Call me a fantasist if you will, but I can't help but note a theme developing here. Just as last week the two biggest new singles of the week both had a performance by their respective stars on the X Factor Results show in common, so too the most significant chart moves of the week are inextricably linked to the all-conquering TV talent show. In a sense, it is actually quite scary to watch.
Most singles which had stormed to the top with a sale in excess of six figures could be expected to hang on for another couple of weeks at least whilst the rest of the market caught up. Not so Bad Boys by Alexandra Burke which slips down to Number 2 this week. Replacing her at the top is the very lady who we are led to believe "mentored" here during the X Factor competition last year - Cheryl Cole. Her first ever solo single Fight For This Love was the focal point of the results show last weekend and with such public attention lavished on it, the single could hardly fail. Nonetheless, there were more than a few jaws dropping open on Tuesday lunchtime when the early sales for the single came in. Over the course of just two days, Fight For This Love had shifted a whopping 130,000 copies - just 50,000 short of the total notched up by Alexandra Burke for the entire week. This had crossed the line from single into an absolute utter phenomenon.
The transformation of Cheryl Cole from nervous talent show entrant to suave superstar has been pretty impressive in itself. As Cheryl Tweedy she was one of the five unknowns selected by the very same Saturday night TV audience to form Girls Aloud. Never the strongest singer of the bunch, she somehow managed to command one of the highest public profiles, even if the infamous 2003 nightclub toilet incident meant that it wasn't quite for the best reasons. Clues that she was being primed for her own career away from the group came last year when a guest vocal from her was added to the single version of Heartbreaker by will.i.am last year. With Girls Aloud now "on hiatus" for a bit, it is time for Cheryl to stand alone in the spotlight. Much was made in the build-up to her solo TV debut last weekend over whether she would sing live or not, the weakness of her voice something the people around her are only too aware of it seems. In the event, the performance of Fight For This Love was a tightly choreographed show-stopper and it is almost certainly this exposure that has helped what would otherwise be a rather lightweight pop-dance number to the top of the charts with best of the year so far sale.
That sales total in full? A massive 290,000 copies, the best single week sale by any single this year and a total which extraordinarily manages to beat the first-week sales total of the debut Girls Aloud single Sound Of The Underground from December 2002. You could be forgiven for predicting she too would be there for the long run, but for the fact she may well face competition from - you guessed it - the act performing as I write this on this week's X Factor Results show.
So who was it who followed Cheryl onstage on TV last week? Well none other than Whitney Houston, superstar mentor for the week to the final 11 contestants, with the added bonus that she was able to plug the long-delayed UK release of her comeback album. Thanks to that performance its lead single Million Dollar Bill finally takes off. After two weeks on the chart lingering outside the Top 10, the single finally puts on a sales spurt and rockets 14-5, at a stroke becoming her biggest chart hit since My Love Is Your Love was a Number 2 hit in July 1999. In total it is the 13th Top 5 hit of a chart career that dates back to late 1985.
If the singles chart is dominated by reality TV shows, then the album chart is at least dominated by some massive new releases, although the dreaded "X" expression isn't far behind any of them. Providing her with some consolation for such a brief reign at Number One, Alexandra Burke storms to the top with her debut album Overcome. Whitney Houston, in spite of the gratuitous plugs for her album on the TV show, has to content herself with a Number 3 entry for I Look To You. It is a dramatic turnaround from the rather disastrous performance of her last studio album, the largely ignored Just Whitney failing to chart at all in this country. Although her 2000 Greatest Hits release topped the charts, it is interesting to note that she has only once topped the UK charts with an album of original studio material - 1987 release Whitney and home of the Number One single I Wanna Dance With Somebody.
The Number 2 album I hear you ask? Crazy Love by Michael Buble which thus matches the peak of his 2007 album Call Me Irresponsible. Its lead single Haven't Met You Yet stays firm at Number 9 on the singles chart this week, the prospects of both formats boosted immeasurably by his performing presence on national television at the weekend. I'll leave it as a quick mental exercise for you to work out which one that is.
