Funny story. Whilst on a browsing session earlier this week I came across an Elvis fans message board upon which I was being bashed for expressing relief a fortnight ago that Ciara's Goodies beat Elvis to the top and prevented him from getting three Number One hits in a row. Well, brace yourselves, kids, because there is a big smile on this face yet again. We are spared the indignity of more superannuated MOR clogging up the top slot thanks to a late surge from Eminem whose new single Like Toy Soldiers proudly claims the Number One position. Whilst it may not be his greatest track ever, it was always an obvious choice for single release thanks to the catchy chorus (of which more in a moment). The single gives him back to back Number Ones for the second time in his career, following on from Just Lose It which charted at the back end of last year. Overall it is his sixth Number One single, putting him still further ahead as the most successful rapper chart-wise of all time. Like Toy Soldiers takes as its hook the sampled chorus from Toy Soldiers which was the debut hit single for Martika back in 1989 - the single reaching Number 5 on these shores. Martika was at the time being hailed as the next big thing in American pop and even had the dreaded "new Madonna" label planted on her by some. Sadly it wasn't to last and despite some well received Prince collaborations on her second album in 1991 she got married, retreated from show business and vanished off the radar - until this year when the Eminem sample prompted her to emerge from hiding.
Still, even without a Number One single there is no holding Elvis back and this week's reissued offering Are You Lonesome Tonight slides in at Number 2 to give him his fifth Top 3 hit in as many weeks. First time around the single was Elvis' second Number One in a row, topping the chart in early 1961. Just like It's Now Or Never the song was older than the artist himself, having first been recorded way back in the 1920s. Elvis' version is still something of a standard and features the memorable "all the world's a stage" soliloquy in the middle. The song is one of the few Elvis singles that has charted in two different versions. In 1982, five years after his death, a version recorded live in 1969 made it to Number 25. This particular recording was famous due to the King's inability to make it through the middle section without laughing and forgetting his words.
As I speculated last week, the decision by RCA to abandon its plan to make all the Elvis re-releases limited editions and instead allow collectors to fill the commemorative boxes that were given away a month ago may well have meant that Are You Lonesome Tonight did not quite have the "get it before it goes away" momentum of previous releases and this may well have prevented it topping the chart this week. It has also had a curious effect on the four other singles currently available. Whilst last week's Number One It's Now Or Never takes a spectacular tumble to Number 14 this week, A Fool Such As I dips a mere two places to 22 whilst One Night and Jailhouse Rock rebound spectacularly as new copies find their way into the shops, moving 40-26 and 57-27 respectively. Astoundingly enough this makes Elvis the first person ever to have five different singles inside the Top 40. Four at once has been done by three acts: John Lennon, The Jam and Oasis but Elvis is the first to manage five. The most complete chart domination since the inception of the Top 75 in 1978 was achieved by The Jam in the week of February 5th 1982 when a mass re-release program saw them have no less than 14 singles on the chart at once - four of them inside the Top 40.
Moving on and at Number 3 we have a man who deserves our admiration. Brian McFadden is he, and let's face it you do have to hand it to him. First, he kicks off his solo career with Real To Me, a song about how important his home life and his wife and family are. Then around the time of the release of his second single Irish Son he leaves said wife and family rather acrimoniously and now releases a third solo hit in the shape of a love duet with Delta Goodrem, the woman for whom he appears to have left the wife and family for. Now that takes style. The latest celebrity couple of the moment waltz into the Top 3 to give McFadden his third solo hit and Goodrem her fifth hit single. This most topical of collaborations has given her a second successive Top 10 single, her last hit Out Of The Blue having made Number 9 back in November. Indeed Almost Here ranks as her joint biggest hit to date, matching the Number 3 peak of Born To Try from March 2003.
Marching in at Number 5 are Bloc Party, the foursome formed through small ads in the music press celebrating their biggest hit to date. So Here We Are/Positive Tension is their third Top 40 hit to date, Little Thoughts making Number 38 in July last year whilst Helicopter made a slightly better Number 26 in November. With a Top 5 hit to their name, they can indeed claim to have arrived once and for all on the, er, bloc.
Also creeping into the Top 10 at Number 9 are Good Charlotte. I Just Wanna Live is their second single from the current album, the follow-up to Predictable which made Number 12 back in October. It is their fourth Top 10 single in all and their biggest hit since Girls And Boys hit Number 6 in May 2003.
One place below are Uniting Nations whose pre-Christmas release Out Of Touch simply refuses to go away. By climbing from Number 13 it makes the Top 10 for the second time, its high point so far having been the Number 7 peak it scaled five weeks ago. Of a similar vintage is Jay-Z and Linkin Park's Numb/Encore which has been bounding around the Top 20 ever since its release before the holiday. Having now travelled 14-18-19-19-18-17-16-17-14-17-18 word has it the single is set for an untimely deletion in a classic act of record company stupidity. [Fortunately they held off].
Just above all of this at Number 11 are Duran Duran, the 80s legends proving that October's Reach Up (For The Sunrise) (A Number 5 hit) was no fluke as their new single What Happens Tomorrow gives them back to back Top 20 hits for the first time since Ordinary World and Come Undone followed each other into the chart in 1993.
After several weeks of frantic turnover on the singles chart, it is almost a pleasant novelty to report that the bottom end is relatively quiet. One final new entry of note, however, is at Number 34 in the shape of I'm From Further North Than You, the first chart single in seven years for indie legends The Wedding Present. The Leeds band boast a chart career that dates back to the late 80s and were last seen on the chart back in January 1997 when Montreal crept in at Number 40. It is a topical come back as they are the current holders of the "most singles in a calendar year" record following their epic run in 1992 when they released a new single every month, all 12 making the Top 40. Elvis Presley is of course set to break that with all 18 of his Number One singles being released back to back but of course they are all re-releases. The Wedding Present set their record with 12 brand new songs.