To the album chart first of all this week, where one lady in particular has done something very rare and very special. Adele is the lady in question, and after the rapturous reception for her second album 21 it comes as no surprise that it barges all the competition out of the way, storming to Number One with a colossal sale of over 200,000 copies - more than any other album has managed in January since the Arctic Monkeys shifted 360,000 copies of Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not in January 2006.
21 arrives at the top of the album chart exactly three years to the week that Adele's debut release 19 also hit the top. Thanks to the continuing interest in Make You Feel My Love from that platter, her first album registers its own strong presence in the market and rises back up to Number 4 this week to give the star side by side Top 5 albums. Now contrary to what I boldly asserted last night, the last act to perform such a feat was actually Michael Jackson in the wake of his death in the summer of 2009 - but as his big sellers were all catalogue or compilations it hardly seems fair to count this. Best to flash back then to April 1999 when The Corrs were at Number One with Talk On Corners whilst their previous release Forgiven Not Forgotten was slotted in behind at Number 2. Adele can thus lay claim to being the first act for 12 years to be Top 5 with both her newest and previous releases at the same time.
Having been top of both singles and albums charts last week, Bruno Mars takes a tumble on both, ceding the album market to Adele and watching impotently as Ke$ha storms to Number One with her brand new single We R Who We R. Her first hit single since Take It Off reached Number 15 in September last year, the track is taken from a brand new EP/mini album entitled Cannibal which has been released as a companion piece to her debut album Animal which came out almost a year ago. To the eternal credit of her and her label she has steered clear of lazily packaging the new tracks as part of a re-promotion of Animal. Whilst the two discs will indeed be available together as a special edition, fans with less of an enthusiasm for forking out for material they already own will indeed be able to purchase Cannibal separately.
Whilst We R Who We R is the first solo Number One for the American star, it is technically the second time she has been at the top of the UK charts, her own debut on this shores having been as guest singer on Flo Rida's Right Round which hit the top in March 2009. Since then Ke$ha has also guested on singles by Taio Cruz (Dirty Picture) and 3Oh!3 (My First Kiss) with both singles having made the Top 10. Until today however her only solo Top 10 single was Tik Tok which advanced to Number 4 at the tail end of 2009.
There is a pleasingly even spacing of the new entries in the Top 10 this week, for after Ke$ha at Number One comes Blind Faith at Number 5. The track is the biggest chart hit to date for dance producers Chase & Status, their first Top 10 hit since End Credits introduced the world to Plan B when it peaked at Number 9 in November 2009. Blind Faith heralds the long awaited release of their second album No More Idols which hits the stores this week, the collection being home to not just this single and End Credits but also their Number 11 hit from last summer Let You Go as well as the website freebie track Hypest Hype which they made available back in November. Guest vocals on Blind Faith are supplied by upcoming soul star Liam Bailey whose own album is slated for release later this year. [A rare example of one of these "soft landing" introductions not helping the guest star in any way, Bailey's album eventually appearing to little fanfare in 2014].
Completing the evenly balanced Top 10 is a new entry at Number 10 for a returning Chris Brown who lands his first Top 10 hit in two and a half years with Yeah 3X. This dramatic return to chart form comes after the two singles released from his 2009 album Graffiti failed to impress UK record buyers, I Can Transform Ya reaching Number 26 and Crawl a rather derisory Number 35. Coming as they did on the back of the huge amount of negative publicity he attracted thanks to what we should tactfully describe as "the Rihanna incident" [no, he beat her up. Why sugar coat it?] it came as little surprise to anyone that his personal shortcomings overwhelmed the music at the time. Chalk this new single up as part of his musical and personal rehabilitation then, and indeed Yeah 3X harks back to much happier days, an infectious bubbly electro house record that recaptures some of the vibe of his most famous hit single Forever and yet pushes on into ever more surprising new territories. Many of these territories seem to include those of Calvin Harris' I'm Not Alone to which much of Yeah 3X appears to bear an uncanny resemblance. Homage or rip off? You decide…
Down in the Top 20 there is pleasing progress for a couple of the up-comers highlighted last week. Tinchy Stryder's Let It Rain advances 25-14 to become his highest charting single since In My System made Number 10 last summer whilst Taio Cruz moves 37-17 with the aptly named Higher. The latest single to be taken from his album Rokstarr, this is yet another single that is charting in what is technically the wrong version thanks to advance airplay for a newly recorded single remake. The album version presently available features Cruz signing solo, as opposed to the single mix which features a brand new vocal from a certain Miss Kylie Minogue. The Taio/Kylie rendition doesn't hit the online stores until February 7th, so for the moment Higher is a Top 20 single on pre-release buzz alone.
