[Every so often in this job you get to write about something very special indeed taking place on the charts. This was one of them, and a joy to write.]
"Needless to say I think we can boldly predict a two place climb for [Lady Gaga] next week without risking looking utterly stupid." - An utterly stupid person, seven days ago.
This most extraordinary of charts was all proceeding to plan at the start of the week. As was widely expected, Lady Gaga's Born This Way was outselling most of the competition by a comfortable margin and it did indeed seem a racing certainty that she would rise effortlessly to the top and land herself her fifth Number One single.
Then the Brit Awards happened.
The British record industry's annual gong-fest has a proven track record of giving a huge sales boost to the artists duly awarded and featured on the live television show. Despite rather reduced ratings for this years ceremony (the lure of gypsy weddings on the other side proving too great a temptation for many casual couch potatoes) this year was set to be no exception. What was not expected was the impact of the decision to make every live performance from the night immediately available as a downloadable single. Enchanted by a particular performance? Then your own permanent copy was just a click away.
The commercial potential of such novelties had been demonstrated last year when Florence and The Machine and Dizzee Rascal's You Got The Dirtee Love novelty mash-up collaboration raced to Number 2 exactly one year ago this week. But what happens when an act is shorn of all novelty and instead delivers and inch perfect live version of an album track which has already attracted attention? This year we found out.
Who else could it be but artist of the moment Adele, who took to the stage accompanied by nothing more than a pianist to belt out the heart-wrenching Someone Like You, a track from her current album 21 which had already been highlighted as the standout cut from the collection and which had crept into the Top 40 in its own right in the aftermath of 21s release. Within hours of the Brits performance going on sale Adele found herself with two different versions of the track riding high on live digital rankings -not only the 21 version but also her stripped to the bone Brits performance. With chart rules allowing for sales of both to be combined for a single chart placing (they are just two different versions of the same song after all) there was a distinct possibility that Adele could blow away all the competition and land herself a sensational Number One single.
I don't really need to explain where this is going do I? Someone Like You from Adele this week vaults from the Number 47 it had occupied last week to the very top of the charts, the sales of the combined versions amounting to around 111,000 copies. With 21 retaining its chart crown for a fourth straight week it means that not only does the lady from Tottenham finally land her first ever Number One single, she does the chart double as well. The 46 place jump of Someone Like You to the top of the charts is the second highest in chart history, beaten only by the 73-1 leap of 'Girls And Boys' by Pixie Lott in September 2009. Adele's single is curiously the second single in the space of a year to climb to Number One from outside the Top 40, hard on the heels of David Guetta's Gettin' Over You in June last year. [And if you are looking for the precise moment Adele made the leap to huge superstar, there can be no doubt that this was it. The most significant live TV performance of a pop record ever].
Yet that isn't even the half of what she has achieved this week. Adele once again has two of the Top 5 biggest selling albums of the moment with 19 rising two places back to Number 4 but she can now also boast two of the Top 5 biggest selling SINGLES as well, as what is theoretically her current hit single Rolling In The Deep goes back up a place to Number 4 as well. As you may imagine, to have two of the Top 5 on both charts is something few acts have ever managed. The last person to do so in fact was a man who died seven years before Adele was even born, namely John Lennon in the immediate aftermath of his death in December 1980. Taking into account the small matter of the fact that this was a posthumous achievement, we should note that Adele is the first living act to pull off the feat since The Beatles way back in 1964.
We should stick with the impact of the Brit Awards for the moment, for the ceremony is responsible for a handful of other rather unusual chart moves. First we should note that just behind Adele on the album chart are Mumford & Sons, recipients of the gong for Best British Album with Sigh No More and which makes a 13 place climb to Number 2, its highest chart placing to date beating the Number 3 peak it scaled on October 16th last year. Having been decorated for their album is is probably of little surprise that the folk band only make a minor singles chart impact, although they do see The Cave rise back to Number 48, Little Lion Man land at Number 53 and the song they performed at the ceremony Timshel creep to Number 71.
Best British Male Plan B also benefits with The Defamation Of Strickland Banks back up to Number 7 on the album chart and with its most famous single She Said back up at Number 42. The single might well have re-entered the Top 40 but for the fact that Plan B was one of a handful of acts on the night to perform specially arranged medleys of two of his songs. In his case he merged She Said with last summer's hit single Prayin. As it is impossible to bolt the sales of the mash-up to the chart histories of either of its component parts, the live Brits performance in this case was forced into a separate chart ranking, hence She Said Prayin lands at Number 72, eight places behind the original studio version of Prayin.
