This week's Official UK Singles Chart

A confession

I didn't see all of the Brit awards this year, the contents of the ceremony not inspiring enough curiosity in me to sit through it all but the bits I did see have proved that the Darkness love-in is likely to last for a long time yet [wrong] and that there is indeed room in the world for a new definition of the word "collaboration". Anyone looking at the singles chart for evidence of how the ceremony has influenced sales will search in vain. Instead, it is the albums chart that plays host to some quite dramatic moves. Duran Duran's five-year-old Greatest Hits collection zooms back into the chart at Number 4, The Darkness' Permission To Land album leaps 22-5 and even Jamie Cullum's Twentysomething album charges 29-14.

One act who did walk off with a trophy at the Brits but who would almost certainly have done well charts wise anyway were Busted and their week of celebrations is capped off with their latest single Who's David effortlessly hitting the top of the charts. It is their third Number One single in all and their second in succession, this single duplicating the feat of Crashed The Wedding which made the summit back in November. To date, none of their singles have topped the charts for more than a solitary week and it will be interesting to see if this track can break that rather frustrating sequence - although with both Westlife and Peter Andre looming on the horizon nobody really gives them much of a prayer.

Sam and Mark know that feeling only too well, With A Little Help From My Friends dumped from the top after just a single week. At the very least this is no more than Joe Cocker's original chart-topping version managed - he was deposed after seven days by Joe Montenegro's The Good The Bad And The Ugly back in 1968. Fascinatingly The Beatles (who wrote the song) never once suffered this fate, their shortest ever runs at the top being two weeks each - most of their 17 chart-toppers lasting far longer than that of course.

The second biggest new hit of the week is, I'm delighted to say, something rather special. For want of a better description Keane are the new Coldplay - but before you lump them into the same category of the likes of Starsailor it is worth pointing out that Keane are possibly just a little bit better. The comparisons with Chris Martin et al don't just extend to the way they sound either as both bands were originally signed to the same independent label - Fierce Panda - before eventually finding fame. Keane's debut hit single shouts EPIC at you right from the word go, thundering piano chords giving way to a plaintive vocal that leads nicely into a rousing crescendo. OK so it doesn't actually break any particularly new ground but you will struggle to find any other single inside the Top 10 this week that oozes this much quality. That alone deserves it a medal.

The biggest new dance hit of the week belongs to Deepest Blue. Matt Schwartz and Joel Edwards made their chart debut with their eponymously titled single back in the summer of last year, the single hitting Number 7. Now they make it two straight Top 10 singles with this similarly inspired follow-up. What sets them apart is the fact both Joel and Matt are proper songwriters in their own right, club music being simply their preferred means of expressing this creativity. Instead of being just ideas with a beat attached they are fully formed pop records and worthy of nothing less than the highest praise.

Another new name (well in a solo sense anyway) entering the Top 10 is Raghav, a Canadian born singer and songwriter who is a graduate of the LIPA performing arts school. His path to fame has been smoothed by the patronage of renowned vocal coach and producer Seth Riggs and together the pair have crafted this single which admittedly won't win the dancehall genre any new fans but which certainly doesn't sound out of place in the singles charts. Raghav actually misses out by a whisker on having two simultaneous Top 10 hits as he was also the voice of 2Play's recent smash So Confused which this week drops two places to Number 12.

The curse of Fame Academy appears to have struck for Alex Parks once again as the 2003 winner finds herself unable to capitalise on the success of her debut single Maybe That's What It Takes. From the dizzy heights of Number 3 she now finds herself stuck somewhat in mid-table with this similarly miserablist rock ballad [this is something of a week for me NOT NAMING THE SINGLES BEING WRITTEN ABOUT. Cry is the single in question here]. The nature of the Fame Academy format meant that hopes were high for finding performers who did actually have talent beyond churning out karaoke cover versions or cheesy pop records but thus far it seems the talents thus discovered have been unable to sustain a long term career. Is it wrong to be talking about Alex Parks' chart career in the past tense when her second single is but a week old? The sad truth is that it probably isn't.

Let us move on to brighter things and may I take this chance to point out that Belle and Sebastian's curent album Dear Catastrophe Waitress is actually one of the undiscovered classics of the year? Turning their back on the jangling guitars of past offerings, the group have attempted to reinvent themselves as quirky popstars for a new generation and the album itself is stuffed with four minute gems that all sound like the Small Faces meshed with the Divine Comedy and My Life Story. In a just world they would all be smash hits and dare I say it they could have done with the kind of high level radio patronage that pushed the likes of Pulp finally into the mainstream in the mid 1990s. At the very least people appear to be catching on. First single Step Into My Office Baby could only make a lowly Number 32 but this second single charges neatly into the Top 20 to give them their biggest chart single to date - easing past the Number 15 peak of Legal Man from June 2000. This is all good but it still could be so much better. Go on, do yourselves a favour and pick up the album. Here ends this public service announcement.

A comeback of a rather more emotional nature kicks off the lower end of the Top 40. Number 21 sees a new entry for Luther Vandross, the first single from the veteran soul singer since the major stroke he suffered at the start of last year. Defying all the odds he battled back to record an acclaimed new album which picked up a clutch of Grammys - including Best Song for Dance With My Father. Released as a single here at long last it becomes his first Top 40 hit since October 1996. His biggest hits have always come in collaboration with others, Luther Vandross having hit Number 3 in September 1994 with Mariah Carey on Endless Love and Number 2 in August 1992 in conjunction with Janet Jackson on The Best Things In Life Are Free - a remixed version of which also made Number 7 last in 1995. [The defining moment of the soul star's declining years really was just a passing and minor chart hit in this country, sad really].

Perhaps somewhat less inspiring is the Number 23 hit single chalked up by Clea Stuck In The Middle. The four girls you may remember were among the finalists in the 2002 series of Pop Stars - The Rivals. Rejected by the voting public and denied the chance to be part of Girls Aloud they duly formed their own band and scored a Number 21 hit last October with the badly underrated Download It. This second attempt at a hit has seen them gone down a rather more sultry route with this string drenched seduction song and barely-dressed video. Sadly it has turned out to be a turkey and a half which is actually something of a shame. They had potential but have just been fired in the wrong direction. All eyes will now be on Phixx, their male equivalents who did rather better with their debut single Hold On Me last October and whose new single Love Revolution is currently scheduled to hit the shops on March 8th.

Five more singles enter the Top 40 this week, tracks from Hundred Reasons, Auf Der Maur and The Still among them. Of the most interest are Little Miss Perfect from Summer Matthews at Number 32 - the singer better known as Emma Miller in the TV series Byker Grove, which as any fule kno is the series that launched Ant and Dec on the path to the celebrity that they enjoy today. Also raising eyebrows at Number 36 is the heartwarming offering Yeovil True from the players of Yeovil Town FC. The football club are riding high at the moment having last season won the FA Trophy and gained promotion to Division Three of the football league. Someone within the club had the bright idea of seeing if they could become the first ever Third Division side to have a chart record - such an honour of course normally confined to FA Cup Finalists. Thus the single was recorded and made available solely at WH Smiths in Yeovil itself. As a result of fans queuing around the block to buy the single chart history has indeed been made as with what must be one of the most concentrated local sales ever, the single has become the 36th biggest selling in the country.

As for next week, well as has already been mentioned the battle is likely to be between Westlife and Peter Andre - but watch out for Jamelia who is also almost certain of a strong new entry. That's all from me this week, but in the true spirit of the Brit awards this column has been a collaboration between myself and whoever writes the next thing you read online...