This week's Official UK Singles Chart

Well, we knew this was going to happen sooner rather than later under the new regulations. Having debuted at Number 18 last week on download sales alone, this week Ne-Yo's So Sick hit the shops this week and as a result takes a flying leap, right to the very top of the singles chart. Thus the record joins the elite list of singles to have climbed to Number One from outside the Top 10. For years the all-time record was held by Captain Sensible whose rendition of Happy Talk shot 33-1 in 1982 but this was shattered in 2001 by DJ Otzi's Hey Baby which landed at Number 45 on import sales in September that year before rising to Number One when fully released the previous week. As the import and official single had the same catalogue number this was counted as a continuous chart run and hence a climber, starting a seemingly endless debate as to whether the record-breaker could hold his title on a rules technicality. One should, of course, note that this is no less of a technicality than this week's 18-1 rise by So Sick which has done so using a rule that all but one of the 1031 singles before it were unable to use to their benefit.

So Sick is the first R&B track to top the charts since the Pussycat Dolls did with Stickwitu in December last year and indeed Ne-Yo is the first male R&B soloist to have a UK Number One since Usher was at the top with Burn back in 2004 [this is to ignore Akon who I was still convinced was more rapper than singer]. He's written songs for other acts in the past, his best chart performance being Mario's Let Me Love You which hit Number 2 exactly one year ago. So Sick is also the second single in a row to actually rise up the chart rather than entering at the top, the first time this has happened since late 1998 when Chef and Steps both climbed the mountain.

Looking at the list of acts to have topped the chart since the turn of the year, you are struck with how refreshingly diverse the whole scene is. Since January we have had Britrock (Arctic Monkeys), hip-hop (Notorious BIG et al), dance (Meck and Leo Sayer), pop royalty (Madonna), novelty (Chico) and US rock (Orson). Add Ne-Yo to the mix and you have an impressive spread of musical styles, all capable of best-selling singles. Whinge all you want about sluggish sales, music fans in many other countries would kill to have a singles chart like this.

Just one single makes a genuine new entry to the Top 10 this week and it is a track that at one stage was challenging for the Number One slot in its own right. Embrace's chart career dates back to the late 90s when the band, led by the two McNamara brothers, turned a slow start into an impressive run of hits that climaxed in a sequence of Top 10 singles in late 97 and early 98. Always with an ear for an anthemic chorus, the group specialised in the kind of intense, slow-building track that always had you singing at the top of your voice by the very end. Tracks like Come Back To What You Know and You're Not Alone still hold up well today. However by 2001 and the end of their record deal it all seemed to be over and it took a collaboration with Coldplay's Chris Martin (himself always a fan) to revive their fortunes, Martin co-writing 2004s comeback single Gravity which returned them to the Top 10 after a six-year absence. Best of all though, that comeback was no one-off and the group return to the chart today with Nature's Law. The first track to be written by the band as a whole, it is yet another stadium-filler, a gospel choir kicking in on the choruses to give it that extra singalong quality. The single crashes into the chart to give them their biggest ever hit single, one that frustratingly landed just a thousand or so copies short of the Number One position. The sense of new beginning that saw their comeback album in 2004 titled Out Of Nothing continues today, new album This New Day hits the shops this week.

Also back with a new album (and an exclusive showcase gig to debut it) is Pink, who is never less than superb value for singles. New single Stupid Girls rises this week from a download-only Number 49 to land straight in the Top 10 at Number 4, thus becoming her biggest hit single since Feel Good Time was a Number 3 hit back in July 2003. The single is her ninth Top 10 success since her debut back in 2000, including a career-opening run of six which frustratingly came an end in 2002 with her only solo Number One to date Just Like A Pill (she did of course sing on Lady Marmalade which topped the chart in 2001). Interestingly the speculation was that the weeks head start given to download tracks would not apply to first singles, given that they are normally given a simultaneous shop and online release. This didn't apply to Stupid Girls which was given an online debut a few weeks ago. Entertainingly Pink spent last week's showcase gig aghast at the way her more dedicated fans already knew the words to some of the brand new tracks on the unreleased new album which technically they weren't supposed to have heard yet.

With the rest of the Top 10 taken up with older tracks still clinging on, the next new hit of note lands at Number 11 in the shape of Sean Paul's Temperature. It's the third single to be taken from the album The Trinity, hard on the heels of We Be Burnin' and Ever Blazing which hit Number 2 and Number 12 respectively at the back end of last year and thus completing the "fire" trilogy that highlights the album. As you would expect, the availability of the album led to the single charting at Number 53 last week, giving it a 42 place rise to achieve its first on-release chart position.

Do you think Michael Jackson is ever going to get a Top 10 single with his DualDisc releases? Several weeks in and sales for the collection remain consistent at around 6,000 copies each time and this week the re-released Bad gives him another Top 20 entry by sailing in at Number 16. The track was actually the second single to be released from his 1987 album, the first being I Just Can't Stop Loving You which didn't actually have a proper video, hence its absence from this sequence of hits. Bad the single hit Number 3 here in September 1987 and came complete with the iconic and much-parodied video showing gang wars in a disused subway station. Anticipation for the release of the album at the time had been intense, Jackson and producer Quincy Jones having locked themselves away in a studio for the best part of three years to create what they hoped would be another masterpiece to rival Thriller. As you will see from the next set of singles, it was well worth the effort.

In at Number 18, this week (technically rising from a non-canon Number 80 placing last week) are the Yeah Yeah Yeahs with the first single from their much-anticipated new album. The New Yorkers best run of hits came back in 2003 when the album Fever To Tell produced three Top 40 hits, the biggest of which being Date With The Night which hit Number 16. New single Gold Lion is every bit as good as you would expect, their deliciously retro sound still sounding as fresh as ever. Karen O's voice moves ever closer to that of 80s new wave legend Toyah, which is actually no bad thing. They will maybe be frustrated to not have had a bigger hit with Gold Lion but its availability as an e-single and that fact that the US version of parent album Show Your Bones is already online suggests that most dedicated fans will have snapped up the track well before it became eligible for the chart.

Also worthy of note this week is the appearance at Number 24 of Nelly's Grillz. Having mined his two 2004 albums Sweat and Suit for several singles, Nelly last year combined the two into a new package entitled Sweatsuit. In the US this repackaging was enhanced with a sprinkling of new tracks which for some reason were missed off the international version (retitled Sweat/Suit to avoid confusion). Number One reworking of Notorious BIG's Nasty Girl was one of them and this track is the second, its release as a single thus giving the UK audience the chance to catch up on what they would otherwise have missed. The sad thing is Grillz is actually an example of Nelly at his finest, an infectious party track ably assisted by the usual lengthy roll call of guest stars (in this case Paul Wall, Ali and Gipp). Had he debuted this as a brand new track from a totally new album you suspect it too would have shot to the Top 3. As it stands it is an afterthought addendum to a two-year-old release and this rather miserable chart placing scarcely does it justice.