Over four and a half years. That's how long it has been since all-girl pop group The Saturdays made their chart debut. Between 2008 and 2012 they had no less than 13 Top 30 hit singles in the UK. All but two made the Top 10. Crucially, however, none of them made it to the very top.
They have come close on a couple of occasions, hitting Number 2 with their Comic Relief anthem, a cover of the Depeche Mode classic Just Can't Get Enough in 2009, and later that same year landing in the runners-up slot with the epic sounding Forever Is Over. Two other hits peaked at Number 3, but by and large, their problem was that whilst they always opened strongly with new releases outselling the market for the first couple of days, by the weekend Saturdays singles tended to fade away, spoiling their chances of being the top seller of the week. Last year when their last single 30 Days debuted at a rather disappointing Number 7 it looked as though the group's commercial appeal had peaked. Their chances of ever making Number One gone forever.
We reckoned however without "Chasing The Saturdays", the E! network reality show documenting the girls' attempts to crack the American market and which has been airing here to startlingly good ratings (for that channel, anyway). This renewed profile, coupled with the newsworthiness of the heavily pregnant Rochelle making her final promotional tour this week before maternity leave has helped their new single What About Us make a bigger impact than any of their releases to date. The dancehall-flavoured single stormed into a sales lead at the start of the week and, more crucially, retained it to the end. What About Us sold 114,000 copies last week to debut comfortably at the top of the Official UK Singles chart - to give them quite sensationally their first ever Number One hit.
Co-singer on the track is Sean Paul who has never made the top of the charts in his own right but who has now done so twice as a guest star on someone else's record. His last spell at the top of the charts came as co-singer on the Blu Cantrell track Breathe which had a four week run at Number One ten years ago this summer, thus possibly making him an even more patient chart-topper than the Saturdays themselves.
To what I'm sure will be a minimal level of frustration for him, Justin Timberlake is thus denied the chance to do a chart double, as Mirrors slips to Number 2 on the singles chart just in time for his new album The 20/20 Experience to debut comfortably at the top of the album chart. He does at least maintain his 100% strike rate with solo albums with both his 2002 debut Justified and 2006 release Futuresex/Lovesounds both reaching Number One in their own right, the latter by coincidence doing so two weeks after his last solo chart-topper Sexyback slipped down from Number One.
Saturdays aside, this week is rather quiet for major new releases and the Top 10 is otherwise becalmed, to the frustration of two hits just below the glass ceiling. One is Taylor Swift's 22 which rises 26-11 on what is hopefully its way to becoming the third Top 10 hit from the album Red. The other is the apparently evergreen Ho Hey by The Lumineers which is benefitting not only from the continuing power company advertising campaign which it soundtracks but also a growing fondness for the track from TV companies who appear to be using it in every montage they produce. The nu-folk track theoretically peaked at Number 8 in late November last year on its fifth week on the singles chart but has been a Top 30 ever-present ever since. Now in its 23rd week on release, the single rises back to Number 12, the highest position it has occupied since the chart dated December 15th.
Kodaline can claim the second highest new entry of the week with their single High Hopes entering at Number 16. The group hail from Dublin and are actually in their second incarnation, having first performed as 21 Demands back in 2007 when they made Irish chart history by having the first ever Number One in that country with an entirely self-released single. Their UK chart debut has already duplicated that chart-topping success back home.
One single which seems destined to become a smash, for now, makes a rather understated chart debut at Number 27. Although available on the album Global Warming since November last year, the Pitbull track Feel This Moment with Christina Aguilera on lead vocals has only this week come to mainstream attention thanks to the release of its video. Extensively sampling the A-Ha track Take On Me, the track is technically scheduled to be granted a digital single release at the end of next month, but charts now as an album cut and is more or less certain to be Top 10 within a few weeks, thus reversing Ms Aguilera's recent UK chart decline.
The week's final notable chart single is the seemingly random entry at Number 32 for One In A Million by vocal trio ReConnected. The boys are a reworked lineup of the group which appeared on the 2010 series of Britain's Got Talent as Connected before experiencing a falling out with two of their members. The single has benefitted (in theory) from the promotional presence of businessman and Dragons Den star Duncan Bannatyne. Appearing in the video himself, the track appears on his own record label, itself the remnants of a company originally called RKA Records in which he took a 79% stake on the show back in 2011 and which signed up ReConnected before it folded and Bannatyne took over its assets - including the group themselves. The presence of One In A Million threw more than a few people when it appeared on early sales flashes as the single did not appear on any of the live charts published by the leading online stores. In fact, the group have used the Alex Day trick of motivating their social media followers to buy copies of each of the multitude of remixes of the track, all of which contribute to its chart position. No one version of the single sold enough during the week to even register on the iTunes chart. Combined however, they all add up to a Top 40 hit single.