While the download market continues to grow, the physical singles market descended to a new low last week, slipping a further 6% to just 265,042 units, writes Alan Jones.
It's the lowest figure since former chart compilers BMRB introduced quantifiable sales data to industry reports in 1969, and occurs even though there are six new entries in Top 10, something which would usually buoy sales.
Leading the way, with first week sales of 21,262, Elvis Presley's Jailhouse Rock debuts at number one, almost 47 years after it made its first chart appearance, and more than 27 years after Presley's death. While it is the oldest recording ever to top the chart, its first week sales are lower than the previous lowest for a number one debut - the 23,706 copies that Ja Rule's Wonderful sold to enter at the summit last 6 November, and the all-time low number one tally of 21,749 sales Eric Prydz's Call On Me registered the previous week, when on its fifth and last week at the top.
The first single ever to enter the chart at number one (in January 1958) Jailhouse Rock is also the latest. The chart's 67th number one returns to the summit as the 999th number one. It was Presley's second number one, and is now his 19th number one, topping the chart a day after what would have been his 70th birthday. It extends his span of number one hits to a phenomenal, unmatched 47.5 years.
Jailhouse Rock is part of BMG's campaign to mark Presley's 70th birthday - which would have taken place last Saturday (8th). All of his 18 number ones will be reissued on CD and 10-inch at the rate of one a week until the end of April - except for last week when, as well as Jailhouse Rock, the company also released All Shook Up. However, the fact that the latter single included special packaging in which the remainder of the singles in the series can be stored rendered it ineligible for the chart. It actually sold 17,624 copies - 12,362 on CD and 5,262 on 10-inch - and would have edged Steve Brookstein's Against All Odds into third place in the chart, had it been allowed in.
Instead, another oldie takes third place on the chart - Iron Maiden's The Number of The Beast. Reissued to celebrate the heavy metal legends' 25th anniversary as a chart force, The Number of The Beast - originally a number 18 hit, and the title track of their chart-topping 1982 album - sold 14,279 copies last week, mostly on 7-inch and 12-inch vinyl. It's the group's 15th Top 10 hit, and their highest charting single since Be Quick Or Be Dead reached number two in 1992.
Another long-established act, Erasure, also take advantage of a weak post-Christmas market to register their highest charting single for 10 years with Breathe, the introductory single from the upcoming Nightbird album.
Breathe is their 30th Top 40 hit since their 1986 debut. Oddly enough, the chart was nearly 40 years old before the first hit called Breathe charted in 1991, but since then there have been different hits of that name for Maria McKee, Midge Ure, the Prodigy, Kylie Minogue, Blue Amazon, Faith Hill, Science Department, Telepopmusik, Blu Cantrell and Fabolous, as well as Erasure.
As well as veterans, there is one first timer making her Top 10 debut this week - Dana Rayne, with Object Of My Desire.
Rayne was just four years old when Starpoint took Object Of My Desire to number 25 on Billboard's US Hot 100 in 1986, but the song serves as the dance diva from Long Island's first single, and debuts this week at number seven. A major club hit it has, however, yet to enter the Top 200 of the radio airplay chart - but its animated video has proved to be popular on The Box, MTV Dance, KISS TV and more. It's success is good news for the Incentive imprint, last in the Top 10 with Matt Darey's Beautiful nearly three years ago.
Meanwhile, last week was another good one for the Scissor Sisters. Having pipped Keane at the post to become the biggest selling album of 2004, their self-titled debut album climbs back to the top of the weekly chart, selling a further 38,174 copies. It previously spent two weeks at number one last July.
The album also spins off its fifth and highest charting single this week, with Filthy/Gorgeous debuting at number five - though its first week sales of 9,054 aren't the best for a single by the group. Introductory hit Comfortably Numb - released a year ago - peaked at number 10, with first week sales of 10,065. Subsequent singles Take Your Mama, Laura and Mary debuted/peaked at 17, 12 and 14 respectively, with first week sales of 7,790, 9,762 and 7,009.
American groups fill the top four places on the album chart this week, shutting out homegrown talent. Amongst them is The Killers' Hot Fuss - which debuted at number six last June - and reached a new peak of five last week. It now progresses to number two, thanks to increasing airplay for introductory single Somebody Told Me, which is about to be re-released. The Killers' album sold 32,234 copies last week, to take its cume to 437,583 sales and also powers to a new peak in America, where it moves 51-24 and increases its 29 week sales tally to 812,827.
Also in resurgent mode, Franz Ferdinand's self-titled debut album has turned around dramatically since dipping out of the Top 40 for the first time in December. Moving 43-41-35-10-5, the album is now just two places off the number three peak position in which it made its debut last February, and has thus far sold 801,274 copies.