In one of those frustrating statistical quirks that a sales ranking will occasionally throw up, Shakira's Hips Don't Lie makes its biggest weekly sale to date this week but in the process slips down a place to Number 2, deposed as the nation's best selling single by Lily Allen with Smile. Upon physical release the track makes a 13-1 flying leap up the chart to become the second single this year to jump to Number One from outside the Top 10 - So Sick by Ne-Yo having climbed 18-1 back in March. By topping the chart she has managed as a performer to eclipse the chart achievements of her father Keith who, as the creative force behind Fat Les reached Number 2 in 1998 with Vindaloo. The one feat father and daughter do share however is that of writing Number One singles. Allen Junior is co-writer of her hit single Smile whilst Allen Senior famously penned the John Barnes rap in the middle of Englandneworder's World In Motion which topped the charts in time for the World Cup back in 1990. Meanwhile, the strange familial quirk of the singles chart goes on. Whilst brothers and sisters, fathers and daughters, mothers and sons and fathers and sons have all topped the charts, to date, no mother and daughter combination has had a Number One hit single, whether separately or together.
Finally, it is also well worth noting that (assuming we continue to be flexible over definitions and count Wyclef as a "guest star") Lily Allen is now the fourth solo female in a row to top the UK charts, hard on the heels now of Shakira, Nelly Furtado and Sandi Thom. Such a solo run by the fairer sex is unprecedented in chart history although four singles in a row by acts featuring lead female vocals has been achieved on a handful of occasions, most recently in 2000 when Britney Spears, Madison Avenue, Billie Piper and Sonique all topped the listings in quick succession.
The next two big new hits of the week are also from singles making flying leaps up the chart due to the download/physical split. As was expected Razorlight's In The Morning also makes a huge gain flying 15-3. The single is now their second biggest to date, beaten only by the Number 2 peak of Somewhere Else in 2005.
At Number 5 is a track with an ever greater gain, Last Request by Paolo Nutini didn't even make the Top 40 on downloads last week, this week, however, he flies 42-5 to land himself his first ever UK hit single. Despite his Italian sounding name he actually hails from Paisley in Scotland and is just the latest in a refreshingly long line of singer-songwriter talents that UK labels are pushing heavily. Make no mistake, manufactured pop is no longer the priority it was - self-sufficient performers are in. This is, of course, a very welcome move, particularly if the discoveries carry on being of quality like this. Nutini's first single is a gentle acoustic ballad reportedly about a destructive former relationship, his voice being pleasantly reminiscent of legendary soul man Al Green at times.
The biggest "new" new hit of the week lands at Number 9, yet another summery pop club hit from Bob Sinclair. The follow-up to Love Generation which made Number 12 at the back end of last year, World Hold On (Children Of The Sky) featuring Steve Edwards on lead vocals duly becomes Sinclar's joint biggest hit under his own name, matching the chart peak of I Feel For You from August 2000. Much comment has been made over the fact that both World Hold On and Love Generation both have whistled hooks and indeed playing both tracks back to back makes you wonder if they are simply not just two halves of the same musical concept. Just for a change though the recycling of ideas has brought increasing rewards, so we can hardly knock him for it.
There's a surprise new entry at Number 13, surprising in the sense that it is a rather understated and largely ignored new release from a man who once upon a time was one of the biggest stars in the world. Said man, of course, is George Michael whose recent underwhelming chart success has pretty much forced him into semi-retirement these days, his last single Round Here only making a lowly Number 32 back in November 2004. New single An Easier Affair is one of four new tracks set to appear on a new greatest hits collection which will coincide with a special tour to commemorate his 25 years in the music business. Sadly one listen to the track confirms just why he makes more headlines for central London car accidents than he does for music these days, the single another classic example of treading musical water. An Easier Affair might as well have featured on his 1987 Faith album for all the progress it shows in his songwriting and performing style. It is sad to say it but musically he is a busted flush these days, and the fact that he is about to embark on a tour to promote his old songs suggests that he knows it himself.
At Number 18 there is a welcome UK debut for Australian electro rock band Rogue Traders. They have been having hits back home for about four years now but with new album Here Come The Drums they are being promoted to an international audience for the first time ever. Their unique selling point is the way they use older tracks as the inspiration for newer songs, but rather than lazily sampling the tracks they re-record the melodies themselves. Hence whilst Voodoo Child is based around the guitar riff from Elvis Costello's Pump It Up, every moment of the track is performed by the band. Such an approach does, of course, raise some interesting artistic questions, for whilst the original artist (or his publishers) has the right to licence a sample and restrict its use should they desire, there is very little to stop an act re-recording an element of a song and using it in their own, just as long as full songwriting credits and due royalties are made. Having said that it is hard to see anyone objecting to the Rogue Traders, they represent a welcome breath of fresh air. I only hope we get a chance to experience their cover of INXS' Need You Tonight (re-titled One Of My Kind) which originally shot them to stardom back home.
Finally for this week, a splash (although not the huge one some were expecting) is made at Number 20 by Justice vs Simian with We Are Your Friends. Hyped up as the most exciting club track of the summer, the single actually began life as a rock track. Now defunct electro-rockers Simian never managed a Top 40 single in this country but their 2003 track Never Be Alone Again caught the ear of French remixers Justice, reportedly for something they could enter in a mixing contest. The new track is based around the chorus of the original but strips away almost everything but the vocals, replacing the music with a stark but somehow striking electroclash beat. A smash at the winter dance conference in Miami, the track finally escapes onto the charts here. Relentless praise from the trendy end of the music press hasn't translated into quite the massive commercial success some will feel the track deserves, but this single is nothing less than a must-listen.