The man of the moment? One could quite possibly argue that he is - Bruno Mars being the man in question as he rockets straight to the top of the singles chart with brand new single Grenade this week. The singer from Honolulu sang on two Number One hits in 2010 - B.o.B.'s Nothin' On You and his own Just The Way You Are (Amazing) as well as co-writing a third, namely Cee Lo Green's F*** You. It therefore seems a natural progression that his first release of 2011 should neatly duplicate that feat, and in a manner which is quite spectacular. Grenade is a world removed from the sweet romantic soul of his previous single, the track instead a thundering, powerful R&B track which allows Mars do wear his full tortured heart on his sleeve in a quite gripping performance of some passion. His most deserving Number One single so far? Quite possibly - and it neatly sets up the long overdue release of his debut album Do-Wops And Hooligans (available in the States since last October) in a couple of weeks time. [File that under "it would never happen today". Thank heavens for the invention of Global Release Day.]
So what is so spectacular about the way Grenade has barged its way to Number One? Well remember this is January, a time when sales of music and even those of singles are traditionally rather muted. This time last year we were marvelling at the way 'Replay' by Iyaz became one of the first singles for several years to sell over 100,000 copies in a January week but now Bruno Mars has done even better, selling just short of 150,000 copies of his single to blow normal new year sales expectations out of the water. That's the highest one week sale for any track released in January since Spaceman by Babylon Zoo sold 418,000 copies in its first week on sale way back in 1996 and edges out by a whisker the 140,000 shifted by Offspring and Pretty Fly For A White Guy in 1999, the only single since to come close to the magic 150K.
If Mars is the man of the moment, then a certain Jessica Cornish is the female equivalent, at least as far as British audiences are concerned [it should be possible to track the moment she became famous enough for it to no longer be necessary to show off by using her full name]. Adorned with both the BBCs Sound Of 2011 as well as the Brits Critics Choice awards, her debut single Do It Like A Dude ascends this week to Number 2 where it seems destined to spend the next few weeks locked in a tussle with her transatlantic counterpart. For all the hype around her, I'm still in two minds as to whether the single itself is actually any good or not - a view shared by many people I've spoken to this week. Part of the problem is the main radio mix of the track which swamps the star in the most atrociously placed autotune ever and renders the whole track an unholy mess. Fortunately salvation is at hand - buried away on the full digital EP is an acoustic version of Do It Like A Dude which allows her voice and indeed her whole performance to shine through properly. It might just be that Jessie J is indeed as good as they say - just that her first single isn't actually as good a showcase of her abilities as it might have been.
The extraordinary chart career of Make You Feel My Love by Adele takes another astonishing twist this week. Just when you thought there were no more ways the song could imprint itself into popular culture, along last week came the ITV1 series "Dancing On Ice" and a performance by former Atomic Kitten star Kerry Katona who performed a routine to the Bob Dylan cover. Strange though it may seem, there were clearly still TV viewers unaware of the single and unable to locate it in their personal collections. In the wake of that airing the track rockets back into the Top 10, moving 27-7 to land its second highest chart placing to date, second only to the Number 4 peak it scaled back in October in the wake of an X Factor performance.
The continuing appeal of the three year old recording presents Adele's label with potentially a tiny headache given that it threatens to interfere with the promotion of her brand new material. Ask just about any music reviewer and they will tell you that Adele's forthcoming second album 21 is set to be one of the standout releases of the new year, one that will cement her status as a genuine star talent. However one week ahead of its release it is her 2008 album 19 that is lodged firmly inside the Top 10, moving up to Number 6 this week, its first appearance in the Top 10 since May 2008. Fingers crossed however this may actually work in her favour. Rather than 21 being her musical comeback after three years of silence, it is instead a timely new release from an artist whose initial work is suddenly being discovered by a mainstream audience which remained largely immune to her charms when first released. Adele's new single Rolling In The Deep is as I write selling in comfortable quantities and it is entirely possible that she will wind up next week with two Top 10 hits - one from her old album and one from the new one. That's quite some trick.
Also rocketing into the Top 10 is Eyes Wide Shut, the new single from JLS which charts at Number 10. The third release from second album Outta This World, the track is technically for now just an album cut with full single promotion set to kick in on February 13. Just try telling that to their fans though. The third single from their first album One Shot became their first single to miss the top of the charts - all eyes now on Eyes Wide Shut to see if they can manage three Number One hits in a row for the first time in their career.
The success of the JLS track is in marked contrast to The Wanted single Lose My Mind. Released as a single just after Christmas, it was theoretically perfectly poised to become a new year chart hit, but their promotion of the track (which included an X Factor performance) peaked just a little too soon. After charting in early December the single nearly dropped out of the Top 40 at Christmas before rallying a little and rising to Number 19 a couple of weeks ago. Since then however it has been in freefall, dipping to Number 32 this week and seemingly set to go down as their first "flop" single - even if this is down to little more than an accident of timing.
There is a welcome chart move up to Number 18 for Hello by Martin Solveig & Dragonette, a single which has been making slow but steady progress up the listings since Christmas. With this leap the intensely catchy single becomes the biggest hit to date for the French electropop DJ and producer, beating the Number 22 peak scaled by his 2005 single Everybody. Hello is also the first ever UK hit single for Canadian band Dragonette whose vocals feature on the track. Despite a heavy promotional campaign their 2007 single I Get Around limped to Number 92 when first released, so this single marks a rather belated chart breakthrough for a group who were one of the biggest names to drop when they first relocated to Europe four years ago.
Now then, it has all the inevitability of a drum solo at a rock concert but there is no escaping it. The brand new series of Glee hit the TV screens last week and with it comes the new wave of weekly releases of the songs performed. The "less is more" philosophy of music promotion means that we are unlikely to see any of the singles have quite the impact of Don't Stop Believing from series 1, but the arrival of new Glee Cast hits is set to be a weekly chart fixture for the best part of the next six months. Leading the way to begin with is their take on Lady Gaga's Telephone - done so inch perfectly it is almost indistinguishable from the original - which charts at Number 25. Lower down we have Empire State Of Mind at Number 35, Billionaire at Number 48, Listen at Number 51 and What I Did For Love at Number 96. Series 1 gave the cast an astonishing total of 45 Top 75 entries in 2010. They open their 2011 total with 4.
As for albums, still no change at the top as Rihanna clocks up a third week at Number One with Loud leaving Plan B trailing still at Number 2 with The Defamation Of Strickland Banks. The highest new entry goes quite gloriously to Must Be The Music discovery Emma's Imagination who debuts at Number 14 with Stand Still. The star has already had two Top 10 singles as a result of performances on the talent show - This Day which made Number 10 in September last year and Focus which hit Number 7 a few weeks later.
Next week's chart battle is already turning out to be a fascinating one. Accompanying the Bruno Mars and Adele singles in the race to the top is the new Britney Spears single, rush-released after it became clear that the original plans to wait until February to make it available were simply unworkable. More on that next weekend...