What, after all, is a record if not something to be broken? No less than two different Top 40 records are shattered in very different ways this week and one other unique benchmark is set within the Top 75 as a whole.
The first of these concerns the record which replaces Sean Kingston at Number One. The new Sugababes single About You Now appeared on the singles chart last week at a suspiciously lowly Number 35. This rather understated chart appearance came thanks to the early release, not of the single itself but the "Spencer And Hill Remix" which appeared on iTunes two weeks ago. Last Monday the patience of fans was rewarded and the proper single version was made available online. Such was the demand for the first Sugababes single proper in almost a year that the download single has stormed to the top of the charts, thus climbing 35-1 in the space of a week.
Last year large climbs to the top of the chart were relatively commonplace thanks to the "physical release -1" rule in place at the time which led to a string of singles charting outside the Top 10 on download sales and racing to the top of the chart when they were physically released a week later. Although there was no particular reason for it, the change in chart rules enacted last January seemed to bring this trend to a halt - until today when the strange release pattern of About You Now has resulted in it making one of the biggest ever leaps to the top of the chart.
To put this in context, just two singles last year climbed to the top from outside the Top 20. Déjà Vu by Beyonce moved 21-1 whilst Welcome To The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance shot 23-1. The 35-1 leap by the Sugababes now beats both of those, as well as those of Pass The Dutchie by Musical Youth (26-1), Surrender by Elvis Presley (27-1) and even longtime record holder Happy Talk by Captain Sensible which shot 33-1 in 1982. The only single to surpass these, and indeed the only record to climb to Number One from outside the Top 40 is Hey Baby from DJ Otzi which made a 45-1 leap in 2001 after charting a week earlier than planned thanks to sales of import copies which carried the same catalogue number as the proper release.
Amid all this, we should not ignore the single itself which now gives the Sugababes their six Number One single, the last of these, of course, being the Comic Relief collaboration with Girls Aloud Walk This Way which topped the chart back in March. Those searching for something to criticise will puzzle over why a group famed for their innovation and refusal to follow a formula should release what is arguably the most straightforward catchy pop jingle they have ever released. Those wishing to celebrate the single will cite these sentiments as the perfect explanation as to why it has smartly and deservedly shouldered the competition out of the way to top the charts - the first chart-topper incidentally from a UK act since Baby's Coming Back by McFly led the pack back in May.
Some sympathy must, therefore, be extended to the single which actually led the race for most of the week before succumbing to a very 21st century brand of girl power right at the end. For all the hype and ratings success, TV talent search X Factor has not yet shown itself to have a track record in producing long-term chart stars, the dumper-bound fate of 2004 winner Steve Brookstein a case in point. The jury is still out on 2006 winner Leona Lewis, with her debut album in the can and awaiting release almost a year after her televised victory. [This paragraph did not age well].
It is, therefore, make or break time for the winner of Series 2 in 2005. Shayne Ward this week released the first single from his second album after being absent from the charts for well over a year, a frantic series of signings and personal appearances having accompanied the arrival of the song in the shops. Simon Cowell et al have always insisted that he was no one album wonder and on the strength of this single you have to concede they have a point. Lead track No U Hang Up may not show his voice off to the best effect but it oozes enough class and seductive power to make it an extremely striking comeback. Flipside If That's OK With You continues the theme and it very much appears that gone is naff balladeer Shayne Ward to be replaced by a man who is doing all he can to be the British Usher. It may not be a Number One but the single still becomes his third Top 3 hit and goes a long way to restoring the credibility of X Factor in producing more than short-term novelties. Bring on Leona Lewis and indeed whoever ends up winning Series 4, as long as it isn't Same Difference. Surely the world doesn't need the Scary Twins being famous.
The Sugababes aren’t the only act to charge into the Top 10 from the lower reaches of the chart. Moving 64-5 is Let Me Think About It from Fedde Le Grand, like most dance singles the track proving more of a draw in physical form than it did online. As per last single The Creeps, the Dutchman takes a backseat billing to his singer, this time Danish star Ida Corr who croons her way respectably through a club hit which presses all the right buttons (right down to the scantily clad girl-heavy video) but somehow shows little sign of inspiration. As ever we can't really knock the chart placings, this now the third Top 10 hit in a row for Fedde Le Grand, surpassing the Number 7 peak of The Creeps and his second Top 5 hit after Put Your Hands Up For Detroit topped the charts in November last year.
