It always had the potential to be an intriguing contest. In one corner was the man who has emerged as one of the big music discoveries of the year, having already had one chart-topping single and a Number 2 follow-up under his belt. Across the ring was the man who had co-produced both of the aforementioned singles but who now had a record deal of his own and the chance to better the man with whom he had once worked.
In the event it is producee who wins out over erstwhile producer. Tinie Tempah storms to Number One with his third single Written In The Stars to land his second Number One single of the year, a follow-up to Pass Out which reached the summit back in March. The single has shifted what you might describe as an insane amount of copies, its tally of 115,000 the third highest one week sale of the year and the biggest since Katy Perry sold 123,000 copies of California Gurls in its first week on sale back in June. Those left rather cold by the same old same old Britrap vibe of his first singles may well find much to interest them on this new track, the addition of some beefy guest vocals by Eric Turner on the chorus make this track far more anthemic than its predecessors and with possibly a greater potential for long term crossover success. Both of Tinie Tempah's Number One singles, as well as summertime Number 2 hit Frisky which interspersed them, feature on his debut album Disc-Overy which is released this week. Admittedly this prospect means the chances of Written In The Stars being anything other than yet another one-week wonder at the top are rather slim, especially given the rather notorious new single that it is up against over the next seven days, but this is the price we pay for this kind of calculated promotion. No matter, with two Number One singles to his name from his first three releases, Tinie Tempah puts himself well and truly on the map as one of the big new stars of 2010. Plus he's British, which counts for a hell of a lot.
After all of this, winding up at Number 3 is a chap by the name of Timothy McKenzie, known professionally as the rather cooler sounding Labrinth. His association with Tinie Tempah stretches to co-producing both Pass Out and Frisky, as well as receiving a co-performer chart credit on the latter. Hailed as one of the hottest new writer/producers when he first emerged a year ago, the 21 year old raised many eyebrows when he not only signed a record deal as a performer in his own right but did so on SyCo records, making him the first non-talent show signing made by Simon Cowell in some considerable time. His debut single is Let The Sunshine, a refreshingly breezy and soulful trance-pop tune that represents almost the complete opposite of the achingly credible records he made for Tinie Tempah. I won't pretend it is the coolest single you will hear this year, but its lyrical content is oddly reminiscent of the cute imagery of 'Fireflies' and pushes the same emotional buttons.
Speaking of X Factor, the capacity of the show to make some quite extraordinarily weird things happen in the charts takes a fascinating new twist this week. Adele's 2008 rendition of the old Bob Dylan song Make You Feel My Love made a chart comeback just four weeks ago, bouncing to a new high of Number 24 following a performance by a wannabe during the auditions stage. The track's moment in the sun was a brief one and it tumbled down the rankings in short order, dipping as far as Number 102 this time last week. Then the song featured extensively in the Boot Camp editions of the X Factor show, broadcast last weekend and it began to sell again. And sell, and sell and sell. Thus it is that a month shy of two years since it was first issued as a single, and just a month after its last Top 40 run, Make You Feel My Love has charged to Number 4, at a stroke becoming Adele's second biggest hit to date, second only to the Number 2 peak of her debut single Chasing Pavements in January 2008. [And it is worth noting that it would have been around this time that she delivered the final mix of the album that became '21'. Quite literally the calm before the storm].
If you are searching for some justification for the X Factor's continuing existence then really this is it - be in no doubt whatsoever that the vast audience which watches the show is also one which buys music, and as the programme enters its live stages over the next ten weeks then it is beyond a doubt that the phenomenon we witnessed last year of the guest stars on the results show all receiving a dramatic sales boost from their performances is about to repeat itself once more. Yes, there is good reason to bemoan the rather safe and predictable nature of the song choices made for the contestants and its increasing reliance on a bland cover of an already familiar song for release by the winner, but I can guarantee that anything which clearly has the power to turn a minor two year old hit single into a Top 5 smash almost out of nowhere is something akin to liquid gold for a forever beleaguered music industry. X Factor sells, why run from it?
The only other new Top 10 arrival is Enrique Iglesias' Heartbeat which continues its chart climb, moving 13-8 to give the second generation star his second straight Top 10 single and the 8th of his career. As we have noted several times in the past, this is now a far more impressive British chart tally than his father Julio who only managed to place three singles in the upper reaches during his 1980s heyday.
One act who you might have expected to be all but guaranteed a Top 10 single is Kylie Minogue, yet she appears to be staring down the barrel of what for her the unusual experience of peaking slightly outside. The track in question is Get Outta My Way, the functional yet still bubbly and appealing follow-up to her Top 3 hit All The Lovers. After milling around just outside the Top 40 on download sales as an album cut ahead of proper single releases, the track charges up the rankings thanks to the fan power of an enthusiastic purchase of its full single issue. Except this time around it has only been enough to place the single at Number 12. To put this in some sort of context, the only Kylie Minogue single not to make the Top 10 in the last ten years was the under-promoted 2008 single The One which stalled at Number 36. Not since 1998 has the superstar failed to reach the Top 10 with a track that has had a full video, copious airplay and the usual full board of promotional work. Die-hard Kylie worshippers will protest that there is still every chance the track will climb again next week, but let's not kid ourselves shall we? It won't.
