It's a double triumph for the Sugababes this week, as not only does 'Push The Button' clock up a third week at Number One on the singles chart but their new album Taller In More Ways also charges in at pole position on the long players listing. This is the first time they have ever managed a Number One album, their previous best being 2002s Angels With Dirty Faces which peaked at Number 2. With the girls riding high at what is arguably the peak of their career so far, it is still worth marvelling that they are around to see this at all, having been dropped by London records after their first album in 2001 which failed to turn rave reviews into anything approaching decent sales. True, the production is a great deal better these days and maybe a slight shift in the direction of their material was needed, but the rise and rise of the Sugababes is a valuable lesson in long-term thinking which sadly it looks as if the record industry is going to continue to ignore for a long time to come.
Just underneath both Robbie Williams and former Number One stars the Pussycat Dolls hold firm at 2 and 3 respectively, our first entirely static Top 3 since the middle of August. It means that the biggest new hit of the week has to content itself with a Number 4 entry, that honour going to U2 with All Because Of You. It is the fourth single release from the How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb album and is enough to ensure they have now had the most successful run of singles from a single album of their entire career. All That You Can't Leave Behind also spawned four Top 5 hits in 2000 and 2001 but the last of these Electrical Storm peaked at Number 5 rather than the Number 4 peak scaled by this new hit. The group are also now on the verge of the most consistent run of hits of their career. All Because Of You is now their 10th successive Top 10 hit (dating back to the release of The Sweetest Thing in October 1998), matching the run that they put together between 1984 and 1991. As long as they resist the temptation to mine the album for a fifth single and come back next time with brand new material, it seems almost certain that they will notch up an 11th straight Top 10 single for the first time ever.
A new name invades the chart at Number 5 for the second biggest new hit of the week, Baby Goodbye marking an impressive debut for Friday Hill. In truth, the threesome aren't complete unknowns as Friday Hill comprise James, Kenzie and Mus who were better known as one-third of pop-rap group Blazin' Squad. The original group had been without a record deal since early last year but officially the split only came earlier this year when MC Krazy quit to go work in a bank (of all places). Since their last hit Here 4 One it is Kenzie who has made the biggest name for himself, starring on reality TV, dating Jodie Marsh and effectively becoming a celebrity in his own right. Thus you can be forgiven for being surprised that he has reunited with two of his school friends rather than becoming a solo star, although when you hear the single you will be glad he didn't. Baby Goodbye has an epic production that casts a nod back to the more awesome moments of the career of East 17 back in the 1990s, a pop song that starts off with an understated acoustic chorus which explodes into an uplifting anthemic chorus. Want the truth? This is far and away the best pop single you will hear all month.
I mentioned last week that Daniel Powter's 'Bad Day' had thus far failed to spend less than two weeks at any of the chart positions it had occupied thus far. This week it sort of spoils that record, although in a most unexpected way, leaving the Number 10 position to walk back up the chart to sit this week at Number 8. Something tells me we won't be getting rid of it anytime soon thanks to the constant trickle of downloaded sales that it is still bringing in. Compare this too to the performance of James Blunt's summertime Number One hit You're Beautiful which has been unavailable physically for some weeks now, the record company having deleted the CD single to make way for his new release High. Of course, you can't delete a download which means that as far as the singles chart is concerned the track is still selling, this week settling at Number 35 on its 20th week around.
Back to the new hits now and at Number 11 are Feeder with the double-sided hit Shatter/Tender, one which reverses the decline in their chart fortunes somewhat, hitting Number 11 as compared to the disappointing Number 30 peak of Pushing The Senses (the title track from their current album) which charted back in July. Although Tender is from the album, Shatter isn't and in fact originally featured as the b-side to Tumble And Fall, the first single to be released from the album at the start of the year. A fan campaign to see the track promoted to what they felt was its deserved status as a proper single release was heard and actioned, and thus Shatter becomes a hit in its own right. Their next project will apparently be a hits collection complete with the odd new track, due out in the new year.