One single that is by contrast selling exceptionally well ahead of physical release is Valerie from Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse. October 15 is the physical release date of the single but as an album cut it is soaring in popularity as airplay for the track increases. This week it moves 41-12 to wind up just three places behind the Number 9 peak scaled by the Zutons' original version in July last year.
The Top 20 seems to be the place to be if you want action this week. Next in line is Elvis Presley who spoils his consistent record of the last few weeks by arriving at Number 15 with this week's limited edition reissue. Single of the week is Hard Headed Woman which was a Number 2 hit in the summer of 1958, the track taken from the soundtrack of his film 'King Creole'. Beyond that it is fairly unremarkable.
Once place below is Feist whose advert-soundtracking single 1234 moves up 24 places to Number 16. Her single is behaving in a refreshingly old-fashioned manner, taking several weeks AFTER release to catch on, rising gently to Number 40 and then putting on a surge in sales after breaking through into the Top 40. It could almost be 1987 again.
Number 17 marks the Top 40 arrival of Jack Penate who moves up from Number 48 with Second Minute Or Hour. The track began life as his first ever single, released almost exactly a year ago. Now it reappears as the followup to Torn On The Platform which finally gave him his breakthrough when it hit Number 7 back in the summer. The "new" hit is ever more delightfully retro than its predecessor, a frantic blend of ska and new wave that sounds for all the world like The Jam performing The Specials. Quite whether it has the charm of Torn… remains to be seen, but for the moment he has himself a second straight Top 20 hit and a potential and welcome boost for his very worthwhile debut album.
Just sneaking into the 20 at Number 20 itself is Enrique Iglesias who theoretically is on a high after the slow-burning success of Do You Know earlier in the summer. Regrettably, the followup is half the single that earlier hit was, the clue to its sound being in the title Tired Of Being Sorry. OK, so maybe it is a mood thing and in truth, the plodding ballad is not without its charm, the Spanish guitar a neat counterpoint to the typically heartfelt vocals of the second generation crooner. Nonetheless this is a single that has struggled to catch fire, only crawling to Number 58 as an album cut, this chart placing as high as it is likely to get after physical release and enough to ensure it will rank as his smallest Top 40 hit ever, one place lower than the Lionel Richie duet To Love A Woman which hit Number 19 in 2003. His only hit single to chart lower was Rhythm Divine which missed the Top 40 altogether in the final weeks of 1999.
Also charting rather disappointingly low is the ever lovely Katie Melua who kicks off promotion of her third album with the single If You Were A Sailboat. The first singles from her previous albums (Closest Thing To Crazy and Nine Million Bicycles) were both Top 10 hits so the rather understated Number 23 entry of this brand new track goes slightly against form. Maybe it is the fact that the song, pretty though it is, gets too wrapped up in its own cleverness although her voice is as heartbreakingly pure and breathtakingly perfect as ever. In truth the performance of the single will hardly matter, she will prop up Radio 2 and Smooth FM playlists for months to come and will sell albums by the shedload as the run up to Christmas begins. I type this with the same hands that once shook hers and so for that reason alone I won't hear a word said against her.
