So what is your poison? Kate Nash or Timbaland? That has been the question on the lips of chart-watchers ever since the start of the week when it became clear that Rihanna stood a less than zero chance of extended her run at Number One to an eleventh week. Instead what we were to witness was a closely fought ding-dong battle between the two singles that had been lining up to take over.
After a strong start, Kate Nash faded midweek to leave Timbaland, Keri Hilson and DOE as the winners of the race – albeit only just with some reports suggesting it won the battle by the small matter of 16 sales [the closest Number One battle in modern day chart history in fact]. If you want the truth this was actually the right result. Kate Nash's single Foundations, for all the hype and all the mass appeal it has, was only ever a great Number 2 record (this week being its fourth in total in the runners up slot). Like Lily Allen before her, I think she actually has more in the tank and will be able to top this first single, and failing to reach Number One gives us all something to hope for. The Timbaland record, on the other hand, is a chart champion worthy of the title. A much better, and dare I say it, more commercially appealing track than Give It To Me, The Way I Are also doesn't have the benefit of two superstar names on lead vocals, leaving it to crawl to the top on its own merits.
Timbaland duly becomes the first act to have two Number One singles in 2007, following on from McFly who were the only act to manage this in 2006. He's the first American to top the UK charts twice in a calendar year since Elvis Presley managed the feat three times in 2005 and perhaps, more importantly, the first to do so with new material since Usher in 2004. Those with an interest in these things will note that the strange chart quirk that caused the single to be listed as a “new entry” when it switched from Interscope to Polydor a couple of weeks ago rears its head once more. The physical release of The Way I Are has indeed come out on Interscope which means the single is now listed under its original catalogue number and so is technically a re-entry. This could well make it the first ever single to re-enter the charts at Number One, but for the fact that I suspect British Hit Singles will relegate these shenanigans to a footnote in Timbaland's entry. Quite right too.
Small commiserations must go to Rihanna who finally tumbles 1-3 on Umbrella's 11th week on the chart. In the long history of the singles chart, no other single has had to wait so deep into its chart career to occupy a position other than Number One. Indeed she has broken a chart record that has stood for almost 55 years, the previous holder being none other than Here In My Heart by Al Martino which occupied top slot on the very first NME singles chart in November 1952 and remained there for nine weeks, thus only registering a different chart placing on its tenth week on chart. She does, however, fail to beat the record for the longest running Number One female of all time, Umbrella now only able to match the ten week run of Whitney Houston and I Will Always Love You. Only three acts have ever had ten week Number One hits: Rihanna, Whitney and David Whitfield with Cara Mia back in the 1950s.
The decline of Umbrella can be explained in part to the sudden acceleration in sales of the follow-up Shut Up And Drive which is still some weeks away from release but which now accelerates 65-18 and should overtake Umbrella within a few weeks once it finds the right gear. At least that is what the movement of the single indicates. Is that enough driving references for now?
Timbaland and Rihanna swapping places is, in fact, the only activity in an otherwise static Top 7 with all other singles remaining where they are. Fortunately, the final three places in the Top 10 are all filled with new arrivals. Groove Armada move 13-8 with Song For Mutya, Mika lands himself a third Top 10 hit with Big Girl (You Are Beautiful) at Number 9 and the biggest new hit of the week lands at Number 10. Fans of the Manic Street Preachers can be forgiven for being disappointed with the placing of Autumnsong as the band were potentially gunning for their fourth straight Number 2 hit single. Not that Number 10 is to be sniffed at of course, the single arriving on combined sales as the second single from their Send Away The Tigers album.
The next new arrival is a brand new chart name, 22-year-old Surrey native Newton Faulkner whose second single Dream Catch Me arrives at Number 16. Buoyed by support from both BBC music networks, he easily beats the performance of his debut release I Need Something which missed the chart altogether back in the spring. The single might struggle to make further progress however as it will face competition from his debut album Hand Built By Robots which hits the shops this week.
The third new hit of the week is a genuine oddity and one which caught many people by surprise. Hype for the release of the long-awaited Simpsons movie and its premiere last week has helped one particular track from the soundtrack to hoover up more than its fair share of downloads. Step forward Green Day (who star in the film) and their rendition of the theme from the cartoon series which makes a headline-grabbing download only debut at Number 19. Far and away the most notable aspect of the track is its length, clocking in at a mere 81 seconds. I'm going to defer here to the knowledge of Alan Jones at Music Week who notes that the only hit single to run shorter was the lead track on DJ Nation – Bootleg Edition, a Number 33 hit for Nukleuz DJ's in February 2003. Clocking in at a mere 75 seconds, the track did at least have the excuse of being just one of a set of club mixes and so represented slightly better value than the Green Day track. Even at 99p for the download, you don't get much music to your pound here.
The Green Day track is the first Simpsons connected single since the family themselves (notably with Bart on lead vocals) scored a brace of hits in 1991, the first Do The Bartman reaching Number One. Green Day are by no means the first real world act to cover the Simpsons' theme and they are effectively the second “alternative” act to release a rendition, Sonic Youth's version having appeared in the episode 'Homerpalooza' in the mid 90s.
As far as new hits for the future go, keep an eye out next week for Gotta Work by Amerie which has struggled on downloads, hitting a mere Number 33 at present but which hits the shops for real this week. Also bubbling under still are R Kelly and Usher who move 32-27 with Same Girl (out on August 13th) and also Plain White T's who storm into the Top 40 with a 70-26 move for Hey There Delilah, that single not due in the shops for real until September 3rd – the same date incidentally as Rihanna's Shut Up And Drive.