Another week, another brand new Number One single on the Official UK Singles chart. This time around though it is not "random electronic club hit of the week" but instead a track that was more or less engineered to top singles charts around the world and has done so in some considerable style. Bang Bang by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj almost certainly needs little introduction to worldwide readers, the single already a fixture in the Billboard Top 5 and on other charts around the world, the delay in its British release as a standalone download (of which more in a moment) meaning that we are merely following the lead of audiences across the planet and sending sales of the record soaring.
In an age when one-off collaborations between recording stars are ten a penny and when few pop or R&B albums are released without at least two or three tracks featuring invited guest singers Bang Bang is refreshingly a single which genuinely is the sum of its parts, a pop record which would have somehow been a far lesser event with just the one singer to deliver it. Of the three women, it is pleasingly Jessie J who takes centre stage, belting out her verses in a manner which marks her out as an artist at the peak of her game - the single a dramatic improvement on the weak sub-Katy Perry offerings which populated her last album. Ariana Grande is here to hang with the cool kids and does much to advance her cause as one of the big breakout stars of the year, whilst once again Nicki Minaj's willingness to mew some lines on the record of anyone who asks has meant she has collided with some A-list material and is rewarded with the biggest hit of her prolific career to date.
Dealing with the numbers, this is Jessie J's third Number One single in her home country, one which returns her to the top of the charts for the first time since the first weeks of 2012 when Domino climbed to the top, her only other prior chart-topper being her second single Price Tag which topped the listings in February 2011. Bang Bang takes Ariana Grande to the top of the UK charts for the second time this year, just two and a half months after Problem had a week of glory back in July. Despite her chart debut having come a little over four years ago Bang Bang is no less than the 25th Top 75 chart single to feature Nicki Minaj as lead or featured artist but significantly the first one ever to see her sit at the very top of the charts, her best performance prior to today being the Number 2 peak of the evergreen Starships in April 2012.
The Jessie/Grande/Minaj single is the fourth in chart history to be called Bang Bang and charts just over a year after the third - will.i.am's soundtrack single which hit Number 3 in July 2013. It comes almost - but not quite - 35 years to the week that Scottish singer BA Robertson peaked at Number 2 with his own hit single called Bang Bang and who this week loses his crown as the singer with the highest charting single with that name.
The song has been available in America for some weeks, partially by way of being one of the tracks on the deluxe edition of Ariana Grande's My Everything album. Purchasers of the collection in Britain have also been able to own the track since the end of August but Bang Bang has notably been unavailable for single purchase and absent too from streaming services. This is because in Britain the single is being promoted as the lead release from Jessie J's forthcoming third album Sweet Talker which hits shops in a fortnight. Just for a change, there was method in the madness of the transatlantic delay, however frustrating it may have been at times.
OK, it isn't every day I spent so long talking about one single in particular, but the lack of other singles chart activity this week tells its own story. Nobody was prepared to go head to head with Bang Bang and so hardly anyone bothered to try. This is all to the benefit of George Ezra who moves 10-7 with Blame It On Me and also to the continuing chart life of Taylor Swift's Shake It Off which rises two places to Number 3 to occupy its highest chart placing to date after six weeks on sale, half of which have been spent at its previous peak of Number 4. The boost comes as the single finally appears online for streaming [that wouldn't last], debuting at Number 3 on the streaming chart - those numbers flowing back to assist its place on the full singles chart.
Kudos therefore to Shift K3y who landed a Number 3 hit with Touch back in April. His second single is a somewhat smaller chart success but at the very least he has the second highest new entry of the week with I Know landing at Number 25.
I don't think it is giving too much away to note that next week's Number One single is more or less a shoo-in with the long-awaited release of Meghan Trainor's All About That Bass outselling the competition by two to one even as I write this on Sunday afternoon and set surely to match her position on the Hot 100 in seven days time. The effect of the single is however all too visible on this week's chart as the cover versions war which has been ongoing at a low level for the past few weeks finally explodes into view. The biggest selling version of the song for now then is that by Power Music Workout which rockets 52-13 and has almost certainly prompted the release of the original a week earlier than planned. Power Music Workout have a veritable library of tracks available online, many of them note for note covers but cannily remixed to be suitable for - you guessed it - a power workout. Their version of All About That Bass follows that template exactly. Yes, it is sung by a Trainor soundalike and with identical instrumentation, but it is first and foremost designed as a gym soundtrack and appears to have barged its way into the charts thanks to overwhelming public demand for any rendition of the song, no matter how it sounds.
Power Music Workout are joined on the Top 75 by Megan Tonjes, an acoustic folk cover by the singer who is one of the more notable YouTube cover stars and who lands her first ever chart single thanks to the song which climbs to Number 70.
The biggest plaudits however have to go to Trainor herself who climbs 53-33 with the original version of All About That Bass to land herself a significant and long-awaited chart record as the single becomes the first ever Top 40 hit to reach that status without selling a single copy - as the Number 4 streamed track of the week it has enough points to make history.
It is another busy week in the still struggling album market, but the Number One record of the week was a similarly foregone conclusion. Leeds-based alternative rock band Alt-J shoot to the top of the charts with their second album This Is All Yours, a dramatic improvement on the Number 13 peak scaled by their 2012 debut An Awesome Wave. Their climb to the top of the charts has all come without anything approaching a mainstream hit single either, the group yet to make their Top 50 debut, let alone the Top 40. Lead single from the album Hunger Of The Pine charted at Number 59 last week but they beat that by a place today with album cut Every Other Freckle landing at Number 58.
Finally, there was much speculation midweek that sixties singing and eighties TV legend Cilla Black might make a sensational Top 40 return this weekend. Alas she falls short with her 1964 Number One hit Anyone Who Had A Heart charting at Number 47 to at the very least become her first chart single since an ill-starred comeback attempt 21 years ago. The spike in interest in the classic ballad is all thanks to the screening of 3 part ITV drama "Cilla" which has been telling the story of her early years in show business and introducing a whole new generation to the talents of the one-time Cavern Club cloakroom attendant.