To tell the story of the UK charts this week, we have to take a distinctly old school approach and contemplate the Top 3 in reverse order, for in a strange way the singles this week decrease in overall significance the more they sell.
Most of the musical headlines this week were grabbed by Friday's worldwide debut and simultaneous release of the brand new Lady Gaga single Born This Way. Originally scheduled to be unveiled to the world at the start of this coming week, all plans changed thanks to a Tweet (of all things) from the star herself indicating that she was tired of waiting and that the single would be appearing on Friday. The cynic in my kind of wonders if this actually wasn't the plan from the start, but in this new world of On Air On Sale it meant that Born This Way hit the online stores at precisely 2pm UK time on Friday 11th February, leaving it just 34 hours to make the biggest chart impact it could.
Did it ever stand a chance of making Number One? Plenty of people would have had you believe it, but the truth of the matter was the single had just too much ground to make up. Only one single in modern chart history has ever topped the charts following an end of week release, and that was Elton John's Candle In The Wind 97 which was more as a result of half the country going bonkers rather than genuine musical appeal. Give Gaga credit though, she had a good go. Given that this was the first brand new material in a year from one of the most talked about stars on the planet, demand for the work was always going to be high, despite some mixed reviews for the single and much comment on its rather derivative nature.
In the end Born This Way sold a shade over 60,000 copies in its day and a half on sale. Good, but ultimately just not good enough and so for now the single is nothing more than a Top 3 hit. Needless to say I think we can boldly predict a two place climb for the single next week without risking looking utterly stupid [oh boy].
So with Gaga out of the frame this left a straightforward two way race between the incumbent Number One single and a track which until events rather overtook it was the most significant new release of the week.
The track in question is Champion, the much anticipated brand new single from Chipmunk, released as the official lead single from his forthcoming new album Transition. The single boasts a heavyweight guest star in the shape of Chris Brown who combines this track with his own current hit Yeah 3X to become yet another in a long line of artists to have two simultaneous Top 10 singles. Champion stormed into an early lead in the midweek sales flashes, leading to wide speculation that should the Gaga single fall short, Chipmunk was more or less a lock for his second Number One single.
Yet he too has failed. A late surge at the weekend saw Jessie J and B.o.b. steal the race at the wire, selling the small matter of 4,500 copies more to ensure that the Number One single this week is Price Tag with its second week on top. There have been many times in the past when the best selling track midweek has been overtaken by another to be denied at the death, but this is surely the first time in many a long year that both the early week leader AND its back of the week rival have missed out on the top, succumbing instead to a record which even the most skilled of observers did not think stood a prayer.
Two new entries in the Top 3 does have the small side effect of swamping the rest of the Top 10 singles, most of which find their upward progress thwarted just for the moment. The only single to make any kind of positive move is Chris Brown's own Yeah 3X which rises three places to Number 6 to land its highest chart placing to date. Rihanna comes close to breaching the Top 10 but even she cannot quite penetrate the upper reaches, the continuing fuss around S&M and her frustration at media sanitisation of its content has helped the single up to Number 11. Rihanna remains the ultimate chart queen of the moment with 3 singles in the Top 20 and 4 in the Top 40 as a whole.
Lower down there is a huge jump in support for Nicki Minaj featuring Drake who shoot up to Number 22 with Moment 4 Life. The track is her first ever Top 40 hit single as lead artist and follows her successful starring roles on Jay Sean's 2012 (It Ain't The End) and will.i,am's Check It Out which both charted within weeks of one another at the end of last year. The single is taken from her debut album Pink Friday which came out last November and which is also home to her debut chart single Your Love which limped to Number 71 in August last year as well as the track Right Thru Me which made a brief appearance at the same position a fortnight ago, just before Moment 4 Life appeared on the chart.
One of the more intriguing new hits of the week arrives at Number 33 as Lethal Bizzle remakes one of his most famous hit singles in what he describes as a "sequel" to the original. The track in question is Pow (Forward) which shot to Number 11 in the very first week of 2005 and became the first and biggest hit single for the London born grime star. The idea to make a follow-up version of the single apparently started out as a joke, but after many of his contemporaries indicated an enthusiasm for recreating the ensemble vibe of the original, the rapper took them up on their offer.
Now whilst Pow (Forward) featured vocal contributions from a number of other grime stars, none of them were what you would call household names. The new Pow 2011 boasts a rather more star studded lineup with names such as longtime rival Wiley, Kano, JME and even Chipmunk all lining up to contribute rhymes. The new version of the single doesn't quite make the chart splash of the original, arriving merely at Number 33 but it is enough to give Lethal Bizzle his first Top 40 single since Police On My Back charted at Number 37 in October 2007 - and needless to say his biggest chart hit since the glory days of the original Pow just over six years ago.
By his presence (albeit largely uncredited) on the track, I guess Chipmunk can count as the latest act to register on two or more current Top 40 hits. Including the teenager then, the total stands at an incredible nine acts all with two Top 40 berths, the total swelled by Chris Brown and the continuing failure of Jessie J, Rihanna, Adele, B.o.b., Pink, Skylar Grey and Ellie Goulding to stop selling their older records alongside their current ones. The only act to reign back their chart monopoly a little is Adele who only has two current Top 40 singles, her album cut Someone Like You dipping out of the Top 40 after resting at Number 33 last week.
Mind you with all this talk of simultaneous hits, it seems almost odd that we have not had cause to mention the Glee Cast in recent weeks, an act who are past masters at chart swamping. In actual fact it is almost as if the Glee bubble has rather burst with the onset of their second series. For the third week in a row not a single Glee single makes the Top 40, the best they can do is with The Time Warp creeping to Number 63, one of just two Top 75 entries for the cast this week. Mind you this is still an improvement on the situation a fortnight ago when their God-themed episode proved a total bomb in terms of chart appeal with only I Want To Hold Your Hand making a published appearance at Number 74.
If it seems as if we've left the album chart to little more than an afterthought this week, then that is what it is. Adele spends a third week at Number One with 21 which is more than a little boring although she does at least become the first British female to clock up longer than a fortnight at the top since Susan Boyle back at the end of 2008. The highest new entry of the week goes to Mike Skinner and The Streets, his pledge to retire the project meaning that Computers And Blues is set to be the last ever Streets album with a debut at Number 8. One place behind is the self titled album from James Blake, the album from the electronic composer proving rather more successful than his debut single Limit To Your Love which had a brief chart life at the tail end of last year, peaking at Number 39.