I love it when these things happen as if they had been planned that way. The singles chart this week has four upwardly mobile singles with each pair having something in particular to link them. Near the top two major new singles arrive on the chart to create what you might call a Tale Of Two Idols. Meanwhile, lower down two otherwise unconnected records have the same lyric in common. Confused? All will be revealed shortly.
First, however, we must deal with the very top end and pay due attention to Kings Of Leon and their second week at the summit with Sex On Fire. A slap in the face to those who expected them to be one week wonders, instead the American group have the perfect herald for this week's release of their new album Only By The Night which contains both this hit single and earlier freebie release Crawl. As we have seen before, the release of a parent album can actually boost rather than depress the sales of its most popular single, any cherrypicking of individual tracks registering on the singles countdown. Call me presumptuous but I can't see any other single deposing them, at least for one more week.
The Top 3 is rounded out by Katy Perry holding firm at No.2 and the Pussycat Dolls rebounding to see When I Grow Up return to the Top 3. The net result is to leave McFly with a consolation Number 4 as current single Lies hits physical status and as expected surges up the chart from its initial Number 23 entry. Last weeks moratorium on knocking them still holds firm although I'd be failing in my duties as a statistics man to not point out that Lies is the first ever McFly single to improve on its first-week chart placing. It would be nice to report next week that the single has maintained its Top 10 status and fulfils its purpose of opening them up to an audience beyond the usual band of acolytes but let's face it, that is rather wishful thinking. Credit where credit is due at least, Lies will become only their third single ever to miss the Top 3.
Also new to the Top 10 are Gym Class Heroes who move 12-6 with Cookie Jar. The single is now their third chart hit in a row to penetrate the upper reaches, although the Number 3 peak of Cupid's Chokehold in 2007 remains their target to beat. Ne-Yo also leaps up the chart, Miss Independent moving 14-9 to coincide with the release of parent album Year Of The Gentleman which lands at Number 2 on the album chart, unable for the moment at least to shift Metallica from the top.
So to the two former Idols. The week's highest new entry goes to the returning Will Young who smashes in at Number 10 with his brand new single Changes. To give him due credit, any reference to his status as the winner of the first ever Pop Idol TV series back in 2002 must really be only as a passing acknowledgement to how his career began. Few would argue that he is one of the few acts to transcend his status as a reality TV winner, his consistent run of chart hits and acclaimed performances on stage and onscreen further cementing him as an all-round performer and worthy superstar. Changes marks his return to the studio after some considerable time away and is taken from what will be his first album in over three years. Hearing the single makes you realise that he was actually the unwitting herald of the new wave of young British soul singers, the track sounding both a natural progression from previous releases such as Who Am I and Your Game and yet at the same time neatly fitting the vibe of 2008 as defined by Duffy et al. Will Young - soul pioneer, who'd have thought it? The single has already become his tenth Top 10 hit from 11 releases and with physical sales set to be added to the mix next week, I would book a Top 5 place for him in your personal predictions.
Idol number 2, on the other hand, is a name that might be unfamiliar in that particular context. Jennifer Hudson's career began in 2004 when she was a contestant on the third series of American Idol although her participation on the show came to a halt when she was a shock early elimination. Not that she needed it apparently, as the next America heard of her was when she successfully auditioned for the role of Effie White in the film adaptation of Dreamgirls, a meteoric rise that was capped when she walked away with the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2007. Although her show-stopping performance of the signature song And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going did not chart here, most people were in no doubt that she was set for international success once she got on with the job of making records.
So here she is, shooting to Number 15 with brand new single Spotlight. I must confess to being a little disappointed with the single as it is a rather functional five minutes of Stargate-produced pop R&B that is by no means unpleasant but far from the kind of spectacular vocal performance everyone knows she is capable of. Still, a hit is a hit although it is actually not her first ever chart single, that honour being reserved for All Dressed In Love which crept to Number 72 back in April by virtue of its appearance on the Sex And The City soundtrack album. Her chart success still caps a rather impressive year in the UK for the American Idol franchise which until this year had only spawned Kelly Clarkson as a transatlantic star. Now 2008 alone has seen Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks and even David Cook all chart singles to varying degrees of success. I'm still holding my breath for the Melinda Doolittle star bandwagon to roll into town.
Now for the second set of connected singles, linked together by the same vocal line by the same singer. The line in question is '"No one in the corner has swagger like us" and in the first instance is part of the lyric to Paper Planes from M.I.A. which rises 37-23 this week on its way to becoming a fairly sizeable and long overdue hit. M.I.A. (or Mathangi Arulpragasam as she is known to her mother) has had a long journey to the charts, having released her first album Arular to critical acclaim (including a Mercury Music Prize nomination) but relatively little sales success in 2005. Her second album Kala from which Paper Planes is taken was first released in August last year and was similarly met with widespread appreciation and mainstream public indifference. After failing to chart at all when released as a single at the start of last year, it now appears that Paper Planes is set to finally give the best singer you've never heard of her first ever major hit single. It's reappearance being credited to its use in trailers for the film Pineapple Express as well as in several TV shows but also due to the track gaining the airplay it failed to attract first time around. Those wondering just where they have heard the naggingly catchy guitar riff at the heart of the melody need wonder no more - it is sampled from Straight To Hell by The Clash which charted as a double a-side of the original release of Should I Stay Or Should I Go back in 1982.
Yet that isn't the end of the story, for M.I.A.'s "swagger like us line" from the song pops up again in pitch-shifted sampled form on Swagga Like Us which enters the chart at Number 33 to mark the return with brand new material of Mr Glastonbury controversy himself - Jay-Z. Swagga Like Us is the first single from both his forthcoming new album The Blueprint 3 and also the forthcoming Paper Trail from T.I. who duets on the track. As if that wasn't enough star power, the track also features guest vocal performances from Kanye West and Lil' Wayne which I guess makes it the most star-studded hip-hop single of the year. Of course these singles that attempt to cram as many "names" as possible inevitably end up being less than the sum of their parts and so it will not surprise you to learn that the most appealing and catchy part of the single is the M.I.A. sample, which you might as well obtain on her own single rather than this copy.
Finally for this week, to save the inevitable questions in the comments below about why it wasn't mentioned, let us acknowledge the presence at Number 39 of Chris Brown's re-released Kiss Kiss. Originally peaking at Number 38 in November last year, the track was earmarked for a new push following his stellar year which has seen him scale the Top 10 both with With You and Forever but also alongside Jordin Sparks on No Air. Despite topping the US Hot 100, it appears that the UK has a blind spot to this particular track, this Top 40 reappearance coming only after a new physical release. Download sales of the track remain negligible and as a result, its longer-term hit prospects rather less so.