People sometimes ask me "how many copies do you need to sell to make Number One". I have to answer them truthfully that it is more or less impossible to predict - particularly when you get weeks like this. Every single one of the Top 3 records in the UK this week sold enough to all but guarantee the Number One position in any ordinary week. However this was no ordinary week.
The winner of this remarkably intense race is DJ Fresh who grabs his second chart-topping single with Hot Right Now, the follow-up to Louder which had a spell at the summit in July last year following intensive exposure in a series of TV commercials. No such promotional boost existed for this track, but clearly none was needed as it flies to the top upon release with a massive sale of 128,000 copies - the first single this year to reach six figures in seven days on sale. Guest singer on the track is Rita Ora [superstar debut klaxon!] who grew up in London but was born in Pristina, effectively making her the first Kosovan star ever to top the UK charts.
Slight frustration then for the award-winning Emeli Sande who saw her first solo single Heaven stall at Number 2 in August last year and now finds herself similarly denied a Number One single with her third. Despite a massive sale of 103,000 copies Next To Me can do little more for now than to slot in behind the all-conquering DJ Fresh. The sale of the single is all the more impressive when you consider it was competing directly with the release of its parent album Our Version Of Events which provides her with some form of consolation by debuting solidly at Number One on the album chart, bringing to an end the run of Lana Del Rey. It too sold in excess of 100,000 copies making it the fastest selling album released so far this year.
A big selling Top 3 is rounded off by Gotye with Somebody That I Used To Know slipping to Number 3 despite selling 11,000 copies more than it did last week - and once again competing with the release of its parent album with his debut collection Making Mirrors debuting at Number 4. A sale of 94,000 makes it one of the biggest selling Number 3 singles of the century to date. All combined, the Top 3 singles have sold over 325,000 copies between them, a quite phenomenal total for mid-February. [Worth noting here that 2012 was the all time peak of the digital download market before streaming started to eat into it, and we'll see numbers like this for most of the rest of the year].
The only other new arrival inside the UK Top 10 this week is One Thing from One Direction which nestles at Number 9. You may remember we noted its arrival inside the Top 40 four weeks ago when it made what was for the boy band a rather lowly chart debut at Number 28 as an album cut. After several weeks bumping along the bottom the track is now fully promoted to single status and makes a 26-9 leap this week to become the third Top 10 hit for the former X Factor stars.
The tragic death of Whitney Houston last weekend made it almost inevitable that her back catalogue would make a reappearance on both the singles and album charts this week with bold predictions being made in many circles that she would "dominate" music sales. One glance at the chart listings will show that this prediction was slightly wide of the mark, the response to Michael Jackson's similarly unexpected death in 2009 having I suspect raised our expectations of the public's appetite for posthumous singles.
Not that Whitney didn't sell records last week. According to the Official Charts Company she sold 127,000 singles and 73,000 albums, but with these sales spread out across her catalogue it was impossible for any one record to dominate. Just three of her hits enter the Top 40 this week, all of them former Number One singles. Perhaps inevitably the biggest was I Will Always Love Yo", the Christmas Number One of 1992 landing at Number 14. Just behind at Number 20 is 1987 classic I Wanna Dance With Somebody whilst her 1988 Olympic anthem One Moment In Time arrives at Number 40, appearing on the charts for the first time since it topped the listings 24 years ago. All told there are 13 Whitney singles inside the Top 100, naturally the most complete chart domination by any one artist since the weeks following Jackson's death three years ago.
Her chances of a posthumous Number One album were dented slightly by the availability of a confusing array Greatest Hits collections which competed with each other for sales. Hence 2000 release The Greatest Hits is at a mere Number 7, its first Top 10 appearance since it was first released and originally topped the charts. The collection was re-packaged as The Essential Whitney Houston at the tail end of last year and charts in its own right for the first time at Number 40. Meanwhile 2007 collection The Ultimate Collection also sold strongly, helped not a little by the fact it is classed as a budget album with a dealer price sadly too low to qualify it for the main album chart.