There was a time during the week when it looked a distinct possibility that the White Stripes were about to land themselves a sensational Number One single. Alas, their early week momentum could not be sustained in the end the path was left clear for Rihanna to spend a fifth week at Number One with Umbrella. Actually, call me old fashioned but I always think that if an act is to have their one and only chart-topper it really should be with one of their best singles and whilst Icky Thump is hardly a bad White Stripes single it is some way from being their best ever. That said, it will still go down as their biggest hit to date, the addition of physical sales (including two astoundingly well selling 7-inch versions) helps the track surge to Number 2 to become their first ever Top 3 hit single.
Just below there is a similar leap for Enrique Iglesias who moves 9-3 with Do You Know, the single now ranking as his biggest chart hit since Escape also reached this peak back in May 2002. Frustratingly sluggish sales for the top selling singles of the moment means that there is an uncharacteristic bunching of the market in the Top 10. Although the Top 3 are all comfortably ahead of the chasing pack, just 2000 copies separates the Number 4 and Number 10 singles.
The biggest seller of this bunch is Like This from Kelly Rowland and Eve which moves 18-4 and now becomes her second biggest solo hit. Of the three singles she released from her debut solo album back in 2003 the only one to chart higher was introductory track Stole which hit Number 2, although this, of course, is to ignore her work alongside Nelly on Dilemma which had made Number 1 at the end of 2002. Given Eve's co-credit we can hardly count Like This as a "solo" hit either.
Speaking of Kellys there is another as the highest new entry at Number 9 this week. Kelly Clarkson (for it is she) appears to be mapping her career to the lyrics of Tom Petty's Into The Great Wide Open and has now reached the verse where "the A&R man says 'I Don't Hear A Single'", the release of her new album having been held up by some record label wrangling with rumours circulating that the creative freedom she was granted on the project has resulted in some rather unlistenable tracks [the tale of Kelly Clarkson's My December album is one of the most extraordinary of the decade, a more or less unique example of an artist being given enough rope to hang herself by letting her make the horrid album she wanted]. For now, we do at least have one single and the harsh and bitter Never Again drifts onto the chart to give the original American Idol her biggest hit single for 18 months and the fifth Top 10 hit of her career. Future progress may be limited however as this chart position includes both digital and physical sales and for an artist whose work in 2005 made her an airplay staple, this single ranks as a huge disappointment. She does at least remain for now the only American Idol contestant to have had a UK hit. Albums and tracks from the other winners - Ruben Studdard, Fantasia, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Hicks - are all available online but no singles were ever promoted despite their US success. 2006 runner up Katherine McPhee's album is also available here but at the moment it seems the label have elected to pull the proposed release of Over It as a single next month.
The next "new" entry is actually a single which ranked at Number 39 last week. Generator was originally the second single to be released by The Holloways and it hit Number 30 in October last year. After the followup Dancefloor stalled at Number 41 back in March they elected to try again with the single that has given them their greatest commercial impact to date. Sounding for all the world like the King Of The Hill theme crossed with an old fashioned folk song, downloads of the single returned it to the chart under its old catalogue number, hence the Number 39 placing last week. Now formally re-issued physically, the single gets a new catalogue number and hence a brand new chart placing at Number 14, easily and deservedly the biggest hit to date for the north London boys.
One place below at Number 15 is the very pleasant surprise of a chart single from the evergreen Marillion. The group were one of the first to embrace the online revolution, bypassing the traditional record company route and promoting themselves directly to their fanbase online. Every once in a while just to prove that they can, they aim for the singles chart and back in 2004 notched up two hit singles, the Number 7 You're Gone and Don’t Hurt Yourself. In an interesting demonstration of the way a collectors market for cult bands still exists, they released a download-only single See It Like A Baby in March which stalled at Number 45. This second single from their current album is bolstered with several physical formats and the result is a Top 20 placing for Thankyou Whoever You Are which duly becomes their 8th Top 20 hit single in a career which now stretches back 24 years.
Physical sales also give Maximo Park a rather neat 100 place rise in sales rankings as new single Books From Boxes lands on the Top 40 as a new entry at Number 16. It is the second single to be lifted from the album Our Earthly Pleasures following on from Our Velocity which lifted them into the Top 10 for the first time when it hit Number 9 in March.
So for the biggest download-only hit of the week, we have to look as far down as Number 18 and the TV-inspired new version of a song from a near 40-year-old stage musical. Lee Mead was last week crowned the popular winner of the BBC1 series "Any Dream Will Do" which aimed to find a new face to play the title role in a revival production of Andrew Lloyd-Webber's "Joseph And His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat". It was actually the second series of the concept, last year's "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria' discovered Connie Fisher for a starring role in the Sound Of Music, but whereas the subject of that series was hardly ripe for hit single material, "Joseph" is a different matter altogether. So it is that Lee Mead arrives on the chart thanks to an instantaneous download release of the signature song from the musical. Originally conceived as a musical revue for schools by Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice, "Joseph" took over 20 years to produce a hit single. It was a 1991 revival that finally pushed the songs that just about everyone performed at school in the 70s and 80s into the charts, Jason Donovan taking his version of Any Dream Will Do to Number One in 1991. He was followed in December 1992 by his successor in the stage role, TV presenter Phillip Schofield who hit Number 27 with Close Every Door. Lee Mead appears to have started slowly but you suspect the single will receive a massive boost thanks to physical sales this coming week. Chances are we could be about to see the first Andrew Lloyd-Webber penned Number One hit for almost ten years.
Dreams of another Top 10 hit for The Fray are shattered this week as the fully released Over My Head (Cable Car) can only creep to Number 19. One pre-release that does seem to be making huge waves though is Avril Lavigne's When You're Gone which moves 124-32 this week, the single not due to hit the shops for real until July 2nd.
Down at Number 21, we find another chart appearance for the resolutely independent minded Koopa. The Essex boys made headlines back in January when they mobilised their online support to push their single Beg Steal Or Borrow into the charts just after the new chart rules came into effect, making them the first ever unsigned act to have a Top 40 hit single. Never mind the fact that they engaged a PR company to promote the stunt, they proved it was possible to go it alone in the new era and land themselves a Number 31 hit. Their success prompted many other acts to try their hand and self-released singles only to discover that it isn't as easy as it looks. Undaunted, Koopa appear on the chart again with their latest hit The One-Off Song For The Summer which is once more a completely self-released track albeit one which this time is backed up by a physical release hence the slightly better chart placing. Comparisons must, of course, be made between Koopa and Marillion whose hit single this week is just as "independent" but whereas Marillion are a one-time major label band who continue to play to loyal fans years after the mainstream lost interest, Koopa are a bunch of up and comers who are eschewing the proper record industry simply because they can.