Just when you thought every possible combination of genre, style and nationality had been marketed to us, the pop music industry manages to surprise us once more. We've had British, European and American boy bands, so why not an Australian one? Such is the thinking behind the worldwide marketing of Sydney-based four piece 5 Seconds Of Summer whose infectious global smash She Looks So Perfect finally arrives in the UK and instantly, inevitably and with some panache storms to the top of the Official UK Singles chart.
Although their appeal is very much at the teen end of the market (and in particular the highly connected YouTube and Twitter worshipping kind), Michael, Luke, Calum and Ashton are very much from the McFly school of teen acts, making the music themselves and contributing equally to their songwriting. The UK appeal of Australian acts has dimmed somewhat since the golden age of the 80s and 90s, although the last Australian star to top the UK charts was actually as recently as 2012, thanks to Sia Furler's guest role on David Guetta's Titanium. Although the likes of Kylie Minogue, Nicole Kidman and Holly Valance kept the flag flying for our friends down under at the start of the century, 5 Seconds Of Summer are believe it or not the first multi-member Australian group to top the UK singles chart since Madison Avenue spent a week at the top with Don't Call Me Baby way back in May 2000.
We stay with an Australian connection for the second biggest new hit of the week as the deep house scene throws up another extraordinary clash of musical cultures. This week's Number 3 hit Changes actually began life as something completely different, a 2007 track entitled Baby as produced by Australian production duo Pnau. The track intrigued Frenchmen Faul & Wad Ad that they decided to put their own spin on the concept, sampling the refrain as sung by a children's choir on the Pnau original to create their own mellow and laid back house track. An immediate success when released on the continent at the end of last year, Changes (crediting both the French and Australian sides of the creative process in equal measure) now storms to the higher end of the UK Singles chart. It is the first ever singles chart credit for both acts, although Pnau are by no means total unknowns here, having landed a Number One album back in 2012 thanks to their Good Morning To The Night project which mashed up old Elton John tracks in intriguing new ways. [This is another of those strange hits which became so ubiquitous in its use as a soundtrack for TV packages that it is almost instantly familiar to everyone, even if they cannot name either song or performer].
The third and final Top 10 new entry of the week is another meeting of minds, this time Martin Garrix who follows up 2013 Number One hit Animals with new single Wizard, this time giving a co-credit to fellow Dutchman Jay Hardway on another intoxicating instrumental electro house hit. In as much as I'm able to cultivate a proper appreciation of what is at the end of the day a sequence of bleeping noises, this is actually a far more accessible hit single than its chart-topping predecessor despite arriving at a mere Number 7 this time around.
A little lower down the track Loyal gives Chris Brown his first chart hit of 2014 with a flying leap to Number 15 and indeed his highest charting single since Don't Wake Me Up hit Number 2 exactly two years ago this week. The track is the fourth to be released from what will become his sixth album X which is finally set to hit the stores in May and needless to say the most successful so far. Those familiar with Loyal from its American success will be aware that the track actually exists in three different versions. Both feature guest vocals from Lil Wayne (who gets an equal chart credit here) but with the "East Coast" version featuring French Montana, "West Coast" featuring Too Short and the "Video version" as promoted to mainstream radio in American adding vocals from Tyga. For what it's worth, all three are available here and contribute to its chart position, but it is the radio edit featuring Tyga which is picking up the bulk of the sales and is considered the 'lead' mix.
The presence of the untouched Martin Garrix track in the Top 10 rather makes a mockery of the whole idea that instrumental hits don't sell well enough to become crossover hits in Britain, but that doesn't seem to have affected the single which lands at Number 21 this week. Originally an instrumental called Who, Tujamo & Plastic Funk's cult club anthem from last summer is now transformed into Dr Who thanks to a grafted on rap from a returning Sneakbo who makes his first chart appearance since his own track Ring A Ling crept to Number 27 in summer last year - around the same time that the Tujamo original was making its own club waves.
On the Official UK Album chart, George Michael's run at Number One is brought to a juddering halt by the X Factor juggernaut as last reigning champion Sam Bailey storms inevitably to the top of the charts with her debut album The Power Of Love. The title, plus the fact that the collection has been raced into the shops just in time for Mothering Sunday really just confirms the suspicions that the mature star is being pitched at the supermarket shoppers market rather than any attempt being made to turn her into a long-lasting mainstream pop star. A typical Simon Cowell arrow to the commercial jugular, the album is the expected collection of blandly produced cover versions of torch songs such as Get Here, Ain't No Mountain High Enough and naturally enough the title track. As you might have expected it has sold in shedloads, shifting 73,000 copies to become the fastest selling album of the year so far.