Just for a change most eyes in the UK this week were on the album chart countdown, the big intrigue being the possibility that the Military Wives Choir could duplicate their success on the singles chart last Christmas with a Number One album of their very own. Ultimately they failed, but in a week which saw a whole string of major new releases it is no less significant to note that their debut release In My Dream, which features amongst its tracks the single Wherever You Are is the second biggest seller of the week.
Besting them however was a true chart veteran. Continuing the run of form which has made the last decade one of the most productive of his career, Bruce Springsteen at the age of 62 is top of the chart with his brand new release Wrecking Ball. The album is the ninth Number One of his career and no less than the fifth to hit the summit since his 21st century career renaissance. This now puts him level with Robbie Williams as second most successful male solo artist in album chart history. Only Elvis Presley with 11 has had more Number One albums than either man.
At a little over three months older than Springsteen, Lionel Richie is of a similar vintage and he too proves that age is no barrier to new music as his latest offering Tuskegee, a set which features re-recordings of some of his most famous old songs in collaboration with modern day stars, lands at Number 7. Not that we should be too surprised, his last offering Just G" in 2009 also easily made the Top 10 but this new release manages to becoming his highest charting album since 2004 release "Just For You" made Number 5. Richie is theoretically long overdue a Number One album, he's managed the feat just twice in his career: with Can't Slow Down in 1983 and 1984 and with 1992 hits collection Back To Front. None of the albums he made as a member of The Commodores peaked higher than Number 8.
Katie Melua opened her chart account with a brace of chart-topping albums but since then she has slipped back somewhat. New album Secret Symphony is the fifth album of her career but it becomes her lowest charting release of original material to date, hitting Number 8 a full four places lower than 2010 release The House. Only her 2008 compilation The Collection has fared worse, hitting Number 15 in November 2008.
Things are rather more measured on the singles chart as Somebody That I Used To Know from Gotye and Kimbra spends a fourth (total) and third (successive) week at Number One. Correcting its slight sales wobble of a week ago, the single sold another impressive total of 80,000 copies last week and is now well past the half a million mark. Thus it is yet another week of frustration for Emeli Sande with Next To Me it seems destined to go down as one of the great Number 2 singles. It climbs back a place to re-occupy the runners up slot it has now called home for three of the last four weeks.
Nicki Minaj has featured on a string of memorable hit singles, both on her own and as the guest of other artists, but none appears to have hooked the record buying public in the way her current release Starships has. The single climbs the chart once again to Number 3, now equalling her highest chart placing to date, a height she last scaled in 2011 alongside David Guetta on Where Them Girls At?. The single features on her forthcoming second album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded which is due for release in early April.
Whilst the Top 3 may be one of consolidation, the rest of the Top 10 is rammed with new hits. Leading the charge at Number 5 are hot new R&B and hip-hop trio StooShe. Alexandra, Karis and Courtney hail from South East London and have been on the slow burn since first signed last year. Their first single Betty Woz Gone had a low key release in October last year but failed to chart, a situation dramatically improved upon by second release Love Me. The single has the neat trick of dragging Gym Class Heroes singer Travie McCoy back into the Top 10 just a fortnight after his last appearance as he gives the girls the rub of a starring role on this single.
Two more of Britain's brightest recording stars team up for the single at Number 7 as Bright Lights marks the first chart collaboration of Tinchy Stryder and Pixie Lott. The track is the third single to be taken from the still to be released fourth (and he insists, final) single from the Ghanian-born Stryder's Full Tank album, following in the footsteps of Spaceship and Off The Record which reached 5 and 24 respectively at the tail end of last year. It is now Stryder's sixth Top 10 appearance since he made his Top 40 debut in 2009. Bright Lights is a track which may well already be familiar in a different form to hardened Pixie Lott fans. Taking its cue from New York State Of Mind, the track appears in a different version from a female perspective as Bright Lights (Good Life) Part II on her own album Young Foolish Happy which has been on release since last November.
If anyone had "three months" in the "which of last year's losing X Factor contestants will make it to the charts first" sweepstake, then collect your winnings here. Runner-up to Little Mix Marcus Collins makes his solo chart debut at Number 9 with Seven Nation Army. In case you were wondering, yes you are correct. The single is indeed a rather extraordinary cover of the White Stripes track 7 Nation Army which peaked two places higher back in 2003. Bizarrely this is by no means the first White Stripes track to be re-imagined as a pop-soul offering, with 2002 single Fell In Love With A Girl reworked by Joss Stone as Fell In Love With A Boy for her debut single in 2004. As inspired as the Marcus Collins cover appears to be, it should in fairness be noted that it bears an uncanny resemblance to the version released by Frenchman Ben L'oncle Soul in 2009 whose arrangement has undoubtedly informed the Collins version.