Hailed (with some justification) as one of the most exciting new acts on the planet when she first began her chart career at the start of 2010, Ellie Goulding has traced a rather erratic path across the Official UK Singles chart ever since. Making a strong Number 4 debut at the start of that year with her first fully released single "Starry Eyed," she has lurched ever since between lukewarm mid-table singles and the odd high profile release such as 2012 hit "Anything Could Happen" returning her briefly to the Top 10. For all the acclaim her own work attracts, her best chart placing until now has been thanks a cover, her rendition of the Elton John classic "Your Song" having peaked at Number 2 in late 2010 thanks to its use on a television commercial.
At least it used to be. Heralding the release of a newly expanded edition of her second album Halcyon (the new version now entitled Halcyon Days after her recent concert tour) the brand new Ellie Goulding single "Burn" outperforms anything she has released to date, arriving in the shops last week to a near rapturous reception to give her a first ever Number One hit single. The song has taken a rather tortuous route to the top of the charts, having been first recorded by Leona Lewis and planned to be a part of her last album Glassheart only to be ditched from the final running order. Penned by a glittering array of American songwriting talent (both Ryan Tedder and Greg Kurstin are credited as co-writers) "Burn" is easily Ellie Goulding's most straightforward and crucially accessible pop record to date, even with her trademark quavering and ethereal vocals intact.
Although it is starting to get tedious mentioning it, it must be noted that "Burn" sold 117,000 copies last week, this now the 17th week in the last 18 that the sale of the Number One single has exceeded six figures.
Whilst Ellie Goulding's pursuit of the Number One position was in the end little more than a procession, there was a brief moment at the start of the week when it looked like a huge spanner was to be thrown into the works. Never one to do things conventionally, Lady Gaga gave up on attempts to suppress a leaked version of her brand new single and announced that several weeks ahead of schedule, her much awaited track "Applause" would be appearing worldwide, the single duly hitting British online stores late in the day on Tuesday. A brand new single from someone who is theoretically still one of the biggest stars on the planet? Had to be a Number One contender, despite playing catch up, surely.
"Applause" did indeed make a healthy start, sprinting up the live tables in short order. Yet it never quite reached the level of the Ellie Goulding single and perhaps more curiously peaked rather early, sliding down the rankings as we neared the weekend and running out of steam rather quicker than might have been anticipated. The single is still the second highest new entry of the week, shouldering the competition out of the way to chart at Number 5 to become the 10th Top 10 hit of her career, in the same week no less that her 2009 Number One hit "Bad Romance" was confirmed as the second million selling single of her career.
Even so, she still remains without a Number One single since "Telephone" surged to the top of the charts in 2010 and this is by no means the first time that an idiosyncratic release pattern has essentially stymied her chances of returning to the top of the charts for a fifth time with the easy target of a brand new single. Yes, the Little Monsters will point out, she still did well to make Number 5 with just five days sales (38,000 copies in total). Yet it doesn't take a very long memory to note that just two and a half years ago she released a single "Born This Way" on a Friday and watched it hit Number 3 (selling 60,000 copies) off the back of just 34 hours worth of sales.
Regular readers of these pages will be aware that the last Arctic Monkeys single "Do I Wanna Know" went a long way to resurrecting the celebrated British group as singles stars, hitting Number 11 first week out and spending six weeks in the Top 20, their longest lasting chart single since they first debuted back in 2005. To further crank up the interest in the release of their forthcoming album AM this week the group unleashed another brand new single and to the unabashed delight of many saw their current chart rebound hit another new benchmark. The new single "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High" benefits greatly from being far and away one of their best singles for years, a deliciously witty Alex Turner lyric which reaffirms the group's reputation as some of the cleverest songwriters of their generation, and for once wrapped up in a musical package which calls to mind the brilliance of their earlier work. The new single this week crashes into the singles chart at Number 8, only their sixth Top 10 hit single ever and perhaps most crucially the first since "Fluorescent Adolescent" climbed to a peak of Number 5 almost exactly six years ago.
The final new entry on an astonishingly busy UK Top 10 this week is oddly enough a single from an act which logic would suggest should be languishing at the other end of the countdown. Less than two months since their last single "Walks Like Rihanna" hit Number 4, The Wanted's little sausage factory cranks out a new track "We Own The Night" which is effectively the fourth single from their forthcoming new album Word Of Mouth which will finally see the light of day in September after a delay of over a year. Whilst the track may be their ninth Top 10 single, landing at Number 10 as it does, it grabs the honour by a narrowest of margins and whilst fans of the group have greeted its arrival rapturously, critical response to the track has been muted to say the least. "Walks Like Rihanna" was the sound of a pop group still neatly firing on all cylinders. "We Own The Night" by contrast is limp and insipid and will be gone from both charts and minds before the schools return.
Unlucky to miss out on a place in the Top 10 are Ray Foxx and Rachel K Collier whose collaboration on the single "Boom Boom (Heartbeat)" debuts at Number 12. It is the first ever mainstream hit for the producer and DJ, his only previous chart entry "La Musica (The Trumpeter)" charting at Number 65 back in 2011. The singer on the track Rachel Collier hails from Wales and narrowly missed making her own chart debut last year when her cover of Jimmy Cliff's "Hard Road To Travel" peaked just short of the Top 75.
We should also make honourable mention of the Drake track "Hold On We're Going Home," the second single to be lifted from his forthcoming new album Nothing Was The Same and which charts hard on the heels of his last single "Started From The Bottom" which made Number 25 back in February. After a low key start last week, the new single rockets 56-15 to become his highest charting single since the Rihanna duet "Take Care" peaked at Number 9 in late 2011.
I'm still boycotting the album chart until things get more interesting at the end of the summer, suffice it to say that BGT discoveries Richard & Adam are extraordinarily still Number One with their The Impossible Dream collection. Three straight weeks at the top equals Justin Timberlake's run as the longest consecutive stay at the top of the charts this year. Depressing isn't it?