No movement at the top of the singles chart, Now You're Gone from Basshunter locked firm for a second week at the summit. Last week I made a passing reference to Basshunter's most famous European hit Boten Anna, omitting the one detail that countless people emailed to point out last week, that Now You're Gone is actually Boten Anna with English lyrics replacing the original Swedish track. In a way, the most disappointing thing is that the new lyrics make no attempt to actually translate the original song and so what was once a wry track about irc chatbots being mistaken for real girls (and vice versa) is effectively blanded down and turned into a generic song about lost love.
For all that it hasn't stopped the word of mouth track being reassuringly massive and has given us a genuine talking point while we finally wait for the long-scheduled new year releases to hit the online stores. Jonas Altberg has also shown himself to be a whole new kind of chart star, confronting the potential scandal of some explicit photographs of himself and a handful of ladies with an air of "so what, I got really lucky that day". [With online leaked nudes the guy was WAY ahead of his time].
Something tells me however that this will be Basshunter's final week at the top of the singles chart as his nearest competition debuts impressively just one place behind. This is, you see, a very good time to be a female singer-songwriter in this country. Never ones to invent new trends when there are old ones to chase, record labels last year indulged in a frenzy of snapping up every intense young female with an ability to play piano or guitar in an attempt to find the next Sandi Thom or to recapture the lightning in a bottle that was Amy Winehouse.
[Superstar debut klaxon! And how]. Amongst the many hot new prospects to emerge from this talent search is 19-year-old Adele Atkins who for professional purposes is known simply by her first name. Another graduate of the goldmine of talent that is the BRIT school, Adele is the Amy Winehouse who remembered to wash this morning, blessed with a smoky, soulful voice that lends itself perfectly to tender yet lavishly produced jazz-soul of which debut single Chasing Pavements is a fine example. Even before she released a single for real she was showered with awards and accolades, picking up the first ever Brit Awards Critics Choice prize at the end of 2007 and then topping the increasingly influential BBC Sound of 2008 poll of music experts which similarly predicted the rise of Mika twelve months ago. After just one week on download sales, Chasing Pavements is the second biggest selling track in the country and seems well placed to advance to the top with the usual kick from physical sales next week.
As far as the rest of the Top 10 goes, Lupe Fiasco doesn't quite capitalise on his flying start last week, rising just three places to land at Number 4 with the now fully released Superstar. He's joined in the Top 10 by Kanye West who moves 14-9 with Homecoming, his single of course still some weeks away from appearing physically. The other Top 10 climbers are Scouting For Girls who rise to Number 8 with new year radio hit Elvis Ain't Dead. The popularity of their third single this week helps their self-titled debut album to the top of the long player listing after almost five months on release.
One of the highest climbers of the week is Robyn who shoots 23-10 with Be Mine, her track seemingly one of the few this week to benefit in spades from a physical release. It is now the third Top 10 hit of her career, a chart performance which means she puts behind her the comparative failure of her last hit Handle Me which struggled to Number 17 - although as if in sympathy it too reappears on the chart this week, rising to Number 67.
Good though her performance is, one single can trump it both in terms of chart places gained and effect of a physical release. Step forward The Wombats who charge 37-13 with Moving To New York to land the highest chart placing of their career to date. Moving To New York began life as one of their first ever releases, made available in a limited edition almost exactly a year ago whereupon it was championed by Radio One, turning them into one of the names to drop last summer. Following their Top 20 breakthrough with Let's Dance To Joy Division which made Number 15 in October last year (and which also re-enters the chart at Number 68 this week), the threesome from Liverpool now have an even bigger hit to their name and hopefully another huge step towards the mainstream.
Indie rock also gives us the second highest new entry of the week as The Courteeners charge in at Number 20 with the combined release of What Took You So Long. It is their first Top 40 hit, the follow-up to Acrylic which was unlucky to just miss out with a Number 44 placing in October last year. Their stock has been gradually rising following support slots with The Coral last autumn which lead on to their first-ever headlining tour just before Christmas. If I had to choose between the two, I'd actually pick the Courteeners over the Wombats, the single benefitting from a restrained Stephen Street production which allows lead singer Liam Fray's vocals to soar over the melody to quite uplifting effect. Their debut album comes out in March and by all accounts, it should be well worth the wait.
From the brand new we move to the quite old and proving that you just can't keep a good band down, ska legends Madness return to the Top 40 with NW5 which debuts at Number 24. Taken from a forthcoming new album, the single is their second Top 30 hit in the space of a year, following on from Sorry which crept to Number 23 in March last year. When a band as legendary as the Nutty Boys continues to ride the nostalgia train with a series of "comeback" releases there is always a risk that they belittle their most famous body of work that they produced during their first period of fame. Happily, despite the sometimes indifferent chart performances, Suggs and the boys keep releasing singles that are always worthwhile and NW5 is no exception, a reflective mid-tempo track with a chorus that you can still imagine crowded clubs full of happy fans singing along to with joy. With NW5, Sorry and 2005 single Shame And Scandal in the books, they can now boast three consecutive Top 40 hits to their name, their best chart run with new material since they first split way back in 1986.
Whilst we are on the subject of bands who are really too famous to need hit singles, it is worth acknowledging the appearance at Number 30 of Radiohead who enter the chart thanks to a physical release of Jigsaw Falling Into Place. The track is taken from notorious album In Rainbows with which they made headlines last year by placing it online in return for a voluntary donation. To general surprise, the album was released "for real" in a physical sense two weeks ago and it dutifully flew to the top of the charts, so how better to follow that up with the release of what becomes their first chart single in over four years. Of course, times have changed since they were last musically active and their creative approach to marketing has meant that this single has slightly less of an impact than a proper brand new Radiohead track would ordinarily have had. Nonetheless, I'm honour bound to note that at Number 30 this is their lowest charting single since 1993 release Pop Is Dead limped to Number 42 and their first since the Number 24 peak of My Iron Lung in 1994 to miss the Top 20.
Actually, that leads us on nicely to a fun point of debate for this week. With the chart now open to unreleased album tracks and random oddities, at what point do these count when it comes to counting chart records? A neat illustration of this is the Girls Aloud dilemma. Since their 2002 debut the fivesome have notched up an impressive run of hits, last single Call The Shots becoming their 17th consecutive Top 10 hit. Now technically that record is now spoiled forever, thanks to their rendition of the Theme To St Trinians from the soundtrack of the recent film creeping to Number 51 a couple of weeks ago. Their 18th chart hit is effectively a flop, but as it was a random download hit rather than a "proper" single release, should it actually count when it comes to their run of Top 10 hits?
There is, of course, no right and wrong answer and it will largely depend on who compiles the record tables for the next edition of British Hit Singles should it belatedly appear this year. For example for years the "most consecutive Number One hits" record was awarded to The Beatles with a run of 11 between 1963 and 1966 with a footnote to point out that the brief chart appearance of 1961 recording Ain't She Sweet in 1964 was an unofficial cash-in and so doesn't break the run. Starting in the late 90s a more strict set of criteria were applied which meant that the single did indeed break the run, reducing their record to 7 in a row, a total equalled by Westlife in November 2000.