This week's Official UK Singles Chart

This week's Official UK Albums Chart

 

Sometimes things are just beyond anyone's control.

Most readers of these pages will be familiar with Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars' Uptown Funk. The glorious retro funk track is well on its way to becoming a global smash hit and is climbing the US Hot 100 as we speak. Britain, however, was not due to get the single until the start of January, for the usual barking mad reasons, although the aim was clearly to turn the single into the first big smash hit of 2015 and get an immediate jump on the competition in the race to be the year's biggest seller. Madness but there was method in it.

That was until two weeks ago when Simon Cowell was played the track for the first time. He immediately decided it was the perfect vehicle for runaway X Factor favourite Fleur East who was handed the song to perform on last weekend's semi-final show. Quite simply she stole the show, putting in the kind of tour de force performance which meant that her ultimate defeat in the competition this weekend will have little impact on her inevitable transformation into a major star.

Following the show, something weird happened. Like all the performances this season Ms East's rendition of the track was made available for purchase and download - chart ineligible but still trackable on the live tables. Her take on Uptown Funk immediately established itself at the top of the download rankings and threatened to stay there. X Factor had created a demand for a brand new single, but a demand that was being sated not by the official version but by a quick and dirty cover.

So plans for the January release were swiftly abandoned, Ronson and Mars seeing their single made available towards the end of Monday afternoon. Fast forward to now and the result is a sensational and entirely unexpected Number One debut for what is admittedly the hottest record on the planet right now. Just over 11 years after he first made his chart debut as a credited performer and after two near-misses with a brace of Number 2 hits in 2007, super-producer Mark Ronson can claim his first ever Number One hit single in Britain. For singer and co-writer Bruno Mars, it is his fifth, albeit his first single to climb to the summit since The Lazy Song in May 2011. Uptown Funk tops the penultimate chart before Christmas with a huge sale of 118,000 copies (a total which includes 1.35 million streams)

It is bad luck for Ed Sheeran who watches his records swap places once more, the single Thinking Out Loud dips to Number 2 whilst parent album X rises to the top once more. The biggest selling record of 2014 has now spent 10 weeks in total at the top of the charts, more than any other album since Adele's 21 back in 2011.

Its downloads may have fallen off a cliff but the Band Aid 30 record received an inevitable boost from the release of its physical single which was immediately installed in retailers across the country. The result is a swift turnaround in its declining chart fortunes, sending the former Number One single flying back up the charts to Number 3 and indeed raising the small possibility (OK then, minute) that it will contend to be Christmas Number One next week - of which more shortly.

The second highest new entry of the week goes to a man who has arguably had his thunder stolen by events beyond his control. Oliver Helden's last single was an instant Number One success, the track Gecko (Overdrive) shooting to the top of the charts upon release last July. The singer on that track was British star Becky Hill who contributed the lyrics to this new releases but this time takes a back seat to vocalist KStewart who helps Last All Night (Koala) to a comfortable Number 5 position.

No sooner has one One Direction single exited the Top 10 than another arrives to take its place, the 8-12 drop of Steal My Girl ameliorated by the 19-7 rise of the melancholy Night Changes which duly gives the planet-straddling boy band their 12th Top 10 single in a little over three years.

As previously noted, One Direction singles have a staying power that puts most of their contemporaries to shame, the group's fanatical following could so easily ensure that their records are one-week wonders. Wannabe contemporaries Union J wish they could be so lucky. Their smash Number 2 hit from last week You Got It All crashes down to Number 34.

Two more brand new singles sneak onto the chart this week. New at Number 17 is Drown from Sheffield-based metalcore band Bring Me The Horizon, the single a radical and controversial departure for the group as it sees them move into a far softer and more commercial area - although that did not stop it taking up brief residence at the top of the download chart earlier in the week. This slightly more understated chart entry indicating that the appeal of the single was short lived.

Also new are Fifth Harmony, the girl group who finished in third place on the second series of X Factor USA. They made their British bow with a performance on the semi-final results show of the UK incarnation of the show, once which sadly cannot help their single Bo$$ to chart any higher than Number 21. [They'd get bigger...]

I've noted previously in these pages the chart domination of wistful British singers which has resulted in large numbers of simultaneous hit singles. Both Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith continue to boast three entries on the Top 40 but they were almost joined this week by a third man. George Ezra still has debut hit Budapest at Number 23 and follow-up Blame It On Me at Number 27 and was unlucky not to chart higher than Number 41 this week with third hit "Listen To The Man", a single which boasts a video with a comic cameo for no less a figure than actor Sir Ian "Gandalf" McKellen [a full 26 years and then some after he made his pop video debut as the star of the Pet Shop Boys' Heartand which deserves sharing here at the very least.

With one week to go to Christmas the seasonal classics are about to make their final bid for their annual chart glory, the Official Charts Company noting that the addition of streaming data to their sales totals is helping them to some of their strongest performances for years. How else to explain the rise of Fairytale Of New York to Number 11, the highest the 24-year-old single has been in the charts since 2007 when it peaked at Number 4. Just behind is Mariah Carey with All I Want For Christmas Is You which is officially the most streamed Christmas song of the moment but which can only rise a place to Number 16 - still short for now of its 2013 peak of Number 12.

Next week then is the final chart before Christmas and as is traditional a week when the singles market tends to go a little berserk, the somewhat tainted prize of being top of the charts for Christmas ensuring that for seven days we are swamped with records released or bought for that sole tenuous purpose. That said this is looking to be the most open chart race for some time, the arrival of the Mark Ronson single and its present sales dominance throwing all predictions a gigantic curveball. He will at the very least be joined in battle by newly crowned X Factor winner Ben Haenow whose version of the OneRepublic song Something I Need is his coronation single and just like its predecessors is certain to be in huge demand. See you next Sunday for the crazy.