Hello to you if you've been on holiday this week. Hope you had a nice time and I wonder if you bumped into the record industry while you were there, given that for all the activity taking place on the singles chart this week, it looks as if they too have decided to take the first couple of weeks of August off.
That does of course leave us lots of time to consider some of the other big questions of the week such as a) why are there people willing to pay £80 to watch a small figure resembling Madonna performing in the neighbouring postcode when they could go down their local pub and watch some real musicians perform, b) given that there are so many other more interesting things on Kazaa, did you actually know anyone who used it to download music and c) given that yesterday when I tried to access a song that I had paid for six months ago on my new PC I instead got a trite message saying "sorry this track has been removed from the Napster download service at the request of the record label" are you really surprised that my opinion of the music industry isn't actually printable?
At the very top of the singles chart there is no change. Whilst Rihanna and Christina Aguilera jockey for position and swap places at positions 2 and 3, Shakira and Wyclef cling on to top spot for a second successive week and give Hips Don't Lie its third week in total at Number One. Whilst the lack of any other direct competition may well be a factor, the prospects of the track cannot have been harmed by its presence as the only contemporary track featured on last weeks final edition of Top Of The Pops, the mere fact that the program spent its death throes reveling in its past rather than celebrating the best of current chart music a good illustration of why it had to be axed in the first place. Meanwhile online plenty of merriment centres around the fact that Hips Don't Lie doesn't fit into the current Radio One definition of "cool" and so nine weeks on it remains absent from the main playlist and daytime airplay. Whilst it isn't a bad thing that the national music station isn't totally enslaved by the singles chart and whilst their strong audience figures suggest they must be doing something right, there does come a point when ignoring something genuinely and wildly popular stops being a sensible choice and turns instead to sheer pigheadedness.
The biggest new hit of the week is a song that rises 41-4 to land with a bang on the singles chart and which is easily the biggest head-scratching phenomenon of the summer. Cascada are a German club act, consisting of producers Yanou and DJ Manian along with obligatory glamorous blonde singer Natalie Horler. Their music is every bit as cheesy as their origin would suggest and when their second single Everytime We Touch was released in their home country just over a year ago there was little to suggest it would have any legs outside the continental market. After all the female vocal over bubbling bassline and insanely cheesy synth riff concept was beaten into the ground by the Vengaboys at the turn of the decade.
Then a few months ago something really weird happened. America loved it. Don't ask me how, I mean this it the country that can't get enough of 50 Cent and for whom the Pussycat Dolls are a high concept act. Everytime We Touch, the very antithesis of a stateside hit began flying up the US charts, reaching the Top 10 of the Hot 100. So it is on the back of this that the single hits the UK market. As last week's position suggests, it started slowly at first with download sales not quite taking off in the way they should. A full physical release this week has changed that and the naff, tired, heard it all before dance track is suddenly the hottest club hit of the moment.
Ah, but wait because it gets weirder. There we were, chuckling quietly at the Number 35 position scaled by Paris Hilton after her debut single Stars Are Blind hit the online stores last week. Not a chance, we thought, of it becoming a hit and justifying the effort that has been put in to turning the heiress, clothes horse, socialite and sometime home movie star into a pop singer. How wrong we were. With the CD hitting the shops and with copious airplay (including you will note, from the same national station that is too cool to play the Shakira track), the single takes a 30 place flying leap to land at Number 5 and turn "Paris" (she's too famous to need a last name now clearly) into a Top 10 hitmaker. Hence we can't really be too rude about the track and I guess it is pretty and summery enough. For the moment we are still left to wonder how much of the track contains her voice and how much has been covered up with studio wizardry.
One notable absentee from the Top 10 this week is Nelly Furtado's former Number One Maneater which would still be charting fairly high (it was Number 10 last week) but for the fact that single has fallen foul of the "2 weeks after deletion" rule and hence loses its eligibility this week. A chap from Australia emailed me a few weeks ago wondering why the album had seen a variety of different tracks released as the lead single around the world. Sadly his company had an aggressive spam filter which wouldn't let me write back to him but for the record, the first single was chosen carefully to match the prevailing style of music in each territory. Pop nations (such as ours) got Maneater whilst more urban leaning nations such as the US and Australia were given Promiscuous - set to become her next single on these shores. All this of course watched with amusement by the rest of the world who were treated to No Hay Igual as her comeback single.
The only other track to penetrate the Top 20 this week is another club hit which began its chart life outside the Top 40 last week. Rising 49-20 is All This Love by Similou. The brainchild of two Swedish producers, the track is has its roots firmly and deservedly in the mid 80s, a pop hit that just screams of the summer of 1984, right down to the last buzz of its synthesisers. Could it be that dance music is about to experience a resurgence? Just outside the Top 40 are much touted new tracks from Tom Novy, Michael Gray and of course the irresistible prospect of the Mousse T and Dandy Warhols mashup, all of which are set to dominate the chart landscape next week.