Despite strong competition from a, shall we say, expected unexpected source, Akon's Lonely stands proudly at the top of the charts for a second week at Number One. The single is thus only the second track this year to spend more than a week at the top of the chart but perhaps more interestingly the first rap single to hang on at the summit for more than seven days since Fatman Scoop's Be Faithful had a two week run back in November 2003. [OK, there you go me, Lonely is in no sense of the word a rap single. Hip-hop yes. Not rap. Unless you count his monologue at the start].
Challenging for the top this week is a record which makes an impressive 18 place leap up the charts and which has been the embodiment of the changes that have come about as a result of the new chart methodology introduced five weeks ago. Gorillaz' Feel Good Inc has spent the past month on the chart hovering on the cusp of the Top 20 as a result of almost 100% of its sales being online. Until now its chart eligibility has hinged on a limited edition 7-inch release of just a few hundred copies, effectively ensuring it charted as a download-only single despite the presence of rules that are supposed to prevent this. Finally, however, the single was released on CD and DVD and with its parent album still a couple of weeks away from release, Feel Good Inc benefits from this new presence in the shops and vaults up the chart to a position which perhaps more adequately reflects its overall popularity. In the process it winds up as the highest charting Gorillaz single to date, beating the Number 4 peak scaled by their first chart single Clint Eastwood back in 2001. This isn't the first time Hewlett et al have used cute marketing tricks to promote themselves as back in 2000 when the first Gorillaz album was being mooted they released the track Tomorrow Comes Today as a very limited edition, the result being a single that everyone raved about but which you could not get hold of for love nor money. As a result anticipation for the album and the first single proper had reached fever pitch by the time they arrived in the shops in March 2001. Back to the present though and Feel Good Inc has demonstrated that whilst the day will surely come when a single can sell more online than it does in the shops, for the moment it still takes the availability of a small shiny disc to turn a mid-table hit into a smash.
All of this means that just for once the biggest new single of the week is actually little more than a footnote in the tale of the chart. Sliding in at Number 4 is Hate It Or Love It, the second single from The Game who once again enlists the help of main man 50 Cent for that little extra help. The follow-up to February's How We Do, it becomes his biggest hit so far and ensures that Fiddy can claim his third Top 10 single of the year, his own Candy Shop only this week dropping out of the Top 20 after a chart run that saw it also peak at Number 4. With De La Soul taking lead vocals on the Gorillaz track it means that four out of the Top 5 singles this week are hip-hop tracks, and the continuing presence of Eminem and Will Smith is enough to give the genre a 70% sweep of the Top 10. Have we turned into America all of a sudden?
Next up at Number 6 are The Coral, making a triumphant chart return after a year and a half and ready to promote their third album, the follow-up to 2003s Magic And Medicine. The first single is In The Morning which dutifully charges into the chart to give them their third Top 10 single and their biggest hit since 'Pass it On' hit Number 5 in July 2003. Like so many releases In The Morning has actually been available online for the past month, hovering around the Top 20 of the download chart all this time, the release of the CD single finally pushing it into the full official sales chart.
The chart career of Kelly Osbourne continues to cause furrowed brows all around. Ozzy's daughter made her chart debut in 2002 with a by the numbers cover version of Madonna's Papa Don't Preach. Although it made Number 3 rumours were that it was destined to be little more than a one-off until mother Sharon brow-beat the record company into releasing a follow-up, Shut Up, the title of her debut solo album making Number 12 early in 2003. Her only other hit to date was at the very least a Number One, her duet with her father on a reworking of Black Sabbath's Changes spending a memorable week at the top in December of that same year. Now in 2005 and with the Osbournes TV series finally finishing it seems people are determined to turn her into a recording star - and on this occasion in quite bizarre fashion. For a start, there is the futuristic-looking sleeve to the single One Word which has attracted much derision for the way her natural pudginess has been airbrushed out to turn her into a size 10 model. Then there is the single itself, a world away from the plastic punk of her first album but one which instead rides the wave of electropop revivalism - in itself not a bad idea but One Word features such a wholesale lift of the melody of Visage's new romantic classic Fade To Grey that Steve Strange's lawyers must be rubbing their hands with glee [and that is indeed what they did, successfully suing for a share of the songwriting royalties]. Let us not overlook the way that this most unlikely of pop stars has landed herself yet another Top 10 hit, but the fact that that most comment about the song is either about the risible cover or what appears to be the blatant theft of someone else's song suggests that this won't go down as one of the greatest hits of the year.
The evergreen Cliff Richard proves once more than age and a lack of airplay is no barrier to him clocking up hits, What Car charting smartly at Number 12 as the follow-up to his Christmas hit I Cannot Give You My Love. The new single sees the veteran entertainer once again grasping at the fringes of credibility with a thundering country rock track that I suspect would have raced up the charts in 1999 but which in 2005 stands in sharp relief to everything else around it. With this being his fourth straight Top 20 single Cliff is actually on his best chart run since 1990.
Once step below Cliff is the outspoken KT Tunstall who follows up her March single Black Horse And The Cherry Tree with her best chart performance to date, Other Side Of The World giving her a first ever Top 20 hit single. Musically it is more Radio 2 than anything else, but it is as ever a welcome sight to see singers positively oozing with talent getting their due reward in the singles chart.
Rounding off the Top 20 are the Doves, Snowden their second hit single of the year following on from Black And White Town which hit Number 6 back in February. Whilst it is a shame they were not able to manage a second successive Top 10 hit single this is at least the first time they have managed back to back Top 20 hits.
Amongst the also-rans at the lower end of the chart we can spare a thought for Ludacris. Whilst his musical contemporaries dominate matters at the top end, his latest single Number One Spot belies its title by limping in at Number 30. Ironically it is his first Top 40 appearance since having a starring role on Usher's Yeah which was indeed a Number One.