In one of the most exciting battles of the year so far, two records spent the week duelling it out in the race for Number One. In the end, the power of the superstars has won out over the Sheffield scamps as Beyonce and Shakira move up the chart to claim the week's bestseller with Beautiful Liar.
It means for the second time running we have a Number One single featuring two acts who have previously topped the charts separately. Shakira has oddly enough never had a truly "solo" Number One hit, last summers all-conquering Hips Don't Lie of course being a duet with Wyclef Jean. For Beyonce, it is a slightly different matter as she continues to have the exceptional honour of having topped the chart solo (Crazy In Love), as part of a duo (Déjà vu and Beautiful Liar) and as a member of a trio (Destiny's Child with both Independent Women and Survivor). The one artist who can famously top even this is Paul McCartney who thanks to various collaborations over his long career has topped the chart solo, as a duo (with Stevie Wonder), in a trio (Wings), in a quartet (some Liverpool group) and if you stretch your imagination a little as part of a quintet thanks to Billy Preston's co-credit with The Beatles on Get Back.
So what of the Number 2 single. Well, the question we pondered last week - do Arctic Monkeys fans wait for the CD single - is answered in some style. Clearly, they do, as after two weeks locked at Number 11 on download sales, Brianstorm surges up the chart thanks to its physical release only to miss out at the death. Whilst the possibility does exist that it will climb still further next week, for the moment the single stands as their second biggest chart hit, beating out the Number 4 peak of their last single Leave Before The Lights Come On and behind their two career opening chart-toppers I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor and When The Sun Goes Down (to which Brianstorm bears a startling musical resemblance). The Number 2 placing of the single was only arrived at by a happy fluke, indications being that it outsold Give It To Me by the small matter of 12 copies over the course of the week.
Indeed, sales of the Timbaland/Furtado/Timberlake single held up well this week, selling just as many copies to reach Number 3 as it did topping the chart last week. Have some sympathy for Nelly Furtado too as she has now had both of her Number One singles to date dethroned by Shakira.
The bottom half of the Top 10 sees three new singles arrive at speed. Surging 18-6 on physical sales is Ne-Yo's Because Of You. The single is now his third Top 10 hit but for the moment still his smallest, second hit Sexy Love just edging it out with a Number 5 peak last summer. He's perhaps better regarded as a songwriter than as a performer in his own right, having co-written instant classics such as Rihanna's Unfaithful and Beyonce's Irreplaceable. At the very least Because Of You is a worthy addition to that songbook.
Also soaring is Natasha Bedingfield who moves 15-7 with I Wanna Have Your Babies. This is enough to give her a fifth Top 10 hit in six single releases. Only two of her hits have made the Top 5 (not least the 2004 Number One These Words) but I suspect Babies still has upward momentum and should join them next week.
The weeks biggest winners though are surely The Enemy. Hailing from Coventry, they have benefitted of late from the patronage of the NME and a well received support slot with the Fratellis. Their third single Away From Here now becomes their first ever chart hit, surging 52-8 after a physical release this week. The anthemic and incredibly appealing single arrives to herald the release of their debut album We'll Live And Die In These Towns which is scheduled for a July release.
From a very new band to a group of people who are now 12-year chart veterans. The highest new entry on the singles chart goes to Ash who arrive at Number 16 with You Can't Have It All. Since their first chart hit Kung Fu back in 1995 the group have amassed a grand total of 17 Top 40 hits, although frustratingly only four ever made the Top 10. Their biggest hits came in 1996 when Goldfinger and Oh Yeah made 5 and 6 respectively although for me their best work came at the turn of the decade with the Free All Angels album including the singles Burn Baby Burn and Candy. This new single is taken from their forthcoming sixth album and is their first release in seven years with their original lineup, guitarist Charlotte Hatherley leaving the group she first joined in 1999. So is the new single a worthwhile addition to their catalogue? Well actually yes, the trio's knack for a catchy chorus still very much intact and although the chart placing of this single suggests that their quest for another Top 10 single is likely to remain fruitless for now, it is great to hear them on the chart once again.
Two more future Top 10 hits continue to progress nicely into the Top 20. Akon's current US smash hit Don't Matter moves 32-17, the single still a fortnight ahead of a physical release. The track sees him blur still further the line between hip hop and R&B, making it possibly the first "rap" single to be sung in tune throughout [I'd edit that out to avoid sounding like an idiot, but it is still entertaining how 00s James was convinced Akon rapped on stuff. Which he never really did, just made hip-hop soul, And there's a subtle difference]. Just below at Number 18 Mika advances into the Top 20 with his second hit Love Today, this single hitting the shops this week (23rd). Although more or less guaranteed a Top 10 slot next week despite sounding like a Scissor Sisters b-side, the single is struggling rather to escape from the shadow of Grace Kelly which is still around, sliding 19-22 this week.
Also destined for greater things are rap act Gym Class Heroes who arrive inside the Top 40 at Number 24 with their future release Cupid's Chokehold. The American rappers pride themselves on the organic nature of their work, eschewing samples and drum machines in favour of a real band. Based on Supertramp's Breakfast In America (a guest vocal from Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump), their single is easily the most appealing rap single you will hear all year, both mellow and uplifting at the same time. Thus far it has started off slowly but with a physical release still some weeks away, the single has potential to climb much much further, check it out if you have not done so already.
Finally at the bottom end of the Top 40 two more new entries are worthy of note. Just Jack arrives at Number 32 with Glory Days, the follow-up to the still charting Starz In Their Eyes whilst one place above him is a rather disappointing debut for the new single from former Busted star Matt Willis. His fourth solo release, by rights Crash should have smash hit written all over it. A nailed on cover of the none more late 80s indie classic by the Primitives, the track features heavily on the soundtrack of the new Mr Bean film which has been topping the box office charts all Easter. Finally released physically, the single struggles to an apologetic Number 32. Poor old Beer Matt, he just can't catch a break.