Huge congratulations are due to the record retailing industry this week as they successfully located 161,000 people who did not already own Adele's 21 album and persuaded them to part with their money for it. This success means that yet again the powerfully voiced singer from Tottenham maintains an intense grip on both singles and album charts.
21 has now been Number One for seven weeks in a row, making her the first artist to spent so long at the top of the charts since the late Michael Jackson in the summer of 2009. Her sales record of the week was to furthermore sell the one millionth copy of debut album 19 which doggedly clings on at Number 4 although her run of having simultaneous dual Top 5 hits on both charts finally comes to an end with the single Rolling In The Deep dipping to Number 9.
Whilst the singles market remains sluggish to say the least, those looking for long playing fare had plenty of non-Adele related material to whet their appetite this week as no less than four big names arrive with a bang inside the Top 10.
Leading the charge are Elbow who enter at Number 2 with their fifth album Build A Rocket Boys. Perennially the best kept secret in British music, the group finally arrived as household names in 2008 with the much acclaimed and lavishly produced album The Seldom Seen Kid. To avoid the messy need to follow that success with more of the same, their latest work is a deliberate attempt to get back to basics, recreating the more stripped down sound of their earlier works. Not that it has done them any harm at all and Build A Rocket Boys at a stroke becomes the highest charting release of their career, eclipsing the Number 5 peak scaled by The Seldom Seen Kid in its first week on release. As a singles act Elbow have always flattered to deceive, singles such as Asleep In The Back, Fallen Angel and Grounds For Divorce receiving similar acclaim to their albums but with each one climbing no higher than Number 19. Even their masterpiece One Day Like This has never climbed higher than Number 35. [Give it another 17 months].
Chart history of a slightly different kind is made at Number 5 on the album chart as the once mighty REM enter with Collapse Into Now and in the process spoil an almost flawless chart record. Assuming it fails to climb much further (which looks inevitable) it will be their first studio album for 23 years to not reach the Top 2. Dating back to the 1991 release of Out Of Time every single album they have released has topped the charts, with the sole exception of 1998s 'Up' which stalled at Number 2. Granted during this period they have released any number of Greatest Hits collections and live albums which have charted lower, but for a full set of brand new material to miss the top by such a distance is entirely new territory for the rock legends.
New entry Number 3 goes to Noah & The Whale who arrive at Number 8 with Last Night On Earth. It is their third album and the follow-up to First Days Of Spring which reached Number 16 in 2009. The release of the album has notably been of huge benefit to its lead single L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. which had previously struggled to chart beyond Number 30 but which this week rockets 31-19 to finally given them a second Top 20 single.
It is a similar story for Avril Lavigne who enters at Number 9 with her fourth album Goodbye Lullaby, an album which for the moment has failed to match the chart-topping success of its three predecessors. Her single What The Hell has been floating around the lower end of the Top 40 since it was first released in mid-January but this week it makes a flying leap 25-16 to land its own highest placing to date and becomes her biggest hit since the Top 3 single When You're Gone from June 2007.
[Author's note: when I spend half the column banging on about new entries in the album chart it generally means nothing has happened with the singles. Let's find out together...]
At the top end of the singles chart, Adele's Someone Like You sees its sale for the week dip below the six figure mark but this is still comfortable 20,000 ahead of its nearest challenger, meaning she tops the charts for the fourth week running. Not since Lily Allen's The Fear in February 2009 has any act managed a full lunar month at the top of the charts, with six different singles all having fallen short with three week runs in the intervening period. Honourable mention must once again go to Jessie J featuring B.o.b. who have now spent a grand total of six weeks in the Top 2, the first two of these at Number One and the remainder grimly trailing in Adele's wake. The single Price Tag has now sold well over half a million copies, the second single to do so already in 2010, just behind Bruno Mars' Grenade which remains the biggest seller of the year to date - at least for now.
