There aren't many records that flag themselves up as enduring classics right from the moment they are released. Today we might just be in a position to welcome one. Given the amount of pre-promotion it has been given and the sheer care that has gone into crafting the project (right down to the radical new look and uniforms for the band) it was more or less a given that the new album from My Chemical Romance was going to be their biggest yet. I don't think anyone was quite prepared for just how big this is going to be.
The lead single from the album, Welcome To The Black Parade is an epic in every sense of the word. A 200 track monster of a production that throws in drums, guitars, multi layered harmonies and choral backings in a song divided into what are effectively four separate movements. All the best rock classics have them you know. Make no mistake this is something of a masterpiece. Just to delight the older generation there are nods to the past as well. From the Brian May-esque guitar work in the middle eight down to the posing of lead singer Gerard Way. Somewhere you get the feeling Freddie Mercury is smiling with approval.
It is also a record with a spectacular chart performance. After landing at Number 23 on downloads last week, the combined sales of the single are enough this week to propel it straight to the very top of the chart to give the US band far and away the biggest hit of their career so far. The 23-1 jump is the biggest since the chart rules were changed this year, beating the 21-1 leap made by Beyonce back in September
I don't as a general rule presume to tell people what they should and shouldn't listen to but Welcome To The Black Parade is a record that it would be wrong to ignore, even if it is only to decide that you hate it. Personally, I can't remember the last time a single moved, thrilled and inspired me to the extent that you get goose bumps down your spine as it reaches its climax and to have it as the biggest selling single of the week is something of a joy to behold. [I think that is a suitably epic write-up for one of the most famous rock singles of its era, and something that was nothing less than a joy to see at the top of the charts].
Lest this all becomes too gushing, I played the single to one of my colleagues to get his opinion. Hearing the track for the first time, he listened carefully and said "I like that. It's like Busted for grownups isn't it?"
In a very quiet Top 10 the only other significant action is the flying 43-7 leap of Superfreak from Dutch dance act Beatfreakz. The song is a genuine curiosity as it is rather better known in this country for the track which sampled it rather than its original form. Motown star Rick James wrote the song and took it to the US Top 10 in 1981. Over here the single didn't chart at all, its UK fame is almost entirely down to MC Hammer and his sampling of the central synth riff as the backing for his breakthrough hit U Can't Touch This, a Top 3 hit in the summer of 1990. This new Beatfreakz version uses the riff of course but also restores the song lyrics. A cover it may be but to all intents and purposes, this is a new song for the UK audience. It is the follow-up to their new version of Somebody's Watching Me which went Top 3 back in May and which was itself notable for sampling the one bit of Rockwell's track that was actually sung by Michael Jackson.
The highest brand new entry of the week arrives at Number 20, James Morrison following up his Number 5 debut You Give Me Something with second single Wonderful World. Nothing to do with the Louis Armstrong song, this is yet another smoothly produced soul track which he delivers with his now celebrated gravelley tones. This chart placing is on downloads alone which means a big rise next week is all but inevitable. He only needs a single place rise to outdo his closest musical rival Paolo Nutini whose single Jenny Don't Be Hasty looks to have peaked at Number 20, the single dipping a place to give way to James Morrison this week.
There is frustration this week for acclaimed electro-poppers Hot Chip who were clearly hoping the exposure given to them by their Mercury nomination would translate into singles success. Their hit Over and Over has made the Top 40 once already this year, hitting Number 32 back in March. Re-released last week it charted at 51 on downloads but the combined release has only helped it to Number 27, still their biggest hit to date but not quite the mainstream success they deserve. Their time will come.
Is Corinne Bailey Rae a one hit wonder? She certainly seems to be trending that way with a hit follow-up to the Number 2 smash Put Your Records On proving elusive. Its follow-up came in June when Trouble Sleeping limped to Number 40 and now a re-release of her first single Like A Star also fails to hit the grade, leaping 72-32 upon shop release. At the very least it has surpassed the Number 34 position it scaled in November last year to become her second biggest hit to date, but for an artist who was hailed as one of the finds of the year back in the spring, this is poor stuff indeed. At least she has the consolation that the album has sold by the bucketful.
As for the remaining Top 40 new entries, Placebo hit Number 35 with Meds but as a combined release is no going any further, neither is Badly Drawn Boy whose brand new track Nothing's Going To Change Your Mind hits the chart on combined sales and can only match the Number 38 peak of his last hit Year Of The Rat from two years ago. The only track with potential is the Ordinary Boys' Lonely At The Top which hits the shops for real this week and is set to improve on its Number 36 debut.
Finally, for this week, watch out for two singles just outside the Top 40. Meat Loaf's It's All Coming Back To Me Now is set to soar next week and will get proper treatment next time, but I'm going to be fascinated by the progress of the Goo Goo Dolls' single which lands at Number 42 on downloads. The lead track on the single is ostensibly Stay With You from their current album Let Love In but it comes as a double a-side with their 1999 classic Iris, recently covered by Ronan Keating. Their own original release of the track only made Number 26 and it is entirely possible the Ronan connection could finally help it become the big hit here it always deserved to be.