T'was the week after Christmas, and historically this has always been a strange sales week in the UK. For many years the lowest point of the sales year, it now tends to be the highest as far as the singles market is concerned as digital gift tokens are cashed in and people rush to populate their newly acquired mp3 players with an appropriate amount of music. Factor in the literally overnight cessation of sales for seasonally-inspired product and you have the potential for some rather fascinating changes.
On the album chart this means what would ordinarily be a calamitous collapse for Michael Buble's Christmas which now has the undignified honour of suffering one of the largest falls from Number One in chart history, plummeting to Number 15. His one consolation is that its sales in the week before the holiday were enough to confirm it as the second biggest seller of the year.
Buble's replacement at Number One is Ed Sheeran, whose debut album + has now sold over three quarters of a million copies itself. A constant presence in the Top 10 since its release, the platter jumps from Number 9 last week to land a second week on the top of the charts, the first coming at the end of September during its first week on release. Naturally the renewed consumer interest in the album has a beneficial effect too on its most popular singles. Current hit Lego House returns to the Top 10 at Number 7 whilst earlier hit The A Team races back into the Top 40 to sit pretty at Number 17.
The shifting sands of sales patterns are even more in evidence on the singles chart, and we are in the extraordinary position of seeing two of last week's Top 5 singles vanish from the Top 40 altogether. Inevitably Dominick The Donkey dips 3-41 but the most extraordinary disappearing act is that of Alex Day's Forever Yours which was withdrawn by the unsigned artist at the start of the week and so vanishes from the entire published Top 100 chart altogether. Leaving aside singles such as Crazy and Maneater which fell foul of rules relating to physical deletion in 2006, no Top 10 single has ever had such a short and sweet "official" chart life before - until today the most precipitous collapse was that of the Loops Of Fury EP from the Chemical Brothers which had a week at Number 13 in January 1996 before vanishing altogether. Weightless by Wet Wet Wet also came close in February 2008 - released as a ringtone promotion it dipped from Number 10 to Number 96 in its second week.
Perhaps surprisingly given its huge sale last week, the Military Wives single is unable to sustain its lead and dips as low as Number 4. With Little Mix too now well out of the running (they are Number 6) the biggest selling single of the week goes to Coldplay in a manner which is nothing less than deserved as Paradise sells over six figures to give them their second Number One single in this country. To see the track at the top of the charts after all this time is still quite than extraordinary. Available for purchase since the end of September last year, the track spent the first six weeks of its life ineligible to chart due to its release as an "instant grat" offering to pre-release purchasers of parent album Mylo Xyloto. Finally freed from these shackles at the start of December, the track has traced an erratic pattern up and down the charts ever since, moving 14-17-20-13-11-12-7-2-5 before now advancing to the top. In a strange case of history repeating itself, Coldplay's only other UK Number One hit was Viva La Vida back in 2008 which debuted at the top of the chart the moment it too became eligible after a prior life as an advance purchase gift. Paradise is the first single to take as long as 10 chart weeks to climb to the top since Poker Face by Lady Gaga had a similarly patient wait back in 2009.
With this the last sales week of 2011, the final tallies for the year are also in. For the first time since 1999, every single one of the Top 20 best sellers of the year have sold over half a million copies, with the two biggest both having reached seven figures. Adele's Someone Like You tops the list with well over 1.2 million copies sold, but we should also discover this week that over the holiday Maroon 5's Moves Like Jagger also nipped over the line to ensure it has sold a million copies in just over 20 weeks - all without ever once topping the charts.