There is a wonderfully profane new entry at Number 21 for Pink who charts with Fuckin' Perfect, the second of two new tracks she recorded for her Greatest Hits album which came out last year. With its predecessor 'Raise Your Glass' having reached Number 13 back in November, she seems set for another Top 20 single with this new track, one which actually charted briefly back in November as well in the week that its parent album hit the shops.
Much was made at the start of January of a series of genre-based statistics which noted that rock music and rock bands had one of their most miserable years ever in 2010 with the singles market ignoring the work of boys and girls with guitars almost completely. Fun then to note that the lower end of the Top 40 is almost entirely taken up with new entries from a string of rock acts, ranging from hot newcomers to chart regulars and a group of veterans who just don't seem to be able to knock it on the head.
It is into the latter category that Beady Eye fall, the group consisting at its core of Gem Archer, Andy Bell and one L. Gallagher esq. Big brother Noel may have forcibly dissolved Oasis and taken the name with him, but Liam and the rest of the group have remained undaunted and reformed until this new title. Their first release was the download only Bring The Light which crept to Number 61 in early December last year, its reception from critics being mixed to say the least. Their second single is The Roller which has been granted the honour of a proper physical release as well, a move which you suspect has made it a collectible and helped it to this brief Top 40 entry. Nobody is kidding themselves that Beady Eye are going to be having major hit singles any time soon - all eyes really will be on their "debut" album Different Gear, Still Speeding which is set for release at the end of February. Only then will we know if Noel really was the one with all the musical talent…
From the old to the new as at Number 32 there is the Top 40 debut of The Vaccines, the latest hot new band on the block and who featured prominently in the Sound Of 2011 poll results a few weeks ago. Their track is Post Break-Up Sex, technically their second release following the brief sales life of their first release Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra) which clocked in at just 84 seconds long when it came out in November. Post Break-Up Sex actually deserves rather better than what will inevitably be this one week Top 40 run, an enormously impressive single which conjures up memories of the golden age of indie rock as well as oddly enough the vibe of Oasis when they were actually any good. If rock really has lost its appeal to the singles buying market, then singles like this give you cause to see that as a huge shame.
Falling in between the two I guess are The Wombats, now effectively hardy chart veterans yet still awaiting the big breakthrough hit single they surely deserve for their hard work. Their latest chart hit is Jump Into The Fog which charts at Number 35 as the follow-up to their last single Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves) which made Number 23 in October last year. The single was briefly available as a free download from the band's website back in November so this rather lower chart entry should not come as too much of a surprise. Both tracks are taken from their forthcoming second album This Modern Glitch which is slated for a release in April, with one more single to come before its release.
Finally, to complete this mini lineup of "real" music, let’s celebrate the arrival at Number 37 of L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. from Noah & The Whale which dutifully becomes their first Top 40 hit since they reached Number 7 with the memorable 5 Years Time in July 2008. Their second album The First Days Of Spring came out in 2009 but failed to spawn any hit singles, so it is nothing less than a pleasant surprise to see them back in the Top 40, this track arriving ahead of their forthcoming third album Last Night On Earth which is due out in March.