Well, this is a little more like it isn't it? I flurry of activity towards the top end of the charts, the entire Top 10 this week receiving a much-needed shakeup. It, therefore, becomes something of a surprise to see Eamon still riding high at Number One, the single this week having to see off the challenge of no less than four strong new contenders. It means F**k It (I Don't Want You Back) has now spent a month at the top of the listings, making it the longest running chart-topper since the Black Eyed Peas' Where Is The Love back in 2003. It raises now the interesting possibility that the single to replace it at the top of the charts will be none other than its own "answer" record - Frankee's F.U.R.B. which sets new lyrics telling the story from a female perspective to the same musical backing. Brace yourselves for a chart first, unless we have put the jinx on things by talking about it now.
The biggest new hit of the week belongs to a returning Christina Milian, Dip It Low being the rather saucy new single that heralds the release of her second album. Her self-titled debut came out in 2002 and spawned two memorable Top 3 hits in the shape of AM To PM and When You Look At Me. This brand new single easily becomes her biggest hit to date and can consider itself unlucky not to have given her a first ever Number One hit single. As well as the aforementioned Top 3 hits she has charted twice more in collaboration with other artists. Her chart debut came thanks to an appearance on Ja Rule's Between Me And You which was a Number 26 hit in 2001 whilst her last chart appearance came at the end of 2002 when she appeared alongside Romeo on It's All Gravy - that track hitting Number 9.
Now we present the newest instalment in what is turning out to be quite the miniature pop dynasty. Daniel Bedingfield had often been known to name-drop his younger sister in interviews, suggesting that she was also blessed with a musical talent and would one day achieve the kind of success he has. Sooner or later that was bound to spark someone's interest and lo and behold the second Bedingfield child has been granted a musical career. In actual fact Natasha Bedingfield has a great deal going for her, not least her voice but also the fact that her looks clearly came from the other side of the family to her older brother. Whilst she cannot for the moment match his achievement in reaching Number One with her debut single, the track Single does at least make a very strong start, hitting Top 3 first week out. In truth though another gene she fails to share with her brother is the songwriting one for whilst Daniel's tracks are all self-penned this single is a collaboration between several big names, most notably Steve Kipner (who wrote Genie In A Bottle and Stole amongst others) and Andrew Frampton, the pair having written many tracks on Victoria Beckham's last album. Strange but true.
Proving that February's Somewhere Only We Know was far from a fluke, Keane storm the charts once again and land themselves a second successive Top 5 hit. Somewhere in the stratosphere, the Gods of Coldplay are looking nervously at one another as the pretenders to their easy on the ear rock are clearly a greater challenge than they first suspected. Featuring a strong contender for piano riff of the year, Everybody's Changing is another track to yank at the heartstrings, sound equally at home on XFM and Radio 2 (which is no mean feat let me tell you) and help Keane even further along the way to becoming stars. Think Radiohead without the hype and love it.
The title of the fourth new entry raises the intriguing prospect of Ronan Keating and LeAnn Rimes duetting on an old Steps song. Sadly this track doesn't turn that idea into a reality, instead, Last Thing On My Mind is a weepy country ballad which features on both Ronan's current album as well as LeAnn's current hits collection. Released as a single, the track storms into the Top 5, giving Ronan his second chart hit of 2004 and extending his solo career to 11 straight Top 10 hits. Clearly, the impetus for sales of the single has come from Ronan's fans, LeAnn Rimes having found big chart hits hard to come by of late. Her last single was February's This Love which made a derisory Number 54 and this new single represents her first Top 10 hit since Can't Fight The Moonlight was an unexpected Number One way back in 2000. The closest she has come since is the (admittedly rather underrated) Life Goes On which made Number 11 in October 2002.
A mention in dispatches this week for Busted, not so much for what they have achieved but what they haven't. The biggest new hit of the week last week, Air Hostess this week slips a full 10 places in a 2-12 slide. Both of their last singles also suffered 1-4 slumps in their second week on sale and the inference must be that they are relying on heavy discounting and first-week fan base purchases to make their chart performances as impressive as they have been. For all their teen popularity, they actually remain a niche purchase which is more than a little worrying.
On to brighter things and Number 13 this week sees Ash storm the charts once again with their brand new single Orpheus. This summer will mark the 9th anniversary of their debut Top 40 hit Girl From Mars, since when they have clocked up 14 hit singles (of which this is the 15th). Their last chart appearances came back in 2002 when the single Envy hit Number 21 in support of a Greatest Hits collection. This, therefore, will mark their first original work since 2001's acclaimed Free All Angels album and marks a bold step into a far heavier sound, certainly this single being a step away (not necessarily forward) from the rampant commercialism of tracks such as Burn Baby Burn and Candy. Top 20 will do nicely though (they have only ever had four Top 10 hits after all) for a group who are easing their way to a decade of musical consistency. Good to have you here boys.
The British music industry has, in all honesty, committed many sins in the past. Sins in the name of novelty of course. We gave the world the Fast Food Rockers after all and can claim some small responsibility for the Cheeky Girls. However, if you want utterly naff you really have to hand it to our European partners to really knacker up the charts. Take for example the Ding Dong Song, as performed by Swedish star Gunther and the Sunshine Girls (who if the uncut video is to believed get along really really well with one another). In truth, the song is actually quite hilarious on first listen as you try desperately to shake the image of the singer genuinely banging on about his penis. Like most novelties of this kind, this soon gives way to irritation and I guess the one consolation we have is that the single hasn't quite made the splash it could have so easily done. Still, the track remains a cult hit on the continent, to the extent that Franz Ferdinand returned from a promo trip to Holland baffled as to why they were encouraged to do their own acoustic version for a radio station. The fear remains that this single could yet end up as one of the soundtracks of the summer. Come back DJ Otzi, all is forgiven.
Number 18 sees Lostprophets slip back a little in chart terms, the follow-up to Last Train Home failing to repeat its Top 10 placing from back in February. Wake Up (Make A Move) is their fourth Top 40 hit in total and the third to be taken from their current album. Also creeping into the Top 20 is Gabrielle, the honey voiced singer having been absent from the charts since 2001 when the Bridget Jones soundtrack gave her a Top 10 hit with Out Of Reach and Don't Need The Sun To Shine also went Top 10 on the back of a Greatest Hits collection. Although it is now 11 years since she made her chart debut with Dreams, Stay The Same is the first single from what will be only her fourth album proper, her first since 1999's Rise. Each of her comebacks has always resulted in a strong chart placing for the initial single and the fact that this one has the dishonour of becoming her smallest chart hit since 1996 will cause the odd brow to furrow.
One other act who can be annoyed at their chart placing is former Blur guitarist Graham Coxon. Although he has often dabbled with solo projects in the past, he finally split from the band once and for all in the summer to devote all his time to the promotion of what will actually be his fourth solo album. The release of Bittersweet Bundle Of Misery has been dogged by comments that it sounds suspiciously similar to Blur's own Coffee + TV which Coxon famously wrote. Although better things were hoped for it, the track has at least given him a first ever solo hit single although somehow you suspect that the chances of him being outsold by his former bandmates when they return with a new album are fairly high.