For those who are still wondering the other side of this paragraph break, the answer is actually Wu-Tang Forever by the Wu-Tang Clan which stormed to the top without even the benefit of a hit single in June 1997. The album had just a solitary week at the top, something which it has in common with The Massacre by 50 Cent, D12 World by D12 and Graduation by Kanye West, other rap chart-toppers from the not so distant past.
In fact the only rap star to have ever managed an extended run at Number One with a collection of tracks is Eminem who holds the all-time record three times over. The Eminem Show in 2002, Curtain Call - The Hits in 2005 and Recovery in 2010 have all managed a grand total of five weeks each at the top, a fact which this week led many to speculate whether his current album might retain its crown once more and thus become the most successful hip-hop chart album in history.
For the second week running however, we are denied a moment of record-setting for just as Marshall Mathers denied Tom Jones the Number One last week, this time around he is himself deposed, replaced instead by Canadian group Arcade Fire who storm to Number One with their third album The Suburbs. It is another fascinating example of a rock act being able to pretty much bypass the singles market once they are established and are enough of a name to guarantee sales of any well received new product - although this was kind of on the cards anyway after the way their last album Neon Bible charted comfortably at Number 2 in March 2007 despite its own introductory single Keep The Car Running falling well short of the Top 40. The Suburbs gives Arcade Fire their first ever Number One album on these shores and indeed they are the first Canadian act to top the charts since Avril Lavigne's The Best Damn Thing back in April 2007 and only the second Canadian group ever to do so (Nickelback being the others).
Arcade Fire this week manage the rather entertaining chart double of hitting the very top of one published chart and the very bottom of the other, sneaking in at Number 75 on the singles chart with We Used To Wait. It is a chart entry that would otherwise be unremarkable save for the fact that even at Number 75 it is actually the fourth highest brand new entry of the week.
We should be thankful I guess for something of a chart race at the very top end of the singles market. Despite early signs that Flo Rida was on a triumphant march to the top with Club Can't Handle Me, once again the danger of making such bold predictions at the start of the week is illustrated by the fact that the Number One single of the week is in fact Beautiful Monster by Ne-Yo. Taken from the R&B crooner's forthcoming fourth album Libra Scale, the single is as we mentioned last night his third Number One single in this country, the others having neatly come at two year intervals with So Sick in 2006 and Closer in 2008. Just as Closer was in marked contrast to So Sick in terms of tempo and tone, Beautiful Monster cranks the beats up a notch further to become far and away the most intoxicating and inspiring club track of Ne-Yo's career, the single produced just as his other Number One singles have been by Stargate.
I'd still have welcomed the Flo Rida track at the top though, just saying. Club Can't Handle Me rests instead at Number 2, bumping We No Speak Americano down to third place.
Last week's Number One All Time Low by The Wanted as suspected suffers a fairly hefty drop-off in sales, tumbling 1-5 in the space of a week to become the second pop-focused Number One single in a row to see its sales quite dramatically front loaded. It is worth restating that this is an issue that should be of some concern, for All Time Low is a lovingly and elaborately produced single that is worthy of far more critical scrutiny than many of its peers [yeah so I really liked it apparently]. I'd hate for the intensive and enthusiastic marketing that went into the whole The Wanted project to turn them into another pop act whose teen girl hype eclipses the songs themselves actually prevents a proper appreciation of their music by the rest of the mainstream [bugger]. Nobody will ever aspire to be the next McFly on those terms after all.
Ne-Yo aside, the Top 10 singles all consolidate their positions leaving The Hoosiers to narrowly miss out at Number 11 with their brand new single Choices, the second highest new entry of the week. The single marks the chart return of the group after a three year absence and preludes the release of their second album The Illusion Of Safety which hits the shops next week. Their debut album The Trick To Life spawned two Top 10 hits in the shape of Worried About Ray and Goodbye Mr A although anyone expecting a re-tread of those hits is in for a shock when they hear the new track. Choices sees them embrace some nicely up to the minute electropop influences with the verses awash with synthesiser lines - only the refreshingly anthemic chorus reminds us that they do actually play guitars as well. The single is possibly so good it even shaves all the irritating edges away from lead singer Irwin Sparkles' vocals which made their early singles tread the fine line between catchy and annoying. In a week when hardly anything else of note was released, it almost seems criminal that its one and only chance at Top 10 glory appears to have passed it by.
Still, at least Choices stands a better chance of becoming a longer term hit than the only other brand new hit of the week, Gold Dust from DJ Fresh which lands on the chart at Number 23. Not that this is a bad record either, it is just that the drum n' bass track is naturally only here for the benefit of a rather more limited audience. The single is the third and biggest chart hit for the DJ and producer, his first since Submarines crept to Number 73 way back in July 2004. His album Kryptonite hits the shops next week, a long player that has been a long time in the making - indeed it is set to feature tracks such as Gold Dust and Heavyweight which appeared as far back as 2008.
Seeing as we have room to mention pretty much everything this week, a nod is due in the direction of Oh No by Marina and the Diamonds which creeps to Number 38 to become her third Top 40 single of the year, albeit one which seems unlikely to progress much further. Just narrowly missing out on the Top 40 is Paloma Faith's 2009 single New York which surges to Number 44 alongside the similarly strong 41-15 leap made by her album Do You Want The Truth Or Something, its highest chart placing since January. The album is newly discounted in many shops and its high profile display has given it the sales boost demonstrated here. Support for the single is thanks to a new version of New York which features a guest vocal by Ghostface Killah and which has inherited the chart run of the original album version.
More easy to explain thankfully is the otherwise random appearance at Number 72 of Birdhouse In Your Soul by They Might Be Giants, originally a Number 6 hit in the spring of 1990. Its new found source of popularity is a TV commercial for Clarks shoes, currently running in heavy rotation on a TV channel near you.