Large sales, in every sense of the word, means that just for a change there is a sense of entrenchment at the top of both the official singles and albums charts this week, and in a manner which suggests very little is likely to change until we reach Christmas itself. Indeed this is actually the first time in five months that there has not been a changing of the guard on either of the two chart countdowns.
On the album chart it is Susan Boyle yet again who grabs all the headlines, selling another 300,000 copies of I Dreamed A Dream to take its cumulative sale to almost three quarters of a million copies. It is enough to ensure the album is now the third biggest seller of 2009, well on course to top a million sales by the end of the month and in the process soaring past Kings Of Leon's Only By The Night as the biggest seller of the year.
SuBo's continuing dominance means that the two big album releases of the week are reduced to mere footnotes. Westlife arrive at Number 2 with Where We Are whilst just behind at Number 3 are Take That with The Greatest Day - The Circus Live.
It is a similar story on singles chart with The Official BBC Children In Need Medley showing little signs of relinquishing control of the Number One position and giving Peter Kay's Animated All Star Band a second week at the top with yet another six figure sale - the single selling almost double its nearest chart competitor. Last week I suggested that the single marked the first time Peter Kay had received a chart credit for a Number One single that he actually sang on, and whilst that is technically still true, it should be pointed out that he also hit Number One in character as Brian Potter on the Comic Relief remake of (I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles back in 2007. To further muddy the waters Kay is once again playing a TV character on the CIN Medley record yet is credited under his own name.
The "animated all star band" write themselves into chart history in another way by becoming the latest in only a small handful of animated or puppet stars to reach Number One. They thus follow in the footsteps of The Archies (Sugar Sugar, 1969), Spitting Image (The Chicken Song, 1986), The Simpsons (Do The Bartman, 1991), Mr Blobby (Mr Blobby, 1993), The Teletubbies (Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh, 1997) and Chef (Chocolate Salty Balls, 1998) and Gorillaz (Dare, 2005). Insert here your own joke about all the X Factor winners counting for this list too as they are all technically puppets of Simon Cowell.
Speaking of X Factor (and you knew it was coming), the TV show may have lost its vice-like grip on the Number One position and the You Are Not Alone charity single may well have tumbled 2-5 this week, but it still manages to have a powerful effect on the chart prospects of the two results show performers from the quarter-final week. First of these was Rihanna who duly charges 6-2 with Russian Roulette to grab what looks destined to be the fifth Number 2 hit of her career. Although best known for her uptempo pop tracks, the brooding balladry of Russian Roulette is less of a departure for her than it may first appear, being very similar in tone to her 2006 single Unfaithful which also peaked at Number 2.
Also appearing on X Factor last week was Alicia Keys, and although her decision to romp through a compressed medley of hits rather than perform her new single on its own raised a few eyebrows, the performance means she can point to a fair sprinkling of chart successes in its wake. First and foremost is the new single itself Doesn't Mean Anything, buried anonymously in the middle of her TV medley but which still debuts at Number 8 as the highest new entry of the week. It charts hard on the heels of the Jay-Z track Empire State Of Mind on which she featured and which became a surprise spontaneous Number 2 hit back in October. Having fallen as far as Number 22 last week, that single also receives a sales boost and rockets back up to Number 11 in its best chart performance for four weeks. Alicia Keys also sees 2007 hit single No One return to the chart after it too featured as part of the hits medley. The single lands at Number 51 in what is actually its second chart run of 2009 after it charted briefly back in May, although this week it commands its highest chart placing since April 2008.
Also new to the Top 10 is Morning After Dark which lands at Number 9 to give Timbaland his first chart single as lead artist since 2008. The single is the first to be taken from his forthcoming new album Shock Value II which as the title suggests is the follow-up to the smash 2007 collection Shock Value which spawned no less than two Number One hits in the shape of Give It To Me and The Way I Are. Although the new album is set to feature collaborations with artists as diverse as Chad Kroeger and Miley Cyrus, the guest star on the lead single is a favourite muse of old with Nelly Furtado performing lead vocals just as she did on Give It To Me two and a half years ago. It means Furtado is set to round off 2009 the way she began it, as the guest star on a major chart hit. Her last Top 10 appearance was her duet with James Morrison on Broken Strings, a track which hit Number 2 in early January and which to date has sold over half a million copies, with over 400,000 of those coming in 2009 to place it as the 13th biggest seller of the year so far.
