If you thought it was established acts such as Coldplay who had the time to come up with creative ways of marketing their new material, the singles chart this week may well help you change your mind.
The sensational chart debut of the Ting Tings has been a long time in the making. This time last year the duo of Jules De Martino and Katie White were performing low down on the bill at Glastonbury and recording well-received sessions for alternative stations such as 6 Music. Following a couple of releases on independent labels during 2007 the duo signed for Columbia records at the end of the year and made preparations for their major label debut.
Their first mainstream single was Great DJ, released back in March should, in theory, have been the track that turned them into chart stars. It did, after all, pick up a great deal of airplay and sold in copious quantities online, but in a Coldplay-esque move had been given away for free in online stores before its proper release, a deliberate move that rendered the single ineligible for the charts. Far from holding them back, this phantom single merely served to enhance their mystique, winning them a legion of fans who would eagerly anticipate their next release whilst at the same time ensuring that when they did go "overground" they would do so in sensational fashion.
So it proves. That's Not My Name, a re-release of their first independent single last year, storms straight to Number One after a combined release, shouldering incumbent Madonna out of the way with consummate ease. As chart debuts go it is nothing less than magnificent, an impressively catchy four minutes that straddles numerous genres from pop to dance to indie via the early 80s Stiff Records new wave sound. In a year when we have actually been spoiled rotten for potentially classic singles, this record has "best of the year" written all over it.
For both members of the group, it is the climax to a long road to stardom. Singer Katie started her career as a wannabe girl band pop star back at the start of the decade, whilst guitarist Jules has an even longer musical CV, starting out way back in 1987 as a member of teen band Babakoto (their single Just To Get By the very definition of a turntable hit, clocking up hours of Radio One airplay at the time but never once endangering the singles charts despite three separate releases).
All of this of course kind of overshadows the single at Number 2 by Rihanna which under any ordinary circumstances would have been the most talked about chart entry of the week. With her Good Girl Gone Bad album having been milked for four hit singles already, a handful of new tracks have been recorded for a special re-release of the long player, just to tide us over until she returns next year with new material. One such track is Take A Bow, written by Ne-Yo and produced by Stargate and having hit the online stores at the start of last week found itself in a two-way battle with the Ting Tings for top chart honours. In the end the additional physical availability of That's Not My Name counted in its favour but this does, of course, raise the possibility of Take A Bow still having enough momentum to climb to the top once its physical sales are added to the mix next week. For the moment it winds up as the fourth Number 2 hit of her career. Past singles Pon De Replay, SOS and Unfaithful all stalled in the runners-up slot, her only Number One to date, of course, being smash mega-hit Umbrella.
Having new entries in both first and second place on the singles chart used to be particularly rare (indeed it did not happen at all until 1984) but it became so commonplace in fast-moving late 90s that such an event scarcely raised an eyebrow when it did happen. Times have of course changed and this is, in fact, the first time the Top 2 on the singles chart have been new entries since November 4th 2006 when Star Girl from McFly was Number One and Put Your Hands Up For Detroit by Fedde Le Grand was Number 2. Technically the Fedde Le Grand record wasn't actually a "new" entry as it had registered at a non-canon Number 79 the previous week, so for completeness sake let us also acknowledge the chart of March 11 2006 which had It's Chico Time at the top and Beep from the Pussycat Dolls in the runners-up slot.
Down in the Top 20 our current batch of organically grown future hits are flourishing nicely. Duffy advances to Number 13 with Warwick Avenue, with Mercy still clinging on at Number 18. As expected the physically released Pigeon Detectives advance to Number 14 with This Is An Emergency although they are unlikely to progress further. There is slightly better news for Nelly and Fergie who move to Number 16 with Party People, just in time for the single to go physical next week whilst just below the continuing saga of Gabriella Cilmi's Sweet About Me continues. Having dropped back to Number 23 last week, the single turns around once more and can now be found at Number 19, its highest chart placing to date.
One man who can take heart from this is Ne-Yo who surprisingly falls back two places with future release Closer, his June 30 single now down at Number 24. Surrounding him are singles with rather more upward momentum, among them Love Song from Sara Bareilles at 23 (out June 2), Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya) from Ashlee Simpson (out this week) and I Can Be from Taio Cruz which makes its Top 40 debut at Number 30 ahead of a May 26 release. Also on the climb despite having been physically available for a couple of weeks now is L.E.S. Artistes from the hotly tipped Santigold, her self-titled album one of many new entries on the album chart this week at Number 26.
Indeed it is the album chart where most of the new action is this week, with no less than 12 new releases invading the Top 30. Leading the pile is Home Before Dark from veteran Neil Diamond which made headlines in the USA last week by becoming his first ever Billboard Number One. On these shores, he sets a brand new record of his own. Whilst he did top the album chart with a Greatest Hits collection back in 1992 this is his first ever Number One of original material, arriving no less than 42 years after his first solo album release. That said, his first chart album Tap Root Manuscript did not arrive until 1971, making his wait for a top a less spectacular but of course still impressive 37 years. Meanwhile lead single Pretty Amazing Grace also make a chart debut, arriving at Number 49, his first chart single since Morning Has Broken crept to Number 36 in late 1992.