If we can all be honest with each other here, the current Florence and the Machine album Ceremonials is by its nature a rather tricky listen. An elaborately constructed work of ornately arranged and exotically sung tracks, it has few designs on being an album of pop songs and was not treated as such by critics and those who bought it enthusiastically. Until now therefore it should come as little surprise that the chart performance of its singles have been rather indifferent, the Number 12 success of "Shake It Out" at the tail end of last year the exception rather than the rule.
So just why is it that "Spectrum", the fifth track to chart from the album, should outperform not only its immediate predecessors but indeed every other Florence and the Machine single released to date and rocket straight to the top of the UK Singles chart? Simple really - the magic fingers of Calvin Harris. The production genius du jour has given the rather plodding album version of "Spectrum" a veritable shot in the arm, transforming it into a dancefloor-friendly stormer which still may not to be everyone's taste but which may well end up being the stroke of marketing genius of the summer. Until now Florence and the Machine's only Top 10 hits had been two different versions of the same cover - first a remake of "You've Got The Love" which peaked at Number 5 in January 2010 and the Brit awards ceremony live mash-up with Dizzee Rascal on "You've Got The Dirtee Love" which landed three places higher just over a month later. The sales race was close - just a thousand copies or so separating the Florence and the Machine single from Maroon 5's "Payphone," but it was enough to ensure we have one of the more unusually sourced Number One singles of the year to date.
"Spectrum" was virtually the only big new release to make what is once more a rather becalmed singles chart, the only other new arrival to the Top 10 being Nicki Minaj's "Pound The Alarm" which rises 16-10 to become her second Top 10 hit of the year as a follow-up to Number 2 hit "Starships". Despite still being less than two years into her chart career (her first chart single "Your Love" crept to Number 71 in August 2010) she has performed or featured on an astonishing 17 different Top 75 singles in that time, "Pound The Alarm" becoming the sixth to reach the Top 10.
Never has the gap between the tastes of singles buyers and those who prefer the long form format of musical releases been so pronounced. Three big new releases storm the Top 5 of the UK Album chart this week, all of them from acts who have little need of hit singles to help their promotion. Leading the charge is Newton Faulkner with Write It On Your Skin which debuts at Number One, his second chart-topper following his 2007 debut Hand Build By Robots. Since his debut single "Dream Catch Me" was a Number 7 hit that same year the singer has failed to place any of his subsequent releases in the Top 50 and indeed the two singles from this new release to chart thus far have done with minimal success - "Write It On Your Skin" limping to Number 54 in early June and "Clouds" landing at Number 68 a week ago.
Just below Faulkner at Number 2 is the recently uncloseted Frank Ocean with what is almost his first chart appearance of any kind under his own name as the album Channel Orange makes a huge UK splash. An unknown until now, his only other credit as a performer to date has been as guest star on Jay-Z and Kanye West's "No Church In The Wild", one of the perennial chart singles from Watch The Throne which most recently peaked at Number 37 a fortnight ago. Ocean was only 3000 sales behind Faulkner in the chart race, so things may well have been different but for the fact Channel Orange was an unexpected midweek release, not hitting stores until Tuesday and thus giving his rival a two day start.
Completing the trio of singles chart avoiders, "Is Your Love Big Enough" is the Number 4 new entry from British folk singer Lianne La Havas. The subject of many a glowing review and a major priority artist for her label at present, the nature of her work means any chart singles from her are likely to be few and far between. "Lost & Found" was officially her debut single released back in April, but to date it has failed to register on the singles chart in any form.
There is however one act who has managed to land a new entry in the Top 20 of both singles and albums countdowns simultaneously. Step forward American Idol alumnus Adam Lambert, the charistmatic star sitting pretty at Number 17 with the single "Never Close Our Eyes" and at Number 16 with its parent album Trespassing. Both are career highs for him to date, Lambert's debut album For Your Entertainment reached Number 36 in May 2010 whilst its title track peaked at Number 37 on the singles chart one month earlier. Easily one of the biggest talents ever to be discovered by the TV series, Lambert remains the most successful non-victorious Idol contestant the British charts have seen to date.