Not for the first time this year, this was a week where the outcome of the chart race was genuinely up in the air right until the last moment. From the very start it was clear that Adele's reign a singles chart queen was about to come to a halt, but it was a genuine two horse race between two different singles to replace her.
In the blue corner was Nicole Scherzinger with a well received and much played new single Don't Hold Your Breath. In the red corner (almost literally) were The Wanted with a brand new track Gold Forever which doubled as this year's official Comic Relief track, thus guaranteeing it endless amounts of promotion during last Friday's telethon. Scherzinger started the week strongly enough and was leading during midweek sales flashes, but it was more or less taken as read that The Wanted were due a huge surge towards the end of the week as the charity event really got underway. Surely they would wind up the winners come Sunday afternoon.
Yet in the end they were not. By some considerable margin Nicole Scherzinger led the way in the final sales tallies and thus celebrates her first ever solo Number One. Topping the charts is something she is no stranger to naturally, as lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls she has had Number One hits with Don’t'cha and Stickwitu both in 2005 but despite two solo singles in the past, plus co-credits with the likes of P Diddy and Enrique Iglesias this is the first time she has claimed the top spot in her own right. Don't Hold Your Breath has notoriously been in circulation as a demo recording for some time and has leaked out onto the internet in the past in a version by Keri Hilson. Scherzinger has the honour of turning it into a hit for real though, and like its predecessor Poison it features on her solo album Killer Love which is set to become the biggest of this week to come.
Commiserations then to The Wanted who not only failed to top the charts this week but who actually find themselves knocked down into third place behind the Adele single. The consensus is that whilst the exposure from Comic Relief helped them it came just too late to enable them to make up the gap on the two records above. In a sense it is a shame as the boy band are still in search of a second Number One single to follow their debut All Time Low last year. Gold Forever is a brand new track that did not feature on their debut album - possibly a sensible tactic given the failure of their last single Lose My Mind to climb beyond Number 19 last December. Charity connections aside, at the end of the day I think it came down to which of the two tracks was the better pop record, and on that basis Don't Hold Your Breath was always due to be a worthy winner.
Still, despite being knocked down to Number 2 on the singles charts Adele still keeps her record-breaking end of the deal up. She once again has the top two on the album chart with current release 21 now extending its Number One run to a massive 8 weeks, the first record to do so since James Blunt's Back To Bedlam in the summer of 2005. 21 also now holds the crown as the fastest selling digital album in the short chart history of the format.
Back on the singles chart, and two more songs enter the Top 10 this week, this time down at the bottom end. Leading the charge is Dr Dre's I Need A Doctor which rises 11-9 to give the producer his first Top 10 hit as a lead artist since 2002 single Bad Intentions, although he did appear as a "featured" artist on the Eminem track Crack A Bottle in 2009, both of these singles reaching Number 4.
One place below is Louder which hands brand new girl group Parade a Top 10 single with their very first release. A five piece group, their main claim to fame having amongst their number Emily Biggs who was previously a member of Hope, the made up girl group who participated in X Factor back in 2007. As a group Parade have trodden the boards as a support act to the likes of Shakira and are currently on the road alongside Shayne Ward, all of which has helped their public profile no end - hence the not unexpected strong success of this debut single. Chances of it being any more than a one week wonder at the moment appear slim however. [Their prospects of being anything more than a one hit wonder even slimmer as it turned out].
New to the Top 20 are the Black Eyed Peas who make their usual slow and steady progress with Just Can't Get Enough, the track jumping 27-15 this week, still well on course to its target of being Number One by Easter.
In at Number 16 is Snoop Dogg who lands his first solo Top 20 hit for six years with Sweat. His recent chart fortunes haven't actually been all that bad, thanks to his co-credited presence on Katy Perry's California Gurls last summer which gave the rapper his first ever Number One hit. His biggest chart successes lately have however come as a result of appearing on other people's records, a run which has meant he has featured on Top 3 hits by Akon and The Pussycast Dolls in recent years. Sweat is the first single to be taken from his brand new album Doggumentary and neatly lands on the chart to become his biggest hit under his own steam since Signs reached Number 2 in May 2005.
