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The Official New Zealand Top 40

The Official New Zealand Top 40 premieres Friday nights at 7:30pm on C4

by Paul Kennedy

Gone Gaga

Stefania Gabriella Germanotta, better known by her stage name Lady Gaga, makes a double impact on this week's charts. New in at #6 on the Albums Chart is her debut album The Fame, and on the Singles Chart Poker Face reaches #21, the follow-up to the breakthrough Just Dance.

The New York-born 22-year-old is a multimedia kind of gal, the pop star persona extending well beyond writing and performing songs. There's also the tech (see her iPod sunglasses on the cover of her album, or her weekly 'Transmission Gaga-Vision' webcasts) and the fashion (under a catch-all theme she refers to as 'Haus of Gaga').

Originally employed by Interscope Records to write tracks for The Pussycat Dolls, it was decided she should focus on a recording career of her own instead. Within a year she had a hit on her hands as Just Dance, featuring contributions by Colby O'Donis and Akon, became a runaway dancefloor hit in the US before crossing into the mainstream. Live performances at the 2008 Miss Universe pageant and then on So You Think You Can Dance TV show quickly pushed it up the iTunes rankings.

Just Dance has since gone on to be a smash hit in a handful of countries, seemingly appealing to Commonwealth sensibilities as its biggest chart successes have come in Canada and Australia, where it reached #1, and here in New Zealand where it peaked at #3 helped by strong Pop radio play.

Now the album is doing much the same - debuting at #6 here this week (and #11 across the ditch) - while Poker Face becomes her second hit single in both countries. In Australia, but the biggest may be yet to come, however, as the new season of Australia's Make Me A Supermodel kicks off with The Fame as its theme song.

The Man From Rugby

It's no wonder New Zealanders seem to like James Morrison. He was born in Rugby - the town in Warwickshire that is, not the game. Songs For You, Truths For Me is the 24-year-old's second album, following on from 2006's Undiscovered which reached #4 here, spent 26 weeks in the Top40 and spawned the #1 single You Give Me Something.

Since then he's become a father and largely been tucked away in the studio working on the new album. The first single, You Make It Real, has picked up AC and Easy Listening radio play, solidifying his reputation for the kind of soft-rock and soul ballads that go down well with older audiences (or as the UK's Daily Mirror recently described the genre, 'housewife pop').

The album also contains a couple of collaborations, one with Nelly Furtado and another with OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder. It's all a long way from his first foray into music, playing in a school band called Peppermint Slug and failing his A Level music exam.

Going back a little further even, James attributes his distinctive voice to a bout of whooping cough that nearly killed him as a baby.

The New Singles

#21 Lady Gaga - Poker Face

See story above.

#23 TI feat. Rihanna - Live Your Life

A couple of artists each with chart pedigree team up to provide this week's #23 new entry, Live Your Life. Atlanta rapper TI (real name Clifford Joseph Harris Jr) calls on Rihanna for guest vocal duties on this track from his sixth studio album, Paper Trail. A beneficiary of the digital age, it's the second single debut in a week for TI, having also entered the chart at #32 last week with Whatever You Like. That track leaps 24 places to #8 this week.

#34 The Killers – Human

The first taste of the much-anticipated new album by Las Vegas four-piece The Killers, Human enters the Singles Chart this week at #34. So far the song has generated more discussion for its lyrics than its chart success, winning Entertainment Weekly's 'silliest lyric of the week' award for the line 'Are we human or are we dancer?'. This prompted songwriter Brandon Flowers to explain on the band's website that the line is a reference to a disparaging comment made by author Hunter S. Thompson about how America was 'raising a generation of dancers'. The new album, Day & Age, is scheduled for release in the last week of November.

The New Albums:

#6 Lady Gaga - The Fame

See story above.

#26 James Morrison - Songs For You, Truths For Me

See story above.

#28 Trivium - Shogun

Florida metalers Trivium make their second appearance on the New Zealand Albums Chart, in at #28 this week with Shogun, three places better than the #31 peak of 2006's The Crusade. Signed to Roadrunner Records, the band has been around since 2000 and recorded four studio albums. Somewhat ironically, Shogun was recorded in the home of country music, Nashville Tennessee. Its production however, is true to heavy metal roots, being overseen by Nick Raskulinecz. Raskulinecz has produced albums for just about every American metal band in the book and achieved crossover commercial success with the Foo Fighters, Marilyn Manson and Velvet Revolver.

#30 Kid Rock - Rock N Roll Jesus

Former Mr Pamela Anderson, Kid Rock is making something of a 'comeback' with Rock N Roll Jesus, particularly thanks to a hit single in the form of All Summer Long. Until hitting the charts again this year it had been seven years since Cocky graced the New Zealand Albums Chart in 2001 and even longer since he first achieved success with the 1998/99 hits Cowboy and Bawitdaba. Most recently he's been in the news for his boycott of iTunes over the Apple giant's pricing structure, only recently relenting and allowing Rock N Roll Jesus to go on sale there.

#32 Various - Outrageous Fortune: Repeat Offenders

An all-Kiwi collection of songs from the soundtrack to the current season of the award-winning Outrageous Fortune, the collection has big shoes to fill if it’s to match the showing of its predecessor. The Westside Rules album hit #1 for a week back in November 2007 and became one of the year’s biggest sellers as a Christmas stocking stuffer.

#39 Thievery Corporation - Radio Retaliation

Washington DC dub duo Thievery Corporation have made the New Zealand Albums Chart twice before, most notably with the Top10 showing of The Richest Man In Babylon back in 2002. They followed that with in 2005 with #24 The Cosmic Game and now complete the triangle with Radio Retaliation.


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