It takes enormous skill to wrong-foot virtually an entire industry, but such was the feat David Bowie pulled off back in January when he announced that over the previous year he had managed to record a brand new album in total secret, one whose existence was unknown to all but a select few until the moment the press release hit the wires. Following that dramatic bombshell he managed to overturn a five year technical issue resulting in the instant gratification single Where Are We Now being free to chart and giving him his first Top 10 hit in 20 years and so it was almost inevitable that the release of The Next Day would be the biggest music event of the winter, bar none.
Welcome, then to this week's Number One album on the official UK Charts. Storming to the top by selling almost exactly double that of its nearest rival, The Next Day becomes his first chart-topping album since the release of Black Tie White Noise in April 1993 - or if you prefer, 19 years and 11 months ago. In all, it is his eighth UK Number One album, dating back to the release of Aladdin Sane in May 1973 - 39 years and 10 months ago. Whatever your view of his music or the eternal debate as to whether anything he had released in the last 30 years has measured up to his output of the first 10, that is still one heck of a career.
Mind you, the owners of the second biggest selling album of the week are great survivors themselves. Seeing as we are counting dates this week, 29 years since they first made the UK charts with their self-titled debut Bon Jovi hit the ground running with What About Now, their first studio album since 2009's The Circle. Bon Jovi can count themselves one of the unluckiest groups around. Every single one of their eight releases of the 21st-century bar one has peaked at Number 2, the sole exception being 2003 release This Left Feels Right which could only reach Number 4. Their last Number One album was 2000's Crush, the last to date of their five chart-toppers. Perhaps regrettably Bon Jovi have in recent years moved beyond the ability or even need to have big chart singles, the first release from What About Now being the track Because We Can which limped to Number 38 back in January. Their last Top 10 hit came as long ago as 2006 when Who Says You Can't Go Home climbed to Number 5.
The official UK singles chart turned out to be rather less predictable this week, as the hottest new release turned out to be something of a disappointment. Early sales flashes indicated that Nicole Scherzinger's new single Boomerang was building up a commanding lead and was set to give her a second solo Number One hit to add to 2011's Don’t Hold Your Breath. Yet despite this, the single flagged badly and ends up charting as low as Number 6, an unusually steep decline for a midweek leader.
This left the way clear for Justin Timberlake's Mirrors to land a third week at Number One, still only available in its 8+ minutes album version. As was widely expected, his nearest challenge came from the single he replaced at the top of the charts, One Direction's cover of One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks) receiving a sales boost thanks to the airing last Friday of the Comic Relief telethon for which it served as the official anthem. The single leaps 6-2 this week, close but not quite close enough.
It is also a good week for Pink and Nate Ruess who see Just Give Me A Reason advance another place to take the Number 3 slot, matching the peak of Blow Me (Just One Last Kiss) to make Pink's current album The Truth About Love the first to spawn two Top 3 hit singles since her 2001 release Mizzunderstood.
Two other new hits arrive in the Top 20, first of all "Hey Porsche" from Nelly which sits at Number 17. The track is the lead single from his upcoming seventh studio album MO and for now is his highest charting UK hit single since Just A Dream hit Number 8 in 2010.
One place behind at Number 18 is K Koke ably assisted by Rita Ora on Lay Down Your Weapons. The track is the first major hit single for the British rapper, his previous chart single Turn Back with Maverick Sabre in tow made a rather more lowly Number 70 in December last year. Both tracks come from his debut album I Ain't Perfect which is slated for release later this year.
Whilst her last single I Knew You Were Trouble dips 10-14 this week after spending 11 of the last 12 weeks as a Top 10 hit, her latest single release 22 makes the Top 40 for the first time after jumping 66-26. Thanks to the drip-feed promotion of tracks from the album Red at the tail end of last year, 22 is no less than the seventh different track out of a total of 16 on the album to make the singles chart.
Meanwhile, we await next week's chart with some considerable interest. Could it be that The Saturdays finally stand a chance of breaking an increasingly notorious chart duck and land their first ever Number One single?