It is out with the old and in with the new as the first full week of 2010 sees a sprinkling of new releases, two of which immediately take up residence at the very top of the singles chart. Indeed the race for Number One this week was an epic two-way struggle of the very best (and most importantly not artificially manufactured) kind with first one single then the other asserting dominance and with the ultimate outcome something of a mystery right up until the weekend. In the process, the two singles notched up sales that defied all the usual trends for what is traditionally a quiet time of the year.
Congratulations therefore to Iyaz who lands himself a UK Number One hit at the first time of asking with debut release Replay. The singer's real name is Keidran Jones and he hails from the Virgin Islands, and following some small local success while he was at college his talent was apparently spotted by Sean Kingston whose patronage lead to his major label signing. His enormously catchy debut single was a pop radio smash in America at the tail end of last year and has so far peaked at Number 2 on the Hot 100. For all that it is the kind of lightweight R&B track that will divide opinions wildly - for all that it is a catchy and appealing it is also annoying and frustratingly throwaway. On the bright side, refreshingly for an American pop hit there is only the tiniest trace of autotune present on the vocal line although there are enough studio tricks and samples to make you wonder if anyone will ever make records again that can be sung live in the same manner that they have been created in the studio.
Replay ultimately sold over 106,000 copies, the highest sale for any new year release since Pop Idol 2 winner Michelle McManus shifted 118,000 copies of All This Time in this week in January 2004. By way of comparison, Just Dance by Lady Gaga sold a mere 66,000 copies to top the charts one year ago this week whilst topically enough Now You're Gone by Basshunter topped the charts with a sale of just 35,000 two years ago.
Iyaz' success means it is USA 1 Europe 0 in the chart race this week as early leader Riverside (Let's Go) by Sidney Samson eventually has to settle for a berth at Number 2 although it took benefitted from some strong sales, selling 97,000 copies - a total which would have ensured it a berth at Number One at pretty much any other time. The Dutch club track began life last year as a mostly instrumental house track based around some sampled Tupac Shakur dialogue from 1992 movie 'Juice'. Controversially for some fans of the original, this commercial release has been cleaned up slightly thanks to the addition of a rap from Wizard Sleeve which has not only helped to make the track a little more radio friendly but which has also meant that cleaned up radio versions that delete the epithet in the Tupac sample don't completely rip the heart out of the record. Easily the more credible of the two big releases of the week, Riverside (Let's Go) is perhaps more of an acquired taste than 'Replay' which makes its position at Number 2 maybe slightly more understandable.
One step behind the two newcomers is Starstrukk from 3OH!3 and Katy Perry which now climbs to its highest chart placing yet with a berth at Number 3. Not only is it far and away the biggest hit yet for 3OH!3 but the track now ranks as Katy Perry's most successful chart single on these shores since she hit the top with I Kissed A Girl in the summer of 2008, beating the Number 4 peak scaled by her second single Hot N' Cold later that same year.
Also new to this new look Top 10 is You've Got The Love from Florence & The Machine which has finally caught fire over the last couple of weeks, a full five months after it first made a chart appearance. Their cover of the song made famous in the 90s by Candi Staton has suddenly become the soundtrack of choice by TV producers for just about every video package going in recent weeks and it is this, plus a renewed promotional push for their debut album Lungs which has helped the single to finally race up the chart and give Florence & The Machine their biggest chart hit so far.
In a strange twist to the way these things usually work, You've Got The Love has no generated its own halo hit - the very single to which it was originally the b-side. The track in question is Dog Days Are Over which was first released by the group way back in December 2008. Until now the track has never once made the Top 75 but it now shoots into place at Number 23 to become their third biggest single to date. Meanwhile, their previous Top 40 hit Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) is also benefitting from this new surge of interest, charging back onto the singles chart at Number 61 in its first Top 75 appearance since October. As for the album itself, well that too races back up the chart and returns to the Number 2 peak it first occupied back in August last year when it spent five weeks as the country's biggest selling album not by Michael Jackson. This time around it is Paolo Nutini who continues his unexpected new year surge of interest by remaining firm at the top with Sunny Side Up.
Back to the Top 10 singles and there is a further new arrival in the shape of Ego from The Saturdays which had spent most of the Christmas period bubbling under at the bottom end of the Top 40 but which too finally catches fire after becoming an official digital single and surges 17-9 to register its highest chart position so far. The single is now the sixth Top 10 hit for the girl group in their first seven releases and is the follow-up to Number 2 hit Forever Is Over which charted in October last year.
