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Chart Commentary from James Masterton


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The January clearout used to be a regular feature of the chart calendar, certainly from the late 80s onwards. Once everyone was back at work properly and in a position to promote new releases, the middle of January would traditionally see a rush of new singles flood the chart resulting in almost wholesale changes to the status quo. Then in the 21st century we kind of fell out of the habit, labels having realised that there was little to gain in everyone rushing new product out all at once and the "new season" of the chart ended up a more gradual process.


This year things are slightly different as this is of course week 2 of the brave new world and everyone is dying to make their product available online, just to see how the market will respond. It isn't a dramatic 17 new entry turnover of the kind we used to get at this time of year, but the number of new songs in the Top 40 has hit double figures this week, leading to some very interesting surprises.


For all of this however, the story of the top end was a down to the wire duel between two rather more established hit singles. With her sales gradually leaking away, speculation was rife that Leona Lewis would surrender her Number One crown to the surging sales of Eric Prydz. At one stage during the week there were reportedly less than 100 copies between the two singles. In the end the battle is ended in conk-faces favour and 'A Moment Like This' clocks up a lunar cycle at Number One to match the chart run of the 2005 winner Shayne Warne and his X-Factor single 'That's My Goal'.


One has to think that this week was the final opportunity for Eric Prydz to land himself a second Number One, especially when hard on his heels is the first genuine smash hit of 2007. Lebanon born Mica Penniman (shortened to just Mika for performing purposes) topped just about every "new face of the new year" poll going, such was the buzz around him following the download only single 'Relax, Take It Easy' which came out in the summer. The classically trained singer songwriter has eschewed the snobbish path of making "proper" music and instead has set out to become a pop star. His music somehow manages to encompass every style going, from pop to dance to funk and jazz and is performed in such a delightful, knowing manner that it is hard not to be taken in by its appeal. His first chart hit proper is 'Grace Kelly', a fun self-aware single where he sets out his stall by pointing out he can pretend to be anyone he likes to win approval. It doesn't take a musical genius to notice that the spirit of Freddie Mercury infuses this single to the very last note. 'Grace Kelly' isn't so much a Queen takeoff (we'll leave that to MCR) but the greatest solo single that Freddie never made. Released online last week, the single has charged to Number 3 on downloads alone and if this isn't Number One by this time next week when physical sales are added to the equation, it will be a major, major shock.


Lining up just behind Mika is another hotly tipped new name. Just Jack is essentially the closest thing we have to male Lily Allen, a singer cum rapper with a sardonic take on modern life and relationships, all performed on just the right side of commerciality. After a well received but little noticed debut album in 2003 he is now a major label prospect and posed perfectly for the mainstream. The single 'Starz In Their Eyes' deals with the way that TV talent shows have convinced an entire generation that their karaoke skills are enough to turn them into superstars and the disillusionment that comes with realising the truth. Once again on downloads alone the single has shot to Number 4 with physical sales set to be added to the mix next week. Expect this at Number 2 in seven days time.


For full article - http://uk.launch.yahoo.com/charts/comment.html

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