Expect the unexpected they always say, but I don't think anyone in the UK quite expected what we've seen this week on both singles and albums charts.
In terms of albums, the two big new releases of the week were Fallen Empires from Snow Patrol and Jukebox from JLS, with both acts trading places at the top of the midweek sales updates as the week went on. Come the weekend and the honour of being Number One for the week went to… oddly enough neither of them. In the event both were outsold by Michael Buble who climbs a place to Number One with his seasonal offering Christmas. This is his second chart-topping album in this country, following his last studio offering proper Crazy Love and which spent a solitary week at the top in the first week of 2010. The concept of an established star releasing a special collection of seasonal recordings is a uniquely American (or in this case, Canadian) one, with such releases being regarded as little more than throwaway vanity projects in Britain. Significantly then, Buble is the first artist ever to top the UK album charts with such a novelty offering.
Things get even more extraordinary when we move onto the singles chart. Against all odds, Number One for a second successive week (and a fifth in total) is We Found Love by Rihanna and Calvin Harris, all the more extraordinary when you consider the single is now seven weeks old and indeed given the competition it theoretically faced from two big new releases which instead line up below it. Five weeks at the top means We Found Love now matches Adele's Someone Like You as the longest running Number One of the year, a single which spookily also ran up the total in two bites - a fact I overlooked last week when totting up the singles which have recently had two spells at the top in the same chart run.
With Rihanna at Number One, the single which thus lines up at Number 2 isn't the one we expected either. Before I reveal what that is, we should note that the second biggest seller of the week is Flo Rida's magnificent single Good Feeling. Far and away his best single ever as far as I am concerned, much of the appeal of the track is the fact that it is based heavily around Levels by Avicii, complete with samples from Something's Got A Hold On Me by Etta James. Those paying attention will note that this is the second Avicii instrumental to be turned into a vocal hit in recent months - hard on the heels of Collide by Leona Lewis which was based on his club hit Penguin.
Good Feeling the sixth Top 3 hit of Flo Rida's career and his biggest chart single since he hit Number One with Club Can't Handle Me in tandem with David Guetta in August 2010. He also topped the UK charts twice in 2009, first with his own Right Round and then as a guest star on Alexandra Burke's 'Bad Boys'.
So what of the single which theoretically was a lock for Number One (indeed it was in the lead throughout most of the week) and which if not was surely going to be no lower than Number 2. Well it is in fact Gotta Be You, the second single from former X Factor stars One Direction [Superstar (sort of) debut klaxon! Because their debut fell during this column's brief interregnum in the autumn] and the track which was to triumphantly herald the release this week of their much anticipated debut album. The follow-up to What Makes You Beautiful, one of the fastest selling singles of the year and a smash hit Number One, can do little more than limp to Number 2, continuing a miserable period for teen-friendly pop bands in recent weeks. Maybe the choice of material is to blame, this single a rather plodding and uninspiring track which it seems not even a performance on the X Factor results show could propel to the top of the charts.
Indeed this appears to be the week when the magic of an X Factor performance simply failed to work, as not only do One Direction fail to top the charts but no less a superstar than Lady Gaga can only reach Number 18 with Marry The Night following her performance (complete with headless corpse) on live TV last week - although to be fair it has been available as the opening track on her Born This Way album since the start of the year and will be owned by most fans already.
No such excuse for two of this week's other under-performing new entries. Hard on the heels of the annual BBC Children In Need telethon on Friday, its official single - an all-star reworking of the Massive Attack track Teardrop by The Collective creeps onto the chart at Number 24, although the door is open for it to improve on this performance next week. Meanwhile having announced they are to split in the new year, the once mighty Westlife arrive at a mere Number 32 with the Gary Barlow-penned Lighthouse. Album cuts, aside, this is their lowest charting hit ever and their first official single to miss the Top 10 since their debut way back in 1999.