Now remember this last point, because it has enabled one other Brit Awards performer to achieve something that is almost as impressive as Adele's chart sweep. Tinie Tempah is the man in question, a double winner on the night with the trophies for Best British Breakthrough Act and Best Single flying his way. Inevitably he is back up on the album chart with Disc-overy rocketing back to Number 6 but it is on the singles chart where he truly shines. His live mash-up We Bring The Stars Out charts at Number 40 whilst its component parts Pass Out and Written In The Stars crash back into the Top 40 at Numbers 32 and 33 respectively. His current hit single Wonderman is a non-mover at Number 18 whilst he also registers a presence on the JLS single Eyes Wide Shut which this week was finally released in its remixed single version, helping the track up to Number 8. This you will note gives Tinie Tempah a presence on no less than five Top 40 singles this week, making Rihanna's total for the past few weeks of four looking like she is not trying hard enough. Michael Jackson's posthumous record of 13 simultaneous Top 40 hits is unlikely ever to be beaten, but Tinie Tempah comes close to the all time record for a living artist, held by Elvis Presley who had seven singles all on the go at once in November 1957.
The final two Brits chart movements of note are possibly less spectacular, although his live rendition of his Number One hit with special guest start Paloma Faith has helped Cee Lo Green's Forget You back up to Number 19. Meanwhile show openers Take That finally got to do the riot police routine that was banned from X Factor before Christmas, and this helps their next single Kidz to make its first chart appearance at Number 31 as the follow-up to The Flood.
Rewinding back to the Top 3 for a moment, the more observant chart scanners will have noticed that not only was Lady Gaga's dead-cert Number One not to be, but in one of the second biggest chart surprises of the week can only rank as the third biggest seller of the week for a second week in a row, this despite benefiting this time around from a full seven days on sale. Instead it is well done to Jessie J who may well have been binned from Number One after two weeks but who still manages to outsell Gaga with Price Tag and so sits comfortably at Number 2. The American star can actually count herself rather unlucky to be binned down to third place, her sale of over 80,000 is one of the highest we've seen for a Number 3 single for some time and in an average week might well have ensured she topped the charts with some ease.
Such sales aside, many theories have been put forward across the web as to just why the Gaga single has failed to completely live up to expectations so far. Putting aside its musical merits for the moment, it may well be that we were all caught up in the hype of her unexpected end of week rush release and the true impact of the OAOS nature of its promotion. With the release of its video still some weeks away and with its airplay still building up a head of steam, it must be remembered that most of Born This Way's sales will have come from dedicated Gaga fans rather than the mass market at large. With most of these theoretically snapping up the single in its first week on sale, this may well account for the single's rather unexpected tail-off at the back end of last week, leaving it slightly short in the chart race. When you bear in mind that all three of Poker Face, Bad Romance and Telephone only reached Number One after a leisurely chart climb, it is always possible that Born This Way is simply slow burning its way to a chart peak, albeit as a strongly selling Top 3 hit already.
Onto some of the other chart movements of the week now, for not everything revolved around the Brit Awards. Of her miserable total of four Top 40 hits, Rihanna's S&M is now the biggest as the continuing fuss surrounding its lyrical and visual content continues to add to its reputation. The single advances to Number 6 this week, her fifth straight Top 10 hit single.
The highest brand new entry of the week arrives at Number 14 as Far East Movement land themselves a second hit single with Rocketeer. Another track from their Free Wired album, the single features a rare solo chart credit for Ryan Tedder, lead singer of OneRepublic and the most decorated American songwriter of recent years. Rocketeer is his highest chart placing since the OneRepublic hit Stop And Stare hit Number 4 in early 2008.
There is another unexpected pairing just a few places down as cult British rock group You Me At Six land themselves their biggest chart hit to date with Rescue Me at Number 21. They are ably assisted on the single by American rapper Chiddy, best known as one half of Opposite Of Adults hitmakers Chiddy Bang. Such genre hopping fusions are now pretty much commonplace in the pop and R&B markets, with the inclusion of a rap star on a pop hit, or vice versa seen as a credible way to expand the appeal of a single track. Now it seems even the coolest guitar groups on the block are not averse to a little spoken word help to enhance their commercial possibilities.
Finally, having written them off as past it last week the Glee Cast return with their first Top 40 singles for four weeks as their take on Teenage Dream lands at Number 36 and the curious mash-up of Start Me Up/Livin' On A Prayer slips in at Number 39. Dare I point out that none of the singles from Series 2 have thus far penetrated the Top 20, indeed their last single to do so was Total Eclipse Of The Heart way back in May last year.
So there you go, busy wasn't it? In the interests of at least getting one prediction right this year, I can confidently say there is no way I will have the Number One single next week. None whatsoever.