Sometimes it is hard to know just where to begin. Early sales flashes this week suggested that something extraordinary was afoot on the album chart and the final tally proves this to be so. Nestling comfortably at the top of the Official UK Albums Chart this week is 13 by no less a gaggle of rock legends than Black Sabbath. The album reunites three of the four original members of the group, the first studio production to be credited to the group since 1995's Forbidden and most crucially of all the first to feature Ozzy Osbourne on lead vocals since their 1978 release Never Say Die!
But that is not the big headline grabber. To date, Black Sabbath have only ever had one Number One album, their second release Paranoid landing a week at the top (interrupting Bridge Over Troubled Water in the process) in October 1970. 13 thus returns them to the top of the charts for the first time in 42 years and 8 months. The record for longest gap between Number One albums was until now held by Bob Dylan whose 2009 album Together Through Life became his first chart-topper for 38 years, whilst the British record was set just four weeks ago when Rod Stewart's Time became his first studio Number One for 37 years. It only serves for me to highlight the strange disconnect between the popular singles market and the acts capable of selling good old fashioned long-playing albums. To put this in perspective, it would be the equivalent of Duke Ellington following Paranoid to the top of the charts in 1970 with his first successful album since 1927. Unthinkable then, and yet look at us now.
Black Sabbath actually rule the roost over an album Top 10 which is rammed with veteran acts, joined as they are by Rod Stewart, Agnetha Faltskog, The Eagles and Status Quo, all of whom began their recording careers in the 60s and 70s. Modern-day balance is assisted a little by the arrival at Number 2 of Beady Eye with their second album Be, although even they are a group of 1990s veterans who attack the album market with little regard or need for anything resembling a hit single.
Meanwhile, the ever-buoyant singles market continues to be dragged to spectacular new heights by the Number One single - Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke along with TI and Pharrell Williams which sits comfortably at the summit for the third week. For the first time in its chart life, the track dips in sales - but only very slightly, following last week's year to date best of 199,000 copies with a further 192,000 taking its total in just three weeks to in excess of 583,000. With the Daft Punk single Get Lucky on which he also sings still selling strongly (the track slips a place to Number 4 this week) it seems a racing certainty that Mr Williams will achieve a unique double of appearing on two million-selling singles by two different acts within a matter of weeks of each other.
Once more, however, we have to credit Friday and Saturday night television with some of the bigger new hits of the week. Taking a flying 53-7 leap this week are the unlikely pairing of Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran on Everything Has Changed, this in the wake of the duo performing the track live during the voting interval for the Britain's Got Talent final the weekend before last. Yet another track from her album Red, Everything Has Changed made a brief chart appearance at the tail end of last year as an album cut but now charges up the chart to become the fourth Top 10 hit to be lifted from the career-reviving long player hard on the heels of We Are Never Ever…, I Knew You Were Trouble and 22. The track is Ed Sheeran's second Number 7 hit in a row as a guest star, following his turn on Devlin's Watchtower in September last year and comes just mere weeks after his 2011 debut hit The A-Team was officially certified as a million-selling single.
Also climbing into the Top 10 is The Voice UK contestant Leah McFall with her take on I Will Survive which moves 16-8. In the process, it beats the chart peak of what might be considered the 'original' of her version of the song, Chantay Savage having peaked at Number 12 with the same blues arrangement in May 1996. I Will Survive seems set to be joined next week by her latest show performance Killing Me Softly whilst fellow Voice UK contestant Mike Ward is about to make chart waves of his own with his version of When I Was Your Man at Number 65 this week and selling rapidly, joined in the process by his take on Picking Up The Pieces. After a series and a half of lacklustre ratings, the UK version of the franchise may just have hit on the talkability it needed by getting its contenders into the charts way ahead of time.
In a startlingly light week for big new releases, the only genuinely new chart arrival is Lights On from Wiley and guest stars Angel and Tinchy Stryder. Landing at Number 9 the single matches the chart peak of Wiley's last single Reload and becomes his fourth in a row as lead artist since he began his commercial comeback with the Number One Heatwave last summer. All four tracks are taken from Wiley's album The Ascent.
Finally, don't be too puzzled by the 51-17 leap of Psy's Gentleman to send the single back into the Top 20 nine weeks after it first peaked at Number 10. He too was an interval performer on Britain's Got Talent the weekend before last, odd though it may seem that he was invited on for a typically enthusiastic performance of a two-month-old hit single. Mind you even this appearance is less random than Top 40 re-entries for the likes of I'm Yours by Jason Mraz at Number 47 and Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's 1991 hit Summertime at Number 36. Both are inspired by nothing more than iTunes 59p promotions and in the case of the Jason Mraz single it is the second time the 2009 single has been in the Top 40 this year and by a strange coincidence the second time it has rebounded to Number 27 after making an X Factor-inspired resurgence at the tail end of the year in which it was first a hit. Jason Mraz has had precisely two chart hits to date, both of them evergreen download singles and both have to date stalled at Number 11.