Was it due to an online leak? Was this planned all along? Oblique statements from the star in recent weeks suggest that it was the latter which was the case, but Kanye West's sudden midweek release of brand new album Yeezus essentially turned all expectations for the week on their heads. Despite giving the rest of the market several days start, the hip-hop star has an easy Number One on the Official UK Album chart this week, shouldering the Black Sabbath album 13 out of the way and denying it what would otherwise have been a surprise second week at the top.
It is West's second British chart-topper, his first since 2007 release Graduation hit the top in its first week on release, this during the infamous war of words with 50 Cent which saw both men release their new works simultaneously. Yeezuz was reportedly being worked on right up to the very last minute before its release with producer Rick Rubin enlisted to take the production back to its very basics. No single has thus far been promoted from the set although its most popular cut Black Skinhead debuts at Number 48 on the singles chart this week.
At the very top end of the Official UK Singles chart, there is once again no change as Blurred Lines spends a fourth week at the summit, in the process matching the total clocked up by Get Lucky as the longest runner of the year to date. This week, however, saw Robin Thicke's single take the crown by the narrowest margin thus far, its nearest competition coming from the new single from Jason Derulo The Other Side which makes a strong debut at Number 2. Part of this can by coincidence be attributed to the same tactic used by Blurred Lines when first released, in that the Derulo track was available for pre-release purchase two weeks ahead of its full sales debut, these pre-orders contributing to the track's first week numbers. The single is Derulo's biggest hit since Don't Wanna Go Home debuted at Number One in July 2011.
To play the numbers game for a moment, Blurred Lines this week sold 133,000 copies to take its total to well over 700,000 as what is now the third biggest selling single of the year so far. This further extends the current run of Number One singles selling in six-figure quantities to 10 weeks, which means there are no longer need for any disclaimers or "yeahbut" modifications for charity singles and the like. This is the longest run of 100K plus chart-toppers since a similar 10 week run between May and August 1999. Period.
In a way, I'm actually rather glad that Thicke emerged victorious over Derulo, at least for now. The Other Side conforms to the current R&B cliches and is pretty much interchangeable with just about any other Katy Perry or Chris Brown record or indeed anything he himself has made over the past few years. What excited people about Blurred Lines so much when it first emerged was its freshness and daring and the way it stood out head and shoulders amongst much of the current electropop-inspired mush. A Number 2 hit for Jason Derulo does at least prove that nobody ever became poor sticking boldly to what worked, but if a record that lazy had deposed one so inspired from the top of the charts, it would have felt just wrong somehow.
The second biggest new hit of the week is an entertaining collision of two British stars from opposite ends of the musical divide. Joining Dizzee Rascal on Goin' Crazy is no less a figure than Robbie Williams and together with the pair storm the Top 10 at Number 5, its release having been greatly anticipated since the pair debuted the song together onstage at the Radio One Big Weekend at the end of last month. Goin' Crazy' is the first single from Dizzee Rascal's forthcoming fifth album The Fifth and is his second Top 10 hit of the year following the unofficial release Bassline Junkie which made Number 10 as a cut from a mixtape without ever being formally promoted as a single release. During his solo career, Robbie Williams has duetted with artists as diverse as Madonna, The Pet Shop Boys and Kylie Minogue but this single is the closest he has come to the rap world since his brief star turn on the 1 Giant Leap single My Culture which made Number 9 back in 2002.
A leading light of what is disparagingly referred to as the New Boring, folk singer-songwriter Tom Odell has been slowly but surely building up a head of steam since he was named the Critics Choice winner at the Brit Awards back in February. Now, with his debut album Long Way Down finally set for release this week, he has a proper Top 40 single to his name as Another Love debuts at Number 10 on the singles chart, a little over five months since it first made Number 56 as an EP release in the wake of his award nomination.
Famously the first ever act to top the charts with a single sold entirely by online word of mouth, the Arctic Monkeys haven't had a Top 10 hit since 2007 when the track Florescent Adolescent hit Number 5. This week they come the closest they have since thanks to the surprise success of brand new track Do I Wanna Know which narrowly misses out at Number 11. Taken from their forthcoming fifth album, the single might well have charted higher but for the fact that just like the Kanye West album it was an unexpected midweek release, hitting the online stores on Wednesday. Despite this, the track is easily their biggest chart hit in just over six years.
Finally an update on contestants of The Voice UK, as the result of the final this weekend left a great many people with a large amount of egg on their faces. On the basis of her chart performances so far Leah McFall was the runaway favourite for the competition and she does indeed have two Top 40 hits to her name this week - existing hit I Will Survive at Number 15 and new arrival Killing Me Softly at Number 36. However, to the dismay of every reviewer who had pre-written their column and surely the chap who reportedly staked £10,000 at astronomically short odds on the star to win, she was beaten into second place in the final vote by Andrea Begley. Expect her to make her own Top 40 debut next week as her final performance of My Immortal is at Number 75, curiously enough one place behind the Evanescence original which has also charted in her wake.
That said, the expected winner of The Voice UK should once again be will.i.am who is this week already at Number 35 alongside Ke$ha on Crazy Kids and at Number 42 on his own Bang Bang. With massive eurohit I Love It by Icona Pop and the eagerly anticipated Wanted track Walks Like Rihanna also set to chart next week, it is going to take a herculean effort for Blurred Lines to manage a fifth week at Number One. I can't wait to see how it all pans out.