[It had been much-delayed (after first being on the cards at Christmas) but this week marked the transformation of the rather tired-looking Yahoo! Launch UK site into the much brighter and fresher-looking Yahoo! Music UK & Ireland. The weekly column moved over to become what would be one of their longest-running and most read blogs and would remain in that form for the next three and a half years. This was also the first column to appear under the "Chart Watch UK" brand, which I'd suggested to the editors as the complement to the equivalent column on the US site. It is one which has stuck to this day].
Well, this shouldn't take long. All the chart headlines this week belong to Madonna who not only retains top place on the singles chart but also sees long-awaited parent album Hard Candy shoulder all competition neatly out of the way on the album chart. In doing so she sets yet another benchmark, becoming only the fourth act in the history of the UK charts (and the first woman naturally) to land herself ten Number One albums. At least that is the statistic you will read everywhere this week anyway. Some would dispute the exact total given that one of those albums was the Original Cast Recording of the movie version of Evita which had a week at the top in early 1997, and whilst Madonna was one of the lead performers on the album she by no means had solo billing. Argue amongst yourselves as to whether that actually counts.
Incidentally, the other acts with over ten Number One albums to their name? The Beatles and Elvis naturally, but also unusually for these records, the Rolling Stones who had their tenth chart-topper with Voodoo Lounge back in 1994.
Back on the singles chart and there is very little significant movement at the top end. Sam Sparro clings on at Number 2, leaving Wiley rather surprisingly languishing at Number 3 with Usher moving in to challenge for a Top 3 place at Number 4. The only song to penetrate the upper reaches this week is Pendulum's Propane Nightmares which makes a physically inspired leap to Number 9 after its downloads gave it a strong Number 16 placing last week.
The most significant move on the Top 40 this week is the impressively large 30-15 leap made by We Cry from The Script. The trio hail from Ireland and their incredibly pleasant debut single arrives on the back of support slots for The Hoosiers earlier in the year. Their sound fuses the gloriously sweet soulful vocals of lead singer Danny with a tight rock groove in a manner which is at once pretty unique but at the same time reassuringly familiar. Their chart leap comes on the back of a physical release for the single, but I'd hate to think its chart story ends here.
He could only reach Number 42 last week with new single Maybe but Jay Sean this week makes a reassuring jump into the Top 40 and rests now at Number 19. Chalk this up then as his second Top 20 hit of the year, followup up Ride It which had a rather unusual chart run of its own, charting at its peak position back in February and then tumbling down the chart only to spend three straight weeks locked at Number 27.
Meanwhile, one place below, the slow-burning chart run of Gabriella Cilmi's Sweet About Me continues. Several weeks after it was physically released and theoretically had peaked on the edge of the Top 40, the single is steadily picking up support and most importantly sales and now advances 27-20 to occupy a new chart peak. Not only does the single have much to commend it as a feelgood sunny pop record, but if it continues to climb and turn itself into a well-deserved chart smash it will be the final confirmation that we are now in an age when release schedules and promotional plans mean little. If a song is destined to be a hit, it will do so in its own time. If only we all had the faith to sit back and wait.
We could apply the same criteria to The Hoosiers whose new single Cops And Robbers was branded a bit of a flop here last week when its physical sales could only drag it to Number 35. It still isn't huge by their standards but the track still grabs itself a small modicum of respectability by jumping to Number 24. Further progress will finally confirm that suggested by the Gabriella Cilmi track above - everything we know is in fact totally wrong.
This should, of course, give some hope to fans of Robyn who is at Number 26 with Who's That Girl, the fourth hit single from her current album and one which actually could be forgiven for a lacklustre chart performance given the law of diminishing returns which normally applies in these circumstances. The single had a physical release this week so you can pretty much guess what I am going to say next. That should, in theory, be the end of the story, but everything we know is wrong.
All of this navel-gazing brings us rather neatly to the single that nestles at Number 29 this week after a huge leap from the depths. Last week you will remember it was Adele who highlighted the strange difficulty that much-hyped female singer-songwriters have in following up their debut smash (although Adele's Cold Shoulder manfully (womanfully?) clings to its Number 18 placing this week). This should of course bode ill for Duffy who may well have had five weeks at Number One with debut hit Mercy but who now has to prove that she is no one hit wonder. So far her prospects appear to be incredibly good. Warwick Avenue was always one of the standout tracks from her album, its downloads hitting the Top 100 in the week of its release. Now officially scheduled as her next single, this is indeed the track that makes a 67-29 headlong charge up the singles chart this week. What makes one optimistic for its prospects is the fact that the single is already a Top 30 hit some weeks ahead of its actual physical release. Warwick Avenue is not scheduled to hit the shops until the next Bank Holiday, on May 26. One hit wonders don't have second singles that invade the chart well in advance of their release dates. Singles chart superstars do that. Keep your eyes on this one carefully.