Barking though it may seem, we do indeed live in a world where the opinions of Lily Allen are held up as a considered and articulate authority on the subject of file sharing. For the past two weeks, she has been the industry talisman for the debate on how downloading songs without paying for them is like, really bad yeah, with major industry players and Music Week editorials lining up to kiss her backside for doing so. In the meantime otherwise honourable UK consumers like myself are sat looking at their computer screens at the sales performances of the Whitney Houston album I Look To You (a US Number One) and the Miley Cyrus single Party In The USA (Top 3 in America and thrust in your face every time you go on to YouTube as the hottest video of the moment), all the while wondering just why we are forced to wait until October 19th and October 26th respectively for the privilege of buying a copy when we might as well just have a quick hunt on our sharing site of choice and get one today.
The reason I highlight this stupidity and the vast pirate market it automatically creates once more is thanks to the extraordinary movements on the singles chart this week in which an outbreak of consumer power has ensured that the two hottest singles of the week are actually album tracks which aren't due to be promoted as singles for some while yet. With little or no actual promotion, British consumers are lapping them up anyway.
We'll come to that in a moment because first of all, we should take time to acknowledge the continuing presence of Break Your Heart by Taio Cruz at Number One. By holding firm for a second week at the top, the single finally breaks the frantic rate of turnover and becomes the first record to spend two consecutive weeks at the top since Beat Again by JLS. To put it another way, this week is the first since August 1st that the Number One single is the same as it was last week. Break Your Heart retains its crown with a healthy lead of 9,000 sales over nearest challenger Sexy Chick by David Guetta and Akon. It is the single's third straight week at Number 2 and its fourth in total as runner-up, all these coming after the single spent a week at Number One back at the start of September. To date Sexy Chick has sold over 300,000 copies and if it continues into this vein may well shoulder its way into the Top 20 of the year to date, joining Guetta's previous single When Love Takes Over which is currently the 13th biggest seller of the year with over 400,000 units shifted.
Just one single enters the Top 10 this week and it is a track which by rights shouldn't actually be there yet. Even in this age of halo hits and hardy chart perennials, achieving two simultaneous Top 5 hit singles is still something of a feat to be applauded. Step forward then Jay-Z who can cement his reputation as one of the leading hip-hop stars of his age with both the Number 3 and Number 5 hit singles in the UK this week. This is thanks to the 15-3 leap made by Empire State Of Mind, his duet with Alicia Keys which charted spontaneously last week after the release of his album The Blueprint III. Widely seen as the best out and out pop record on the album, it was more or less a given that it would become Jay-Z's next single, but for the moment there is no official release date slated for the track nor indeed has an accompanying video been made available. This is a spontaneous download hit, pure and simple, so popular that it is now outselling what is theoretically the album's current single Run This Town which dips this week to Number 4 in its fourth week on the chart. For a second straight week, Jay-Z can boast three Top 40 hits, with the Mr Hudson duet Young Forever shifting up three places to Number 32.
A word for what this means for guest star Alicia Keys as well, as with this track she finally has a second Top 3 hit to match her debut single Fallin' which also peaked at Number 3 in late 2001. By a strange coincidence, this is one of two tracks she has on the Top 75 this week, thanks to an X Factor-inspired reappearance of If I Ain't Got You which charts at Number 54 in its first appearance in five and a half years since its original peak at Number 18.
[Just like its predecessor, the official video for Empire State Of Mind is entirely absent from YouTube. So we have to make do with the performance the pair put in at the BRIT Awards ceremony a few months later].
The Jay-Z tale alone would be enough to make the chart week extraordinary enough, but for the fact that a British counterpart pulls off almost exactly the same stunt. Dizzee Rascal's long-awaited new album Tongue 'n' Cheek hit the stores last week, the album selling a respectable 53,000 copies to debut at Number 3 on the album chart this week. Current single Holiday is still performing well after its brief cup of coffee at Number at the start of September and it sits at Number 9 on the singles chart this week. It is joined however two places below by album cut Dirtee Cash which out of nowhere has been snapped up by eager fans and so brings the British star within a whisker of having two Top 10 hits at once. Just like the Jay-Z track Dirtee Cash is far and away one of the better tracks from the album and it is more a less a given that at some stage it will be promoted as a single. For the moment however it has no video and no formal release date [a video would finally appear in the new year, so the embed below is a slight anacronism] and is a simple consequence of the consumer market setting its own agenda, one far removed from the original plans of the label.
As for the track itself, Dirtee Cash is a reworked cover of the classic hit single Dirty Cash, originally recorded by The Adventures Of Stevie V. Released in April 1990 when a certain Dylan Mills was a little over four years old, the track swiftly ascended to Number 2 and gave Bedfordshire based producer Stevie Vincent the first of two Top 40 hits he would claim that year. The single made a brief chart return seven years later thanks to a new pack of remixes but this new release was a commercial failure and stalled at Number 69. Rumour has it that the near 20-year-old track is set to be released in another brand new mix very soon, but Dizzee Rascal's own respectful homage has beaten it to the punch.
