The desire of artists and record labels to release their Q4 product at the optimum moment, maximising exposure and hopefully sales in the run-up to Christmas, and the continual research and analysis which means everyone zones in on the exact same day surely reaches its apex on the UK charts this week. In a moment of pure history, no less than eight of the Top 10 records on the Official UK Albums chart - and indeed the whole of the Top 7 - are new entries for what are mostly brand new releases.
To discuss each one in turn would take up an entire column, suffice it to note that the one artist who does manage to emerge supreme from this particular bun-fight can claim with some justification to be the performer of the most in-demand release of the moment. So it is that outselling The Wanted at #9, The Nation's Favourite Elvis Songs at #7, Shane Filan at #6, The Overtones at #5, hairy fiddler Andre Rieu at #4, Tinie Tempah at #3 and James Arthur at #2 is no less a figure than Eminem who storms to the top of the charts with The Marshall Mathers LP 2. The sequel to his second album, first released in 2000, the original also made Number One, the first of what is now seven Number One records for the iconic rap star. His only chart album to fail to top the charts was his debut The Slim Shady LP which originally peaked at Number 12 in April 1999 before finally reaching a Number 10 peak over a year later during a subsequent chart run.
The icing on the cake would surely have been doing the chart double, yet despite a strong performance once again towards the end of the week, the Eminem and Rihanna duet "The Monster" falls to Number 2 this week, blown away by one of the more in demand club tracks of the moment. The brand new Number One single on the Official UK Singles chart this week is therefore "Look Right Through" as performed by New Jersey DJ Morgan Geist, better known professionally as Storm Queen. More so than any Number One single so far this year, this hit has been a long time coming. The track (featuring vocals from "subway superstar" Damon C Scott) first emerged as long ago as October 2010 and was re-released in remixed form in February 2012 during which time it made its first chart run at the lower end of the Top 200. This new 2013 version of the track (remixed just as in 2012 by Marc "MK" Kinchen) tidies things up a little to make this the most radio-friendly version of the single so far - and thus was a Number One single.
Watch "Look Right Through"
Ultimately trailing "Look Right Through" by just over 9,000 copies "The Monster" thus dips to Number 2 this week. The release of its parent album and the consequent ending of the Instant Grat promotion means that the other three promotional singles are free to return to the singles chart after an absence of a week. Unlike in America where all four are currently occupying high places on the Hot 100, the one "monster" hit single has managed to eclipse all the others. "Berzerk" reappears at Number 30, "Survival" at Number 34 whilst the controversial "Rap God" is as low down as Number 45. Food for thought for those anticipating a mini-Gaga invasion next week when her promotional tracks are similarly free to appear on the singles chart.
It is quite the week for former X Factor winners. As mentioned 2012 champion James Arthur is at Number 2 on the album chart with his self-titled debut. Moving on to their second collection of tracks are his 2011 predecessors Little Mix who start their campaign with brand new single "Move." A neatly timed X Factor results show performance helps the single to a strong Number 3 debut, their highest charting single since "DNA" also made Number 3 almost a year ago. Among the many criticisms of the talent show is its knack of spawning flash in the pan music stars rather than acts with genuine longevity, and whilst the jury is still out on the further career prospects of the manufactured girl group, this tightly performed and hard to ignore new single at least means they start Act II strongly. "Move" is possibly the boldest release by an X Factor winner to date, a stripped to the wire R&B groove (think Girls Aloud doing the Pointer Sisters) which allows all five girls a turn on lead vocals - and handy reminder that they all originally auditioned for the show as solo singers.
From the amount of noise her still scarily dedicated fans made during the week, you could have been forgiven for thinking that the new Britney Spears single was the most important musical moment of the last seven days, even if most of them probably obtained bootleg copies some time ago. Yes, once again a major new release by a name star is subject to the most interminable of release delays in Britain as "Work B**ch!" finally hit the online stores this week almost two months after it first made its worldwide debut. Britney storms the chart at a rather subdued Number 7, perhaps reflecting the slight lack of sensation surrounding the single despite its songwriting and production pedigree which sees credits for both Sebastien Ingrosso and Otto Knows as well as reuniting her with will.i.am with whom she topped the charts at the start of the year on "Scream And Shout." The track dutifully becomes her 23rd Top 10 hit single since her chart debut almost 15 years ago and her biggest hit single as lead artist since "Hold It Against Me" peaked at Number 6 in January 2011. Technically the track is her second chart entry of the year, her contribution to the Smurfs 2 soundtrack "Ooh La La" having oddly enough become her lowest charting hit single ever when it crept to Number 72 back in August.
Speaking of soundtrack singles, the hunger for brand new Ed Sheeran material is fed this week by the Number 13 entry of "I See Fire," his contribution to the soundtrack of the forthcoming release The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, after the singer was personally invited to contribute a song for the end credits by director Peter Jackson. The single is Sheeran's first chart hit as lead artist since "Give Me Love" made Number 18 in November 2012, the gap since then having been filled by his presence as co-star on Taylor Swift's "Everything Has Changed" which made Number 7 back in the spring. "I See Fire" marks the first time the Lord Of The Rings movie franchise has spawned a sizeable chart hit, the closest it came before being Enya's "May It Be" taken from the closing credits of The Fellowship Of The Ring and which belatedly crept to Number 50 in February 2002.
Watch "I See Fire"
Just one place behind at Number 14 is a returning Katy B, the BRIT school graduate making hard work of following up her 2010 debut which saw her score three Top 10 hit singles in a row. Her first release of 2013 "What Love Is Made Of" limped to Number 21 in July, meaning that new single "5 AM" is her biggest hit since "Broken Record" hit Number 8 in April 2011.
Finally, I mentioned Taylor Swift just now and her Top 10 appearance with Ed Sheeran on "Everything Has Changed" earlier in the year. That track shot into the charts after the pair performed on Britain's Got Talent and by a strange coincidence this week the American singer attempted to repeat the trick by performing a surprise duet with a seemingly random British partner on a TV talent show. As we have seen over the past few weeks however the X Factor Results show is not quite the hitmaking force it once was or then again maybe after a year everyone is suffering burn-out after endless hit singles from her Red album. Either way, despite a spirited performance from both Swift and Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, the single "The Last Time" limps to a mere Number 25 as the eighth Top 40 hit to be lifted from the hit album. Bizarre though it may sound, Taylor Swift actually missed the Top 40 with an entirely new single just a fortnight ago, "Sweeter Than Fiction" from - you guessed it - the soundtrack of the forthcoming movie One Chance making a brief appearance at Number 45