This week's Official UK Singles Chart

Now be honest. Did you ever think you would live to see the day? I certainly didn't, yet it has finally arrived, and in two distinct ways as well. Anyway, we are getting ahead of ourselves, so more on that later.

Chart Queen in just about every sense of the word this week continues to be Leona Lewis. Many, many headlines have resulted from the phenomenal first-week sales of her album Spirit which hit the shops this week, selling 375,000 copies to break - just - the record set in 2006 by the Arctic Monkeys as the fastest selling debut album of all time. As the icing on the cake, the huge sale of its parent album does not appear to have had too deleterious an effect on the single Bleeding Love which notches up another huge sale to comfortably spend a fourth week at the top of the singles chart, although disappointingly and perhaps understandably it dips below 100,000 sales this week for the first time.

Of course, not everyone bought a full copy of her album, the result being a fair old sprinkling of individual Leona Lewis album tracks at the bottom end of the singles chart. As well as Bleeding Love, she also has Footprints In The Sand at Number 65, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face at Number 74 as well as older single A Moment Like This which returns for yet another Top 75 run at Number 74.

The Top 3 remains static, something which is both good and bad news for Take That whose Rule The World spends a fourth consecutive week in the runners-up slot. The single is now the longest-running Number 2 hit since Lose My Breath by Destiny's Child also had four straight weeks at Number 2 in November 2004. Nizlopi's JCB Song had four weeks at Number 2 in early 2006, but this was after the song had previously peaked at Number One. Honourable mention must, of course, go to Foundations by Kate Nash which spent five weeks in total in the runners-up slot earlier in the summer although these were non-consecutive. No single has spent five straight weeks in the runners-up position since I Swear by All-4-One had an epic seven-week stint in the summer of 1994.

The biggest new arrival in the Top 10 is, as expected, Two Hearts from Kylie Minogue. As disappointing as its initial Number 12 showing was, the combined impact of her prime-time ITV1 showcase last weekend coupled with the CD release of the single has sent it comfortably into a more respectable Top 5 berth. Two Hearts is now her 14th successive Top 10 hit single, a run which dates back to the release of Spinning Around in 2000. It also means she has beaten her own personal best, the run of 13 straight Top 10 singles with which she opened her career in 1988 and which finally came to a halt in 1991 when Word Is Out halted at Number 16.

No less than two singles make their debut inside the Top 10 this week, although one has a rather more widespread appeal than the other. First the single at Number 8, Flux from Bloc Party. Their fourth hit single of the year, the song is a hitherto unreleased track which has recently been added to a special edition of their album A Weekend In The City. Flux is to say the least a diverting listen. Their most electronic track to date, the track features a frantic electro rhythm overlaid with a vocal from Kele Okereke which sees his voice autotuned almost beyond recognition on the verses. A combined online and physical release, the track effortlessly flies into the chart to return them to the Top 10 for the first time since The Prayer charted at Number 4 back in February.

Now then, time for "I never thought I'd live to see the day" (Part One). To most music fans in Scotland, Runrig are nothing less than legends. Formed in the 1970s by brothers Rory and Calum McDonald, the group have for over two and a half decades made a successful career out of fusing traditional Celtic folk music with modern day rock. In the process, they have sold thousands of albums and packed out stadiums, but all the time almost exclusively in their native Scotland. That isn't to say they don't have their fans in the rest of the UK as well, but the chart facts speak for themselves. During their commercial peak in the 1990s they charted with no more than a handful of hits, just one An Ubhal As Airde (The Highest Apple) making the Top 20, each one doing over 90% of its business north of the border. They have not been seen on the singles chart in over ten years, their last hit being a re-recording of The Greatest Flame which made Number 30 in January 1997.

Virtually every one of their songs is an anthem of sorts, but perhaps none is more famous than 'Loch Lomond' which was their first ever single release in 1982 and which by and large is their signature track, the last to be performed at any of their concerts. 25 years on from its original release the group have now re-recorded the track as a true rock epic, enlisting a stadium full of Scottish football fans (the "Tartan Army") and no less a legend as Rod Stewart on backing vocals. The occasion was this year's BBC Children In Need appeal for which Loch Lomond was the official single for the Scottish end of things and after a huge publicity campaign surrounding its release a big chart hit was all but assured. That said, I don't think anyone anticipated just how big it was going to be. The result is the first ever national Top 10 hit for Runrig, in the process turning one of their most famous songs into a chart single for the first time ever. A dodgy free kick may have put paid to Scotland's chance of Euro 2008 qualification at the weekend, but the sight of this single where it is will bring a tear to the eye of many a proud Scotsman over the next seven days.

New in at Number 14 is a track that began life as one of the biggest floor-fillers of the summer. Labelled as "garage/bassline" by those in the know, Heartbroken from Sheffield based producer T2 is a hypnotic dance record which is driven not just by its thundering bass but the childlike yet incredibly appealing vocals from singer Jodie Ashya. It has been far too long since the charts were treated to a dance record that made you feel you were hearing something with genuine innovation and creativity. Don't expect this single to progress too much further but check it out nonetheless.