The Dizzee Rascal album is one of a number of high new entries on the long player's chart as for the second week running the market is flooded with some high priority autumn releases. Leading the chart is, as you might expect, Celebration by Madonna to give the veteran star her tenth Number One album in this country (11 if one counts the Evita film soundtrack, which personally I don't). Although promoted by her label as her third collection of past hits, it is technically her fourth thanks to 1995 ballads collection Something To Remember. Her 2001 release GHV2 stalled at Number 2, so Celebration is actually her first hits collection to top the chart since The Immaculate Collection back in 1990. Just like that first release, Celebration takes her entire career to date as its brief, although this naturally means that its 18 tracks represent just a tiny selection of the 60+ hits she has chalked up since 1983. The double CD deluxe edition will apparently feature a rather more respectable 36 tracks, but this still leaves plenty of her singles uncompiled - a gift you must presume for the online stores who are surely missing a trick if they don't offer their own "complete your Madonna collection" digital bundle.
Also new to the album chart is Mika with The Boy Who Knew Too Much at Number 4, Cliff and The Shadows at Number 6 with Reunited and the Pearl Jam album Backspacer which debuts at Number 9 a month after lead single The Fixer made a rather less impressive Number 93.
Back to the singles chart and the biggest selling new hit that was planned to be there belongs to Basshunter who arrives at Number 17 with Every Morning. The track is Jonas Altberg's first hit of 2009 and the lead track from forthcoming new album Bass Generation which is in the shops this week. If you are familiar with his 2008 hits such as Now You're Gone and All I Ever Wanted then you will know pretty much what to expect here, four minutes of crapdance which grows on you in the same manner as toenail fungus. Certain Basshunter singles (such as Angel In The Night) have had an irresistible charm to them but this single is really little more than a by the book retread of past glories, just to remind the world what he sounds like.
New to the Top 20 for the very first time is Lovegame from Lady Gaga which is demonstrating the same kind of tenacity that has characterised her other singles to date. First charting back in August, the track has now spent seven weeks on the chart and despite falling back from an initial Number 27 peak in its third week, the single has now climbed for the last three weeks in a row to rest at Number 19. Meanwhile the Wale single Chillin' on which she appeared and which initially outpaced Lovegame has fallen away quickly after it initial chart placing of Number 12 and dips out of the Top 40 altogether this week.
Another new entry arrives at Number 20 in the perfectly formed shape of Watch The Sun Come Up which gives rising star Example his first ever chart hit. Following widespread acclaim but little commercial success for debut album What We Made back in 2007, he now takes a huge step towards proper stardom with this highly appealing single. I'm not convinced just yet of its further chart prospects, but as it always worth pointing out he has still had one more Top 20 hit than most of the rest of us have.
The single that arrives at Number 35 serves not so much to inspire the artist in question but to highlight one of the more bizarre music stories of the last week. Ever since the Sugababes began replacing their individual members, the standing joke has been that one day we will be left with an entirely different lineup of the group to that which began their career way back in 2000. Now it seems that day has come with the somewhat unceremonious ousting of Keisha Buchanan who up until now was the sole remaining original member. The news prompted a rather mixed reaction online, ranging from the joy from those fans who never really warmed to the moody and pouting singer anyway to the kind of hysterical overreaction we've seen from the extended rants that have made Popjustice unreadable over the last week. The oddest thing about the change has been the timing of it, coming as it does just a month before the release of new album Sweet 7 and just a few weeks following the release of its lead single Get Sexy which now stands alone as the final ever release by the Mark 3 Sugababes.
Most extraordinarily of all it has resulted in the swift jettisoning of the solo career of the newly parachuted in third Sugababe. Jade Ewen is the lady in question, best known until now as the ultimately unsuccessful singer of My Time, the UK Eurovision entry earlier this year. Following her competition exposure, she signed a solo deal of her own and last week released the first fruits of that arrangement, the single My Man. Just as it hit the stores however the news of her new job broke and her record label were forced to issue an enigmatic statement regretting that she would hitherto be unavailable for any promotional activity relating to her own record. I've no idea whether cause or effect are in operation here, but instead of the huge chart impact it was expected to have, My Man limps onto the chart at Number 35 and you suspect will serve as little more than a historical postscript to what for the moment is the final act of the brief solo career of Jade Ewen. In the meantime, she is squirrelled away in a studio frantically re-recording the vocal tracks for the new Sugababes album so it can be released on time as the triumphant debut of Sugababes Mark IV. You couldn't make it up if you tried.
Finally, for this week, one single I am watching with some interest is Fame by Naturi Naughton which sits pretty at Number 43 for the moment. Just as the famous hit movie has hit the streets in a remade version, so too its theme tune has been reworked for the new millennium. Naturi Naughton's track is a storming club remake of the song that was sung originally by Irene Cara. The song won an Oscar after its use in the original film and was a Number 4 hit in America in 1980. In Britain, it did not become a hit until two years later when its new home as the theme of the spin-off TV series propelled it to the top of the charts. The 2009 version has made a slow start for the moment, but with the film now on full release, it seems set to explode in popularity over the next few weeks.