Back to singles and the second highest new entry of the week lands at Number 10 for the charity collective known as the Young Soul Rebels. I Got Soul is released in aid of the War Child UK charity and features a host of British acts ranging from N-Dubz and Tinchy Stryder through to Chipmunk, Ironik, Frankmusic and Pixie Lott. It is based heavily on the 2005 Killers track All These Things I've Done, using the line "I got soul, but I'm not a soldier" to draw attention to the plight of the thousands of child soldiers worldwide. Like most charity singles it kind of defies critical analysis, but ranks as one of the more credible ensemble offerings you are likely to hear over the next few weeks, make no mistake about that.
Once place behind at Number 11 is Meet Me Halfway from the Black Eyed Peas which as we speculated in the podcast is not so much meeting their last hit on the way down but charging up to join it. Just as I Gotta Feeling charted contemporaneously with Boom Boom Pow, so their third hit of the year is racing up the charts as its predecessor just refuses to go away. Former Number One I Gotta Feeling has yet to fall out of the Top 10 and slips just one place to Number 7 this week. Place your bets on whether they will cross-over or sit side by side next week.
New at Number 17 is Good Girls Go Bad from Cobra Starship. It is the first UK chart hit for the American pop-rock group and is taken from their third album Hot Mess. Already a Top 10 smash hit in America, the single features a guest contribution from Gossip Girl star Leighton Meester as if to further cement its place in popular culture. You may not be familiar with the group themselves but their previous work may not have escaped your attention, as it was their song Snakes On A Plane (Bring It) which played out over the closing credits of the cult movie of the same name.
Pop fans the nation over will welcome the return of Alphabeat with their brand new single The Spell at Number 20 although once again the chart placing of the single does reflect the struggle the Danish group have in gaining a proper commercial foothold in this country. The problem isn't the music itself, as every single Alphabeat record to date has been a mini-masterpiece of unashamed pop music as the group act as a grand throwback to the FM radio sound of the 1980s. The problem is that their breezy cheerfulness sits somewhat uncomfortably with the more cynical sound of the current age. I listen to their music and find myself liking it but at the same time just cannot work out why I should find it, well, relevant really. Debut single Fascination (as performed on X Factor at the weekend by the final 10) remains their only Top 10 hit to date, a Number 6 hit from February 2008. Follow-up singles Ten Thousand Nights and Boyfriend were just as good but struggled to Top 20 placings and on first impressions, this brand new single is destined to go the same way. Check it out for yourselves and make up your own minds. Alphabeat are very very good but have yet to find a way to make people actually care.
One act with few such credibility issues are the Foo Fighters who as a group now enter their 14th year of hitmaking with their 16th Top 30 hit single Wheels. Their first chart single since December 2007, the track is a token new release from a forthcoming Greatest Hits collection to be released at the start of November. Wheels is at a stroke their biggest hit single since The Pretender charted at Number 8 in August 2007.
Finally this week we need to note the traditional surge in support for older songs as performed by X Factor contestants. Leading the charge this week is Hurt by Christina Aguilera which rockets to Number 25 following the "divas week" performance by Jamie Archer. Originally a Number 11 hit for the star in November 2006, this is oddly enough the second time the track has been propelled back into the charts thanks to a TV performance. Two years ago girl group Hope performed it live on the show, sending the single back into the Top 40 for the first time since its release. The most gratuitous product placement of the week, however, had to be Danyl Johnson's performance of I Didn't Know My Own Strength, a hitherto unnoticed and at the time unknown track from the new Whitney Houston album. The track naturally becomes the cherrypickers selection of choice this week and it results in the song resting at Number 44. With last weekend's swing theme restricting contestants to rather older works, the X Factor effect may be slightly less pronounced next week, although if we see a surge for Angel Of Harlem don't say I didn't warn you.