A brief rewind if we may, to the chart of November 20th. That week the Black Eyed Peas single The Time (Dirty Bit) entered the chart at Number 11 and I wrote at the time:
"Don't be fooled though, if there is one thing Black Eyed Peas singles have it is staying power. 'I Gotta Feeling' may be the biggest selling download in the history of the planet, but it still took a several week climb to reach Number One and indeed it seems more or less a given that this, their first brand new single in a year and a half, is set for a slightly more stellar chart career than this initial entry suggests."
Blow me if that wasn't true. Black Eyed Peas singles behave like no other tracks on the market it seems, blowing hot and cold in various degrees before finally coming to the boil, getting under the skin of the nation and becoming massive smashes. After a six week chart run, during which time it has bounced in and out of the Top 10, the first single from their latest album The Beginning gets the surge it was looking for and rockets five places to Number One. The track is thus the fifth chart-topper for the American group, their only one of 2010 following the celebrated trio of Number One hits they chalked up in 2009. Lest we forget, only two of their Number One hits actually entered the chart at the top, the last few have all traced a graceful upward arc. I Gotta Feeling reached Number One after an eight week climb whilst Meet Me Halfway hit the top after six. Next time a Black Eyed Peas record makes a nice gentle entry into the market, keep a close eye on its progress. These records are capable of some quite extraordinary things.
Now what this does mean is that what was potentially the biggest chart story and best musical talking point of the week has simply failed to materialise. Early sales flashes suggested that Whip My Hair from 10 year old Willow Smith was in strong contention to debut at Number One, something which would have made her the youngest female star ever to top the charts in this country, beating a record which has stood since the 1960s. Yet thanks to the Black Eyed Peas it simply didn't happen. Instead the single from Willow, the daughter of former Number One hitmaker in his own right Will Smith, debuts on the chart at Number 2 in manner which rather suggests it has shot its bolt and missed. Naturally the single has been a huge talking point in the weeks up to its release, the idea of an impossibly precocious superstar child belting out a novelty R&B hit is that that was hard to ignore. For all the hype though, you cannot quite escape the feeling that the record itself is something of a disappointment, its nursery rhyme chorus more annoying than addictive and the song actually nothing that we haven't heard from better more adult stars over the last couple of years. At the very least the single is planted firmly in the charts ready for the Christmas market and Willow does at the very least rank as one of the youngest solo stars ever to have a Top 10 hit. She is beaten out, naturally, by the 9 year old Little Jimmy Osmond whose 1972 hit Long Haired Lover From Liverpool was the Christmas Number One last year, someone who seems destined to remain the youngest ever chart-topping star. Willow is by no means the youngest female ever to have a chart single either, that honour seemingly forever to rest with actress Natalie Casey who at the age of 3 charted at Number 72 with Chick Chick Chicken in Christmas week 1983. Keep an eye out though, although Willow is out of the running for the Christmas Number One position next week, there is still the chance she could gain a new year second wind and finally manage the Number One that eluded her this time around. In three weeks time I could well be telling you how she has beaten Helen Shapiro's 49 year old record, or how she and Will are only the third father and daughter combination to both have Number One hits. I can wait.
Before we leave the Top 10, it seems only right to note that superstar of the moment Rihanna has for a second week running continued her domination of the chart upper reaches. With What's My Name rising to a new peak of Number 4, Only Girl (In The World) at Number 5 and the David Guetta track Who's That Chick at Number 9 she continues the remarkable feat of holding down three Top 10 hits all at once. It may take a small miracle for this to continue into next week's Christmas chart - but stranger things have happened.
Did you ever think we would see the day that a new Michael Jackson single wasn't the biggest deal ever? Even after he was dead? Well such a situation materialises this week as the previously unheard track Hold My Hand, a duet with Akon lands on the chart at a rather gentle Number 11. The track, which dates back to about 2007, is the first to be released from the forthcoming album Michael, the obligatory collection of tidied up tracks that the star was apparently working on just before he died. I say "apparently" as the recordings have attracted plenty of comment with constant mutterings from some quarters that the vocals purporting to be those of Michael Jackson are not all they seem. No matter, the person who can be heard on Hold My Hand quite clearly is co-star Akon who was originally set to release the track on one of his own albums but who now merely play second fiddle to his more illustrious late duettee. Hold My Hand is the first brand new Michael Jackson single to chart since One More Chance was a Number 5 hit in the closing weeks of 2003. I leave it open to the floor as to whether its production was in the end a worthwhile exercise.
Also new to the Top 20 is Alexandra Burke with The Silence at Number 16, her single naturally enough having been worshipped by the assembled crowd in the X Factor studio on the semi final last week. The track is her sixth chart single in all, the follow-up to the Number One hit Start Without You which charted back in September. Taken, like its predecessor, from the special edition of her album Overcome, its status so far as her smallest hit to date is perhaps a reflection on the fact that "bonus tracks" aside, it is the sixth release from a collection that is now well over a year old. Time to move on to newer stuff, and quickly.
The opportunistic Alexa Goddard was no one week wonder it seems, her quick off the mark cover of Turn My Swag On rises 26-20 this week, now just three places below the Number 17 peak of the Greg Street mash up from September.
Kylie Minogue fans have watched nervously over the last few weeks as their idol's latest single Better Than Today has struggled to appear above the horizon, despite an X Factor performance a few weeks ago. Over the past three weeks the track has bounced 40-63-32 which is progress of a kind at least. Its only prospect for adding to her huge list of smash hits is to hopefully find an audience when the new year shakeout arrives in a few weeks time. At the very least it has now beaten the Number 36 peak of her 2008 single The One to avoid the ignominy of becoming her smallest hit to date.
As Christmas fast approaches, the seasonal classics have rather slowed down this week. Biggest selling holiday hit of the moment is Coldplay's Christmas Lights which rises to Number 13, comfortably outselling All I Want For Christmas Is You (down at Number 23), and Fairytale Of New York (up a place at Number 26). Give it time though, there are still two full sales weeks before the big day itself and no less than five others are milling around the lower end of the Top 75.
As for the album chart, nothing much is happening this week with virtually all the big name releases already in the shops in preparation for the big Christmas rush. Take That naturally rule the roost still with Progress for a fourth week, that album clearly unlikely to be shifted any time soon. Curiously ascending to Number 2 this week is Michael Buble's Crazy Love, the album apparently poised to occupy the same runners up slot it did for last year's Christmas chart when it was Number 2 behind Susan Boyle's I Dreamed A Dream, nicking the Number One position off her for the final chart of the year. Is history about to repeat itself?
So, Christmas next week then - well sort of anyway, the calendar once again ensuring that sales in Christmas week itself will actually be registered in the chart unveiled on Boxing Day. For marketing purposes however, the "Christmas chart" is always the last one published before the big day itself and so will cover sales during the rest of this week. With circumstances this year dramatically different to last, the prospect of last years' chart-fiddled debacle being repeated is extremely slim, leaving the way clear for what will almost inevitably be an easy Number One for X Factor winner Matt Cardle and his single When We Collide, a re-titled remake of Biffy Clyro's single Many Of Horror from earlier this year. Nonetheless part of the fun of Christmas is always wondering "what if" and the prospect of the original version of the track making a dignified and well deserved charge up the rankings in sympathy with the X Factor cover will be something we can all watch with great pleasure. I'll be watching and waiting with interest.