Something relatively unusual happened this week. The single said to be leading the pack by the middle of the week ended up failing to reach the top slot - and not only that landed a few places down the chart, its sales simply failing to keep up with the rest as the weekend approaches. All this was very good news for former Westlife star Brian McFadden who saw his first ever solo single struggling at Number 2 for much of the week, ascending to the top only when the final sales figures were compiled.
The chart-topping success of Real To Me will come as a vindication of McFadden's decision to quit the group with which he has had a record-breaking string of Number One hits in order to forge a solo career. Confessing that being in the group had left him on the verge of a breakdown, he has now emerged slimmer, more confident, with a changed first name (he claims that the Bryan spelling he has always used before was a showbiz affectation) and a firm belief he is set to become the next Ronan Keating. The single helps him to the top of the charts for the first time since Westlife's Mandy hit the summit in November last year.
As for the single, that was set to top the charts at the start of the week, well that was the one by McFly, That Girl being their third hit single of the year. In truth, they never really had a commanding lead at the top of the charts, one report suggesting that at one stage during the week their lead over Brian McFadden was as little as one copy. Even so, it is rather a comedown for the boy band who saw their first two singles charge easily to the Number One position to end up with little more than the third biggest seller of the week. Just for a change, the full story isn't actually told by the chart positions themselves as the sales clocked up by Five Colours In Her Hair and Obviously when they topped the charts in April and July were among the lowest totals of the year. Appealing though McFly are, their loyal fanbase possibly isn't quite big enough to guarantee them the Number One position when the competition in the charts is stronger than usual.
That said, if ever there was an "easy" chart week then this is the one, the McFadden and McFly singles the only ones to enter the Top 10 this week. For the third biggest new single we have to look way down at Number 11. I Like Dat marks the UK debut of hot new rapper Houston, clocking in at barely 20 years old but able to command a guest list on his debut single that includes the likes of Chingy and Nate Dogg. The track is one of those rap singles which can stand a second listen by the casual fan but I suspect only true hip-hop fans will appreciate it properly. Good for a first effort but he can probably do better.
The unlikeliest comeback of the year continues with Peter Andre's latest single The Right Way oozing in at Number 14 - a come down admittedly from the Number 3 peak of the much hyped Insania which was released back in June. The track demonstrates that Andre's new career is about to suffer the same fate as his first back in the mid-90s for whilst he works great as a pop star singing lighthearted songs such as Mysterious Girl, deep down he wants to be seen as a serious R&B talent - at which point we lose our ability to take him seriously.
A more welcome chart return is at Number 15 as Leeds rockers The Music unveil their brand new single Freedom Fighters. The group had a trio of Top 30 singles in 2002 and 2003, the biggest being Take The Long Road And Walk It which hit Number 14. Their trademark style was tracks with big looping guitar figures of the kind that steadily get under your skin until you are humming them for days. This new single from their second album picks up where past hits left off - their only challenge will be proving that they still have something to say with the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Kasabian having overtaken them as the coolest bands around while they were away in the studio.
Down in the Top 30, there is a Number 25 new entry for Europop act Soul Control who I suspect are set to annoy a great many people with the soca flavoured Chocolate (Choco Choco). An instant smash hit had it been released at the start of the summer, the single I suspect will have missed the boat here arriving just as the nights start to draw in. In years gone by there was a huge market for UK autumn releases of summertime Euro smashes but these days you need to hit the summer dead on to capitalise on any feel-good feeling that a summertime hit generates. It is a shame as I've have loved this to have been a smash, as it stands the single is unlikely to be around longer than a week.
At Number 34 are Jet, still struggling for that big hit single that will propel them into the mainstream. They came pretty close back in June when a timely re-release of their first chart single Are You Gonna Be My Girl saw them land inside the Top 20 for the very first time. Cold Hard Bitch is their fourth chart single and fifth Top 40 hit but regrettably, it winds up as their joint smallest, matching the peak of Rollover DJ which was a hit almost 12 months ago.
Finally to bring up the rear in a week which has frankly been dead, dead, deader than dead is something which is nothing less than a very pleasant surprise. The career of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds stretches back over 20 years, in which time the group have remained very much a cult success. The presence of Nature Boy at Number 37 marks only the third time the group have ever penetrated the Top 40 with a single release. This is, in fact, their first Top 40 single in over 8 years, not since the PJ Harvey guesting track Henry Lee reached Number 36 in 1996 have they had cause to trouble the producers of the Top 40 show. Nick Cave's biggest ever hit came from the most bizarre of sources - a 1995 duet with none other than Kylie Minogue saw Where The Wild Roses Grow soar to Number 11.
As for the download chart, it continues to surprise and delight and to be, well, utter bollocks frankly. At Number One is a "new entry" for Natasha Bedingfield's month old These Words - putting the latest technology several paces behind the supposedly old fashioned stuff. The top 3 new entries on the sales chart: Brian McFadden, McFly and Houston are all available on iTunes according to my quick scan - yet none appear on the download chart, at least not for this week. [This was actually the main reason downloads were so slow to be properly integrated, the market at this time so immature it was very much the domain of the early adopters and not quite mirroring the rest of the mainstream. Simultaneous digital and physical releases also took time to come onstream, labels understandably still unwilling to undermine their retail partners too quickly. This would change, but not before the end of the year].