This week's Official UK Singles Chart

Nothing can shift them, at least not for the moment anyway. Not even the presence in the shops for the last two weeks of parent album Change has had enough of an impact on About You Now by The Sugababes to prevent the single from maintaining its lead over the chasing pack. It is enough to ensure the single spends a fourth week at the top of the singles chart this week, making it now the longest running Number 1 single of their career. It is also as it happens, the longest-running Number One single by an all-female act since the seven-week reign of Wannabe from the Spice Girls way back in 1996.

The Sugababes single holds off the challenge of the now fully released Valerie by Mark Ronson which rises to a comfortable second place, matching the peak he scaled earlier this year with Stop Me. Most of the headlines this week will, however, be made by the single which arrives, some would say unexpectedly, at Number 3.

Has Britney Spears got a new single out then? You would have thought the press would have made a bigger deal out of it really and coupled the promotion of it with some amazing insights into her celebrity lifestyle to counter her naturally shy and retiring nature.

Before this joke is sledgehammered any further home, let's try to be fair for a moment and recap where we were up to in the story of Britney Spears. As far as the charts were concerned we last saw her in March 2005 when her last single Do Somethin' made an efficient enough Number 6 appearance, spending a fairly credible six weeks inside the Top 40. As someone who had more to lose than most artists with the dissolution of the Cheiron hit factory which had kickstarted her career, she appeared to have weathered the storm nicely, topping the charts with apparent ease with Toxic and Everytime in 2004. Indeed by the time she took a self-imposed hiatus from the industry the question marks were not so much over the quality and popularity of her music but her increasingly bedraggled appearance and media snickering over her marriage to a man portrayed by and large as a total deadbeat.

Fast forward two years then and we find her almost consumed by the media hurricane, dumping the husband yet apparently seeing her life spiral out of control to the extent that even judges think her children are better off with their father. Now, after all the hair-shaving, underwear-forgetting and bad driving she is attempting to pick up her singing career where it left off. Few people if any gave her new material a chance. Even without its now notorious first airing last month [this was the MTV Video awards performance where she appeared in a jewel-encrusted bikini she didn't quite have the body to pull off and regularly wandered out of tune], we all wondered if - aside from hysterical gay men - does Britney even have a fan base anymore?

Well, take that, us. We may have been wrong. Unleashed online a week ahead of full release, Britney Spears' first single in two and a half years Gimme More charges into the Top 3 as if she had never been away. Maybe it proves that there is no such thing as bad publicity, as the track is as leaden and uninspiring as her now famous VMAs performance. With anyone else's name attached it would have struggled to make the Top 30. As a Britney Spears track it has wound up as a cast iron major hit single in a manner that nobody would have predicted even just a few weeks ago.

This, of course, means that next week we are set for a chart battle of almost epic proportions as the big guns come out to play just in time for half term. It is a genuine four corners battle. Britney Spears with her one week start, Take That with a brand new yet maybe rather overrated new single, last year's X-Factor winner Leona Lewis with her universally praised first single proper and heck, even McFly whose chart-topping form is not to be sniffed at, despite their inability to sell records after the first week. Watch the press over the next week, the singles chart is about to receive the most attention it has had in months.

Mind you, should we write off some other potentially massive hits which so far have not featured in all the hype. Still not out until October 29, Timbaland's latest offering Apologize (sic) wastes no time in becoming a download Top 10 hit, soaring 32-6. Technically the producer can now boast two simultaneous Top 10 hits thanks to his co-credit on 50 Cent's Ayo Technology which is still clinging on at Number 9.

Also new in the Top 10 is Happy Ending from Mika which moves 16-7 upon physical release. His continuing ability to have hit singles is rather pleasantly reassuring. For all the "next big thing" hype that accompanied his arrival in the mainstream at the start of the year, the high camp primary colours nature of his work carried with it the risk that Grace Kelly would make him a one hit wonder. That we are now almost in November with his 4th Top 10 single and the Life In Cartoon Motion album still in the Top 20 is proof enough that he is no novelty. Where he goes with a second album will, of course, be fascinating.

Also in the queue for a place in next week's epic chart battle are the Freemasons who move comfortably into the Top 10 with Uninvited which leaps 21-8. Even before physical release it is now their biggest ever hit single, propelling them into the Top 10 for the very first time. Guest singer Bailey Tzuke can also celebrate having outdone her mother in singles terms. Although a strong albums artist with eight chart hits between 1979 and 1989, Judy Tzuke had just one solitary hit single, the still classic Stay With Me Til Dawn which made Number 16 in the summer of 1979.

Racing into the Top 20 at Number 13 are The Killers who return to hitmaking ways after the rather unexpected failure of their last single For Reasons Unknown which stiffed at Number 53. Brand new track Tranquilize is taken from a forthcoming album of b-sides and rarities, the track featuring a choir of children and an uncredited vocal cameo from no less a figure than Lou Reed. The performance of the single is all the more impressive when you consider that it is to all intents and purposes a download-only release, its only physical form being a limited edition 7-inch pressing which will hit the shops on November 5.

Time then for Elvis single of the week, and in a sign that sales are perking up overall he can only creep to Number 16 with Wear My Ring Around Your Neck. A Number 3 hit from 1958, it is the last Rock N' Roll Elvis single to hit the chart as part of the current reissue program. We're now going to skip neatly over his crap movie soundtrack period from the 1960s and hit the comeback years with the re-release of what are pleasingly some of his best singles ever.

The wheels may have come off the England Rugby World Cup campaign at the weekend, but as an, ahem, knock-on effect a famous old single finally becomes a UK hit. As I mentioned last week, once it became known that the England side had adopted The Gambler as a good luck anthem, download sales of the C&W track picked up. This week they didn't so much as pick up as surge toward the goal line, rocketing the track 48 places to give Kenny Rogers a Number 22 hit single. One of his most famous recordings, it has until now never been a UK hit but made Number 16 on the US Hot 100 in early 1979.

There are mixed fortunes lower down the singles chart for the batch of future releases bubbling under. Akon's Sorry Blame It On Me reverses five places to Number 28 whilst Rihanna zooms into the Top 40 at Number 29 with Hate That I Love You. It means Rihanna now becomes one of the few female artists in chart history to have three simultaneous Top 40 hits with Shut Up And Drive at Number 25 and Umbrella still hanging doggedly on at Number 36. Also rising slowly are Kanye West and T-Pain, Good Life moving 37-33 with their November 5 release.

As far as the oddities lower down go, a few eyebrows will be raised at the appearance of Rule The World by Take That appearing at Number 46. Although officially released this week (October 22) the track was made available online at the weekend, resulting in it picking up enough sales to register a chart placing. Also entertaining is the unexpected effect the forthcoming Westlife single Home is having. A cover of the Michael Buble track, it hits the shops next week (October 29) but in anticipation of this some keen fans have been snapping up the original, resulting in it charting this week at Number 61, over two and a half years since it first peaked at Number 31. Perhaps even more entertainingly, the track isn't the only Westlife track called Home. A song of the same name appeared on their 2003 album Turnaround and enough people have snapped it up without listening to the sample for it to register a place on the Top 200. You couldn't make it up.