Speaking of the year to date rankings incidentally, I Gotta Feeling from the Black Eyed Peas last week eased past the three quarters of a million mark to move into second place for the year, thus apparently denying Lady Gaga the chance to be both 1 and 2 for the year. Poker Face remains the years biggest seller by some margin with about 850,000 copies to its name and it is looking increasingly likely that only the winning song from next weekend's X Factor champion has any chance of overtaking it.
In the absence of any other big new product (this week something of a chart interregnum being as it is just two weeks before the Christmas chart) it is left to some of the stragglers of previous weeks to inch their way up the sales rankings. Thus on the climb are Pixie Lott with Cry Me Out (16-12), Baby By Me by 50 Cent and Ne-Yo (25-18) and Sweet Child O' Mine from Taken By Trees which is slowly but surely gaining ground with a 33-23 climb.
A more impressive jump is reserved for Look For Me from Chipmunk featuring Talay Riley which vaults 36-19. Being as it is the fourth single (or fifth if you count 2008 release Beast) from Chipmunk's album you can understand its slow progress so far, although this chart run is still whilst the track is technically just an album cut, full promotion for the single not due to kick in until just after Christmas which makes me suspect it is neatly poised to make a strong chart showing during the post-holiday clearout.
Speaking of album tracks prematurely arriving as singles, 3 Words from Cheryl Cole and will.i.am is set to appear online as a digital bundle in a couple of weeks and with its video now starting to receive TV airplay it is taking off in sales once more. Having charted at Number 26 as an album cut in early November, the single had fallen back as far as Number 43 a couple of weeks ago but has now reversed that decline and this week ascends to Number 25 to land its highest chart placing to date. Needless to say as the exposure of the track grows another massive Top 10 hit is almost guaranteed, this whilst its predecessor Fight For This Love still clings on to a Top 10 place, slipping 2 to Number 10 this week.
Also new to the Top 40 is Kings And Queens which gives 30 Seconds To Mars their third Top 40 hit in this country. Notoriously featuring actor Jared Leto as lead singer, the American rock group have only had sporadic chart success in this country to date, their last chart appearance coming in February 2008 with the minor Top 40 hit From Yesterday. The new single is taken from their forthcoming third album This Is War, its release delayed somewhat by a protracted legal battle with Virgin Records following their apparent attempt to walk away from their record deal. With everyone having kissed and made up, the new single creeps into the Top 30 and joins 2007 release The Kill (Rebirth) as their biggest chart hit to date, both tracks having reached Number 28.
Finally for this week the Christmas singles now make their first inroads into the Top 40 this year. The arrival of All I Want For Christmas Is You at Number 29 is doubly entertaining as it coincides with Mariah Carey's current single I Want To Know What Love Is tumbling 19-45 to confirm it as a rather colossal flop. When your new song is being effortlessly outsold by a record you made 15 years ago you really do have to wonder what the point of it all is. Also on a seasonal tip are Fairytale Of New York now at Number 31, Last Christmas at 53, Merry Xmas Everybody at 54, Merry Christmas Everyone at 59, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday at 60 and Do They Know It's Christmas at 65.
Meanwhile the bookmakers' odds for "Christmas Number One not counting the X Factor winner" remain as chaotic as ever. Susan Boyle was favourite for a long time, although the underwhelming performance of her single compared to her album sales have exposed that for the folly that it was. Newly installed as favourite to be Christmas Number 2 are bizarrely Rage Against The Machine, this thanks to an online campaign to force their 1993 single Killing In The Name into the charts as a thrash metal antidote to X Factor plastic. Ordinarily I'd be sceptical of any chances of it succeeding, but for the way the Jeff Buckley version of Hallelujah stormed the sales chart in tandem with Alexandra Burke's version a year ago. Stranger things have happened, and I confess I'd rather see that than the X Factor winner competing with Miley Cyrus' own version of The Climb which is set, we are told, to be the song performed by the ultimate winner of the show next week. [Yes, I did really say that. "I'd rather see it...". That's an opinion which will change over the next fortnight].