number One single Once, the Blackburn Barbie has struggled a little ever since. Her quirky and unique style is maybe not only an acquired taste but also only works in small doses, as evidence by the failure of her second single The Boy Who Murdered Love to progress beyond Number 36 when it charted in July. As a result of that flop her label have gone back to the drawing board, beefing up debut album Songs From The Cherry Tree with some slightly stronger new material in time for a seasonal re-release. Hence the appearance of this brand new single, in theory the strongest Diana Vickers song so far but one which has attracted attention for all the wrong reasons. The problem you see is the chorus, which for its melody appears to borrow copious from the classic Red Hot Chili Peppers track Under The Bridge, a fact pointed out by just about everyone who heard the track ahead of release. Whilst vocal and musical interpolations of older songs inside new compositions has been something of a fad this year, most of the time these melody lifts are done with full consent of the artists involved and with proper credit given - something entirely lacking on My Wicked Heart with the artist (who co-wrote the track) claiming the resemblance is incidental and completely accidental. Whilst the single's Number 13 chart entry is a dramatic improvement on that of her last release, it is still rather disappointing given the level of exposure it was given on television last weekend - I guess proving what has come to be known as the Shakira rule. Not even X Factor can inspire a single to mega sales if the performer has forgotten to make it any good in the first place. Not that her unique delivery of the vocals helps either. One enterprising viewer took it upon themselves to try to interpret just what she was singing during her performance on the show, creating an online video which appears to be attracting more attention than the official one, check it out. [Oh joy, it is still up there].
Whilst we are on the subject, the point hardly needs to be hammered home but there will be plenty of people pointing with amusement at the dramatic 6-21 plummet experienced by the Joe McElderry single Ambitions which has duly become a one week wonder of the very worst kind. This Is an even worse collapse than that experienced by the last X Factor flop Leon Jackson two years ago, his one and only post-show single Don't Call This Love at the very least taking a full three weeks to fall out of the Top 20. Stick a fork in Joe Mc, he is done as a pop star - a career in musicals is his best home for fame now. [Or possibly re-inventing himself as a light opera star 2010 James, don't rule out that possibility].
Just time to quickly note a handful of other new singles making progress at the lower end of the Top 40. Of them all, the one with the best prospects is B.o.B.'s new single Magic which eases 34-22 as it gradually builds up a head of steam. Previous hit Airplanes was a slow starter as well remember, hitting Number One on its seventh week as a Top 40 single. Eight places below at Number 30 is Taylor Swift with new single Mine, a track which for now matches the peak scaled by You Belong With Me in the summer of 2009. She has yet to show any signs of living up to the potential she showed with debut hit Love Story which was a Number 2 smash in February that year. [Oh just you wait]. Also new at Number 31 is Skepta who teams up with Preeya Kalidis on Cross My Heart, the follow-up to July's Number 14 hit Rescue Me.
Moving to the album chart now and some quite sensational things happen at the very top. As has been documented in many places elsewhere, Kings Of Leon debut at Number One with new album Come Around Sundown, shifting a massive 183,000 copies in what is the highest single week sale for any album so far this year. Not since last Christmas when both Susan Boyle and Michael Buble were competing with each other with sales of over 200,000 has any album managed to fly out the door in such rapid style. Despite this, their total is down slightly on the 220,000 with which their last album Only By The Night opened its account back in 2008.
The two next highest new entries on the album chart are both nearing the 40th anniversary of their release. The famous Red and Blue Beatles compilation albums, Red featuring work from 1962-1966 and Blue covering 1967-1970, are back in the Top 10 following what has been promoted as a remastering and which leads to them charting at 4 and 6 respectively, the Blue album proving the winner in sales terms. Despite the worldwide smash sales of the last Beatles hits collection 1 which was released back in 2000, the Red and Blue compilations don't restrict themselves solely to the singles releases of the legendary sixties group and so work as a more complete overview of their entire career. First released in April 1973, the two albums have been constant sellers ever since, although their last appearance in the Top 10 came back in 1993 when both were released on CD for the first time. Oddly enough neither have ever topped the charts, 1967-1970 made Number 2 upon first release and Number 4 in 1993 whilst 1962-1966 has always been the runner up of the pair, charting at Number 3 in both 1973 and 1993. Ever since that CD re-issue the packaging of the pair has been the subject of much grumbling thanks to the insistence of Apple records in presenting the discs in the exact way they were first marketed -as a premium priced double album. Market forces have ensured the new issues are readily available at a slightly more sensible price point now than had previous been the case - even as a musical completist I have never quite brought myself to purchase either of the two collections, baulking at the near £20 price that each of them commanded during the last couple of decades.