No shocks at the top end of the singles chart as Take That retain pole position with the ever more majestic Shine, this the second week at the top for the single. Their ten Number One singles have now spent a combined total of 27 weeks at the top of the chart, with all but one now having managed more than a solitary week. The all time record is, it is safe to say, still some way away from them, Elvis topping that particular table with 80 weeks at the top during his entire career. The most successful group of all time are of course the Beatles who clocked up 69 weeks at the top, all of these coming between 1963 and 1969. The other record holders are also chart veterans, Cliff coming in third with 44 weeks, Frankie Laine in fifth place with 32 and finally Abba in sixth with 31.
That said, the rest of the Top 10 are by and large acts who have raced to their totals in recent years. That That are still the most successful "contemporary" act, having now eclipsed the 25 weeks that Madonna has notched up to date. Wet Wet Wet come next with 23 weeks at Number One to their name followed by the Spice Girls whose final Number One hit Holler gave them their 22nd week at the top. Westlife's well-documented propensity for losing sales rapidly counts against them here. For all their many Number One hits they have to date managed just 20 weeks in total although they need just one more chart-topper to draw level with Queen and thus take tenth place on the all time list.
Number 2 on this week's chart is taken by Gwen Stefani and Akon who make a one place rise with The Sweet Escape. Appropriately enough this is now Gwen's biggest solo hit single and scales the peak almost exactly ten years since she had the biggest hit of her career, topping the charts with No Doubt and Don't Speak. The other big Top 10 mover is Justin Timberlake who moves 10-4 with What Goes Around Comes Around. His target too is arguably a Top 3 hit to ensure that the Futuresex/Lovesounds album matches the achievement of his solo debut Justified in spawning three straight Top 3 hits. His last two singles are still floating around, My Love and SexyBack lining up at 62 and 63 this week.
Just two songs enter the Top 10, as expected Camille Jones and Fedde Le Grand move 16-7 with The Creeps as the club hit becomes even more of a crossover pop record. The big dance losers this week are Cascada who take an unexpected 8-11 tumble with Miracle, although this is easily explained away with the release of their album which lands on the long players chart at Number 6.
The other Top 10 new entry is Nelly Furtado who creeps up a place to see Say It Right land at Number 10. One suspects that the single would have climbed further but for what appears to be the rather head-scratching decision of the label to abort the physical release of the track and leave it as a download only hit instead. Not that we should be too surprised given that her label have past form in yanking her singles from the shops, her Number One single Maneater having been deleted and removed from the chart last year long before its sales burned out. Nonetheless, if the single does fail to make it to retail at all it will have the honour of becoming the first Top 10 hit never to be given a full shop release. [It sure was, a taste of things to come].
The highest new entry of any kind lands at Number 13 marks a watershed moment in the career of Scottish alternative trio Biffy Clyro. Their 14th single release finally becomes their first ever Top 20 hit as Saturday Superhouse storms the chart as the first "official" single from their latest album Puzzle (album track Semi-Mental was a download-only release at the back end of last year). The single is their fifth to reach the Top 40 but only 2004 release Glitter And Trauma came close to the Top 20, peaking agonisingly one place short. Further progress for this particular track is unlikely as it arrives on the chart on combined sales, but the presence of one of the more frustratingly hitless names on the scene this high up the listing is well worth a moment to appreciate.
Physical releases also help two more singles climb into the Top 10 although it is clear that this will represent their ultimate peaks. Leading the charge is Omarion who had peaked at Number 19 with downloads of Ice Box three weeks ago. The arrival of a CD single gives the track a bit more of a boost and it reaches a new high of Number 14. One place below is Lily Allen who moves 22-15 with Alfie, now officially listed alongside Shame For You as per the billing on the CD single. Really it is a shame that the track took so long to appear as a single but its lighthearted charm sits rather at odds with the more down to earth credible image Lily Allen portrays in the rest of her material. Her most appealing single to date it might be, but it is perhaps best left as a novelty release. [That it may be, but it is still Lily's most loveable single. A Puppet On A String pastiche, a puppet video and in the lyrics she tells her little brother (future respected actor Alfie Allen) off for being a twat. What's not to love?]
The presence of the all-conquering Take That comeback only helps to throw into sharp relief the woes of their former bandmate Robbie Williams whose problems continue with the arrival at a rather miserable Number 16 of his latest single She's Madonna (the title apparently a cheeky reference to the reason a certain film director once gave for dumping his then girlfriend). One of two celebrated collaborations with the Pet Shop Boys on his poorly received Rudebox album, the track is at the very least one of the few tracks which doesn't attempt to lose itself in its own cleverness and instead concentrates on being a normal pop record. Sadly this hasn't helped its chart prospects and having sold in minute quantities as a download, the CD single leaves him with a distinctly mid table hit. Should it progress no further it will be only his third solo hit not to reach the Top 10, and although even this is a better performance than the Number 22 peak of Sin Sin Sin from June last year, questions will now be asked as to just what Robbie has to do to regain his superstar aura.
Moving well and truly in the right direction is electronics wizard Calvin Harris [superstar debut klaxon!] whose retro instrumental [it has lyrics] Acceptable In The 80s arrived on the chart at Number 32 last week and which now vaults to Number 17, one week ahead of a full shop release. The odd club hit notwithstanding, genuine instrumental hits [of which this is not one] are few and far between in the pop charts and it will be a source of some interest to see just how far this manages to rise in seven days time.
Down the bottom end of the Top 40, there are two brand new entries from some veteran 80s acts. First up are Madness who arrive at Number 23 with Sorry. The first single from what is set to be their first album of brand new material in over seven years, the track is sadly destined to progress no further, although at the very least it is their highest charting single since Lovestruck kicked off their 21st-century comeback by peaking at Number 10 in July 1999.
Then we come to Simply Red who have for some years now been operating as an online act, Mick Hucknall having eschewed record companies in favour of trading online as simplyred.com. In this new digital age you might have expected them to be ideally poised to take advantage but their first single release of the new era So Not Over You lands limply at Number 34. Their last two Top 40 hits have also performed in a similar fashion, Perfect Love making Number 30 in October 2005 with its predecessor Home creeping to Number 40 in April 2004. Mick and crew were last in the Top 10 as recently as 2003 so a new era comeback is still not a complete impossibility, particularly as this single demonstrates that his voice and songwriting abilities remain as exquisite as ever.
Back inside the Top 30 and two big name acts find that continuing success is eluding them for now. The Christmastime failure of Land Of A Thousand Words was clearly no one-off for the Scissor Sisters who this week see She's My Man land at a lowly Number 28 even with a full shop release. Just one place above is Joss Stone with Tell Me 'Bout It, her first hit single for almost two years. Still trying to live down her "what the hell was she thinking" Brits appearance [for those who have forgotten, she climbed on stage to present an award affecting a really odd American accent and attempting to out-sing Amy Winehouse at the peak of her powers. Jaws of the entire audience on the floor], she is in the unenviable position of trying to launch new material to a public who have been conditioned to laugh at her accent rather than admire her singing talents, which seems such a shame.
Let's instead end on the positive and two future big hits making nice progress up the chart. Fergie moves 26-22 with Glamorous which is out physically on March 19th whilst Christina Aguilera leaps 61-24 with Candyman. Due out on March 26th, the track is far and away one of the highlights of the Back To Basics album, a glorious Andrews Sisters pastiche which borrows the melody of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and updates it to become a heavenly three minutes of 21st-century jazz pop. My predictive powers still aren't fully tuned to the new chart era, but is it so wrong to wish this to be at the top of the charts this time next month?