Monday, January 14, 2008

Number 1s of 2007: September to November

Three months, and only three number ones between them...

Sean Kingston's "Beautiful Girls" (2 to 30 September, 4 weeks) appears to come from a record label who are peculiarly obsessed with purging embeddable copies from YouTube, so you'll have to settle for the link.

This is one from the "issues with women" file, isn't it? Mind you, there's a lot of love songs out there which would be downright creepy if you took them literally. ("I can't live if living is without you" is not romantic. Really, it's not.) Apparently there's a radio edit which replaces "suicidal" with "in denial", but I don't recall ever hearing it in Britain. We're robust over here. Or maybe it's just that by the time you've heard it for the hundredth time, suicide seems like quite an appealing prospect.

Oh, alright, it's not that bad. It's a bland, vaguely reggae-ish song, sampling Ben E King, and I'll grant that it's got something. But to be honest, I just find it a little bit creepy. Four weeks at number one? Really? I must have been asleep that month.

The follow-up, "Me Love", only made number 32, so he's probably a one-hit wonder.

"About You Now" by the Sugababes (30 September to 28 October, four weeks). Proud possessors of the worst band name in pop, and ploughing through members so that only one founding member (Keisha Buchanan) remains, the Sugababes are still a surprisingly consistent girl group. We've heard from them already this year, teaming up with Girls Aloud for a dreadful cover version of "Walk This Way." But that was a charity single, and this is business as usual.

This is the second time that the Sugababes have led off a new album with a single that initially struck me as a little bit sedate, but slowly worked its way into my head. The other one was "Push The Button", which eventually won me round completely.

I'm coming round to "About You Now" as well. In fact, it's still outselling the follow-up single now, which is the sort of embarrassing situation that record companies used to avoid by deleting old singles. But they can't do that any more, short of deleting the album as well.

The Sugababes have been through so many line-up changes now that they barely qualify as a band any more. They're more of a contractual entity that has songs assigned to them. But whoever's choosing the songs is doing a pretty good job of it, so who cares that the band might as well be three session singers by this point?

Oh, yes - "About You Now" technically holds the record for the biggest climb to number one. That's because they released the remix version (which counts as the same single for chart purposes) a week earlier, and virtually nobody bought it, resulting in a jump from 34 to 1 the next week. Isn't that exciting?

According to Wikipedia, the Sugababes have never had a hit in America, which is hardly surprising given that they do a sort of chart-friendly electropop that Americans have never shown much interest in since the 1980s. It's perhaps worth mentioning, then, that like many other acts in a similar vein they're actually very successful around Europe and Asia. But the genre doesn't seem to do anything for the North Americans.

"Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis (28 October to 16 December, 7 weeks). YouTube seems to have this video in a whole range of versions, all of them in the wrong aspect ratio. Oh well.

Leona Lewis, you might remember, was the winner of X-Factor 2006. We started off the year with her version of "A Moment Like This." Now, reality show winners fall into two categories: the ones who might actually have a career, and the ones who should be exploited for all they're worth before people forget about them. Since Leona Lewis can actually sing, her management took the wise decision to remove her from circulation for months and make a proper album, instead of going for the rush release.

So, ten months after winning the show, this was her second single - timed to coincide with the start of X-Factor 2007. It's got the melodramatic balladry for the X-Factor fans, but it's also making a passably successful bid for credibility. It's co-written by Ryan Tedder from OneRepublic. And it's actually quite a good song, which, combined with the TV promotion, made it number one for the better part of two months and the biggest-selling single of the year.

Rihanna had a significantly longer run at the top, but the initial sales for "Bleeding Love" were astronomical. The charts also suggest that a lot of people visited download sites for the first time just to buy her single. In a telltale sign of newbies aplenty, the B-side "Forgiveness" charted in its own right at number 46. That can only happen if lots of people were buying the B-side separately, presumably because they didn't realise they could click a single button to download the whole single at a discount.

"Bleeding Love" was a number one hit around Europe, so evidently she doesn't need the TV show to have a career. Simon Cowell quite obviously hopes he's found another Kelly Clarkson here, and you never know, he might be right.

Meanwhile, in America: "Big Girls Don't Cry" by Fergie (number 2 in Britain, and godawful); "Crank That" by Soulja Boy for seven weeks total (number 2 in Britain); "Stronger" by Kanye West" (we've already had it in a previous post); and "Kiss Kiss" by Chris Brown featuring T-Pain (bombed out at number 38, showing once again that second-tier hip-hop doesn't travel very well).