"To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness." - Oscar Wilde
What then does it look like when both of your last singles have come out unexpectedly as a last minute rush job? More on that shortly.
First we have to deal with the major chart news of the week for as I mentioned in Chart Bite [this was the one paragraph quick update which used to go on the Yahoo! blog on a Sunday evening to sate the traffic that used to hit the site the moment the new chart came out, just until the main column could be written. Knocked off in five minutes, I never archived them], for the first time since its release at the back end of January, 21 has been outsold by another album with the result that Adele's epic 11 week run at Number One on the album chart has finally come to an end. Challengers aplenty have come and gone in the intervening two and a half months or so but the album which finally proves to have longer legs is Wasting Light from the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl's outfit have had two other Number One records in the past, most recently 2007 release Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, but their 8th studio album is for circumstances not entirely of its making perhaps going to become the most notable of all.
In fairness to it, the album has enough talking points of its own - from the nature of its recording in Dave Grohl's garage rather than an actual studio to the fact that the tracks it features have been polished by no less a figure than Butch Vig who reunites with Grohl on a full album for the first time since he was at the helm of Nirvana's Nevermind almost 20 years ago. Even so, as good as it is, the Foo Fighters record is notable this week for being the first album in months to outsell a certain soul singer. Suck it up boys, we are just glad it wasn’t Glee - The Music - Volume 5 which is instead at Number 4.
There is a changing of the guard too on the singles chart with the Top 2 singles swapping places, the net result of which is a first ever Number One single for LMFAO along with collaborators Lauren Bennett and Goonrock with the maddeningly catchy Party Rock Anthem. Over the last three weeks the single has gently moved up the rankings 3-2-1, the first time anyone has done this since Kid Rock back in 2008. Although much has been written about the two rappers and their connections with the Gordy dynasty, there is an equally interesting backstory behind the career of guest singer Lauren Bennett. Whilst her connection with the party rock movement stems from her association with the ill-fated Pussycat Girls spin-off Paradiso Girls, the Kent born singer also had a stab at X Factor fame back in 2006 as part of a duo called Fusion who were dropped at the Boot Camp stage. Intriguingly at the time Bennett was quoted in the press as saying "There is someone in the music business who's been in touch … I can't say who it is right now". Five years on, could it be that her big name contact has indeed helped her to a Number One single?
The rest of the Top 10 sees pleasing progress for Katy Perry with ET up to Number 3 and Snoop Dogg who climbs even further with Sweat moving 9-4. I should here correct one incredibly incorrect assertion I made last week connected with the Felix track Don't You Want Me which forms the basis of the Snoop hit. Whilst the track did indeed chart in 1996 this was no less than the third time it had done so, originally reaching Number 6 in 1992, Number 10 in new mixes in 1995 and then finally returning to the Top 20 a year later after its use in a soft drinks commercial. One of the greatest dance hits of the 90s and I failed to give it its proper due. Quite shameful really.
There is a somewhat unexpected rebound for Rihanna's S&M this week with the single marching 12-7 to reclaim a place in the Top 10. The reason for this was the release this week of a new mix of the track featuring guest vocals from Britney Spears and whose sales count towards the same chart position as the original. Quite whether the two women were ever in the studio together or whether Britney's co-vocals have simply been grafted on to the original production is rather open to question, and the new version appears to do little more than prove convincingly which of the two women is in fact the better singer, but as a way of giving a new lease of life to an already successful single (it first peaked at Number 3) it appears to have worked wonders. [It turned out this new mix was to set up the two women performing the song together at the Billboard Music Awards a month later, the product of that you can see below].
Making blazing progress up the chart is Beautiful People from Chris Brown and Benny Benassi as the single marches 20-8 to give the singer his third Top 10 single of 2011. It is the first time since 2008 he has scored back to back Top 10 singles of his own, suggesting that whatever his past sins are he seems to be back to the commercial peak he scaled before. Meanwhile collaborator Benassi is back in the Top 10 as a credited performer for the first time since his own Satisfaction was a Number 2 hit in the summer of 2003.
