CHART OF DARKNESS: Welcome, then, to National Irony In Music Week. We thought the wells had run dry of late, what with Leo Sayer, that Sunblock record (they're talking about a follow-up! What with?) and that beyond comedy overreaction news that John Barnes is going to appear on Christian O'Connell's World Cup record, but on Saturday someone who used to be in Bus Stop and was half responsible for that Rikki & Daz Rhinestone Cowboy cover of a couple of years back became our Eurovision entry - to be fair, it can't do much worse than the fourth grade identikit dancepop the UK has sent to die for the last few years - and now sodding Chico has a number one single. One day we'll look back and laugh, which makes it all the more galling that we're having to live through it first. Yet somehow even that ire is not enough for the other top ten new entries (apart from Shakira, who is beyond categorisation), namely the played out gag of the Pussycat Dolls with a played out gag centring on bleep effects featuring the once politically motivated Will I Am, Orson's attempt to take what The Darkness do and extend it, and The Feeling. Their press release describe them thus: "The Feeling are the new gods of cool M.O.R. Five twentysomethings from Sussex and London, they have come to make easy-listening hip. It's time to get out your Guilty Pleasures and rejoice! The Feeling are rehabilitating soft-rock." Right, so not only do they rejoice in being unoriginal, but they pleasure in invoking the horrible idea of Guilty Pleasures, that nebulous concept based on the idea that anyone is at all ashamed of liking music and driven by someone whose career was previously based on being Noel Gallagher's mate, which is now so widespread there are more than likely people who bought the Arctic Monkeys album as a 'guilty pleasure' to file alongside 10cc and Pilot. Guilty Pleasures is a term only invoked by people in theme pubs talking about 'cheese' as if their life depends on it or by those who genuinely believe in musical 'integrity'. And you know what the ultimate irony is? Sewn sounds like Kubb. Or Thirteen Senses. Or quite a bit of the last Athlete album. Or quite a few bands who, because they don't go "ooh, Breakfast In America, I've got that on vinyl!" in every interview, get proper write-ups without irony being hinted at.
Sod Ellis-Bextor, the drummer's going out with Sinead Quinn off Fame Academy. Now there's something.
Oh, yeah, charts. The attempt to make anyone care about DualDiscs fails again as Michael Jackson's Rock With You peaks at 15, the Freemasons somehow make the top 20 without anyone having heard it, Graham Coxon, the Rakes and Mystery Jets form the usual mid-40 guitar cluster, Jack Johnson slips in at 28 and hurrah for the Young Knives' chart debut at 36, while Love Bites go the Noise Next Door route at 48 and for who knows what reason Blue Monday sneaks in at 73. Wonder if they're still losing money on it. Corinne Bailey Rae, not yet called the British Macy Gray but give it time, tops the albums with Simon Webbe climbing into the top ten as if by stealth, or at least Stealth Bomber. That's not quite as bemusing, however, as how unheralded Ne-Yo has bucked the rap debut album trend and got to 14, or what Whitney Houston's Greatest Hits is doing at 58. Ahead of Friday Hill!
FREE MUSIC: It looks like Tapes'n Tapes are about to take off from their Minnesota hub and go as global as music that sounds like a less warbly Conor Oberst singing with Wolf Parade in the Pixies' collective garden can. Insistor demonstrates that big crossover potential, and yes, they're on MySpace.
HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: Dragonflies Draw Flame, Derby romantics invoking Seafood - where they now, by the way? - at their most folky crossover point, Bloc Party at their most morose, Idlewild's recent Americana swerve but with their old pedals reinstated and the listenable end of emo. When, and we mean when, they get signed and get a studio budget they could go on to be something quietly special.
VISUAL REPRESENTATION: "It just so happens that Johnny's bought his guitar!" We've covered 'Paul Moressey' and Marr on Datarun before, but we're glad to see, no matter how slightly dodgy the worn out VHS copy is, that their later role on shortlived TV-AM kids' service S.P.L.A.T.! has shown up online. Here's Mozza and Marr on Charlie's Bus, complete with the very embodiment of day-glo in theme song, eventually joined by, just to confuse the cast of kids even further, Sandie Shaw for an acoustic performance of Jeane. Watch for a noticeably chipper Stephen delivering the best side look to camera you'll see for many a day.
EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: We've had this on our list for ages so long that you probably knew about them by osmosis anyway, but so what, they're great - DFA radio mixes from 2005.
IN OTHER NEWS: They say the era of the big name DJ is coming to an end, and the desperation for those behind the once virtuous decks to get noticed is no more demonstrably apparent than by a look at SheJay's top 100 female DJs poll results. DJ Rap is number one, apparently a much respected name in what's left of drum'n'bass but one you may better recall from an attempt in 1999 to hop on the Ray Of Light bandwagon with limited success. There's a few other recognisable names -Miss Kittin, Anne Savage, Ellen Allien, Lottie, Sister Bliss, Annie Mac, even good old Annie Nightingale - but the picture chosen to represent Lisa Lashes ("a stunning combination of personality, good looks and cool clothing", as she's promoted foremost on her booking agency's website - er, aren't you missing something?) at 2 is perhaps indicative of something wider in the scene. If b3ta are passing by this way, may we suggest a which-is-which game in which a decent proportion of pictures from this page are mixed up with pictures from Suicide Girls?