I speak to you as a man on a mission, a man determined to work out just what kind of a hold will.i.am has over the British public. It seems that no matter what he puts his name to, whatever the quality of the work, it commands a ready and willing audience prepared to buy and listen to it in ever-increasing numbers. Hence you could almost smell this one coming, the single at the top of the Official UK Singles chart is It's My Birthday by the aforementioned will.i.am, this time with Cody Wise in tow on co-vocals.
First the facts, strange though it may seem this single is will.i.am's first Number One hit single since his trio of chart-toppers in 2012, his last release Feelin' Myself having stalled at Number 2 back in February. The track is a brand new single, not taken from either the original or special editions of will's last album Willpower which may well account for its instant popularity. What also helps is the huge lead time the single has had, the track first brought to the attention of British audiences at the end of May when Will and Cody performed the single together during a semi-final show of Britain's Got Talent. Put simply this is a single for which the public has been waiting weeks. It brings to ten the total of Number One singles landed by will.i.am, three under his own steam, two as the guest star on tracks by others and the five he managed prior to his solo days as a member of Black Eyed Peas. Of his fellow American stars, only Madonna and Elvis Presley can boast a larger number of British Number One hits. For Cody Wise, it is his first hit single of any kind, the young singer signed by will.i.am to his own label and here handed the best start to a recording career he could have imagined.
Not for the first time, this is a will.i.am single which requires a bit of work to appreciate properly, the single a startlingly amalgam of styles with samples of Jamaican reggae tracks sitting alongside a prominent and acknowledged AR Rahman influence. The kind of record that on first play you may hate, but by the fifth, it sounds like the greatest track ever recorded.
As we anticipated last week, the second highest 'new' entry is actually a single which was already a Top 40 hit, Somebody To You by The Vamps leaping 39-4 thanks to the arrival online of a new version featuring a guest vocal from Demi Lovato and whose sales are now combined with the original Demi-less album version which reached the charts last week. This chart climb is enough to make the track Demi Lovato's second highest chart single to date, just behind the Number 3 peak scaled by her own Heart Attack in May last year, but the quirk in the rules which means a track is listed on the chart with the artist credit valid for its initial form means that she goes without a direct credit on the listings you may see in other places.
Only one act has had two different singles reach Number One so far in 2014, and by a strange quirk up to this point, most people had no clue what she looked like. The lady in question is Jess Glynne, voice of both Clean Bandit's Rather Be and Route 94's My Love and thus vocally one of the most recognisable stars of the year but with her vocals being mimed by an actress in the video to the former and the latter having no role for a singer she has been to all intents and purposes almost completely anonymous [she did actually appear as herself in the Rather Be video in the scene where the protagonist was hallucinating the group performing in her bedroom, but unless you were paying close attention it was easy to miss her. Or realise it was her, given that - yes - nobody knew who she was at the time]. Having kept us waiting for rather longer than is decent, this week she finally unleashed her own solo single and steps into the spotlight for the very first time, charging to Number 6 with her solo debut Right Here. Frustratingly I'm not entirely convinced it is worth the wait, the track actually a rather plodding and dated sounding house track that might as well have been made in 1990 for all the new ground it actually breaks. Her profile thanks to the two earlier Number One hits will have helped this single to reach the Top 10 with ease. Had she been coming to the charts cold I'm not completely convinced anyone would have noticed. [It really was a crushing disappointment that this introductory single was so painfully average, making everyone fear that she really wasn't as good as we'd been told. Happily, her later singles raised the bar considerably].
Once again on the album chart there is no contest, Ed Sheeran clings on to the top for a third week with X and thus matches the run achieved by Paolo Nutini with Caustic Love earlier this year for the longest Number One run of 2014 to date. The last album to spend four straight weeks at the top of the charts was The Impossible Dream by talent show stars Richard & Adam in August last year.
Meanwhile the Sheeran-fest on the singles chart continues as for a second week running he occupies 14 places on the Top 100, including five consecutive places between 64 and 68. STOP CLICKING ON THEM.
Ed Sheeran's continuing success relegates the Manic Street Preachers to Number 2 with new album Futurology, an album which has apparently seen the veteran group move beyond the ability to have hit singles, the album's lead track Walk Me To The Bridge having missed the Top 100 completely when released earlier this year. By contrast this is the Manics' highest charting album for seven years, their first to chart as high as Number 2 since Send Away The Tigers back in 2007. In their entire career they have only ever had one Number One album, 1998 release This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours.
Other new arrivals include Example's Live Life Living at Number 8 and hard on the heels of her Chandelier single Sia lands at Number 11 with 1000 Forms Of Fear, easily her best ever chart performance with 2010 release We Are Born her only other album chart appearance - that disc reaching a mere Number 74.