Now to the bizarre story of the biggest new hit of the week which according to the original plan was never intended to be here. The track in question is Judas, the second single from Lady Gaga's forthcoming new album and which following an apparent leak online of an early mix was quickly rushed to radio stations and planted in online stores worldwide - in such a rush in fact that purchasers in the UK were able to buy the track even before those in America. Landing on iTunes at 4pm on Friday, the track shifted around 20,000 copies to ensure it debuts at Number 14 as Lady Gaga's second sing…
Hang on a moment, isn't this all oddly familiar?
Wind back to February 19th and you will note that the promotion of Gaga's last hit worked in exactly the same way, Born This Way launched as a "surprise" Friday afternoon release leaving it free to dominate charts worldwide before it was even supposed to. Last time around however she sold 60,000 copies in 34 hours to debut at Number 3 which was at the time rightly hailed as superlative. Admittedly Judas hasn't had half the hype of its predecessor and if we are to believe her label was indeed a last minute emergency full release to plug an unwanted leak, but the gap in sales between the two singles is quite striking. Maybe the old saying is true, lightning simply cannot strike twice in the same place.
Down in the Top 30 it is pleasing to note some upward mobility for teenage singer Birdy and her moving rendition of Skinny Love which climbs to a new peak of Number 22 after five weeks around. It is almost as if the track was waiting for the right moment to shine. After debuting at Number 25 it dropped the following week 29 but has since spent the past three weeks locked at Number 27. Now the cover version of the Bon Iver classic is on the move again. This is a single far to beautiful and moving to be ignored. Go on, check it out. For me.
Failing that you could always focus on the other Masterton-championed single of the moment Girls Fall Like Dominos from Nicki Minaj which makes slow but steady progress with an 8 place climb to Number 24. That is enough to ensure it is now a bigger hit than the Big Pink original which it samples heavily, that track only reaching Number 27 in October 2009.
There is an apparently enthusiastic Top 40 re-entry at Number 26 for Britney Spears whose single Til The World Ends rockets back up the chart after having previously dropped out of the Top 75 altogether a few weeks ago. This was the track you may remember which was rushed into stores seven weeks ago after too having leaked online via a German website, Britney's label deciding to throw caution to the wind and shove the track out for real. Bereft of the kind of hype Gaga now commands, the track made a rather lonely debut at Number 55 before shooting to Number 21 the following week… and then straight back out again. This "failure" prompted huge rows on many music forums about whether it meant Britney was finished, this chart return for the rather unfortunate single almost certain to fan the flames of debate once more. As I said at the time, it is a far better pop record than Hold It Against Me, the first single taken from 'Femme Fatale, but her label's attempt to "do a Gaga" and let the single take care of itself appear to have ruined its chances completely. On Air On Sale works a treat when you are a hot new act with a large fan base eagerly awaiting your latest work. When you are a faded and somewhat long in the tooth pop act like Britney Spears then not even an exciting new way of releasing your records can manage to get people excited.
Now it has been a long time since the release of a new Arctic Monkeys single was an event of particular chart significance, but you can't help but feel a little sorry for them, as even down at Number 28 they would have had the biggest new entry of the week had circumstances not conspired against them. The typically wordy Don't Sit Down Cause I've Moved Your Chair lands on the singles chart as their first Top 40 hit since 'Crying Lightning' hit Number 12 in July 2009 and marks something of a singles comeback for them after their previous three releases all fell short of the Top 75. One cannot really read too much into this however since their days of storming straight to the top of the charts with eagerly anticipated singles are now some years behind them. New album Suck It And See will undoubtedly be a comfortable seller when it arrives in June - the only question is whether anyone outside their core fanbase will actually care that much.
Finally, for all the talk of how Lady Gaga is Top 15 after just a couple of days of sales it is worth noting that lower down the chart there is a single that has made the Top 75 after barely 3 or 4 HOURS. Tucked away at Number 58 is Tracy Chapman's classic 1988 single Fast Car which was performed by a wannabe on the first edition of the new series of Britain's Got Talent on Saturday night. This was clearly enough to awaken online interest in the track, and bearing in mind that the chart is tracking all sales up to midnight on Saturday this chart placing is entirely down to people firing up online stores immediately after the show and buying a copy for themselves there and then. As I write the track is comfortably hovering around the iTunes Top 10, suggesting that a much more spectacular chart move is on the cards this time next week. Not bad for a single which although 23 years old is hardly ever off the radio...