Monday, May 25, 2009

Number 1s of 2009: May 24

As expected, the Black Eyed Peas only lasted a week with the inexplicably popular "Boom Boom Pow." It's still at number two, and doubtless it'll be clogging up the top 10 for a while, but at least it's on its way down.

For once, the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest makes a creditable showing on the chart. Until recently, of course, you couldn't actually buy the Eurovision songs whether you liked them or not. But these days, everything's available on iTunes, if only as part of the official Eurovision soundtrack album. This usually means a couple of acts scrape the bottom end of the top 75. This year, Alexander Rybak's "Fairytale" made it all the way to number 10. His record company can't have been expecting this, or they'd have made a proper video to promote the single. This is the official one - it seems to be just footage from the Norwegian heats.

Sales tailed off over the week after a strong start, so it's unlikely to go much further, but you never know. He certainly has the satisfaction of crushing the UK's entry, "It's My Time" by Jade Ewen, which reached number 27.

But the new number one is Dizzee Rascal and Armand van Helden, "Bonkers." Normally I'd link to the official version of the video on YouTube or DailyMotion, but there doesn't seem to be one. (Not that it's hard to find unofficial copies.) But it's on MTV UK's website, so I guess they'll have to do.

This is the third straight rap number one, if you care about such things. But that's really just a coincidence. It's Dizzee Rascal's second number one, following last year's "Dance Wiv Me." When he started, he used to specialise in lo-fi tales of depressing misery. Obviously you can't really keep doing that after years of conspicuous success, but it's pretty clear that he's chosen to go in a much more commercial direction. Of course, "much more commercial" is still decidedly wonky and lopsided by the standards of most artists. Still, it's one of the fastest selling singles of the year, and likely to stay at the top for a while.

The artist credit is shared with American producer Armand van Helden, who's been around for almost twenty years now. As near as I can make out, he's never been much of a presence on the American charts. But then they insist on taking airplay into account, which is a recipe for blandness if ever I saw one. He's not exactly a fixture in the UK charts either, but his singles reach the Top 40 often enough for him to be a well-recognised dance music veteran. They range from fairly typical floor-fillers to slightly more eccentric stuff like this.

Technically this is his second number one hit. The first was "U Don't Know Me", for a week back in February 1999.

I remember finding it rather boring when it came out, but it's aged pretty well, a decade down the line.

Really, though, van Helden ought to be credited with a third number one, a 1996 record which sampled a couple of lines from somebody else's record and for legal reasons gets credited as a remix. It was, admittedly, a time when many remixes bore little resemblance to the original record - the Aphex Twin once claimed that he had forgotten to remix a Lemonheads single but got away with handing in an old demo tape instead. Still, most people would agree that whatever this is, it's not really "Professional Widow" by Tori Amos.

(And yes, that's the oficial video. It was nailed together from old clips, and the record still managed a week at number one.)