An unlikely 10-1 to make Christmas Number One, Take That's Patience spends its final week at Number One before giving way to what we all know is frustratingly inevitable. In doing so the single equals the four week run clocked up by their 1990s hits Pray and Back For Good to rank alongside them as their most successful single in chart terms (although more so than ever it must be pointed out that those older hits sold significantly more copies than Patience whose sales overall are still less than Back For Good managed in its first week). Parent album Beautiful World maintains its supremacy too, giving Take That the double for the third week in a row. It is the first time in exactly ten years that an act has managed such a double chart domination, the Spice Girls managing the feat too in December 1996.
Below them, the final chart before the big Christmas push throws up some fascinating moves along with some curious new arrivals. Many of them go to prove what some of my more obsessed correspondents have been saying for years. I know absolutely nothing.
In many ways, I actually feel a great deal of sympathy for Cliff Richard. With a hit-making career that is now edging close to 50 years, he should be held up as one of the greatest musical superstars this country has ever produced. Unfortunately, his raging successes with a series of Christmas themed records over the past two decades have rather unfairly pigeonholed him as the purveyor of naff seasonal songs. No matter how hard he tries to reinvent himself or how potentially credible his music is, the mainstream remains continually uninterested. Heck, he's even released club records as white labels and revealed himself when the track has generated the required amount of buzz. Instead of breaking through the hypocrisy, most people just go "yeah, yeah, now piss off Grandad" and the whole thing is a waste of time.
In a way, this, therefore, takes something of a shine off the big chart story of this week as the veteran superstar lands himself his biggest hit single in seven years with guess what, a Christmas song. 21st Century Christmas is his first Top 40 hit since May last year and his first seasonal release since I Cannot Give You My Love two years ago. Don't ask me how, but this new single somehow straddles the line between cheesy and appealing in a way no single of his for years has managed and duly charges into the chart at Number 2, coming agonisingly close to giving him what would be a sensational Number One hit. Nonetheless, even while falling short it becomes his biggest hit since December 1999's The Millennium Prayer topped the charts and only his third Top 10 hit of the decade. The single appears as a double a-side, with a brand new recording of his very first hit single Move It also listed. Originally a hit on his debut in 1958, the track is used by Cliff as part of his public campaign to extend the 50 year copyright period on music recordings, pointing out that his earliest works are on the verge of becoming public domain. This isn't the first time that Move It has appeared as the b-side of a more contemporary track, the original version having been also paired with The Best Of Me back in 1989 to mark the occasion of his 100th single release. What was Cliff's last single to peak at Number 2? You guessed it...
Gwen Stefani's Wind It Up completes the Top 3 this week, the single capitalising nicely on its spectacular Number 8 debut on downloads last week. For all the derision the single has attracted, the track now winds up as her highest charting solo hit to date, soaring past the Number 4 peaks of What You Waiting For and Rich Girl. Reviewers and even long time fans of Ms Stefani still loathe it with a passion. All of which proves that both they and I know absolutely nothing.
Cascada are also big movers, lifting 17-4 with Truly Madly Deeply to match the peak scaled by the Savage Garden original back in 1998. I still live in hope that people are buying the track for the original mix rather than the offensive and tranced up "Radio Edit" but I've a nasty sinking feeling that the exact reverse is the case.
As I mentioned last week, there was speculation that the long delay between the online release of Chris Cornell's You Know My Name and its CD equivalent could have killed off its chance of becoming a sizable chart hit. Well, I know nothing after all and although the track was curiously unable to sustain its early week momentum (which had it ranked at Number 2 at one stage) the single still moves 12-7 to make the whole exercise worthwhile. With Madonna's Die Another Day having hit Number 3 in 2002, this marks the first time James Bond theme songs have managed back to back Top 10 placings since the series was revived in the 1990s. The 80s saw Bond themes have their best ever chart run thanks to A View To A Kill (No.2), The Living Daylights (No.5), Licence To Kill (No.6) and finally in 1995 Tina Turner's Goldeneye which hit Number 10.
Climbing 12 places this week are P Diddy and Christina Aguilera who rise 20-8 with Tell Me. Officially the follow-up to P Diddy's Come To Me it becomes his second Top 10 hit in a row although effectively his third such hit of the year thanks to his credited presence on Notorious BIG's Nasty Girl which topped the chart earlier in the year. After her rather disappointing Number 11 hit Hurt last month, Christina restores her own Top 10 form.
The most surprising move of the week is perhaps that of the Pogues' festive classic Fairytale Of New York. Effectively unavailable physically, thanks to downloads alone the single surges 23-10 to make the Top 10 for the second year running and for the third time in its 19 year lifetime. Assuming I've calculated correctly (and I know nothing remember) then annoyingly this will actually be the track's last week on the chart as it is now 52 weeks since it was re-released and thus made chart eligible. Its time in purgatory will only last a fortnight as of course on January 1st the singles chart becomes a songs chart and any remaining new year downloads (assuming there are any) will land the song a chart placing once more [and indeed this was why the 52-week rule was waived for this single as it simply seemed ludicrous to focibly disqualify it a fortnight before it was due to become permanently eligible]. In preparation for this change, the OCC have been busy preparing test charts based on the new data, the contents of which were revealed last week. The revealed that as early as last week, Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You was selling enough copies to qualify for a place in the Top 10.
