Posted on Sunday, December 9, 2012 by Paul in Music
Well, hmm, yes.
There was meant to be a podcast up this weekend, but as Al explains elsewhere, it’s apparently completely inaudible, so we’ll be doing another one… ooh, probably midweek, the way things are looking. And since I’ve been working this weekend and haven’t received some of last week’s books either, the reviews are going to slip too.
Fortunately, though, the great thing about the midweek chart is that it lets you write a big chunk of these chart posts in advance, so let’s do this instead. We’re still in the quiet period pre-Christmas, when the regular release schedule is winding down and the seasonal releases aren’t out yet. That means a dearth of activity at the top end of the chart, some oddities floating around the lower end, and a bit of a disaster for the career of Tulisa Contostavlos.
39. Burns – “Lies”
Before we get to the oddities, an ordinary record pops its head around the door.
Burns is a Scottish (I think) producer, and this curiously lo-fi affair is his first hit. It comes with an asterisk, though, because this record has actually been in circulation since September; it’s charting now on the strength of a remix EP, and while the original is still the lead track, the iTunes chart suggests that it’s actually the somewhat more conventional Otto Knows remix that’s been doing most business. As for the identity of the singer, I’ve no idea.
In theory the singles chart exists to measure sales; in practice it exists because the British record industry finds it a useful promotional tool. Sometimes, however, it all blows up in their face by providing the opportunity for high-profile failure.
This middling ballad is the third single from Tulisa Contostavlos, formerly of N-Dubz and now in her second year as a judge on X Factor. Her solo debut, “Young”, had a week at number 1, which looked like a decent start. The follow-up “Live It Up” made a disappointing number 11, though you could attribute that to the unwise decision to put out a record laden with irritating klaxons and expecting it to sell to the mainstream. At any rate, at some point her album release date seems to have been shoved back from the summer.
Now this single lands at a mere number 18, despite being promoted on the X Factor results show. And as for the parent album “The Female Boss”, which also came out this week, it’s a bit of a catastrophe. The press were sharpening their knives when the midweeks showed it landing at 22. Its position on Sunday? Number 35. And to put that in perspective, you can scroll to the bottom of this post and see some of the stuff that beat it.
This is the sort of chart placing that the press will deem worthy of schadenfreude-laden coverage, and to be honest I feel kind of sorry for her, especially since tonight is the final of this year’s X Factor so she can’t exactly spend a quiet night in drowning her sorrows as she would probably prefer. Nonetheless, whatever else she may be, Tulisa is high profile, and people with that much media attention are normally guaranteed a top ten placing by sheer force of hype. To land this far down the chart, with this much hype, in a week this quiet, suggests that something has gone terribly, terribly wrong, far beyond any issues with the quality of the product. This points to a massive disparity between column inches and actual public affection, and a need for a major re-think.
Amazingly, despite this being a dead week for new releases, Tulisa doesn’t even get the highest new entry. That goes to…
16. Pitbull (featuring TJR) – “Don’t Stop The Party”
And there’s something else unexpected about this record. It’s by Pitbull, yet it isn’t completely terrible. That’s a change.
That’s possibly because it started off as “Funky Vodka” by TJR, a house producer who duly gets a featured artist credit on the track. Pitbull’s contribution is essentially to rap over the top of the radio edit, when you get down to it. The TJR record, in turn, is based on a sped-up loop of “Funky Kingston” by Toots and the Maytals, a reggae track from 1973.
In fact, according to Wikipedia, the version on the Pitbull track isn’t a sample but a re-creation by Mark Summers, who it seems now makes a living providing sample re-enactments for people who don’t want to pay the clearance fees. Summers had a number 27 hit in 1991 with “Summers Magic”, an early entry in the brief and largely lamentable subgenre of toytown house.
That video actually goes dead at about 2:45, but you get the general idea. Believe it or not, youngsters, for a brief period at the turn of the 90s, the charts were full of this sort of thing. See also this, this, this, and perhaps least tolerable of all, this.
Climbing 18 places, and that’ll be because she performed it on last week’s X Factor results show. Admittedly, Tulisa was on that show too, and it didn’t do her any good, but, well, people didn’t like her record.
1. Gabrielle Aplin – “The Power of Love”
Continued exposure from the John Lewis advert helps, but the main reason this finally reaches number one in its fifth week out is that it was covered on X Factor last week. And while you could go and buy the Frankie Goes To Hollywood original (which scraped the bottom of the top 40 on the midweeks as a result), most people seem to have gone for the Aplin version.
It’s the first record to climb to the top since “Gangnam Style” in October, and the song joins the relatively short list of songs to have been number one hits in two different versions.
Since the X Factor winner’s single will be out on Monday, it’s a virtual lock that this won’t be number one in a week’s time, though nothing would entirely amaze me at this point in the series; while it’s hardly in the dire straits that some people are making out, there’s no real doubt that X Factor passed its peak two years ago and is in decline.
On the album chart, not much:-
Olly Murs is still number one, this being a quiet week.
“The Truth About Love” by Pink rebounds from 28 to 11 on the strength of her X Factor performance.
“The Golden Age of Song” by Jools Holland & his R&B Orchestra is at 21 and becomes this week’s highest new entry.
“Only Boys Aloud: The Christmas Edition” at 27 is a collection of Christmas songs by a teenage male choir from South Wales. It includes a version of “Fairytale of New York” featuring comedian Jason Manford, and doesn’t that just sound wonderful.
“Mythology” by the Bee Gees at 33, a four-disc box set with each disc focussing on a different Bee Gee. All of which beats…
“The Female Boss” by Tulisa at 35, over which we can do little but draw a discreet veil.