As boldly predicted last week, the becalming of the singles chart continues. A mere eight new singles penetrate the Top 40 this week, the biggest barely managing to make the Top 10. It is like it is the 1980s all over again.
This does mean of course that Michelle's All This Time once again proves hard to shift. The Pop Idol winner can now boast a three week long Number One hit single, thus putting her on level pegging with series 1 winner Will Young who managed three weeks with his own post-show debut. Of course, runner up Gareth Gates spoiled it for him a week later by starting his own four week run at the top but never mind. The chances of Michelle making it a fourth week of her own at the top? Slim I'd say with a slew of potentially big new hits set to chart this week - although whether any of them really look like potential chart-toppers is still open to question.
In the meantime the lack of big new entries this week leaves the way open for more startling upward mobility on the part of existing hits. Kelis clings on grimly at Number 2 with Milkshake, the Boogie Pimps climb two to give Somebody To Love its highest chart placing to date, but the most spectacular climb of all is by a single which has been given regular mentions ever since Christmas.
Yes, the spectacular rebound experienced by Outkast's Hey Ya reaches brand new heights this week. Having held firm at Number 9 seven days ago, the single now surges up the charts again to claim the Number 4 slot. Prior to today, the track had peaked at Number 6 in its first week on release back in November and so now after no less than 11 weeks around stands proudly as a Top 5 hit - although still two places short of becoming their biggest hit to date - 2001s Ms Jackson having hit Number 2. I have to admit to being mildly entertained at the way the single keeps selling, especially as this week it was used in a BBC News report to illustrate just how easy it is to download a copy both legally and illicitly.
This "January sales" effect has spawned many memorable chart moments over the last few years. As mentioned a few weeks ago Toploader's Dancing In The Moonlight began 2001 on a mazy chart run that almost certainly helped the band briefly become a mainstream success. The late 1990s also had some famous examples of course. In early 1998 All Saints' Never Ever topped the singles chart a full nine weeks after its November 1997 release after having spent the Christmas period lodged in the Top 5. It had famously sold over 900,000 copies before topping the charts - the highest ever by any single on its way to the top. A year later it was the turn of Steps' cover of Tragedy which too had been released in November and had taken a tumble down the listings. Having been Number 8 for Christmas the single experienced a January turnaround, topping the charts in early January after eight weeks on release.
Anyway, enough nostalgia, time to take a look at the scattering of new entries this week. To the delight of many, the biggest of these is the Scissor Sisters offering at Number 10. Comfortably Numb began life as a Pink Floyd track, next to Another Brick... one of the defining moments of The Wall album. This New York produced track has ripped the original apart and spliced it back together with a pulsating Night Fever-esque groove turning the arty rock track into a retro disco track. I've not seen it said explicitly but I suspect the inspiration for this record comes from a hard to find 1970s release entitled Discoballs which unashamedly took a variety of Floyd tracks and turned them into tacky disco renditions.
Just below the Scissor Sisters the charts play host to the welcome return of Offspring. After literally years on the fringes of the mainstream, the band finally hit commercial pay dirt in early 1999 with the tongue in cheek Pretty Fly (For A White Guy), topping the charts and finally setting them off on a run of Top 40 hits. Having said that they have never been the most consistent of hitmakers with just three Top 10 singles to their name - the last coming in November 2000 when Original Prankster made Number 6. Having sat out the nu-metal boom of the last few years the boys are now back and by the sounds of it are about to hit a long overdue return to form. Hit That pushes the same catchy buttons as their biggest hits and most importantly after three years away manages to sound fresh and exciting rather than tired. Given the hype and airplay the single has received it is actually something of a surprise to see it fail to land a Top 10 placing - could it be that this is still as good as things are going to get?
Just a few places below are Maroon 5. Hailing from LA, the band are being positioned as the new Red Hot Chili Peppers [was that really a thing I wonder, or was 2004 James just sticking a finger in the air to see which way the wind was blowing?}, performing crunching rock tracks with an understated air of cool. Single of the week for most people, Harder To Breathe gives them a creditable start to their UK chart career.
The biggest reason to celebrate of the week is at Number 16 as Southampton's The Delays deservedly crack the Top 20 with the biggest hit of their career so far. Slowly but surely appears to be the byword for them as having missed the Top 40 in 2002 they finally appeared on the listings with their August 2003 single Hey Girl which squeaked in at Number 40. I remarked at the time that they would be massive if there was any justice in the world so it is nice to see the scales finally tip a little more in their favour. As gloriously retro as The Coral, listen to this and hear the 60s and the 80s joyously collide.
Meanwhile at Number 17 is yet another in the ever growing posthumous Tupac Shakur cannon. Just a little under a year since he was last in the charts (the Number 24 hit Thugz Mansion), 2Pac is er, "back" with this ingenious new single. The attraction here is the names behind the single for Runnin' (Dying To Live) is produced by none other than Eminem. 2Pac's contribution to the track is actually recycled audio from an old interview which details his tough life and upbringing. Somehow it sits perfectly as an account of his tragic life and he is joined by the vocal presence of the man presumed to have been gunned down in a tit for tat move in the East-West rap wars that led to the deaths of both men in the mid 1990s. Thus the two murdered heroes are joined together after death in one of the most gruesome but somehow also one of the most memorable rap singles you are likely to hear all year.
At Number 19 the parade of brand new acts continues with the chart debut for the Zutons, a four piece from Liverpool who play the kind of back to basics bluesey rock with which the likes of Gomez found fame. Pressure Point is actually their third single release following earlier singles on minor labels over the past two years and this commercial breakthrough comes in the wake of the band being featured on the Channel 4 series 4Play.
Just two more singles chart outside the Top 20, the first of these coming at Number 21 as Ryan Adams gets what is only his third ever Top 40 chart single. His last two came back in 2002 when Answering Bell and Nuclear both crept inside the chart, thus making this brand new single at the very least his biggest ever hit to date. With a new album out expect another push to be made to turn him into the star his backers expect him to be and at the very least the temptation to make him throw a hissy fit by asking for Summer of 69 at his live gigs remains an entertaining one [yeah, he was notorious for briefly having a sense of humour failure about that].
Finally then we come to Number 27 and the last new hit of the week. Easyworld have been on the verge of greatness for a couple of years now, releasing a handful of near misses in 2002 before finally hitting the Top 40 for the first time in February last year - Junkies being their breakthrough hit. Sadly after that, it was downhill again with the single 2nd Amendment only reaching Number 42 last October. Fans of the trio will be hoping that this single is finally the start of something good after so many false dawns.