Elvis Presley single of the week is something of an oddity, his own little-remembered version of a song that is most closely associated with another artist. You Don't Have To Say You Love Me began life as an Italian ballad, first recorded by Pino Donaggio. It was translated into English for the benefit of Dusty Springfield who had heard the original and had fallen in love with the melody. One of her most famous recordings, she topped the charts with the track in early 1966 and also took it to Number 4 in America. Elvis' version did not arrive until 1971 in a live version which scarcely captured the soul of the original, be it in Italian or English. Still, it reached Number 9 in February that year and thus qualifies as the latest in this interminable series of re-releases. The single charts at Number 16 and becomes the first hit rendition of the song since Denise Welch reached Number 23 with a version in November 1995.

The next "new" entry at Number 20 strictly speaking isn't. Rockstar by Nickelback first appeared on their 2005 album All The Right Reasons and became its fifth single release Stateside in the summer of 2006. Very much an afterthought, the track fared badly on the US charts, never had a video made and was not considered for release elsewhere. With a new album from the group still not due until next year, their label have now reactivated this forgotten single and coupled it with an eye-catching video which features a veritable who's who of stars miming along to the track. The resultant exposure propelled the track into the US Top 10 earlier in the summer and set it up for an international release. Over the last few weeks, the track has been steadily climbing the UK singles chart as a digital download, people effectively snapping it up as an album cut. Last week it had crept to Number 34 after a four-week climb, just in time for the CD single to be made available. Except of course as far as the charts are concerned, the release of the track as a single for the first time turns it into a brand new product, with sales of the album track combined with those of the "single". Thus Rockstar becomes bizarrely a "new entry", arriving fresh at Number 20. Such minor quibbles aside, the song does at the very least become their biggest hit single for some time, their first Top 20 hit since Someday hit Number 6 in September 2003. [More of this one - much more - over the coming months].

Meanwhile down at Number 23 it looks increasingly grim for the Spice Girls. New single Headlines (Friendship Never Ends) fails to capitalise on its initial chart entry and instead slides five places. Now, this isn't quite the end of course as the CD single arrives in the shops this week, and the knock-on effect of it being the official Children In Need single (coupled with a performance on the telethon last Friday) has yet to be properly felt. Nonetheless, it seems increasingly unlikely that the big comeback track is going to get anywhere near the Top 10, particularly when you consider it is now competing with the Spice Girls Greatest Hits album which lands at Number 2 this week, albeit some distance behind Leona Lewis. To think we all turned our noses up at the All Saints comeback last year, but even they had a Top 3 hit with new single Rock Steady. Stale Spice must be looking at that kind of chart performance enviously.

For the second week running Amy Winehouse has two Top 40 hits to her name, although this time the second one isn't the acoustic version of Valerie which this week drops to Number 41. Instead, it is the rather unexpected return of Back To Black which charges up 31 places to Number 30, its highest chart position since it made Number 25 in its first week on physical release back in May. Quite what has prompted this surge for the single is a slight mystery. Wannabe girl band Hope performed the track a week ago on the X Factor TV show, but that surely can't have prompted several thousand people to rush out and snap up a copy of the original could it? [So totally could]. Meanwhile, the erratic star's latest batch of headlines has helped her to a singles chart invasion which rivals that of Leona Lewis. As well as Back To Black and the two versions of Valerie, she is also at Number 68 with the still smouldering Tears Dry On Their Own as well as the near-ubiquitous Rehab which has been bouncing in and out of the Top 75 for the last few weeks. Currently, it sits at Number 71 in what is now its 51st week in total on the official chart - meaning of course that it is just one more week away from becoming only the ninth single in history to break the 52-week barrier.

Whilst on the subject of record longevity, it is worth clarifying one aspect of the performance of Chasing Cars which itself experiences a chart surge, rising to Number 49 to enter the Top 50 for the first time in 18 weeks. The single is now on its 63rd week on the Top 75 and the 46th in its current unbroken run. In terms of total weeks this is the third longest in chart history (now just four behind 'Amazing Grace') but only the fourth longest consecutive run, the single needing two more to match the unbroken 48-week stay of Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

Finally then, what about "I never thought I'd live to see the day" (Part Two). This week marked digital debut of the entire back catalogue of rock legends Led Zeppelin, the result being that all of their tracks are now eligible for the singles chart. This is quite significant as during their 1970s heyday they famously never released singles (at least not in this country) and were exclusively an albums act. Until now their only single release ever was a 1997 release of Whole Lotta Love which peaked at Number 21. All that of course changes today and whilst Whole Lotta Love duly reappears at Number 64, most headlines will be reserved for their most famous song of all. The very definition of a rock classic, Stairway To Heaven first appeared in 1973 on their fourth untitled album and has since passed into popular culture. Every boy who has picked up an electric guitar has wanted to pick out the opening chords, generations of students have tried to make sense of the words and the track has been subject to countless parodies and covers. It is officially the most played and most requested song of all time on American radio.

Until today its only link with the charts has been thanks to three cover versions, first by Euro-rock group Far Corporation who reached Number 8 with the song in 1985, then by reggae tribute act Dread Zeppelin who limped to Number 62 in 1991 and most recently by no less a legend than Rolf Harris whose affectionate reworking charged to Number 7 in February 1993. Inevitably the ability to purchase the track as a one-off for the first time ever proved irresistible to many and as a result Stairway To Heaven, all eight minutes of it, lands on the UK singles chart at Number 37. Believe me when I say this, there will be thousands of rockers of a certain age staring at the chart countdown with wonder this week. Few, if any, thought they would live to see the day that Stairway… became a Top 40 hit.


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