This week's Official UK Singles Chart

Same as you were at the top of the singles chart this week with a fourth week at the top for Sean Kingston and the still enormously appealing Beautiful Girls, now the third longest running Number One hit of the year. There is however new blood at the top of the albums chart, the 50 Cent and Kanye West battle giving way to James Blunt, crooning his way through new album All The Lost Souls.

Going back to the rap wars for a moment, I do have to confess a huge leaning towards the Kanye West side of things. Virtually every single he has ever released has been a worthwhile and compelling listen. Through The Wire made you hang on every word, Gold Digger was tremendous fun from start to finish and Stronger is the work of a man not content to rest on his laurels, Daft Punk or not. With 50 Cent, on the other hand, I've never actually listened to one of his tracks without coming away with an overwhelming sense of "what on earth is this man babbling on about". All music is about personal tastes of course and everyone has their own view of what is worthwhile, but the fuss surrounding Fiddy leaves me baffled.

I only say this because even after six weeks the appeal of Ayo Technology still eludes this particular writer. Granted the single is actually just Timbaland and Timberlake plugging 50 Cent into their usual formula but it still somehow achieves the remarkable feat of leaving the listener baffled as to just what the last four minutes were supposed to be about. I remain in a minority, the single leaps 5-2 this week upon physical release to become 50 Cent's biggest ever hit single, his only other Top 3 hit to date being debut hit In Da Club= which made Number 3 in March 2003. Similarly, Justin Timberlake continues his impressive record of helping hip-hop stars to some of their biggest hits. Two years ago he helped Snoop Dogg hit a career-best Number 2 with Signs and in 2003 took Nelly to Number 7 after duetting with him on Work It.

Now here's something you never thought you would see (or indeed hear). A Babyshambles single that is neither a shoddy mess nor painfully tuneless. New single Delivery, a brand new entry at Number 6 this week actually achieves the impossible and becomes the most accessible, musical and dare I say it, appealing track that Pete Doherty has ever put his mind to. A real eye-opener to those of us who generally regard Doherty as a talentless waste of space, could it be that we have to credit the producer - Morrissey's longtime muse Stephen Street - for transforming Babyshambles from a shambolic, tuneless mess into a tight musical outfit capable of producing a single which whilst it won't win awards anytime soon, does at least make you want to pay attention rather than turn the radio off in pain. Number 6 isn't quite the biggest Babyshambles hit single (that honour remains Fuck Forever which hit Number 4 in August 2005, but I'll say it again - it is far and away their best yet.

Also storming the Top 10 are the Foo Fighters who soar 21-8 with The Pretender, the single finally getting a physical release after six weeks on the chart. It is only their fourth Top 10 hit single ever in a career which now stretches back 12 years, although the other three (This Is A Call, All My Life and Best Of You) all went Top 5 which gives this new hit a little more to live up to. [This would wind up the last ever Top 10 hit for the Foo Fighters, their audience very much a one wedded to the almost-defunct physical single age].

New in at Number 13 is a single which is so familiar it seems like it has been around forever. In actual fact, that isn't too far from the truth. Swedish indie stars Peter Bjorn & John first released Young Folks in August last year, promoting their third album and their first to become an international hit. The single gave them their first ever Top 40 success in this country, creeping to Number 35. Since then its infuriatingly catchy hook has resulted in the track popping up on soundtrack everywhere and in particular in commercials for which it has been licensed multiple times worldwide. People in this country will be most familiar with its whistling hook which was used by Sky television to promote the relaunch of their movie channels. Having belatedly become a US hit earlier this year, the single has been reactivated and on download sales had crept as far as Number 33 last week. Now formally re-issued (complete with new catalogue number) the single storms the Top 20 as a "new entry" over a year after it first charted here.

One place below is Elvis single of the week, these re-releases clearly settling neatly into a Top 20 berth each time without ever troubling the Top 10. Indeed so consistent are Elvis' sales that this is the fourth week in succession he has entered the chart at Number 14. Song of the week is Don't, a Number 2 hit from the spring of 1958 (Magic Moments from Perry Como the track that held him off), the single having topped the US charts late the previous year.

At Number 16 we have a very unusual meeting of minds in the shape of a duet between Ian Brown and Sinead O'Connor. Illegal Attacks is the first single to be taken from what will be Brown's fifth solo album and as the title suggests tackles American politics albeit in a rather hamfisted manner which makes you just feel embarrassed for him and reach for the nearest Green Day album instead. Sinead O'Connor's contribution is largely relegated to backing vocals but her piercing tones make for an interesting counterpoint to Ian Brown's trademark vocal style to make this single more of a worthwhile diversion than might otherwise have been the case. His first chart hit in two years, it does at least become his fourth Top 20 hit in a row, although the time since his last Top 10 single grows ever longer (seven years and counting). It is a rather more impressive chart comeback for Sinead O'Connor, her first chart appearance of any kind since she appeared on Tears From The Moon by Conjure One, the AA side of a Number 42 hit from February 2003. In this is her first Top 40 appearance in over 10 years, her last hit single being the Gospel Oak EP which reached Number 28 in May 1997 and she hasn't had a Top 20 single since Thank You For Hearing Me made Number 13 way back in November 1994.

There is no let up to the activity inside the Top 20, with Phil Collins moving 23-17 with In The Air Tonight, thus putting paid to my theory that everyone is tired of the drumming gorilla already. The re-emerged single is now his first Top 20 hit single for almost eight years, not since You'll Be In My Heart in November 1999 has he charted as high as Number 17. One place below him at Number 18 are The Enemy who release You're Not Alone as their third single of the year. The usual routine applies here, the album track selling poorly online but landing a place in the Top 20 thanks to physical sales and fans buying the CD and 7-inch singles for completeness. Nonetheless, the chart placing of the single compares poorly to the Top 10 success of their earlier hits Away From Here and Had Enough. Interestingly this is the third different hit single in the last decade to be called You're Not Alone the enemy following Olive (Number 1 in 1997) and Embrace (Number 14 in 2000) into the charts.

As far as future hits are concerned, watch out for About You Now from the Sugababes which enters at what might appear a lowly Number 35 but which is here a fortnight before physical release. It should wind up in the Top 5 when all is said and done. Also bubbling under at Number 41 is Mark Ronson's Valerie, set to be a single in mid-October. Having taken on The Smiths with Stop Me and the Kaiser Chiefs with Oh My God, Ronson now takes on the Zutons, enlisting Amy Winehouse to turn the track into a gin-soaked but still uplifting Atlantic soul classic. Dare I suggest it is Version's best single to date.

Finally, just to prove that in this day and age not every single catches fire immediately, new at Number 40 is 1234 from Canadian star Feist. The single actually hit the stores over two months ago but has only now become a minor hit single thanks to its use in the latest batch of iPod commercials. Leslie Feist has been releasing albums since 1999 but to date has never had a single climb higher than Number 83. All good things come to those who wait.


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