Also making slow but steady progress up the singles chart is Broken Heels, the second single proper from Alexandra Burke which this week rises seven places to Number 12. Originally entering the Top 40 just before Christmas, the track for the moment is charting as an album cut with its promotion to "proper" single still one week away which would suggest it still has some way to climb. Produced by man of the moment RedOne, the track perhaps lacks a little of the impact of her last single Bad Boys but should at least end up as another comfortable Top 5 hit.
[Superstar debut klaxon!]
Now for something that will either delight you or fill you with dread depending on whether you wear a training bra or not - Justin Bieber has finally arrived in the UK. The 15 year old Canadian singer spent most of 2009 moistening seats on the other side of the Atlantic, captivating teenage girls in a manner that few boys with bowl haircuts have ever managed and in the process filling a gap in the market for a clean cut heartthrob pop star in the grand tradition of Donny Osmond or David Cassidy. Now it is time for the UK to discover just why his name keeps appearing in Twitter trends as his debut single One Time lands on the singles chart at Number 14. Now bearing in mind that I am not a 12-year-old girl I'm reduced to judging the single on its musical merits alone, which given that it is a middle of the road transatlantic pop record sung by someone whose voice has barely broken are by definition rather limited. Being as he is the male Miley Cyrus all we can really do is hope that the hype either burns itself out before he becomes more than just a passing interest or that he grows up and makes records that are slightly less twee and annoying. The first half of what is extraordinarily his two-part debut album My World hits the shops here next week too.
Just inside the Top 20 Jay-Z continues his habit of chalking up simultaneous hit singles with two back to back chart placings for one old and one new release. Leading the charge with the latest in a long line of yo-yo chart movements is former Number 2 hit Empire State Of Mind which sits pretty this week at Number 18 after a two-place climb. This was the single which you may remember charted more or less simultaneously with Run This Town and which actually peaked as an album cut several weeks before it became a single for real. One place below it at Number 19 is Young Forever featuring Mr Hudson which coincidentally also first made a Top 40 appearance back in September when it too charted as a cherrypicked album cut alongside Empire State Of Mind. After vanishing from the sales rankings in fairly short order, Young Forever is now back and climbing the chart as the album's third single, this week reaching the Top 20 for the very first time.
In a strange coincidence, the guest stars on both the Jay-Z singles have hits elsewhere on the Top 40. Mr Hudson also appears on the N-Dubz single Playing With Fire which climbs this week to Number 16 as the official follow-up to the last N-Dubz single I Need You. Meanwhile, Alicia Keys, the voice of Empire State Of Mind has two other Top 40 hits of her own this week. Her last single Doesn't Mean Anything still hovering around at Number 24 and it is this week joined by Empire State Of Mind (Part II) which as the title suggests is indeed the hook that she sings on the Jay-Z track now expanded to become a standalone song in its own right.
Also new just outside the Top 30 are Lostprophets who limp to Number 32 with Where We Belong. It is the second single to be taken from their album The Betrayed and is the follow-up to It's Not The End Of The World But I Can See It From Here which hit Number 16 back in October last year.
The arrival of "Celebrity Big Brother" on TV screens last week has inevitably reactivated support for the past work of some of the housemates. Two years since he was first at Number One, Basshunter charts at Number 98 with All I Ever Wanted whilst his housemate Sisqo is one place above at Number 97 with his 2000 single Thong Song. There is no sign yet of Lady Sovereign, but give it time - her biggest chart success to date was also down to Big Brother when the Ordinary Boys remake of her own 9 to 5 made the Top 10 in 2006 on the back of lead singer Preston's spell as a housemate.
Looking ahead finally to next week, there is an intriguing story set to develop with the strongest challenge to Iyaz' chart crown likely to come from a single that isn't actually supposed to be available for another month yet. The track in question is Fireflies from Owl City which was originally slated for an early February release but which was instead rushed online last Friday when opportunistic soundalike versions began creeping ominously up the sales tallies to the consternation of the label. Thus with little fanfare, the future smash hit actually debuts at Number 50 this week, setting itself up for what could well be another benchmark setting leap to the top in seven days time. We'll be watching.