For the second week running the chart worshipping is all at the feet of Cheryl Cole. With the single Fight For This Love enjoying the sales lead it did last week, it should hardly come as a surprise to discover that she remains the best selling single in the UK for a second week running, holding off some big name competition in the process.
Indeed the Cheryl Cole chart sweep is extended thanks to the appearance of her very own halo hit in the shape of 3 Words which makes its Top 40 debut at Number 26. This track features the vocal talents of will.i.am and thus returns the favour she did for him when she guest starred on his own Heartbreaker single last year. The new track appears thanks to the availability this week of Cheryl Cole's debut solo album of which it is the title track. The TV talent judge can thus boast of being only the 12th female star to bag the chart double as the album sweeps away the competition to storm to the top of the album chart. Not that its journey to the top wasn't without the odd hiccup along the way. The leading online store iTunes managed one of its customary bloopers and forgot to list the album as available for purchase as a bundle. As a consequence, for most of Monday online purchasers were forced to select each track as an individual download with the net result that virtually every one of the tracks from the album was showing up with strong sales in early flashes. By Tuesday morning things had been corrected and so 3 Words remains the only Cheryl Cole album track with a Top 100 presence. Those with long memories may recall that this is the same fate which briefly befell the Arctic Monkeys album Favourite Worst Nightmare in 2007.
You suspect this error won't have had too much on an impact on her sales, given the frustrating (for the labels anyway) manner in which the online market has yet to embrace album purchasing in the same enthusiastic way it has taken to singles. What may have been more damaging was the slip of the mouse which meant that the 3 Words album was available for free download via last.fm for the whole on Monday evening. The link to the page spread virally at fantastic speed, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I took advantage of the error and grabbed my presumably completely legal and free copies of the first 8 tracks from the album at the first opportunity. Again this was an error which was corrected the moment people arrived in the office at 9am on Tuesday morning, but it was fun while it lasted.
With Cheryl Cole in the way, it means that the chain of X Factor results show performances instantly translating into Number One singles the following week is broken as Westlife are reduced to a Number 2 entry with their version of What About Now. I've pointed out in the past that the one-time boy band have now mutated into the pop version of Foster and Allen, releasing records like clockwork just in time for the Christmas market and to ensure that nobody ever need be stuck for a pocket money sized present to buy for mum or gran. After taking a year off last year, the boys are back with impeccable timing with a brand new seasonal offering and the more or less compulsory hit single. Just like the lead single from their last album, the track is a song which many people will be familiar with already although unlike the Michael Buble cover with which they opened their account in 2007, their 2009 single is a song with which many people are already pretty familiar. The track in question is What About Now, penned by former members of Evanescence and until now most famously recorded by Daughtry. Despite flopping upon its original release, the Daughtry version was propelled into the charts and a Number 11 peak a month ago following extensive use as background music on early rounds of X Factor. It means that the Westlife version stands in almost direct comparison with the original (itself back on the Top 40 at Number 39 in sympathy with this release). The fact that the two versions actually sound so similar is either a testament to the way Westlife have so effortlessly taken on a rock power ballad or a reflection on how Daughtry records are actually little more than boy band songs dressed up with big guitars.
Whatever your view, the single is yet another Top 10 hit to add to the long line of smash hits that the Irish group have clocked up since they first made their chart debut 10 years ago. By hitting Number 2 it also gives them their highest charting single since The Rose hit Number One back in November 2006. Indeed the only negative you can really note is that the aforementioned single marked the last time they topped the charts (something which they were almost guaranteed to do with every single they released). Never in their entire career before have they gone three years without a Number One hit.
The debut of the Westlife single and the continuing chart domination of Cheryl Cole almost threatens to overshadow the second biggest new hit of the week, which is actually something of a shame as it is a record whose achievements worldwide have already made it one of the most talked about songs of the year. Jay Sean reached Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 last month with Down, the West Londoner not only brought the epic six month rein of the Black Eyed Peas at the top of the US chart to an end but also became the first ever British R&B star to score a Number One single in America - and perhaps even more significantly the first ever Asian solo singer ever to do so. Until now Jay Sean's UK chart career has been average at best. His biggest success came in 2004 when he emerged from the Rishi Rich project to notch up two Top 10 hits, the biggest being Number 4 hit Stolen. Singles from his second album My Own Way in 2008 were slightly less successful, with only Ride It coming close to matching the success of his earlier work, although the album did mark a successful bouncing back after Virgin records unceremoniously dropped him after his first album. His new-found American success comes thanks to his signing with Cash Money records and it is thanks to that rather sensational bit of chart history that he now enjoys his biggest ever chart hit in the country of his birth as Down makes a strong debut at Number 3. The single features the guest vocal talents of Lil Wayne who thus also enjoys his biggest chart smash to date, eclipsing the Number 4 peak he scaled as a contributor to the Destiny's Child single Soldier back in 2005.