Now to the biggest new hit outside the Top 10 and if I were you I would remember this moment so you can tell your children where you were when it happened. Katie "Jordan" Price finally has a hit single. The topless model with a talent for self-publicity has been threatening to launch a pop career for the best part of a decade now yet somehow has never got around to it. We all thought we'd worked out the reason for it a year ago when she made a bid to enter the Eurovision Song Contest with a song whose flaws were neatly masked by both her insanely bad vocal performance and the skin tight catsuit she insisted on wearing despite being six months pregnant at the time. Finally, the long wait is over, thanks to husband Peter Andre whose latest wheeze is an entire album of duets featuring him and his wife with all proceeds going to charity. The first single is the title track, a new version of A Whole New World, famously taken from the soundtrack of Disney's Aladdin and a hit first time around for Regina Belle and Peabo Bryson in 1993. Amazingly the single has matched the Number 12 peak of that original version, rising from a Number 56 placing on downloads last week. Listening to the album itself is a strange experience. It isn't that it is offensively bad, just amazing that someone somewhere decided that it was a good idea, charity or no charity. Best of all the wonders of autotune mean that Katie Price actually seems to be singing better than Peter Andre. That can't be right, surely. [The 'untouched' recording of this was famously leaked a few years later, revealing to the world that Andre could genuinely carry a tune whilst Katie.. well, see for yourself].
Of the three biggest new entries to the Top 75 this week, they all have a Christmas theme. The second biggest is from an internationally regarded artist whose seasonal releases are almost as regular as Cliff himself. Yes, that's right, for the second year running Crazy Frog is set to have a hit single at Christmas. This year the talented young amphibian has put his considerable vocal talents to work on one of the greatest Christmas hits of all time, namely Wham!'s 1984 classic Last Christmas, the royalties from which have kept George Michael in Rizla papers ever since. At the very least we are spared a repeat of last years ignominy when Crazy Frog's rendition of Jingle Bells was in the Christmas Top 10, the Number 16 entry point of this single coming on combined sales and winding up as the lowest charting Crazy Frog track to date. The Wham! original went Top 10 twice, first in 1984 and then in 1985 on the back of a plagiarism suit initiated by the writers of Can't Smile Without You. The only other version to make the Top 40 was a rather soulless rendition by Whigfield which made Number 21 in 1995.
Rising to Number 17 this week is Lowestoft sensation Lil' Chris with Gettin' Enough, the follow-up to September's Top 3 hit Checkin' It Out. The worst thing about that earlier hit was the scary prospect that it wasn't a one off and that somehow he might build a career on the back of it. From this chart placing, I guess we can surmise that he was a novelty one hit wonder - at least for now.
So what of the other seasonal Top 20 new entry? Well coming as it does just a few days after the unveiling of the latest winner of X Factor, it is good to be able to welcome the long overdue chart debut of a member of the class of 2005. Andy Abraham was the runner up in last year's contest, beaten by eventual winner Shayne Ward by the narrowest of narrow squeaks. Despite this, he has struggled thus far to gain a toehold on chart stardom. His first single Hang Up was released in March and was for my money one of the singles of the year, an uplifting pop soul track that marked the former binman out as a huge talent. It bombed, peaking at Number 63 and resulted in his second single Sticky Situation becoming a download-only single to save throwing good money after bad. It is therefore to be celebrated that he finally lands a Top 40 hit thanks to December Brings Me Back To You, a duet with TV reporter Michael Underwood (himself the winner of a televised talent contest to get his break in the industry). Not the biggest seasonal hit ever I will grant you, but if it is the spark that lights the fire under Andy Abraham's singles career I will look back on this moment with some joy.
Speaking of reality shows, the winner of "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here" finally sees a little payback for his time spent in the jungle, former Busted star Matt Willis leaping 68-19 with his third single Don't Let It Go To Waste. Much was made of the failure of the single to make a chart impact on the back of his win in the popular vote, but this was of course to overlook not only the fact that he has had two Top 20 hits already this year (Up All Night and Hey Kid) but also that most of his unexpected winning vote will have come from the hoards of screaming girlies who will already own the single on the album anyway. Teen culture has a lot to answer for.
At Number 20 on the chart, this week is a genuine novelty. El Chombo is a pseudonym for top reggae producer Rodney Clark who has found himself an unexpected celebrity thanks to his tongue in cheek nonsense hit Chacarron. Discovered on YouTube by Radio One DJ Scott Mills, the presenter has championed the track for the last month, prompting its re-release. Designed as a gentle mickey-take of the more extreme aspects of reggaeton music, the single is little more than a string of barely comprehensible gibberish, but set to a beat that is so catchy you find yourself wanting to mumble along. In years gone by a Radio One DJ could champion a track right into the Top 5 but I suspect it is a sign of the times that Number 20 is as good as this single is going to get. Mention must also be made of the availability of a karaoke version of the track. The mind truly boggles.
With that I'm kind of out of time and space which is frustrating. Just time then to note that Lily Allen's attempt at a seasonal ballad with Littlest Things has flopped at Number 21, Scissor Sisters are outselling themselves with an old single as Land Of A Thousand Words dips to Number 42 whilst I Don't Feel Like Dancing clings on at Number 27 and finally that not even Shakira can sustain her momentum at Christmas as new single Illegal limps in at Number 34. [This was a scandal, another gorgeous Shakira single crashing out at Christmas].
See you next week for the Christmas chart. I might as well start work on the writeup now.