This week's Official UK Singles Chart
As per the last couple of weeks, the race for Number One has been a close run thing. Unlike the last two weeks, however, the final result has swung in the opposite direction as Eric Prydz's Call On Me is dumped down to Number 2 for the second time, allowing one of the weeks newcomers to replace it at the top.
The song that finally does give the nation a new Number One is Wonderful by the mouth-watering collaboration of Ja Rule and R Kelly. The track is taken from an entire album the pair have made in tandem although interestingly the album Unfinished Business makes a rather lowly debut at Number 61 this week, interest in the single alone far outweighing its parent, despite the fact that most of the tracks on it are as good, if not better than Wonderful.
As for what it means for the various participants on the track, well let us take them in order. For Ja Rul, the track is far and away his biggest hit single ever. Before today his chart best was the Number 5 peak of Livin it Up which charted in August 2002 (although he had also made Number 4 as one of the contributors to Irv Gotti's Down 4 U in October that same year). This is his third chart single to feature additional vocals from Ashanti (after Always On Time and Mesmerize) whilst R Kelly becomes the 8th person to appear alongside him on record (this total includes both the tracks with Ja Rule as lead credit as well as his "featuring" credits on tracks by Jay-Z, Mary J Blige and of course Irv Gotti).
Got all that? Good, well let's move on to R Kelly who of course this week enjoys two Top 10 singles, his own Happy People/U Saved Me double header slipping four places to Number 10. Wonderful is his third UK Number One single, coming just over a year since Ignition Remix hit the top. His first was I Believe I Can Fly back in 1997. It marks the second time this year that a previously chart-topping artist has appeared on a Number One track by another person, P Diddy having received a credit on Mario Winans' I Don't Wanna Know in June.
What about Ashanti then. This track marks her return to the chart for the first time since her own Rain On Me charted at Number 19 in November 2003. As has been noted she is something of a serial collaborator with Ja Rule, having now appeared on three of his hits as well as also taking a stand on the Irv Gotti track on which Ja Rule also appeared. Prior to today, Ashanti had never managed to chart higher than Number 4, something she managed on three successive singles in 2002, Fat Joe's What's Luv, her own Foolish and yes, the aforementioned Irv Gotti single Down 4 U.
The second biggest new hit of the week goes to Daniel Bedingfield who, in launching the campaign for his second album has elected to release a single which gives lazy writers everywhere the chance to make bad puns at his expense. Yes, this single marks his comeback after the rather nasty road accident he suffered at the start of the year threatened to put the brakes on his career somewhat. Nothing Hurts Like Love? I'm sure he begs to differ really. Daniel Bedingfield is also in the rather strange position of currently playing second fiddle to his younger sister in the fame stakes. Having spent most of his own celebrity career talking her up as much as possible he has watched her explode onto the music scene in quite spectacular fashion. Who can blame him for enlisting some heavy duty songwriting help to relaunch his own singing career. The heavy duty help in question is songwriting legend Diane Warren who penned Nothing Hurts Like Love. Still searching for her fourth UK Number One, this is at least her first hit to go Top 3 on either side of the Atlantic since Faith Hill's There You'll Be back in 2001. Her last Top 10 single in this country was Too Lost In You which made Number 10 for the Sugababes in December last year. For Daniel Bedingfield, this is his first chart single since Friday made a disappointing Number 28 in November 2003 - its low position was due to it being the sixth single mined from his debut album. The other five all went Top 10, three of them topping the charts.
At Number 4 is a new entry for Jay Sean, last seen in the Top 10 back in July alongside Rishi Rich on Eyes On You. New single Stolen charts two places higher than his previous offering and is a magnificent offering, a smooth soulful garage and R&B hybrid of the kind that Craig David should really have put on his last album. If you want a new star to talk up in a big way, you could do much worse than hanging your hat on Jay Sean.
