Just to be awkward this week, we really need to start with the Number 2 single as the biggest chart story of the past seven days has of course been the demise of the Gnarls Barkley track Crazy. In the light of the decision to delete the single, all eyes were on whether history would repeat itself, based on what happened to the last track to be deleted whilst at the top of the charts - Wet Wet Wet's Love Is All Around. I actually misremembered the events of September 1994 last week for whilst the announcement that the track was to be deleted did indeed cause sales of the track to soar, it was still not enough to prevent Whigfield's Saturday Night from storming to the top of the chart with what actually turned out to be the highest one week sale for a decade.
In a sense then, history did repeat itself as the now deleted Crazy dips a place after a phenomenal nine week run at the top. The news of its withdrawal did not, however, result in a surge of sales. In fact, by and large, they remained at the same level as the previous seven days. This was, however, all that Sandi Thom needed to take advantage and the result was a one place climb for I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker to give the female singer songwriter a Number One hit with her very first release.
Funnily enough most of the headlines about Sandi Thom last week have been slightly more cynical ones, with many writers starting to wonder if her rise from nowhere wasn't quite all it seemed. As I mentioned last time, the figures being bandied about relating to the supposed audience for her webcam shows seemed a little far fetched and the suspicion is rapidly growing that her signing was more a result of a well-orchestrated PR campaign than a genuine swell of Internet-based grassroots support. Hey go figure, the end result is the same. A new star is most definitely born, so long as the rest of her material can live up the hype. More cheering I guess is the fact that Punk Rocker is now the fourth single this year to climb to the top of the chart from the lower reaches rather than charge straight in unannounced.
I guess we can start to view any number of the new Top 10 arrivals of the week as potential Number One hits from now on. The biggest "new" release of the week is Keane's Is It Any Wonder which flies 15-3 following the boost of a physical release. The track is the first single to be taken from their much anticipated second album, the follow-up to 2004's Hopes And Fears. The single hints at a slight development of their sound with a greater hint of guitar than was present on many of their earlier singles. Needless to say the single charts with ease, matching the Number 3 peak of Somewhere Only We Know with which they opened their career two years ago. Nothing inspires the same range of emotions as Tom Chaplin's voice of course. Do you feel the urge to give him a hug or just punch him in the face for being so annoying?
Also taking a flying leap into the Top 10 is Pink with Who Knew, the swift follow-up to Stupid Girls which made the Top 5 back in April. Like its predecessor it is taken from the I'm Not Dead album and with ease gives her a 10th UK Top 10 hit. Perhaps more surprisingly it is the first time in her career to date that she has managed back to back Top 5 hits.
For the Number 6 single I'm inclined to hark back to the 1960s when the legendary (and groundbreaking) TV satire show That Was The Week That Was ran a caustic sketch knocking the work of producer Norrie Paramour, the man who in their words "takes all the messy unpredictability out of pop music", pouring scorn on the rather twee nature of all the records under his watch. Still, he knew what he was doing and the 27 Number One tracks he produced in his lifetime put him to this day only second to the great George Martin on the list of all time successful producers.
I mention it because you could quite easily apply the same label to impresario Louis Walsh who thanks to his choice of material for the likes of Boyzone, Westlife and Ronan Keating has managed to clog up the charts with housewife friendly MOR country for the best part of a decade. Hence it is with a sense of dread that we greet the new Ronan Keating single which this week crashes in at Number 6. Yes that's right, his first single in 18 months is indeed a pretty but a rather dreary ballad, this time All Over Again, a duet with folk singer Kate Rusby who has tickled the album charts in the past but who this week is introduced to the singles buying crowd for the very first time. You can't knock Ronan for consistency, this is after all his 14th straight Top 10 single since going solo in 1999, but it has been a long long time since he has released anything resembling a credible pop single instead of a twee little love song that makes you want to gnaw your own arm off. There is clearly a market for this, even if it is restricted to the ageing Boyzone fans who sit and write erotic fiction about their idol on his website. Louis Walsh has a lot to answer for, but for the fact he let Girls Aloud loose with Xenomania and allowed the magic to happen.