It appears to be hip-hop stars who grab the lions' share of the chart plaudits this week as alongside the successes of Dre/Emimen and Snoop comes the supposedly retired 50 Cent who features on no less than two new Top 40 singles this week. Leading the way is Buzzin Remix from Mann which moves 52-24. Mann is the latest hot new rap prospect from LA and his debut album Mann's World has been in the works for the best part of three years now. A timely collaboration with 50 Cent lands him his first chart single after three previous releases. 50 Cent also pops up to provide guest vocals on the Jeremih single Down On Me which rises 40-30 on the current chart. The track is the second chart hit for the singer, the somewhat belated follow-up to Birthday Sex which reached Number 15 in August 2009. These tracks are 50 Cent's first chart appearances since his last album was released that same year.
The current Queen of multiple chart hits remains Rihanna although her crown slips slightly this week thanks to both Only Girl (In The World) and What's My Name both sliding out of the Top 40 together to frustratingly sit at 41 and 42. She keeps her numbers up however by starring on the Kanye West single All Of The Lights which enters the Top 40 at Number 32 this week, thus ensuring she continues to feature on three Top 40 singles with both Who's That Chick still at Number 22 and S&M at Number 5. All Of The Lights also features credited vocals from Drake who himself is the guest star on What's My Name as well as the Nicki Minaj single Moment 4 Life which is at Number 43, thus ensuring he guests on three different chart singles all at once at the moment.
Now we all know releasing records in aid of charity is a very noble thing to do and it is an activity worthy of the highest praise, however when the record in question is so utterly awful in leads one to question the artistic judgement of the act in question it appears that not even the prospect of good causes reaping the benefits can't quite persuade you to part with the cash to buy it. George Michael's big comeback single should theoretically have been a very big deal indeed. Marking his release from prison and the end of a dark personal period where he himself admits he lost his creative drive, his first single release since December 2009 was theoretically a moment to savour. Yet the problem is the track itself is bizarre to say the least. His song of choice for the big comeback was New Order's True Faith, itself an acknowledged classic and one of the legendary band's biggest ever hits, reaching Number 4 in 1987. Nobody I have spoken to has yet to work out just what George was thinking when he recorded his version. Slowing the track down to a waltz tempo, what might theoretically have been a bold take on the track is further soiled by the fact that his voice is drenched in so much autotune he sounds like a robot. The overall effect is to render True Faith more or less unlistenable, and whilst those of us who had heard the song on the radio over the last couple of weeks had finally got used to it, the online surge of incredulity that greeted its Comic Relief performance on Friday night shows that this is truly a record with the power to shock and awe for all the wrong reasons. All this is effortlessly reflected in its chart position. True Faith, the big George Michael comeback enters at a miserable Number 27. That is his lowest chart position since Cowboys And Angels missed the Top 40 altogether, way way back in 1991. Even artistically bankrupt records such as Freeek and Flawless (Go To The City) charted higher. Just what on earth was he thinking? ["Roll me another"]
On a more lighter note, let us finally celebrate two rather random oldies that have appeared around the bottom of the Top 40. To the puzzlement of many, 2001 hit single Teenage Dirtbag from Wheatus is back on the chart, climbing to Number 35 this week, the revelation that it was heading towards the Top 40 enough to make the band and song a strong Twitter trend from the end of the week onwards. The renewed interest in the track is unusually not down to any TV commercial or other cultural reference point, more than it is one of a number of classic old tracks currently featuring in an iTunes sale which has seen them discounted to just 59p. Just as in the old days when an HMV sale could send random old albums soaring up the charts, so it seems now that a timely promotion of a favourite old hit online can see it feature strongly in sales flashes. The same phenomenon accounts for tracks such as Sweet Child O' Mine and Chasing Cars also hovering around the lower end of the Top 75.
A more sombre and touching explanation is behind the reappearance of Regulate by Warren G and Nate Dogg at Number 45 in its first chart appearance since it was first a Number 6 hit in August 1994. The surge in interest for the G-funk classic is the sad death of Nate Dogg this week, the singer finally succumbing to the ill health that had dogged him for several years. Never quite the big name he was always meant to be, Nate Dogg was the guest star of choice on a great many tracks during the 90s, and as his biggest ever international hit it is nicely appropriate that 'Regulate' should make a brief chart appearance in his memory.