Do you get the feeling it is summer or something? The quietest singles chart in a long long time is witness to a mere handful of new entries inside the Top 40 and some rather disappointing appearances for singles that were expected to do rather better.
The Streets' run at the top is confined to just seven days as for the third week in succession (the highest rate of turnover since March) we have a brand new Number One single. The single marks a triumphant return to the top of the chart for Busted, the teen band having had what is increasingly for them the unusual experience of only peaking at Number 2 with their last single Air Hostess. The track that gives the trio their fourth Number One single is a double a-side. Raw acoustic track 3AM is coupled with a song recorded specially for the new Thunderbirds movie which opened here recently. The song Thunderbirds is no relation musically [although it does interpolate it to a certain extent] to the theme to the original TV series but instead is another thundering, catchy pop-rock tune that in truth shows the boys at the height of their powers, both musically and in the popularity stakes. Another Number One hit was all but assured and gives them a 50% strike rate of chart-topping hits.
The Thunderbirds TV series (first aired way back in the 1960s) is periodically revived for a new generation and each time around appears to inspire hit records. Such was the case in 1981 when Saturday morning TV airings resulted in the original theme by the Barry Gray Orchestra gaining a single release and hitting Number 61. Nine years later it was the turn of club mixers, production collective F.A.B. scored a Number 5 hit in July 1990 with another track entitled Thunderbirds Are Go and which was a club remix of Barry Gray's original theme. Although it had no connection to the show itself but was simply inspired by it, it is also worth mentioning Fuzzbox's International Rescue which hit Number 11 in February 1989.
In a quiet Top 10, just one other track enters the chart and as you might expect it is from a group who are very much on form chart wise. Eminem's boys D12 scored a massive Number 2 hit back in April with My Band and now the album D12 World spawns another hit single in the shape of How Come. It marks the second time the collective have managed back to back Top 10 hits, their career having been opened by the Number 10 hit Shit On You which was followed by the memorable Purple Hills, both hits coming in early 2001.
So what of the third new entry of the week. well to tell this story we have to backtrack a little - to June last year when former soap actress Jennifer Ellison was selected as the next blonde bombshell TV star to turn pop star. Her debut single was a cover of Transvision Vamp's 1980s classic Baby I Don't Care and thanks to a certain catsuit was soon firmly nestled inside the Top 10, hitting Number 6.
I wrote at the time: "The single makes a creditable enough debut inside the Top 10 although when reading interviews with the starlet you cannot escape the feeling that she genuinely believes that this is for her the start of a long and successful musical career. Time will tell as to whether that is true but it hardly needs pointing out that she will need more than a catsuit and a by the numbers cover version to turn herself into the next Kylie."
I was intrigued to receive an e-mail shortly after those comments were published from a very well connected figure in the music industry [Joe Taylor, founder of Record Of The Day] who declared an interest in Jennifer Ellison's career, having worked closely with the duo who produced the single, Padley & Godfrey. He revealed that in actual fact it was not their first choice of single and that instead, they were more excited by the follow-up track - Bye Bye Boy which the duo had penned and which had been a hit across Asia in the mid-90s in its original Japanese version [as recorded by Nanase Aikawa if you want to look it up]. I thanked him for the tip and them awaited its release.
Shortly after that, it appeared the record company interest in Jennifer Ellison went cold. Bye Bye Boy was listed for release on more than one occasion in the early autumn but shortly afterwards vanished from the release schedules. Ellison stopped talking of her music career in interviews and instead spoke of Hollywood whilst appearing in magazines with most of her clothes missing. Then she appeared on the ITV1 series 'Hell's Kitchen', far and away the youngest of a collection of minor and faded celebrities who were charged with running a restaurant under the watchful eyes of Gordon Ramsey. Never underestimate the power of reality TV, as following her victory in the series (thanks to her speciality dish of steak and chips) Jennifer Ellison was a star on the rise - and wouldn't you know it her record company realised they were sitting on a hit single gift-wrapped for the charts.
So it is that almost a year late, Jennifer Ellison scores her second chart single. I'm not really sure it was worth the wait to be honest, despite the enthusiasm of my well-connected correspondent. As fun pop records go it is simply there, no more and no less and you can see why the Japanese loved it so much eight or nine years ago. Far from kick-starting her singing career, the single has limped into the charts with little impact - Number 13 certainly does not inspire much confidence in her chances of getting as far as an album. The singer herself probably has bigger fish to fry at the moment so I suspect it is left for the record company to curse their luck at having rolled the dice and lost.
So what of the also-rans. Well, they collect together between positions 24 and 32. Biggest of these is Try Again Today by the Charlatans at Number 24, this their second chart hit of the year, the follow-up to Up At The Lake which hit Number 23 back in May. At the bottom end is another hero of the 1990s, former Blur star Graham Coxon. This is his third hit of the year, Spectacular following hard on the heels of Freakin' Out and Bittersweet Bundle Of Misery from March and May respectively.
As for the most disappointing underachievement of the lot, well that can probably be the Number 29 entry of Looking For A Place by Mania. Niara and Giselle make up the group and are associates of successful songwriter Brian Higgins, the girls having made a contribution to the writing of various hits from Girls Aloud and the Sugababes. This single was the one that was set to launch them in their own pop career but somehow lacks the magical spark that would make it a memorable pop hit. Instead the record has all the appeal of a b-side and suggests that they need to apply more quality control to their own material. It is disappointing as the feeling is the pair can do so much better. [Begining a long theme of Xenomania-sponsored projects which never quite lived up to their hit factory hype].