Nothing doing at the top of either chart this week as both Lily Allen and Bruce Springsteen hold firm at Number One on singles and albums respectively. The biggest new album of the week is the new offering Which Bitch from The View which debuts at Number 4, all this without the benefit of a lead hit single. The album's first promoted track is Shock Horror which has failed to either shock or capture the imagination and languishes at Number 64 instead.
The most significant singles chart action leads to a new entry at Number 4 - the much-anticipated return of Eminem. When the superstar rapper announced in 2005 that he was "retiring" from performing in favour of production and management, few really expected that his absence from the studio would be permanent. His memorable guest appearance on Akon's Smack That in 2006 was proof that there was life in the old dog yet and sure enough, last year the rumours began circulating that he was contemplating a comeback. Just before Christmas finally came the confirmation from his label that the cheekily titled Relapse was set for a 2009 release.
So you would expect the first Eminem single for over three years would naturally be the lead single from this celebrated comeback. Well for the moment it appears you would be wrong. Crack A Bottle is for now being promoted as a one-off - a collaboration between Eminem, Dre Dre and 50 Cent who has himself announced that his next album Before I Self Destruct will mark his own "retirement". The three men are similarly reticent as to just where the single will end up, with most suggestions currently being that it will not feature on Eminem's release but instead will find its way onto 50 Cent's album - and even then only as a hidden bonus track. [And after all that it ended up only featuring on the Eminem album, even though the label insisted it was not the "lead single" from it]. All this intrigue only helps to heighten the interest in the single and sure enough, it smashes its way onto the UK chart at Number 4, matching the peak of the last three singles of Eminem's pre-hiatus career. For 50 Cent it is the 11th Top 10 hit of his career, his biggest since Ayo Technology made Number 2 in September 2007. Just to muddy the waters even further, his last single Get Up made Number 24 just a few short weeks ago and was officially promoted as the lead single from Before I Self Destruct.
Also new to the Top 10 at Number 8 is Change, the first ever solo single from Daniel Merriweather. That isn't to say he hasn't had his share of hits before, most memorably as the single on Mark Ronson's version of Stop Me which charged its way to Number 2 in April 2007. More recently he was the featured vocalist on Wiley's Cash In My Pocket which made Number 18 during the holiday period. Change is taken from his forthcoming album Love And War, and if you are wondering just why you like the single so much then check out the production credits. Who else but Mark Ronson would be helming the recording?
Action in the Top 20 is confined to up and coming hits making good progress. Shontelle soars to Number 13 with T-Shirt whilst the Pussycat Dolls are the biggest climbers of the week, moving up 20 places with Whatcha Think About That. There is a more surprising reverse for Britney Spears whose Circus appears to be languishing just short of the upper reaches and which falls back to Number 15 this week. It is not that she hasn't had her fair share of mid-table singles in the past, but I don't think anyone expected the second single and title track from her acclaimed new album to have quite this kind of chart struggle.
Also making a flying leap, and quite pleasingly slow may I add, are the All American Rejects who land at Number 20 with current single Gives You Hell. It is only the third such hit single from the American rock band who have spent the past five years attempting to gain a toehold in this country with very little to show for it. Big things were expected of them when their debut Swing Swing was released in 2003 but despite copious airplay, it could only make Number 13. Their only other Top 20 hit prior to today was Dirty Little Secret which crept to Number 18 in 2006. Cross your fingers that they can improve just a little further with their current hit.
Finally, for this week, they may with some justification be branded the biggest band in the world, but not even Coldplay are immune from the difficulties many acts have in promoting multiple hit singles. After Violet Hill and in particular Viva La Vida became such smashes last summer, the band released Lost! as a single at the back end of last year only to see it become their first ever release to miss the Top 40 altogether. Their current single restores matters slightly, Life In Technicolor 2 as the title suggests is not the short instrumental track that kicks off the Viva La Vida album itself but instead the full vocal version that appears on mini album Prospekt's March which was released as a bonus disc at the end of last year. After all the fuss that was made about the nature of "deluxe edition" marketing, it is nothing less than Coldplay deserve than a proper acknowledgement of the more sensible approach they took. Whilst the 8 new tracks on Prospekt's March were indeed bundled with the special edition of Viva La Vida, it was also possible to buy the collection separately at a budget price, thus ensuring that nobody could feel short-changed. A more intense single than most of the rest of the album, Life In Technicolor was clearly far too good to languish just as a scene setter for the album and even if it doesn't manage to scale the heights of some of their other hits, a place in the Top 40 at Number 28 is nothing less than it deserves.