Another comeback of a kind lands at Number 7 this week in the shape of the first single in over a year for Dannii Minogue. The younger Minogue sister will forever labour under the shadow of being the second most famous member of her family yet this appears not to affect her ability to return every so often with a rather fabulous pop record. You Won't Forget About Me continues her impressive run of form since she made her chart return with Who Do You Love Now back in 1991 and duly becomes her fifth Top 10 hit in a row. Just like that comeback single, she performs it as the guest of the producers, Flower Power getting themselves an equal credit on the single, just as Riva did on Who Do You Love Now. All in all, it is her ninth Top 10 hit since she made her chart debut back in 1991. The only possible grounds for criticism are that with every step it becomes harder and harder to distinguish between her records and those of her sister. Maybe that dream singles chart duet isn't so far away?
At Number 9 the frustrating story of the Libertines continues with What Became Of The Likely Lads (inspired by but, not related to the 1970s sitcom) becoming their second Top 10 hit in a row, the follow-up to Number 2 hit Can't Stand Me Now. Enjoy the records while they last because the possibility remains that the most exciting band on record at the moment may never quite sound this good again. Whilst Pete Doherty has defied all expectations by remaining alive thus far and has even broken the habit of not turning up to his own gigs, his focus remains on his Babyshambles outfit, putting the chances of a return to the Libertines fold even further away than ever.
Landing just outside the Top 10 at Number 11 is the UK chart debut for Danzel. Now no sniggering at the back but the man, real name Johem Waeem, was a finalist in Pop Idol in his home country of Belgium last year. Fear not though for he is no karaoke balladeer in the Gareth Gates or even Kurt Nilsen mould. Instead Pump It Up is a not totally unpleasant club track featuring a fine vocal from the Idol himself. Insubstantial pop but inoffensive enough. Gareth Gates would be advised not to get any ideas from this though, I doubt he could pull it off.
Just below are Noise Next Door, latest pop kids on the block and firmly in the Busted/McFly mould, performing self-penned schoolboy rock. The three are all identical triplets and claim to have been discovered in their local supermarket by songwriter John McLaughlin, the brains behind songs for the likes of Blue and also, as it happens, Busted. Noise Next Door's debut single is actually far from naff, possessing the kind of chorus that sucks you in regardless of whether you are in their target audience of 14-year-old girls. Certainly Lock Up Ya Daughters actually is a step beyond the rather annoying naffness of McFly and it is more than a little annoying to only see the single languishing at Number 12 - by all rights this should be a Top 3 smash.
At Number 14 is the third Top 40 hit for tongue in cheek rappers Goldie Lookin Chain, this single the follow-up to August's Guns Don't Kill People Rappers Do which went Top 3. This new single suffers from the one thing that is destined to hold them back, namely that if you don't get or buy into the joke of them being the embodiment of chav kids made good then the records themselves come across as a bit insubstantial. Your Mother's Got A Penis may have the best title of the year but aside from that the tale of gender-bending parents has little to recommend it, save for the sample in the chorus which borrows from (of all things) Eric Clapton's 1987 hit single Behind The Mask. [The rendition owes more to the Yellow Magic Orchestra original in truth].
Better news comes at Number 16 as Kings Of Leon return with a single taken from their brand new album. The band managed two hits in 2003 from their debut offering, What I Saw and Molly's Chambers making Number 22 and 23 respectively. This week, of course, they can celebrate a first ever Top 20 hit with The Bucket. The same is true for former Blur guitarist Graham Coxon who saw his decision to hit the chat show circuit last week pay off, second single Freakin' Out/All Over Me lands at Number 19, a huge improvement on his last offering Spectacular which could only reach Number 32.
Finally amongst the also-rans the new entry at Number 25 is worthy of note, the first Top 40 single in almost five years for singing legend Tina Turner. The days when she could rely on the patronage of the ageing crop of Radio One DJs are long gone and so, in all honesty, are her chances of ever landing a big hit single of the kind she managed in the 80s and 90s. New single Open Arms is taken from a new Greatest Hits album which covers her entire career, from her solo years right back to the Ike and Tina Turner days in the 1960s. The single itself isn't actually half bad and her voice is as fine as ever but whereas back in the 1980s this would have been a guaranteed Top 3 smash it sounds distinctly out of place in the charts of 2004 and this Top 30 placing is really the best she could have hoped for. Still, credit where credit is due, this is her 28th Top 40 hit since she made her solo debut with Let's Stay Together way back in November 1983. That is a 21-year chart career for a lady who had already been in showbiz for two decades before even having a hit single of her own.