No surprises to report at the top of the singles chart this week, as expected Mika sustains his grip on popular taste and chalks up a second week at Number One, still on digital sales alone with the CD version of Grace Kelly belatedly arriving in the shops this week. Below him, Just Jack remains at Number 2 with Starz In Their Eyes but the remaining place in the Top 3 is fleshed out by club hit du jour Perfect (Exceeder) from Mason and Princess Superstar which takes a flying leap up the chart after landing at Number 11 seven days ago.
The club hit replaces 'Same Jeans' from The View which tumbles 3-5, just as their album Hats Off To The Buskers makes a spectacular debut at the top of the albums chart. What makes this interesting is that the first big album release of the new chart era hasn't produced the knock on effect in the singles chart that was theoretically possible - the presence of its individual tracks all selling enough to register chart placings. You will search in vain for any View tracks other than Same Jeans in the Top 75. In truth, it is easy enough to see why. Whilst it is steadily growing, the market for digital albums is still comparatively tiny. Albums are still aspirational purchases and CD sales of long player releases remain steady. Remember too that those purchases of the full album made online will have counted towards the album chart. That isn't to say that there won't have been some highly selective consumers who will have cherry picked their favourite tracks online, but they remain for the moment an insignificantly tiny market. Add to that the fact that economically it makes no sense at all to pay 14 lots of 79p (£11.06 in total) on iTunes for all the individual tracks on the View album when the whole thing is available as a bundle for £9.99 and you will see why widespread predictions of the Top 10 singles being dominated by an entire album are unlikely to be proved true just yet. That isn't to say we won't ever see album tracks pebble-dashing the singles listing in the week of a big release, but it is more likely to come from megastars such as Coldplay or U2.
The highest new entry of the week arrives at Number 6 as US Emo rockers Fall Out Boy kick off the promotion of their new album with This Ain't A Scene It's An Arms Race. Taken from their forthcoming album Infinity On High it is technically the second single to be made available following Carpal Tunnel Of Love which was made available exclusively online at the end of last year and which of course under the old chart rules wasn't eligible for the singles chart. This Ain't A Scene... is also digital only, at least for this week and the arrival of the CD single could well push the track even higher. Already it is their biggest hit to date, landing two places higher than Sugar We're Going Down and Dance Dance and Top 3 for this one is by no means out of the question.
Although everyone is quickly writing off the CD single, a shop release is still worth something as far as chart placings are concerned as the next two climbers illustrate. First up are the Klaxons who this rise 14-7 with the three week old Golden Skans thanks to a timely bolstering from digital sales. More spectacular is the 30 place climb made by My Chemical Romance with Famous Last Words which also hit the shops properly this week. Following up a record with the impact of Welcome To The Black Parade is never an easy task and for all its anthemic aspirations this follow-up is inevitably going to wind up labelled as the lesser track. Nonetheless, we should not understate the significance of the group landing themselves the second biggest hit of their career and a second successive Top 10 hit. Bizarre as it may sound, My Chemical Romance are now well and truly mainstream.
The second highest new entry arrives at Number 13 as Bloc Party make a long awaited return with The Prayer. The jangly Essex foursome finally broke big in 2005, landing Top 10 hits with So Here We Are and Two More Years, both taken from their album Silent Alarm. The new single is less Cocteau Twins and more XTC, a track heavy on percussion and rhythm guitar but still a single which neatly straddles the twin aims of both modern day appeal and 80s indie rock nostalgia. Once again this chart placing is thanks to an old school one week early digital release and CD sales should see this become their third Top 10 hit in fairly short order.
Meanwhile the distinctly new school sales success of The Fray and How To Save A Life has caused a slight record company rethink with the CD release now having been brought forward by the small matter of five weeks to February 19th. That still means plenty of time for the single to sell digitally and this week the US hit moves 29-16 as its popularity and airplay steadily grows.
Now just before Christmas, I was one of a vast number of writers and critics ask to contribute our tips for the new year to the BBCs Sound Of 2007 poll. Unlike many of the other people on the list, I won't try claiming I voted for eventual winner Mika and I'm perfectly happy to admit that my Number One choice was the act who arrive at Number 20 this week. With three Top 30 hits to their name already, the Sheffield band are hardly unknown names but the massive commercial success their sizeable online fanbase are convinced they deserve still seems just out of reach. Unrequited love tale Sexy In Latin is their fifth single release to date but now has the honour of becoming their first ever Top 20 hit single. The down to earth narrative nature of their songs invites inevitable comparison with the Arctic Monkeys but whereas the Arctics come across as the gobby student types you'd probably avoid on a night out, Little Man Tate sell themselves as the blokes you'd have a laugh with down the pub before all heading off to the now infamous House Party At Boothy's. That's my motivation for loving them and voting them a tip for the top in the face of all available logic anyway. What's the point of being a critic if you can't have some biases?
Almost denied entry to the party this week are Keane who limp in at Number 23 on all formats with A Bad Dream, the fourth chart hit from the Under The Iron Sea album. Although a single release of the live favourite had been on the cards for some time and probably seemed a good idea as support for their current tour, really this is a fans only release and as such has largely gone unnoticed. Unlikely to progress further it will rank as their lowest charting single to date and spoils their 100% strike rate of Top 20 hits.
Speaking of unspoilt records, Larrikin Love still await their first ever Top 30 hit single as the A Day In The Life EP slips in at Number 31, to give them what is admittedly their biggest hit to date. Also bubbling under are The Gossip with Standing In The Way Of Control which was first released last summer but which has picked up sales once more in advance of a formal re-release at the start of March and now makes the Top 40 for the first time ever at Number 34. Easily a smash hit in waiting, expect this to advance rapidly over the next few weeks as Beth Ditto becomes a star over here. The same can also be said of Kelis' Little Star which creeps into the Top 40 at Number 37 and which too has "future Top 10 single" written all over it with any luck.
Finally for this week as Billie's Honey To The Bee crashes out of the Top 75 it is as ever worthy noting the golden oldies peppering the lower reaches. Rocky fever still abounds as Eye Of The Tiger lifts 51-47 and Gonna Fly Now moves 75-52 as it becomes a UK hit for the first time ever. Meanwhile, the power of TV commercials is demonstrated with the appearance at a non-canon Number 98 of Natasha Bedingfield's Unwritten which has clearly been picking up a sprinkling of online sales. Logic would suggest that the Carling "Belong" advert [featuring the dancing flock of starlings] would have inspired more sales of Hard-Fi's Living For The Weekend although the number of online searches for it suggests that many people are unaware of what the track is.