No change at the very top as the phenomenon of the moment James Blunt proves that last week was no fluke, You're Beautiful continuing to outsell the rest to spend a second week at the summit. Indeed the single actually bucks the usual trends and increases its sales to command a bigger lead in its second week at the top than it did seven days ago. Perhaps even more surprising is the rise once more of Mariah Carey whose We Belong Together had slipped a place to Number 3 last week. Today it regains second place at the expense of 2Pac and Elton who slide to 4.
The gap at Number 3 is filled by the biggest new hit of the week and one which marks the debut of a brand new solo career. Lee Ryan made up one-quarter of soulful boy band Blue who had a pretty stellar chart career by modern standards, notching up 12 Top 40 hits between 2001 and 2004, collecting three Number Ones along the way and appearing alongside acts such as Stevie Wonder and Elton John on various collaborations. The band bowed out in November last year with farewell single Curtain Falls, leaving the way clear for the inevitable solo projects. First time out Lee Ryan hasn't done too badly in truth with this gently strummed ballad Army Of Lovers that evokes memories of early Rod Stewart singles in terms of musical style. He's actually the second member of Blue to chalk up a hit outside the band, Duncan James having beaten him to it with the single I Believe My Heart (a duet with Keedie) which hit Number 2 back in October just a few weeks prior to the release of the final Blue single.
The Number 5 position this week marks the long awaited UK chart debut of Daddy Yankee and brings with it the first ever mainstream reggaeton hit. The genre is a Latino-inspired fusion of dancehall, salsa and hip-hop and has been popular amongst the Puerto Rican community in the US since the 90s. Never before has it come to the commercial mainstream but all that seems set to change with the rise to superstardom of Raymond Ayala, better known as Daddy Yankee. The single Gasolina is lifted from his album Barrio Fino which has shifted over a million worldwide. For sheer novelty value, it is hard to top this track, rapped and sung almost entirely in Spanish and set to an infectious dance beat. It isn't the easiest song to love but in equal measure is hard to hate and seems almost certain to turn Daddy Yankee into a star on these shores [give or take a decade or so, anyway]. The album contains some more accessible cuts such as Like You and King Daddy so I'd be shocked if the Puerto Rican Eminem doesn't clock up a few more hits before the year is out.
Next up at Number 6 is the seemingly evergreen Paul Weller with what is amazingly his first Top 10 hit in almost three years. His Studio 150 covers album last year gave him four straight Top 40 hits but he now returns with some original material for the first time since 2002. New single From The Floorboards Up will be a huge jolt to those expecting his more recent balladeering style. With the likes of the Futureheads having raided the Jam's catalogue for inspiration, this new single is a glorious throwback to the sound of the group that first made him famous with the Modfather rediscovering his musical roots and by the sounds of it loving every last minute. Quite deservedly the single has stormed the Top 10 to give him his biggest hit single since Peacock Suit hit Number 5 way back in 1996. 18 years after he first made the charts, Paul Weller is having Top 10 hits. That's a joy to be able to type.
New entry number 4 arrives just outside the Top 10 with Roll Deep arriving at Number 11 with The Avenue. The claim to fame of the Roll Deep Crew is that from their ranks they have already spawned two chart acts - Wiley (he of Wot Do U Call It from April 2004) and the multi award-winning Dizzee Rascal. Now they storm the charts as a collective with this catchy rap number that is accompanied by its own cleverly animated video. Admittedly most of the appeal of the single is due to the fact that it is based on not so much a sample as a wholesale lift of the chorus and melody of an 80s classic, namely Heartache Avenue which reached Number 7 for the Maisonettes back in 1982. Here was me thinking "sample" meant "small portion", or maybe they do things differently up the east end.
The Top 20 also plays host to new entries from Bloc Party (new single The Pioneers seeing their chart performances continue to reverse, this Number 18 hit following up Number 13 single Banquet which charted in May) and also the third hit single for Maximo Park, following up the Number 15 single Graffiti which also hit the chart in May.
To round off this week, cast your eyes down as far as Number 33 and the long expected reappearance of Heather Small's Proud. Originally released in 2000 it is the only notable solo success so far for the former M People singer. Its reappearance comes thanks to its extensive use as the anthem for the London 2012 Olympic bid, the track becoming even more ubiquitous following the announcement that the bid had been successful and the games had been awarded to the city. It is actually something of a surprise to see the single make such an understated chart appearance, this Number 33 entry comparing rather unfavourably to the Number 16 peak it scaled first time around. Then again just 24 hours after the huge open air party that celebrated the announcement the first bombs went off in the capital. Since then the Olympic bid has been all but forgotten.