Whilst the Top 3 remains static for the third straight week and the Top 4 for a second, there is at least fresh blood at Number 5 with the arrival of American rapper Wiz Khalifa and his debut single Black And Yellow. The single has already been a Number One on the Hot 100 in his home country and it now marks his UK chart debut, the star having been releasing independent albums in the USA for the last five years or so. Black And Yellow is notably yet another production by Norwegian collective Stargate and one which gives them no less than three singles in the current Top 10 with both Good Girl by Alexis Jordan and S&M by Rihanna also being produced and co-written by the pair. Those paying close attention will note that the Wiz Khalifa track is not the first version of Black And Yellow to reach the Top 40. This is thanks to the usual glut of hastily recorded cover versions that flooded the market just ahead of its release, leading to one by Hype Squad to reach Number 35 a week ago.
No other new singles make the Top 10, although one which does have a good go is the Dr Dre/Eminem/Skylar Grey track I Need A Doctor which shifts 15-11 to once more achieve its highest chart placing to date. One place behind is Tinie Tempah's Wonderman which moves to Number 12, eclipsing the Number 14 placing it reached five weeks ago.
Former X Factor star Olly Murs grabs himself a third hit single with Heart On My Sleeve which finally breaches the Top 40 to sit at Number 20 after narrowly missing out last week. The follow-up to his last hit Thinking Of Me, the song has a rather interesting pedigree behind it. Co-written by James Morrison, it was first recorded by former American Idol contestant Michael Johns for his album Hold Back My Heart which came out in 2009. Murs' version bears a surprising resemblance to the one it covers, hardly surprising given that it was produced by the song's other co-writer John Shanks who has also been behind many of Take That's most successful tracks of late.
One place behind at Number 21 is Britney Spears with the prematurely released Til The World Ends, now benefitting from a full week on sale but with its actual full promotion still some weeks away. Meanwhile last hit Hold It Against Me dips out of the Top 40 after a seven week in-and-out run that saw it land at Number 6 and decline steadily afterwards.
A genuinely brand new entry lands at Number 25 for 14 year old Jasmine Van den Bogaerde who performs under the stage name of Birdy. Spotted over two years ago at an amateur talent contest, the child prodigy was swiftly snapped up and signed to a publishing deal with a view to turning her into a proper star just as soon as the time was right. That time is clearly now, her debut single is Skinny Love, a cover version of a track first recorded by American folk band Bon Iver and which appeared on their 2008 album For Emma, Forever Ago. The appeal of the Birdy version is hard to miss, the teenager singing with heartbreaking clarity whilst accompanying herself on a piano. The chart placing maybe doesn't quite reflect the level of hype that certain broadcasters have injected into the release of the track but it stands out as one of the most emotionally arresting singles you will hear this week.
A slight change of pace is effected at Number 27 by the Black Eyed Peas who arrive in the Top 40 with Just Can't Get Enough, the follow-up to The Time (The Dirty Bit) and the second single from their current album. A far better and less derivative single than its predecessor, the track makes a typically leisurely start to its chart career but given their pedigree for slow burning singles that eventually burrow their way into your brain it doesn’t seem unreasonable to presume that this will hit Number One some time around the Easter weekend at the end of next month.
Also new to the Top 40 at Number 35 is the new McFly single That's The Truth which was promoted to full single status this week as the third release from current album Above The Noise. We've berated the group for the way their singles rocket out of the charts as soon as they arrive many times in these pages, so it seems once again appropriate to note that their last single Shine A Light, possibly thanks to the presence of Taio Cruz on the recording, bucked all usual McFly trends to embark on a 16 week chart run following its first appearance at Number 4 back in November. That was enough to make it their longest charting single ever, three weeks longer than either Obviously or All About You from 2004 and 2005. The prospects for this latest release maybe don't look quite so bright however, the biggest challenge for That's The Truth may well be to avoid becoming only their second single ever to miss the Top 20.
Finally the Glee Cast chart entry of the week is their take on Train's Hey Soul Sister which enters at Number 37 although really all eyes are going to be on a few weeks hence when the policy of releasing every song they perform on the show will include what we are told is the heinous crime of covering a Gary Glitter track. Will the record buying public ignore tabloid hysteria and successfully separate the personal life of the composer from his work? Here's hoping….