The biggest chart climb of the week is the 37-7 leap made by the long overdue new singles release from master club producer Paul Oakenfold. Absent from the charts as a performer for three years, he returns with a bang thanks to the sparkling Faster Kill Pussycat, taken from his A Lively Mind album which came out last month. In an unusual twist the guest singer on the track is actress Brittany Murphy who actually began her career in musical theatre as a child and who as a result has rather better singing credentials than your average Hollywood eye candy. Chalk this up as a worthy hit single and a sign that things aren't all bad on the club scene.
The mass clear out in the Top 10 is rounded off by a massive new entry at Number 8 for Nelly Furtado whose new single Maneater hits the upper reaches on downloads alone. Taken from her forthcoming new album, the single marks the latest stage in the development of an artist who has never been one to rest on her laurels and who explores new musical avenues with every new release. Maneater (no relation to the Hall and Oates classic) sees her take a more raw, hip-hop oriented direction in complete contrast to just about everything she has released in the past. The result is her first Top 10 single since Turn Off The Light back in September 2001. That single reached Number 4 and is her biggest hit to date - fool on you if you expect that record to last next week when the physical single arrives to give a boost to her chart position.
Now for this week's edition of stating the obvious. The World Cup starts this week. Once upon a time, back when it was all fields, the only connection major football tournaments had with the charts was a possible sing-along track from the national squad. Nowadays things are a little different, for the World Cup (and to a lesser extent the European championships) is an excuse for every man and woman with a tune in their head to pick up a pencil and pen a football song. So brace yourselves over the next few weeks for what is set to be an unprecedented invasion of good and bad football records.
Two of them have beaten the rush and arrived already. Most surprisingly the biggest so far is Tony Christie's opportunistic reworking of his most famous hit, the Number 11 single of the week being Is This The Way To (The World Cup) in which the beloved singer takes the fragile petals of the track that sold a million two years ago and revived his career in the process and crushes them with nothing less than the bloody great shoehorn used to cram lyrics relating to Germany and the England team into the song. Proving that nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the British public, the single has shot into the charts.
There's worse to come though. At Number 19 is ageing comic Stan Boardman with his own three and a half minutes of tongue in cheek xenophobia. The curly haired scouser made his name in the 1970s with routines crammed with jokes centred around German bombers and their incompetence. Absent from TV for many years now, he still continues to ply his trade in the clubs and with the World Cup taking place in his favourite country it was clearly too good an opportunity to miss. To the bemusement of many, Stan's World Cup Song (subtitle "Germans bombed our chippy") becomes a Top 20 hit single and for this, I cannot apologise enough.
A quick look down the lower end of the chart contains a hint of what is to come next week. Embrace's official England anthem World At Your Feet is already listed at Number 38 on downloads alone, whilst digital sales have also propelled tracks from Young Stanley, Crazy Frog and even golden oldies from Baddiel and Skinner and Dario G into the Top 75. Next week football is set to take a back seat to just about everything in this country - the singles chart included.
By the looks of things my predictions that the final Michael Jackson re-releases will miss the Top 40 altogether are set to be realised. In chronological terms we have reached 1995 in his career, the year he attempted to put the first set of child abuse allegations behind him with an ambitious double album HIStory which was part Hits collection and part new album. The first single taken from the album was Scream which was notable not only for being a duet with sister Janet but also for its lavish video which had a budget that would put many feature films to shame. It is also notable for not being very good and for being skipped over entirely for the DualDisc programme. Instead, we move on to You Are Not Alone which proved that there was life in the old dog yet. A heartbreakingly beautiful ballad, it had the fingerprints of writer R Kelly all over it, Jacko imbuing his voice with an innocence that hadn't been heard since the 70s. The track deservedly shot to Number One in September 1995 but upon its reappearance can make a mere Number 30. Just for a change, I'm going to pause to regret the fact that one of Jackson's best ever singles has been re-released just when everyone has lost interest.
Finally for this week, it has been 16 years since Paul Simon was in the UK Top 40 so the appearance of "new" single Father And Daughter at Number 31 is cause for cheer. Although released to promote his new album Surprise, the single actually first surfaced back in 2002 when it formed part of the soundtrack to the Wild Thornberries film and picked up an Oscar nomination in the process. The song is now his first Top 40 hit since The Obvious Child hit Number 15 back in 1990. His biggest hit as a solo artist is 1986s You Can Call Me Al which made Number 4, although it was his 60s and 70s partnership with Art Garfunkel which gave him his biggest hits, most famously Number One hit Bridge Over Troubled Water which despite being penned by Simon himself actually featured a solo vocal by Art.