From the file marked "cool British bands whose critical acclaim never quite translates into the mainstream success they deserve" (I have small handwriting) are The Wombats, back on the chart at Number 23 with brand new single Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves). The duo's debut 2007 debut album spawned two Top 20 hits in the shape of Let's Dance To Joy Division and Moving To New York, with peaks of 15 and 13 respectively, yet both were rather rapid in and out performances and the tracks remain the kind of records you will vaguely recognise if heard on the radio without ever knowing exactly who the performers are. Their issue is one of profile rather than ability then, and there will be plenty of music fans hoping that their forthcoming second album can push them forward to a whole new level. For the moment the jury is out. Extensive Radio One support could not help the new track to duplicate the Top 20 success of previous releases and whilst the album when it released early next year is all but guaranteed to make an initial splash, The Wombats need a proper hit to prove to the world they are more than just a name to drop. I like them, so I'm convinced they are better than this. It is just a case of waiting for them to prove it.
Two genuine novelties next, first of all what I guess you could term the first ever God-rap track to make the Top 40 in the shape of This Little Light by LZ7. The five piece arrive via the work of Manchester based evangelical charity The Message Trust which promotes the work of a number of groups as a way of reaching out to the schoolchildren of the area. This Little Light has been in circulation since November 2008 and after racking up a six figure total of YouTube views, the notion was floated to push a remixed version into the charts. Hence the track's Top 30 appearance this week, not quite the Top 10 hit experienced by Delirious? earlier this year thanks to a mass buy-in by believers, but enough to make the exercise of promoting the LZ7 track worthwhile. As a pop record it isn't half bad, but we all known that cutesy "let's all love each other and Jesus" tracks are never going to be particularly cool, no mater how hard anyone tries.
To continue - new at Number 31 are no less a bunch of legends than Status Quo with a re-recording of one of their most famous 1980s hits. The track in question is a new version of In The Army Now recorded with a new contribution from the Corps Of Army Choir and naturally with all proceeds going to military charities such as Help For Heroes. Originally recorded and released by the group in 1986, the track was a world away from the usual 12 bar boogie formula employed by the legendary rockers, being as it was a cover of a track first written by the Dutch act Bolland & Bolland several years earlier. It was a Number 2 hit for the group at the tail end of that year and subsequently became a hit across Europe, topping the charts in many countries and becoming one of their most famous hit songs almost 20 years after they first formed. This isn't the first time the Quo have cheerfully reworked an old hit of theirs for a new purpose, the group famously re-recording 1988 hit Burning Bridges as Come On You Reds and taking it to Number One accompanied by the Manchester United squad of the time.
Turning to the album chart now, and yet again it is a very busy week with no less than four new entries inside the Top 10. Leading the chart is Mark Ronson and The Business Intl who land at Number 2 with Record Collection, this matching the peak of Ronson's last release Version from 2007. The collective are denied a Number One thanks to the still resilient performance of Science & Faith by The Script which regains the Number One position from which it was deposed last week. As you might expect, a Saturday night TV special dedicated to the 25 year career of Simply Red last week has given them a huge sales boost. Compilation album '25 - The Greatest Hits' charges 55-9 this week, its first Top 10 appearance since it was released in November 2008 and coincidentally bringing its chart performance full circle, Number 9 its peak on that date.
Rounding up for this week given that we have a single from 2008 in the Top 5, a 2008 album in the Top 10 and a new version of a 1986 single in the Top 30 it seems only appropriate to note the appearance just outside the Top 40 of an equally famous 1988 single. The track in question is Every Day Is Like Sunday, originally a Number 9 hit 22 years ago as the second solo single for Morrissey. Although first taken from his debut solo album Viva Hate, the single has been re-released in a newly remastered version to mark the 20th anniversary re-issue of Morrissey's 1990 singles and b-sides album Bona Drag. It would have been a wonderful moment to see the track make the Top 40 once again but sadly it misses out at an agonising Number 42. Shame.
Oh yes, and the expression "one week wonder" seems never more apt than in the case of Must Be The Music winner Emma's Imagination who watches her show-winning single 'Focus' tumble 7-53 this week in what is by any stretch of the um, imagination, a dramatic collapse. Once an all too rare occurrence, Focus is now the fourth single this year to drop straight from the Top 40 to outside the Top 40 - although all the others (History Maker, The Best, Leeds Leeds Leeds (Marching On Together) ) were TCC [twatty chart campaign] singles with a naturally short lifespan. The all-time record Top 10 tumble still belongs to Wet Wet Wet who fell 10-96 with Weightless in February 2008.