It must be the time of year. Exactly one year ago last week the Sugababes set a new benchmark for flying chart leaps as About You Now shot 35-1 to claim second place in that most prestigious chart table "biggest climb to Number One".
53 weeks later they are neatly usurped as after entering the singles chart at Number 38 last week, Pink charges straight to the top of the bestsellers listings with her new single So What. As is always the case with such freak chart movements, there is always an underlying reason. So What hit online stores on Friday, September 26th and so as such only had two days of sales under its belt to qualify for last weeks chart. Needless to say such a hugely anticipated and well received single was always going to make much more of an impact with a full week of sales behind it, and the record-bending 37 place jump to the top is the direct result.
It means that having stood for nearly two decades, Captain Sensible's record 32-1 leap to the top with Happy Talk in 1982 has now been surpassed three times in the last seven years. First to do it was the track that for the moment at least remains the all-time record holder - Hey Baby by DJ Otzi which flew 45-1 thanks to a chart technicality which meant that its official release inherited the chart history of its import sales. I'll tell the full story on this week's podcast for those with a further interest.
Back to Pink, given that she has slightly more up to the minute relevance, for So What represents the latest in a long line of glittering worldwide chart accolades for the always unpredictable singer. Her willingness to hop musical genres at will (her early work firmly rooted in R&B in marked contrast to the pop-rock of her current work) combined with the neat exploitation of her personal attitude and unconventional looks have helped to make her one of the most consistent, and dare I suggest, badly underrated acts of the decade. Rarely feted as a superstar, she simply gets on with the business of making some incredibly entertaining and eminently listenable pop records. It makes it all the more surprising then to note that So What is only her second Number One single as a solo act, her only other personal chart-topper coming way back in 2002 when Just Like A Pill had a week of glory at the summit. Her one other claim to fame as a Number One hitmaker is as a leading member of the "Moulin Rouge" ensemble which propelled the soundtrack cover of Lady Marmalade to the top in 2001. I'd list all the other participants on the record but to do that I'd then have to link to all their artist sites on Yahoo and that is too much like hard work. Have the video to So What instead, because that is truly worth the effort.
Ms Moore, of course, isn't the only new entry inside the Top 3 this week as the traditional end of year flood of big-name new albums washes up a brand new Oasis album. Having spent most of the decade settling into a comfortable pattern of releasing much-hyped new material which everyone insists is a "return to form" at first only to subsequently revise their opinion to "just OK and they have done far better in the past", 2005 album Don't Believe The Truth broke the mould rather by not only containing some of their most memorable songs for years (including two Number Ones) but also ending up ranked as one of their most consistent releases. It is against this background that new album Dig Out Your Soul has been prepped for release and granted the usual deeply thought out coverage in the music press.
Having first been heralded by the "instant gratification" (and hence chart ineligible) online single Falling Down, Oasis now hit the singles chart properly with the albums official first single The Shock Of The Lightning which dutifully enters the chart at Number 3. I've given up trying to critique Oasis records for the simple reason that a band of their stature rarely make records that are actually no good, and even if they did they are at the stage of their career when it wouldn't actually matter. ..Lightning is by no means up there with their previous classics but its thundering, driving energy is enough to make it distinctive and shows enough enthusiasm to suggest that the new album will be worth the investment.
The single has a lot to live up to in chart terms. Ever since Sophomore effort What's The Story (Morning Glory) in 1995, the introductory single from every studio album by the group has sailed effortlessly to the top of the singles chart. That The Shock Of The Lightning has fallen two places short may well represent for the moment the end to that near perfect record, although we must of course factor in the release to the shops this week of its parent album and be open-minded to the possibility that some cherrypicking of its lead tracks will give the single a small but significant boost. That said, it fell some way short of the top this week and its inability to outsell even the month old 'Sex On Fire' does not bode too well for its prospects. Consider as well that many dedicated fans will have pre-ordered the album to obtain a copy of Falling Down leaving them zero incentive to fork out for a single that they will receive this week without having to spend another penny. Not that they will have too many qualms, The Shock Of The Lightning is yet another in an unbroken run of Top 10 hits that stretches back to the release of Live Forever way back in August 1994.
