Change is good for all of us isn't it? Finally, after what seems like most of the summer on top, the ubiquitous James Blunt is finally dumped from the top of the charts, his place taken by one of the few remaining pop acts with the ability to make an instant chart splash.
In a way, it is a shame that Tony Christie and Peter Kay stole all the Comic Relief thunder with what was after all just a straight re-release of an old 70s song. How many can remember that the official Comic Relief single was actually McFly's All About You, far and away their finest single to date, the plaintive acoustic and strings ballad standing out as one of the better, if cheesiest, singles of the year. It is on the back of that single that they release the brand new track I'll Be OK which instantly flies to the top of the chart to give them their fourth Number One hit single in a little over 16 months. Like their past hits, I'll Be OK goes large on the 60s influences, full of Merseybeat harmonies, cheeky smiles to the gallery and a great deal of heart. Ugly rumours suggest that the band are getting cold feet about their status as teen idols and *sigh* want to do the serious artist thing. All they need is good advisors to take them aside and point out that musical credibility and pop appeal are not mutually exclusive. We've moved on far enough from the days of the manufactured boy band for there to be no doubts in anyone's minds about the skills and talents of the members of McFly. If they carry on writing songs like this then they will remain huge stars, no matter how many times they also appear as Smash Hits centrefolds.
Coming as if from a completely different direction is the second biggest new hit of the week. The first official Babyshambles single Killamangiro was Number 8 hit in December last year and nine months on it is almost as if time has stood still. Frontman Pete Doherty has continued to generate tabloid headlines for anything but his music, ranging from tales of debauchery, abortive concert performances and his on again off again on again who really gives a damn again relationship with model Kate Moss. Yes, like no other name artist in the last generation, the music made by Pete Doherty is secondary at best to tales of his debauched lifestyle. For all that he still manages to have an audience and the pleasantly named Fuck Forever flies into the chart at Number 4 to rank as his second biggest hit ever - second in fact only to the Libertines' Can't Stand Me Now which was a Number 2 hit almost exactly a year ago. In truth the Doherty myth is built around his live performances and energy he brings to each song on the occasions he pitches up in a fit state to perform. Somehow that just doesn't translate well on record and to the casual ear, this new single is a cacophonous mess, a jarring production over which the much-vaunted singer cannot even be bothered to hold a tune. Make no mistake, this is the biggest hit single you will see this year that is based on reputation rather than musicality alone.
The second of a trio of new entries in the middle of the Top 10 this week is, sad to say, a new recording of a far more worthy old single. Following on from the Top 3 re-release of golden oldie Run To The Hills at the start of the year, Iron Maiden crash into the chart with a brand new live version of The Trooper, originally a Number 12 hit in 1983. The track is taken from their brand new live CD and DVD Death On The Road which of course will sell in shedloads, albeit to their ever loyal band of followers. As befits their status as metal legends, Iron Maiden have hit the charts with their fair share of live hits during the course of their 25-year career. At Number 5, The Trooper has the honour of being their biggest live single to date, just beating the Number 6 position scaled by Infinite Dreams in November 1989. Interestingly enough the last live single to top the charts came way back in 1993 when George Michael and Queen hit the top with the Five Live EP, although honourable mention must go to Westlife who released a special live version of Flying Without Wings last summer as an online single with the deliberate aim of having the Number One hit on the first ever download chart.
Had enough rock for one week? Well tough, as at Number 6 is the very welcome sound of British Whale - a man better known in another guise as Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins. The story goes that the recording of the new Darkness album (the follow-up to the career-defining Permission To Land) has been a rather fraught one with the band disagreeing slightly on the direction their career should take. The end result was a series of sessions that were uniquely Justin rather than Darkness - cue a spontaneous solo album to break the gap in between Darkness releases proper. The first single is a case in point, a glorious romp through This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us, originally and famously a Number 2 hit for Sparks back in 1974. Listening to it you can see just why this would not have worked as a Darkness single proper, the campness and sheer over the top fun is just a step too far removed from the "proper" rock band that deep down you know Justin's bandmates actually are. Instead as a solo release, it works a treat. Stars of the video are none other than darts legend Phil "The Power" Taylor and bizarrely enough Sparks themselves - Ron and Russell Mael. To complete the circle of coincidence, the last appearance of Sparks in the Top 10 was in collaboration with Faith No More on a single which hit Number 40 in December 1997 - a remake of This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us. Strange but true.
Honourable mention this week must go to Kelly Clarkson whose single Since U Been Gone is showing staying power far in excess of any normal hit of its stature. Now seven weeks old, the single has not been out of the Top 10 since release and has, in fact, spent its entire chart career at either position 5, 6 or 7, the full chart run to date reading 5-6-7-6-5-7-7.
Just one new single hits the chart between 11 and 20, that honour going to Jamiroquai who breaks the guitar-based rut that we are in this week with his new single Seven Days In Sunny June. His/their second hit of the year it follows up Feels Just Like It Should from back in June which returned them to the Top 10 for the first time in four years when it hit Number 8. The lesser placing of this single suggests that the Top 10 return was a bit of a one-off - diminishing returns from further singles from the album will be par for the course from this moment on.
Finally, as far as the also-rans are concerned, mention must be made of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club who narrowly miss out on a Top 20 single this week, Ain't No Easy Way landing gently at Number 21. It is the first Top 40 hit in two years for the group and they can be forgiven for feeling frustrated at not bettering their last single, Stop which hit Number 19 in August 2003 and for the moment remains their biggest hit to date.