Right then pull up a chair because I've a feeling this could take a while. August is generally a quiet month for the music industry. Most people (and staff) are away on holiday and to push major new releases on the public when most of them have other things on their minds is generally a bit of a waste of effort. Nonetheless, this year has been the quietest August I can remember for a long time, all of which makes the events of this week seem so much more startling.
A glut of big new releases has resulted in a wholesale changing of the guard as far as the singles chart is concerned. Of last week's Top 10 only the Top 3 survive and 10 out of the Top 15 records are new entries. That is a lot of new music to cover in a single column so time to get cracking.
Ruling the roost in triumphant style are Oasis who shoot straight to Number One with The Importance Of Being Idle. Those who dismissed their last single Lyla as a shouty mess that demonstrated little in the way of musical style should be nicely reassured by the potential classic they have unleashed as their latest single. Borrowing every trick in the book from the Kinks, the track (sung by Noel for a change) is a slow plod through the personal philosophy of an idle waster. Adding to the effect is a superlative video which has been heavy in rotation on the music channels which doesn't feature the band at all but instead has actor Rhys Ifans and a team of dancing undertakers miming to the track. Make no mistake, this is one of Oasis' biggest and best releases for a long long time.
Better yet though is the list of records the band manage to set with this single. First of all, it is their 8th [and, as it turned out, final] Number One single in total and their second this year, following on from the success of Lyla back in May. This marks the first time they have ever had two Number One hits in the same calendar year and interestingly enough only the second time they have managed back to back Number One hits, All Around The World and Go Let It Out followed each other in the late 90s but had a gap of two years between them. Idle also marks only the second time that an Oasis track with Noel rather than Liam on lead vocals has topped the charts, his first being Don't Look Back In Anger way back in 1996, although honourable mention has to go to Little By Little which stalled at Number 2 in October 2002. On top of that, the single is their 19th straight Top 10 hit, thus beating a long standing record for a group that was previously held jointly by the Beatles and Abba. The all-time record for this is a little way off sadly as Madonna's total of 34 in a row remains some distance away. The single is also their 17th consecutive Top 5 hit which means that Cliff Richard's all-time record of 19 is now within shouting distance.
[Superstar debut klaxon! And what a debut it is, the first ever chart appearance for Robyn Fenty. The lady who, thanks to her sheer ubiquity over the next decade and a bit, rates more mentions in these pages than any other performer. The Ri-Ri era is about to begin]. Slipping into second place is Pon De Replay a single which seems to have been in circulation ever since the schools broke up but only now escapes onto the chart. Barbados born Rihanna is Def Jam records' latest big hope for the future, a glamorous sexy ragga star whose marketing leaves you in no doubt that she is here to give the genre some much-needed sex appeal. Away from the image the single itself isn't half bad either, a commanding dance record that has been the soundtrack of choice for just about every soft top driver from here to Bolton. Chalk this up as a well-deserved debut hit. I'm just waiting for the day that she releases a single on the same day as Britain's own jazz-pop songstrel Rhianna just to see how confused people get.
[And if you needed any proof of just how completely formed she arrived, the Pon De Replay video spells it out for you. 17 years old and oozing sensuality and star power in a manner nobody had managed since Madonna began her career. Even to watch it now it is extraordinary].
Next up at Number 4 is phase 2 in the battle of the Blue boys. The celebrated turn of the decade pop act has already produced two solo stars in the shape of Duncan James and Lee Ryan and now it is the turn of a third of their number to stake his claim on the singles chart as Simon Webbe hits the ground running with the sultry and soulful Lay Your Hands. 1990s legends Take That were the ones to kick off the trend for flinging solo deals at boy bands once they had dissolved with Gary Barlow, Robbie Williams and Mark Owen (himself with a new entry at Number 57 this week in fact) all hitting the charts to varying degrees of success. For the ultimate in solo spinoffs then you need to look no further than the Spice Girls, all five of whom had solo Top 10 hits after they broke up as a collective.
At Number 6 are the Black Eyed Peas with Don't Lie, their second single of the year following on from Don't Phunk With My Heart which hit Number 3 in May. The new track gives them a sixth Top 10 single, the only one of their last seven hits to fall short being Let's Get It Started which stalled at Number 11 in July last year.
Back in the 1980s, the Style Council hit Number 3 with Long Hot Summer. It was one of those tracks that just exuded cool, a high point of Paul Weller's 80s songwriting and a genuine acknowledged classic. Fans of the song will be relieved to learn that the new Girls Aloud single has nothing whatsoever to do with it. Instead, it is a brand new song, the first track to be taken from their forthcoming third album. Guitars and beats are the order of the day here as the usual formula is given a spring cleaning, one which ironically leaves the Girls sounding more like Bananarama than the 80s legends did themselves on their recent comeback. What is perhaps most interesting is the chart placing as the Number 7 entry point of the single makes it the first Girls Aloud single to miss the Top 5 first week out. Admittedly the competition this week was pretty tough and one cannot, of course, rule out the possibility that the track might climb a little over the next couple of weeks. Nonetheless, for a brand new track unavailable on any album this does not bode well for the long term performance of their next few singles. Trends are there to be broken of course but chart precedent does not lie.
