There's a fun statistic that you will see bandied around a great deal in relation to the chart this week - the fact that Crazy by Gnarls Barkley is officially the 40th single to spend seven weeks or more at the top of the singles chart. No, I can't say I was counting them either but there you go, and if nothing else this feat is the final proof that the single has moved from beyond a simple non-runner into a genuine musical phenomenon.
What is actually more impressive is the fact that 2006 is now the second year running that we have had a Number One single breach the six week barrier, Tony Christie of course also managing a seven week run last year with (Is This The Way To) Amarillo. It's been exactly a decade since we had this kind of double. 1995 saw two seven week Number Ones - Think Twice by Celine Dion and Unchained Melody/White Cliffs Of Dover by Robson and Jerome, this followed by Wannabe from the Spice Girls which also clocked up seven weeks in 1996. Indeed the 1990s were characterised by a fair glut of singles which clogged up the top of the charts, '97 and '99 being the only years without a Number One single topping six weeks. That said, although the total of 40 seven-up singles in 54 years of the singles chart sounds quite consistent, those figures are skewed by the fact that there were 15 between 1952 and 1958 alone.
Thoughts must now turn to just what single can depose the American duo from the top of the charts. Whilst singles next week from Orson, Christian Milian and Sunblock look promising I still have my doubts - we haven't had an 8-week runner since 1994. Is that about to change?
Meanwhile, at Number 2, the record that was tipped to take its place at the top stalls at the final hurdle, the impressive Control Myself from LL Cool J and Jennifer Lopez makes at 13 place climb after hitting the high street last week. It is the second time now that a collaboration between the two has fallen at the final hurdle. Last time around it was LL Cool J who was the guest star on J-Lo's All I Have which made Number 2 in March 2003.
Now I'm sure there won't be too many people jumping up and down angry when I say that for the last few years the Pet Shop Boys have had a problem - what you might call Depeche Mode syndrome [I'd been wondering myself exactly when I coined that term to describe the phenomenon. And here is the answer]. They make records which are well received critically and praised for their artistry but which fail to make any kind of impact beyond their ever loyal fan base. You only have to look at the chart performances of their albums. Their last studio album proper was 2002s Release which spent a grand total of four weeks on the album chart, shedding two perfunctory Top 20 hits along the way. Mind you, this was still an improvement on 1999's Nightlife which was in and out of the best sellers list after just three weeks. For a group who made some of the greatest pop records of the late 1980s, it is a humiliating comedown.
All the buzz though is that their forthcoming new album Fundamental might prove to be a career renaissance. Just for a change Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are being talked about in terms of "album of the year" instead of "Battleship Potenkim - what in God's name was that all about?" The first single from the new album is an impressive start. I'm With Stupid has classic PSB written all over it, thundering disco drums, a pop chorus and a biting vocal that deals with Blair and Bush politics with a subtlety that George Michael wishes he could achieve. Even the video (featuring Little Britain stars David Walliams and Matt Lucas as the duo) is worthy of attention. The result is an instant Top 10 smash hit, their biggest hit single since You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk sneaked in during the new year lull in January 2000. OK so they are still without a Top 5 single since Go West in 1993, but as returns to form go, I'm With Stupid is up there with the best of them.
Now to the Eurovision Song Contest. Yes, the rest of Europe hates the British (we were bottom four last year) and no, we don't take it all that seriously but national pride is at stake here. We've tried all manner of things to reverse our fortunes in recent years, entering cheesy pop, acoustic ballads and spunky R&B but nothing has worked. This year it seems we're just going to take the piss a little. Hence the UK entry this year of Teenage Life by cheese-meister general Daz Sampson. Self-confessed pop freak, Daz has been responsible for more naff club hits than you can count over the past few years, from Rikki and Daz's Rhinestone Cowboy through to Bus Stop's pop-rap remake of Kung Fu Fighting. He makes records with the same school of thought that made Simon Cowell so much money - sod what is cool, just tap in to what will appeal to the most amount of people. Hence Teenage Life, performed by Sampson and a bevvy of school uniform clad lovelies who chant the chorus like a bunch of 12-year-olds, over which Daz performs a naff white boy rap about his school days. It is far and away the wrongest record you will hear all year - which is actually what makes it such a work of genius. As I said when we voted it to be our entry, there is always the faint chance that the rest of Europe will go apeshit over it which is what will make the contest in Greece next weekend such compelling viewing. Released as a single this week, the track flies to Number 13, thus already becoming a bigger hit than Javine's Touch My Fire was last year (it made Number 18) and matching the peak of James Fox's entry in 2004 Hold On To Our Love. Just remember, Grandma Bangs The Drums was up there with the winners last year and although Britain's last attempt at entering a rap single for Eurovision (Love City Groove in 1995) ended in failure, you write this one off at your peril. [It performed miserably on the night, and I'm convinced that this was really just in the lap of the Gods. Sometimes the most random things dominate Eurovision and sometimes they don't. And this one didn't. But just for trying this we deserved a prize all of our own and in its own cute way this is a high point of Britain's Eurovision entries so far this century].
The major label signing of Lowestoft group Boy Kill Boy has transformed their career in 2006. Back in February the single Back Again gave them their first ever Top 30 hit and this week they move up a level with the arrival at Number 17 of the devastatingly catchy Susie. The track first appeared on an indie label in the middle of last year but failed to tickle the charts. Since then their stock has deservedly risen and this chart placing is an excellent lead in for the release of their debut album next week.
As mentioned earlier, one single tipped as a potential Number One is Say I from Christina Milian which lands on the chart at Number 18 on download sales this week. It is the first single from her new album So Amazin' and duly becomes her first hit single since Whatever U Want charted in October 2004. The US star has released some awesome singles in the past, such as AM to PM and Dip It Low and if anything this new hit is one of her best yet, with a quite delicious Philly melody underpinning the chorus. Dip It Low is her biggest hit to date, peaking at Number 2 in May 2004 and if this new hit doesn't go at least Top 3 next week it will be a major shock.
After dipping out of the Top 20 with last week's release, Michael Jackson fares a little better with his latest re-release In The Closet. Sadly there isn't much to enthuse about here as like Remember The Time the single was one of the sludge of Teddy Riley tracks that made up the first side of the Dangerous album. Much speculation surrounded the identity of the female vocalist on the track which was credited to just "mystery girl" on the album sleeve. Naomi Campbell mimed the vocals in the video but it was later revealed to be none other than Princess Stephanie of Monaco, depping for Madonna who had backed out at the last minute.
Before we finish this week, it would be very wrong indeed to not say a few words about the single slipping in at Number 22, Black And White from Brighton's Upper Room. The group's strength is the unashamed way they make bright, upbeat, sing-along pop records in a manner not dissimilar to the likes of Orson - except that they do it in a way that is distinctly and joyfully British. Their first single All Over This Town originally came out in 2004 but only found its way into the charts earlier this year when it hit Number 38 in March. Black Or White takes the 80s as its inspiration, a jangly indie-pop three and a half minutes that would not have disgraced the output of the La's. It's enough to ensure I'll be first in the queue to buy their debut album when it comes out at the end of the month - take my advice and check it out as well.
Sadly it isn't the most exciting single of the year so far - that is still one week away from release - and although Busta Rhymes' Touch It and Orson's Bright Idea are also Top 30 new entries, they don't hit the shops until this week and because they will shoot into the Top 10 next time around, it seems a shame to make premature comment on their performance.