The news isn't quite as bright for Lee Ryan whose novelty value as a solo star appears to have worn off already. After making a strong debut at Number 3 with his first hit Army Of Lovers back in July, his second single Turn Your Car Around makes a disappointing Number 12 this week. It isn't a bad single in truth, a mid-tempo acoustic rock ballad that has found a natural home on the radio but his problem is that he is caught in that annoying halfway house between pop star and "serious artist". Turn Your Car Around is a credible piece of work, but to the public, he is still the guy from the boy band who occasionally said stupid things in interviews. Turn Your Car Around might have the distinction of being his lowest charting single ever. Even the worst performing Blue single still managed a Number 11.
Just for a change the most talked about, discussed and dissected single of the week isn't riding high in the Top 10. It has been a year since we last saw former Steps star Lisa Scott-Lee in the singles chart, her last hit being as singer on Intenso Project's Get It On which made a rather disappointing Number 23. We know just how she felt about that as its release coincided with her being followed around by an MTV camera crew for the show Totally Scott-Lee which has documented her life Osbournes-style for the past year. The show was compulsive car-crash viewing with her extended family (plus manager Nathan Moore) all coming under the spotlight. The attention meant that someone was prepared to take a gamble on her once again and as the series moved towards a climax, new single Electric was recorded and prepared for release. Her challenge (set by the producers) was to have a Top 10 hit with the track and somewhere along the way this turned into reports that she was going to quit music forever if it failed to climb that high. In fairness to her, she has spent the last two weeks of promotion denying this at every turn and indeed told me face to face a week ago there was no way she was giving up, regardless of how the single did.
Sadly the track isn't very good, for all the hard work and hype that has gone into it, despite the presence of Robbie Williams' former partner Guy Chambers on the songwriting credits. The single is an electronic mess to be honest, unable to decide if it wants to be a pop record or a hardcore club hit. As a result, it is destined to appeal to neither camp.
Thus the progress of the single throughout the week was eagerly reported in all quarters. Early sales suggested it would struggle to make even the Top 20 but then towards the end of the week it rallied and in truth was within an ace of that elusive Top 10 by Saturday. Alas t'was not to be. Number 13 isn't bad of course but of her four post-Steps singles to date, it is still the third smallest and the one which has benefited from the greatest amount of promotion and free publicity given to any single in the last year. So if she is to be believed, she isn't going to quit music but will soldier on, the MTV cameras having come back into her life at the weekend to record her reaction to the chart position as it was announced. Something tells me series II of Totally Scott-Lee will be even more of a car crash than the first.
Slightly more credible dance music can be found at Number 15 (indeed it is the first big club hit to chart in some weeks). Love Generation marks the first appearance (at least under his own name) for French disco genius Bob Sinclar in over five years. Although always in demand as a producer (and the pioneer of the French "mutant disco" style that dominated clubs in the late 90s) this is his first chart single since I Feel For You hit Number 9 in August 2000. The single is no disco hit though, instead, an uplifting African-flavoured hit that features vocals from City Heat singer Gary Nesta Pine. The last month has seen some fabulous records hit the chart but Love Generation has to rank alongside Bedouin Soundclash's When The Night Hears My Song as far and away one of the most underrated.
Actually no, scrub that. The most underrated song of the week is buried deep amongst the also-rans. Step forward Perfect Love by Simply Red which makes a rather miserable Number 30 this week. The stunning Cuban-flavoured track is taken from the brand new album Simplified which takes a few new songs and a handful of older Simply Red classics re-recorded in a stripped down acoustic style. Back to basics if you like - and very much simplified. Whilst some may criticize Mick Hucknall for revisiting old songs rather than coming up with new ones, Perfect Love shows that his creative talents remain undimmed. The new album will be the second Simply Red long player to be released by the band themselves, via the self-funded simplyred.com label. Bypassing the traditional music business model, the band have simply obtained corporate funding for the recording and pressing of the record and are selling it themselves. 2003s Home release was the first and Simplified is the second, the fact that they have got this far proves that the concept works.