Skipping away from the new entries for a moment and to the surprise of many last week's Number One is actually the lowest charting Top 10 survivor this week as McFly's I'll Be OK takes a dramatic tumble from 1-8. In a year when Elvis Presley set new records for spectacular falls from the top this actually doesn't look so bad in comparison but it beats even the 1-7 fall suffered by U2 back in February to become the worst performing "normal" Number One single of the year. For all the nice things we said about them last week, the fact that the single struggled to hold its own sales wise in its second week on release says a great deal about the level of hype that is being used to propel them to the top and their overall lack of appeal outside their core teen fan base. Then again maybe it is the song, after all All About You lingered for five weeks in the Top 10 even after its status as the official Comic Relief song had been largely ignored. Still, they are in good company. Even Westlife during their career had to watch singles take falls such as 1-8 and 1-6 with some of their best singles.
At Number 9 is a fun chart oddity that we first flagged up a few weeks ago. After Top 10 singles with Oh My God and Every Day I Love You Less And Less already this year, the Kaiser Chiefs for their latest single have elected to re-released I Predict A Riot which gave them their Top 40 breakthrough back in November last year when it first peaked at Number 22. To avoid short-changing fans the single is this time packaged as a double a-side with Sink That Ship. As the single started picking up airplay again so too its online sales began to pick up as well, and because the first release of the single was less than a year ago these online sales were chart eligible. As a result I Predict A Riot still bearing its old catalogue number began creeping up the charts at the start of August, moving 46-31-36-33. Last week the new version of the single hit the shops which thus resulted in the online sales counting towards the chart position of the new package. Hence the single has achieved something that hitherto only import singles have managed, leaping 30-odd places in statistical terms but officially vanishing from the chart and reappearing as a new entry in the space of a single week. Oh yes, of course, the single is duly the third Top 10 hit for the Leeds act and deservedly continues their mainstream exposure but just for a change, the sound of the track itself isn't the big talking point.
The seventh new entry in the Top 10 is a single which is of course refreshingly gimmick free, Jack and Meg White charting effortlessly with My Doorbell, the follow-up to Blue Orchid which hit Number 9 back in June. Their biggest hit remains 7 Nation Army which was a Number 7 hit back in 2003.
Even out of the Top 10 the new entries just keep on coming. At Number 11 we find Freemasons featuring Amanda Wilson with Love On My Mind, this week's token club hit. Actually, this hit deserves more than to be just an also ran as whilst it contains little in the way of innovation it is an entertaining slice of disco-pop which presses all the right buttons as far as the "summertime hit" formula is concerned. Somehow you get the feeling it isn't going to be mentioned in year end dispatches of course.
Brace yourselves though for at Number 12 the damn Crazy Frog is back. Hopefully proving that the Number One success of Axel F was little more than an aberration, the latest attempt to cash in on the ringtone stalls somewhat at Number 12. The latest track to be commandeered for a "performance" by the cartoon character is the seminal Popcorn. The instrumental track was one of the first pop hits to be entirely played by a synthesiser. Originally composed by German performer Gershon Kingsley in 1969 it became a massive worldwide hit in 1972 for Stan Free who released it under the name Hot Butter, the single hitting Number 5 here. Since then the track has appeared in countless computer games, film soundtracks and in many different cover versions but to date nobody has ever charted with a cover version. Thus I guess Crazy Frog writes himself into chart history once more. What a depressing prospect.
A possibly brighter sight comes along at Number 15 in the shape of a spectacularly large hit for no less a bunch of legends than the Rolling Stones. New single Streets Of Love/Rough Justice comes just as they kick off yet another world tour, prompting numerous newspaper articles about just how a bunch of 60-somethings manage to rival the younger generation for sheer raw energy. Oddly enough this single has the honour of being their second Top 20 hit in a row as it follows on from the remix of Sympathy For The Devil which hit Number 14 in 2003. That is enough to make this their most successful run of hits since the mid-1970s when Fool To Cry and Miss You gave them their last back to back Top 10 hits. Perhaps most significantly is it their highest charting original hit single since Love Is Strong made Number 14 in July 1994. They have had one other Top 20 hit since then of course but the songwriting credit on 1995's Number 12 single Like A Rolling Stone must, of course, go to a certain Mr R.Dylan. As the years go by the possibility that they might one day have another Top 10 hit never quite seems to go away, even if they ultimately end up falling short. For the recor, their last foray into the upper reaches came back in 1981 when Start Me Up hit Number 7.
Gosh, are we almost done? Just two more singles worthy of note this week, both of them propping up the lower end of the Top 20. First is Amerie at Number 19 with Touch, the follow-up to 1 Thing which hit Number 4 in June, swiftly followed at Number 20 by Mint Royale whose new album See You In The Morning spawns the single Singing In The Rain. The track should be familiar to most as it formed the soundtrack to the notorious Volkswagen TV commercial earlier this year which saw a computer generated Gene Kelly add a range of new moves to his famous skip through the puddles in the legendary movie of the same name. The only mystery really is why it has taken so long for the track to hit the shops - releasing it at the same time as the commercial hit the screens would surely have guaranteed a much larger hit. Spookily enough next week should see the chart appearance of the soundtrack to the years' other eye-popping car commercial. [The Mint Royale track would, as history records, go on to be the smash hit it always deserved to be as one of the first truly spontaneous chart reappearances of the download era - just fast forward a couple of years].