So what of the famous chart benchmark referred to at the start? Well, this has been set thanks to the UK premiere last weekend of 'High School Musical 2'. One of the songs from its soundtrack has of course already been a hit, What Time Is It? creeping to Number 20 back in July, and to coincide with the viewing of the teen flick itself, You Are The Music In Me has been issued as a CD, the track arriving at Number 26. However during the week, something else rather unusual happened. Although the soundtrack album itself has been available in the shops and online since the middle of August, the first TV showing suddenly attracted a rush of sales for many of its tracks. As a result, most of them emerge as hit singles this week. Biggest of all is Gotta Go My Own Way which is now a Number 40 hit for "Gabriella and Troy", stars Zac Efron and celebrated amateur photographer Vanessa Hudgens clearly having signed away their own names for the purposes of marketing. Lower down I Don't Dance moves to Number 57, Everyday arrives at Number 59, Fabulous at Number 64 and Bet On It at Number 65. Thus of the 12 tracks on the soundtrack album, six of them occupy places in the Top 75 with a further four charting inside the remainder of the Top 100. You’d be hard-pressed to find any other album in chart history which has spawned so many simultaneous hit singles and it will take a pretty unique set of circumstances for this particular benchmark to ever be beaten. Who said "The Beatles"? [*cough* Ed Sheeran *cough*]
As for the second chart record of the week, well this is actually more of a re-stating of a record established just over a month ago. The setter is a whimsical little ditty entitled The Ladies' Bras and performed by Jonny Trunk and Wisbey, the former the founder of celebrated label Trunk records which has spent the last ten years re-issuing as many obscurities as it can get its hands on. 'The Ladies' Bras' - a bonus track on a ten-year anniversary CD that Trunk records released earlier in the year - was first championed by the Candyman himself Danny Baker who spread the word first via his BBC London show and then on his own hugely popular podcasts. Thanks to his close relationship with online shop Wippit (who produced the podcasts), a plan was hatched to release the track as a digital single. This duly happened back in August and the pair found themselves the unexpected performers of a Number 70 hit.
That should, of course, have been the end of it, but for the fact that Radio One DJ Scott Mills belatedly picked up on the track this week, aired it several times a day on his show and enthusiastically suggested that people go and buy it. As a result of his prompting the single reappears and berths itself at Number 27. The record-breaking nature of it is due to its length as at just 37 seconds it surpasses even Spider Pig as the shortest ever hit single. Having already set the Top 75 record in August it now has the honour of being the briefest single ever to make the Top 40. If you haven't checked it out then you really should just be warned you will indeed be humming it for WEEKS.
With this weekend marking the 40th birthday of Radio One it seems entirely appropriate that one of its presenters should be credited with helping a forgotten obscurity into the charts, even if he has been leaping on a bandwagon started months ago by a talent greater than his. Chart history is littered with similarly famous examples, the biggest and best being Theme From M*A*S*H which topped the charts in 1980, over a decade after it was used in the famous film thanks to relentless campaigning by a certain Noel Edmonds. A decade later, Simon Mayo made the championing of an obscure oldie almost an annual event, helping Andy Stewart to Number 4 with Donald Where's Your Troosers in 1989, Patrick MacNee and Honor Blackman to Number 5 with Kinky Boots in 1990 and the Monty Python track Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life to Number 3 in 1991. Not that Radio 2 presenters have ever been above getting in on the act either. Terry Wogan's plugging helped The Floral Dance to Number 2 for the Brighouse And Rastrick Brass Band in 1977, the man himself having a Number 21 hit with his own vocal version early in 1978. More recently we can thank Sarah Kennedy for avoiding "illness" long enough to help Big Panty Woman by Barefoot Man to Number 21 in late 1998.
To round this off, let's take note of future hit Do It Well by Jennifer Lopez which arrives at Number 34 this week, just ahead of physical release. Expect it to be joined in the Top 40 next week by Kate Nash and Mouthwash whose downloads sit at Number 47. Finally, it was a close run thing as it dips to Number 75, but Chasing Cars this week notches up its 56th week as a Top 75 hit single. This matches the total clocked up by Englebert Humperdinck and Release Me to ensure it is the joint fifth most charted single of all time. Whilst record holder My Way is out in front with 124 weeks and second place Amazing Grace is still in the distance with 67 chart weeks, Relax and Rock Around The Clock are eminently catchable with 59 and 57 weeks to their name respectively. Needless to say, Snow Patrol need to experience a yo-yo to continue adding to their total next week. Meanwhile, another celebrated long runner Rehab drops out of the Top 75 this week for only the third time since its release. As of last week, it had 47 chart weeks to its name, putting it joint ninth in the all-time table alongside I Love You Because by Jim Reeves.