Anyone who has ever scanned the current list of Twitter trending topics with dread will understand that a world ruled by teenage girls would be a very different one to that which we are used to. With digital streams now firmly a part of the data used to compile the Hot 100 chart in America, it is surely no surprise that this has coincided with the rise of British boy bands such as The Wanted and One Direction who are scoring Stateside hits in a manner which would be unthinkable just a few years ago, thanks largely to the power of repeated online listens
In the UK, the charts are still resolutely based on paid for music, which has actually worked to the disadvantage of one imported teen act in particular. For all the obvious devotion he inspires and for all the intense online chatter he generates, the fact remains that Justin Bieber generates more YouTube views and sells more posters and calendars than he does records. Since his chart debut at the start of 2010 his one and only Top 10 single as a lead artist until now has been Top 3 hit "Baby" two years ago. His chart form since then has been indifferent and in marked contrast to the level of online chatter he generates.
I say "until now", as he this week manages to reverse that unwanted form with his biggest hit to date, brand new single "Boyfriend" as befits its status as the first release from his forthcoming third album charges straight into the UK singles chart at Number 2. The track is only his third appearance in the Top 10, following on from the aforementioned "Baby" and the Sean Kingston single "Eenie Meanie" on which he was the featured guest. Whilst the single has undoubtedly made a strong debut, Bieber still remains an artist selling to a particular target market. Its true status as a hit single will only become apparent in week 2 or week 3, when the non-12 year old market decide if it appeals to them.
Bieber's chances of actually topping the chart for the first time were always pretty slim, thanks to the runaway success of the artist whose single he endorsed and who is signed to his own vanity label. After becoming only the second single this year to sell over 100,000 copies in a single week last time around, Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" repeats the trick this week with another huge sale of over 110,000 copies - more than double that of Bieber below her and in the process ensuring that Canadian-born stars occupy the top two rungs of the UK singles chart for the first time ever. Astounding though it may seem, Jepsen's track is on track to become one of the biggest runaway successes of the spring.
This has actually been a massive week for big new singles releases, resulting in a veritable flood of new arrivals on the chart. Trailing somewhat as the second biggest new single of the week is ironically the man credited with introducing Bieber to the musical world beyond YouTube as Usher flies in at Number 4 with "Climax". The track is duly his biggest hit single since "OMG" topped the charts almost exactly two years ago. With the star's batches of Number One singles having come in 1998, 2004 and 2010 it isn't unreasonable to assume he's not due another one until 2016 at the earliest.
Having been dominating the US charts for weeks, it was inevitable that "We Are Young" by Fun and Janelle Monae would make a big splash when it finally became available here, and so it proves with the current Hot 100 Number One single entering the chart at Number 7. OK, so that is a solid rather than spectacular start but all trends suggest that the single is about to build up the kind of momentum which has led it to become one of the biggest hits of 2012 so far back in America. The track marks the first ever UK chart appearance for the New York based group and is one of a number of hit singles which has actually appeared on the charts some weeks after a competing cover version, namely that by the Glee Cast whose own rendition reached Number 56 just before Christmas last year.
Completing the quartet of new entries inside the Top 10 is "Level Up" by Sway which enters at Number 8. The pseudonym of rapper Derek Safo, this hit is the second Top 20 single to be lifted from his forthcoming third full album The Deliverance, hard on the heels of Still Speedin' which crept to Number 19 just before Christmas last year. This single marks his Top 10 breakthrough, six years after his first Top 40 chart singles. All good things come to those who wait.
Watch "Level Up"
Keep an eye out next week for "Ordinary People" by John Legend. The 2005 single makes a surprise reappearance at Number 27 after being performed by no less than two contestants on The Voice UK on Saturday night. Despite there being mere hours left before the survey deadline, the surge experienced by the song was enough to propel it into the Top 30 to match the peak it originally scaled seven years ago. With sales still strong at the time I write this, the track seems set to become a rather unexpected viral hit.
With the singles chart being so busy it seems almost a shame to relegate the album chart to something of a footnote, especially as the biggest seller of the week is once again 21 by Adele which climbs back to the top for the first time in seven weeks. This is now the album's 22nd week at Number One, and her 23rd in total during her career, meaning she has now spent more time at the top of the album chart than the likes of David Bowie and Dire Straits.