Back on an X Factor note, the celebrity mentor the week before last was Michael Buble and he too reaps the rewards. Although he didn't perform current hit single Haven't Met You Yet on the show, it is still rewarded with a sales boost and leaps 9-5 to confirm its status as his biggest hit single ever. The one song he did perform in his results show slot was Cry Me A River and that rendition duly lands at Number 34 on the singles chart this week. Nothing to do with the Justin Timberlake hit of course, this is the famous Arthur Hamilton song which was originally a chart hit in this country for Julie London in 1957 and has subsequently charted in versions by Mari Wilson (1983) and Denise Welch (1995). London's original hit version remains the highest charting, peaking at Number 22.
Also on the climb are the Black Eyed Peas who vault 11-6 to land their third Top 10 hit of the year with Meet Me Halfway. The title is more than apt as they do indeed meet themselves on the chart with previous hit I Gotta Feeling sliding to Number 10 this week. It is the second time this year they have pulled off this trick with I Gotta Feeling arriving in the Top 10 just in time to coincide with the last week for its own predecessor Boom Boom Pow. Whilst it hardly compares to their American chart domination, this does mean that the group can boast a continuous Top 10 presence that dates back to May 23rd when Boom Boom Pow debuted at Number One.
Now brace yourselves, for this is quite a significant moment. Miley Cyrus has made her least annoying record ever. Equalling the peak of both See You Again and The Climb, the teenage star lands on the chart at Number 11 with her brand new single Party In The USA. I say "brand new" as regular readers will know I've been ranting for weeks about the rather strange release schedule which has meant that her most anticipated single yet has been available in most territories across the world. Such was the pent-up demand that this created that at one stage people were even buying a "tribute" soundalike version from iTunes which had been mislabelled as the real thing, whilst some online stores gave up waiting and listed chart ineligible "import" versions for download in the week before release. Now properly available, the single finally is allowed to chart and say what you will, it represents the next stage in Miley Cyrus' transition from cheesy TV star to proper singing superstar. [The single's other claim to fame? It was co-written by a pre-fame and at that time still "in development" Jessie J].
The other annual marketing curse of the music industry is also upon us - the Special Edition re-release just in time for Christmas. Lady Gaga's The Fame is the latest album to get the repackaging treatment, although any grumbling from fans about being ripped off for the sake of completing their collections are silenced somewhat by the revelation that the new version of her album now contains almost a whole new disc's worth of new material - The Fame Monster. One such new track now becomes her new single, Bad Romance landing on the chart at what is for the moment a rather understated Number 14. Counting the Wale single Chillin', this is now her sixth hit single of the year. All eyes are really on the best sellers of the year table, a list which she currently leads in both first and second place. Cheryl Cole aside, it seems only the X Factor has the power to prevent her from claiming the two biggest hits of the year.
Also new to the Top 20 are Biffy Clyro who chart their second hit of the year The Captain at Number 17. It is the follow-up to That Golden Rule which hit Number 10 back in September. Five places below is Anyway, the debut single for superstar dance pairing Duck Sauce. The duo are actually Armand Van Helden and A-Trak and the single is one track from the amusingly named Greatest Hits EP which also features club hit You're Nasty.
Finally, this week, as expected the Big Band format of the X Factor show last week struggled to inspire strong sales for any of the performed songs. Instead, the lower end of the chart plays host to the annual influx of ghostly themed singles as people prepared the playlists for their Halloween parties. Leading the charge is Thriller at Number 43 with Ghostbusters at Number 57 and Monster Mash at Number 61. Rather newer, but on a similarly spooky theme is Bad Things from Jace Everett which serves as the theme tune to the TV series "True Blood" which has recently begun airing in this country. The growing popularity of the TV show, complete with its vampire connections means it rises to Number 49 this week, its highest chart placing to date [but alas, one it would never go to exceed].