During the week it struck me that there is no cute word or phrase to describe a particular type of hit single. You know the kind I mean, the ones (predominantly by American indie-rock acts) which make slow but steady progress up the singles chart and then patiently wait their turn near the summit for their one moment of glory. We Are Young by fun. was one such example last year and now in October 2013, we have another as the Number One single on the Official UK Singles chart this week is Counting Stars by OneRepublic. Three weeks after it first appeared to have peaked at Number 2, and after an extended nine-week chart climb which saw it debut at Number 43 back in August the enormously popular single finally sees its patience rewarded and becomes the biggest selling record in the land.
Already the highest charting OneRepublic single of all time thanks to that initial climb to Number 2, Counting Stars is the first ever Number One single for lead singer Ryan Tedder as a performer. Having developed a parallel career as a songwriter of some considerable repute, the 34-year-old Oklahoman has previously been credited as co-writer on Number One singles for two different British stars, Leona Lewis' Bleeding Love and more recently Burn for Ellie Goulding. It seems entirely appropriate that he now tops the chart with a song that he himself gets to sing.
OneRepublic's climb to Number One was by no means assured and indeed they trailed the chart race for much of the week to the single which ultimately enters the chart at Number 2. The Vamps are a brand new four piece British pop-rock band who were formed last year and had trodden the now familiar career path of uploading covers to YouTube before gravitating to support slots with McFly, The Wanted, Little Mix and JLS. This naturally enough has helped them to form an enthusiastic grassroots following, all of whom were primed to snap up copies of their debut single Can We Dance the moment it appeared and propel it to a quite sensational chart start. Naturally, the usual caveats also apply here, their rapid drop-off after the head of steam they built up earlier in the week, one which cost them a debut at Number One, will also be to the detriment of the single over the next few weeks. Congratulate them on a strong debut this week by all means, but judge them more on where they are charting in two or three weeks time.
Also entering strongly at Number 5 this week are a pair of more familiar names, Saul Milton and Will Kennard aka Chase & Status whose latest single Count On Me not only becomes their second Top 10 hit of the year (following on from Number 9 hit Lost And Not Found from back in July) but also at a stroke matches the chart placing of their biggest hit single to date, 2011 release Blind Faith also a Number 5 hit upon release. Their 10 previous chart singles have all featured a total of 8 different guest singers and Count On Me takes that total to 9 in 11 by giving a debut chart credit to rising British soul singer Moko. Further progress for the single is likely to depend on the reception for the third Chase & Status album Brand New Machine which will be in the shops by the time you read this.
Having been reactivated two weeks ago by a chance X Factor audition performance, Demi Lovato's 2012 single Skyscraper continues to surprise. Once more the previously overlooked single leaps up the chart, resting this week at Number 7 to become her second Top 10 single of the year after Heart Attack made Number 3 back in May. Whilst that single came from her current album Demi, Skyscraper is actually on her 2011 album Unbroken which must come as much of a puzzle to her label as it does to we chart-watchers. [It is also by now on the horizon of the X Factor producers as a potential winner's single].
The final Top 10 arrival of the week is a slightly more contemporary affair, the rather mouth-watering superstar combination of Dizzee Rascal and will.i.am on the single Something Really Bad. The single arrives simultaneously with Dizzee Rascal's new album The Fifth which by a strange coincidence also charts this week at Number 10. The track serves as the follow-up to the Robbie Williams-starring single Goin' Crazy which hit Number 5 back in June. Will.i.am's guest role means he has now had four Top 10 singles this year (if one counts Scream And Shout which charted in 2012 but peaked at Number One in January) and in a sense restores his reputation as a man who can sprinkle fairy dust on any track, one which took a knock when the Ke$ha track Crazy Kids on which he also starred stalled at Number 27 back in June.
Avicii's former Number One single Wake Me Up finally dips out of the Top 10 this week, falling three places to Number 11 (although his latest single You Make Me is still steady at Number 6) but over the course of the weekend it was finally confirmed (as I've been predicting for some time) as the third release of 2013 to sell over one million copies - hard on the heels of both Get Lucky and Blurred Lines. It is the 140th million-selling single in UK chart history but perhaps more significantly 2013 will go down as the first calendar year since 1998 that more than two singles will end the year with sales of over a million.
For those not keeping track, the UK X Factor series is about to move into the live shows stage, something which normally means the sales uptick it causes to featured songs is set to move up a level. Not that the final states of the audition shows haven't thrown up some curiosities though. As well as the Demi Lovato track referenced earlier, this week we see a Top 20 comeback for Jason Mraz' 2012 hit I Won't Give Up which lands at Number 14 after it was performed by several acts during last weekend's Boot Camp shows for the second year running. Originally released as the lead single from the American singer's fourth album Love Is A Four Letter Word in March 2012, the single peaked at Number 13 under its own steam first time around before the extensive X Factor performances saw it return to the chart exactly one year ago to a new peak of Number 11. At the time we noted that I Won't Give Up was the first single to make the Top 20 twice during separate chart runs in a calendar year since Blue Monday by New Order in 1983. I think you’d be hard-pressed to name the last single to have three different Top 20 chart runs within the space of 19 months - all without ever once making the Top 10.
Speaking still of X Factor, it is now just over a year since Lucy Spraggan made an unexpected chart debut with her self-released song Last Night which charted to the horror of the show producers when she performed it during a pre-recorded audition show. Pressured to withdraw both the single and her album, Spraggan thus had a brief week of glory when the track charted at Number 11 based on three days of sales. Having made her 'proper' chart debut back in July with the single Lighthouse, the personable folk star this week released the brand new professionally produced record of the song. Now retitled Last Night (Beer Fear) the tale of the hangover from hell is a new entry at Number 18 although it amusingly inherits the chart history of its homebrewed original release and so is technically a re-entry and on its third week as a chart hit. These things please us chart geeks enormously.
I'm rapidly running out of room, so there is just time to note the arrival on the Top 40 of the youngest hitmaker of the year, 12-year-old Jasmine Thompson whose cover of Ain't Nobody charts this week at Number 32, the song having recently featured in a TV commercial for Sainsbury's after she was discovered singing on YouTube.
After several weeks of frantic new release activity, the Official UK Album chart calms down a little this week but there is still room for a pleasing new entry at Number One for Haim as their debut album Days Are Gone storms to the top of the charts. They do so by beating out no less a figure than Justin Timberlake who completes his one-two punch of releases by dropping The 20/20 Experience - 2 of 2 and which charts at Number 2, appropriately enough a place lower than Part One managed earlier in the year.