Before we delve into the tricky issue of this week's charts, it is worth making a swift detour back to last week and the intriguing issue of the non-moving Top 6 which sent people scurrying to the record books. Contrary to my suggestions last week, it is now confirmed that the situation last arose in May 1981, a week which bore striking parallels to the present day. Not only did the Top 6 remain the same (headed up by Stand And Deliver from Adam and the Ants at Number One) but the Number 10 single Bette Davis Eyes also held steady to ensure that then, just as last week, seven of the top ten held their places.
That we have reached a stage where the shape of the market in 2008 can duplicate that of 27 years earlier demonstrates just how dramatically old school the chart has become. Whilst this may be of some relief to the people who ten years ago were opining to anyone who would listen that the fast-moving, top-heavy singles chart of the day had rendered the whole thing utterly meaningless, I suspect most have now lost interest and moved on. Instead, they appear to have been replaced by the chart fans of the 90s who now complain that a singles chart featuring a slow turnover at the top and newer hits only penetrating lower down is boring, uninspiring and, you've guessed it, utterly meaningless. Be careful what you wish for I guess.
Those in search of some action will welcome the state of the Top 10 this week although the Top 3 remains immune to this overhaul, runners-up H "Two" O and Nickelback providing the buffer zone between the rest of the chart and current sales queen Duffy. As Mercy spends a fourth week at Number One, the lady from the valleys manages the ultimate chart double as debut album Rockferry storms the long players listing with the first six-figure weekly sale of 2008. As is now the norm, the album gives the single a sales fillip rather than hurting it, although the 180,000 souls who snapped up the album appear to far outweigh the single track cherrypickers. Whereas the last six-figure debutant Leona Lewis saw four of her album tracks invade the Top 75 in the release week of her album, the only other Duffy track on the main singles chart this week is the already available title track which clings on at Number 59. Her next highest single track is Warwick Avenue which makes a mere Number 83. This may go some way to explaining the huge sale of the Rockferry album. Those who love Duffy want the whole package and not just the pieces.
Below, of course, it is all change as this week's physical schedule finally impacts the upper reaches of the sales. We have Top 5 new arrivals for OneRepublic with Stop And Stare and Come On Girl from Taio Cruz featuring Luciana whilst many will derive a great deal of joy from the 23-7 leap of the fully released Fascination from the amazingly good Alphabeat.
The chart's highest climber of the week is paradoxically something of a nadir for the act in question. Westlife's Us Against The World was poised to break a whole string of chart records when it arrived at Number 40 ahead of its physical release last week. In the event, none are broken, save for the unwanted stat that the single is set to become their first official release to miss the Top 5 since their debut back in 1999. Their only other track to chart lower was album cut I'm Already There which hit Number 62 in December thanks to a TV performance and which for the sake of simplicity counts as a footnote rather than a spoiler of their hitherto 100% Top 5 record.
Completing the lineup of new Top 10 arrivals is Low from Flo Rida which still has another fortnight to go before physical release and so now takes pride of place as the biggest selling digital only track of the moment. With Rihanna completing the lineup of Top 10 acts it ensures that international performers take an 80% sweep of the biggest sellers of the week, with only the Top 2 on the chart hailing from the United Kingdom. Allowing the Welsh to claim Duffy as their own, it only leaves H "Two" O to fly the flag for Engish acts.
Also on the rise digitally are Utah Saints whose Something Good 08 finally arrived online officially as an e-single this week. Hitherto charting thanks to the appearance of the Ian Carey mix on a handful of club compilations, the appearance online of the radio edit of the Van She Tech mix helps the track to move 25-13 and return the duo to the Top 20 for the first time since 1993. Something Good 2008 gets a physical release next week (March 17) by which time you can safely bet it will be nestling in the Top 10. The spring of 2008 looks set to mark clubland going even more retro thanks to the imminent release of Toca's Miracle 2008, a new mix of the mashup track that topped the singles chart back in 2000. The new version hits the stores on March 30 and I suspect the only reason copious club airplay hasn't led to a chart reappearance by the original version is due to the fact its only appearance on iTunes and Napster is as part of The Ultimate Workout Mix and so unavailable for individual purchase.
The highest charting brand new hit of the week is After Hours from We Are Scientists which arrives at Number 15. Lead single from the forthcoming second album proper from the Californian band, it duly becomes their highest charting hit to date, their first ever to make the Top 20. I'm mightily impressed it has done as well as it has, the single, as you might expect, suffering from being irritatingly catchy, drenched in jangling guitars and exquisite harmonies and yet sounding for all the world like the soundtrack to a hot summer afternoon on the waterfront, a vibe which jars badly with a chilly and rather miserable March in the British Isles. Sometimes with music context is everything and to my mind, We Are Scientists have yet to catch quite the right wave.
The garage revival that has propelled What's It Gonna Be to the stratosphere hasn't quite spread as far as it should it seems, the full release of My Destiny from Delinquent featuring Kcat only helping the single to the Number 19 berth it occupies this week. Of course, it would be wrong to write it off totally, especially given that as a song and production the track makes a thousand times more sense to the casual listener than the H "Two" O single. From this standing start however it is likely to be a struggle.
The future hits from the UK pop stars continue to trickle upwards. Can’t Speak French from Girls Aloud leaps 35-20 this week whilst remaining an online exclusive. Meanwhile, Leona Lewis is only at Number 23 with Better In Time although the promotional campaign for the single is still kicking into gear. One suspects the single would have charted higher but for the fact that its intended double a-side Footprints In The Sand is still being listed separately and so charts at Number 63, two places ahead of the position it grabbed for itself in November last year when its parent album was first released. Unusually for such a double-sided single, both tracks are being given almost equal weight, Leona Lewis having this Sunday performed both on the performance and results shows of "Dancing On Ice". This week (March 10) the pair become a single proper and so will have their sales combined and this, combined with the "Dancing…" exposure means she too is heading for the Top 5.
Also worth keeping an eye out for next week are the returning Futureheads who land at Number 30 with online sales of new single The Beginning Of The Twist. Their first single release in almost two years, their target to beat is the Number 8 peak of Hounds Of Love which charted just over three years ago in March 2005.
Finally for this week, a friendly nod for the first time in a while to the Top 75 evergreens. Intriguingly Amy Winehouse's back catalogue is conspicuously by its absence, despite the Brits effect having propelled Back To Black to the top of the album chart last week.'Chasing Cars is of course still around, although its Top 75 status hangs by a thread, the single having dipped to Number 75 last week, recovering slightly with a four place rise this week. The second most charted single of all time now has 76 weeks on the Top 75 to its name although it still needs to hang around for another year to stand any chance of beating the all-time champion My Way. I guess shortly we will have to regard Rihanna's Umbrella as an ever-present. Still a Top 40 hit until just a few weeks ago, the single this week dips out of the Top 50 for the first time since its release, but it still now has 43 chart weeks to its name, enough to also rank as one of the Top 20 most charted singles of all time.
One other record that My Way held until a few years ago is that of "Most Chart Entries". It's original 1969 issue had no less than nine separate chart runs, a record finally broken in December 1996 when Cigarettes And Alcohol from Oasis entered the Top 75 for a tenth time. Close to catching it, however, is Numb/Encore by Jay-Z and Linkin Park which creeps to Number 67 for what is now its eight separate chart run since its 2004 release. It is now the 38th chart week for the extraordinary duet, a total which would, of course, have been higher but for the fact it spent a year and a half ineligible for the chart before the 2007 digital rules restored its hit status. Watch out though for Rehab, next time it comes back (it is at Number 88 at present) it too will be on its 8th Top 75 run.