Monday, June 15, 2009

Number 1s of 2009: 14 June 2009

Just one week for the Black Eyed Peas' comeback, thankfully.

Pixie Lott, "Mama Do (Uh Oh, Uh Oh)"

Eighteen-year-old Pixie Lott is a stage school kid from Kent, and is something of a project for Mercury Records, who have been working very hard to hype her up as the next big thing. Her real name is Victoria, but evidently "Pixie" has been deemed more memorable. Which it is, but it also makes her sound like some sort of cloyingly irritating child-woman. Perhaps that's what they were going for. I don't know.

She's been drifting around major record labels in development for a couple of years now, and frankly, much of the hype for her only served to make me mentally file her under "Irritating" before I'd actually heard any of her music. This is her first single.

But what does she sound like?

Well, she sounds like Duffy. More or less.

All that said... this record is growing on me. She does have a good voice, and if we're going to have a bunch of Duffy-type acts... well, that's not an unappealing prospect, really. It's got a good hook, it's got a strong chorus, it's a decently crafted song. I can't ever shake the feeling that it's been consciously built to a commercial formula, but at least it's been built well, and at least the formula is a good one.

The hype has evidently paid off, and the demand for this sort of music evidently remains underserved, as the record goes straight to number one. There was a time when entering at number one with your first chart single put you in a rarefied company. Not counting Al Martino, who was number one on the very first chart back in 1952, it took 42 years before anyone managed to start their chart career by going straight in at number one. (Band Aid don't count, because everyone on that record had had a hit single already.) Unfortunately, this was the record in question:

Since then, the rise of pre-release hype, the increasing numbers of one-off dance hits, and the convention of talent show winners releasing a coronation single have made it relatively commonplace for artists to begin their career with a new entry at number 1. The full list makes rather uninspiring reading. Yes, there's the Arctic Monkeys, Gnarls Barkley, S Club 7, Daniel Bedingfield, Britney Spears and the Ting Tings... but there's also a lot of stuff like this.

"Gym and Tonic" by Spacedust, which has the curious distinction of being the lowest-selling number 1 of 1998 (it didn't even make the year-end top 100). You can't get too worked up about being on a list with them, I think.

Curiously, Pixie Lott is listed twice on this week's chart, despite only having released one single. She's also at number 52 with "Use Somebody", a Kings of Leon cover. It's the B-side, but apparently people are downloading it as a stand-alone track. This is very odd, since it's cheaper to buy both tracks together (which, under chart rules, would register as a sale of the "Mama Do" single). Either "Use Somebody" is picking up sales in its own right from people who aren't interested in the A-side or, perhaps more plausibly, people are buying the A-side and then coming back later to buy the B-side.