Breaking up the run of new entries for a moment, it is worth noting the 8-4 rise of Girls from the Sugababes. Not that they did much to make an impact amongst all the big name releases of the week, but they do have an intriguing promotional stunt up their sleeves. Given the tie-in between their track and Boots' year-long use of the original version in TV commercials, the chain will from this week be stocking copies of the single and pledging to donate all revenues from copies of the single bought there to charity. This promotional tactic was last used last December when the Eva Cassidy and Katie Melua duet What A Wonderful World was sold exclusively through Tesco and shot to Number One as a result. Whilst Girls isn't exclusive to Boots, its prominent placing in an environment where you would not expect to find a pop record may well be a huge factor next week.
That said, Boots have tried to push specific singles before with limited results. Back in 1996 their Christmas promotional campaign centred around Make Someone Happy by Jimmy Durante, but despite being played in an endless loop in the shops during December and with copies of the track racked at the tills, the single stiffed at Number 69.
Technically Boyzone never actually split up. When they parted ways at the end of 1999 after the tour in support of their Greatest Hits album, they simply did so without a date in the diary to reassemble for a new album. The rising star of Ronan Keating and his subsequent solo career meant that as the years went by any chance of a reunion for Louis Walsh's first boy band creation looked unlikely. When the possibility was floated in the past, it was always de-facto lead singer Ronan's reluctance to take part that scuppered the plans. Then, of course, came the Take That reunion two years ago which proved to the world that a correctly pitched comeback for an ageing pop act could potentially land the participants with a whole new career.
So here they are again. After officially reforming at the end of last year and following a successful nostalgia tour over the summer, Love You Anyway charges into the chart at Number 5 to become Boyzone's first hit single in almost nine years. Unlike Take That who stormed back with a whole new album, Boyzone's strategy is to release a new hits collection with a handful of brand new songs, you suspect just to test the water for the album that will surely follow the Hits tour they have scheduled for early 2009. Entertainingly for chart fans, this Number 5 entry is enough to make Love You Anyway for the moment their smallest ever hit single, all but one of their 16 previous chart singles having gone Top 3 and even the smallest Coming Home Now managing Number 4. At the very least they do maintain one perfect record - every one of their singles has entered the Top 10 in its first week on sale, with even British debut Love Me For A Reason landing at Number 10 first week out in December 1994.
For all the action at the top, the rest of the Top 40 is almost devoid of new hit action, save for the arrival of at Number 20 of Love Shy (Thinking About You) from Platnum. It is the first single in their own right for the Bassline trio and of course follows their role as featured artists on H2O's What's It Gonna Be which hit Number 2 earlier in the year. Those with even half an ear for dance music will recognise the song instantly. Love Shy was originally recorded by Kristine Blond back in the late 90s and was a hit twice over, making Number 22 first time around in 1998 and then creeping back to Number 28 in a new garage remix that was probably released five months too late to make a proper impact. For some reason, the track seems to hold a fascination for remixers the world over and indeed it was a bassline remix of the original that circulated as a white label last year which has now inspired the Platnum cover. For the moment, however, the song retains something of a jinx, never quite having been the smash pop hit it was always written to be, although Platnum at the very least have the honour of taking it to its highest chart placing to date.
Finally, for this week a tale that may make you smile. The singles chart this week contains the usual smatterings of evidence that plays on "The X Factor" will send the songs in question charging up the chart. Rule The World from Take That moves 66-41 just a week shy of the first anniversary of its release and its 44th week as a Top 75 hit whilst the evergreen Chasing Cars appears once again at Number 49 after seven weeks away for its 86th week as a chart hit. Doubtless this will remain a huge irritation to the band who now have the almost insurmountable task of trying to persuade people to take an interest in their new album rather than this albatross of a hit, although I just marvel that even after two years there still exist people who like the song enough to buy a copy for the first time ever after hearing it sung with varying degrees of musicality by a bunch of wannabe stars.
Proof, if it was ever required, that a single play on television can send people scurrying to the net to locate the song was provided to me this very weekend. At around 6.45pm on Sunday night, just a few minutes after Shayne Ward's That's My Goal was played as backing to a particularly emotional moment, around 60 people all landed on my own personal site after entering the phrase "I'm not here to say I'm sorry" into their search engine of choice. They had no idea of the song, or even its proper title but they leapt straight online to track it down via its most recognisable lyrics. Trust me, any online store that shoves up links to "this weeks X Factor songs" on its front page at 8pm each Saturday is almost guaranteed a sales killing.