Well, I like it, even if the current Number One single appears to have attracted its fair share of vitriolic write-ups in the press. Yes, bashing a record because it is made up of little more than a sample from another far more famous tune is certainly fair comment, but when an idea works and works to perfection it deserves all the plaudits it gets. Call On Me holds firm at the top of the charts for a second week, the fifth record since the start of the summer to notch up a fortnight at Number One. No record has managed a third week since Frankee's F.U.R.B. back in June. Can it possibly be Eric who breaks this run? Kudos to whoever decided that the Top Of The Pops performance should feature the girls in leotards again by the way.
When the Number One single remains unchanged we have to look lower down for the big story of the week - and further down than usual it seems. Aside from a couple of place changes, all of last weeks Top 7 singles remain the same. Happily, the big new entry of the week at Number 8 is a story and a half. Back in the 1970s, the Osmonds were the biggest act on the planet. A tight family unit of clean cut Mormons, they captured the hearts of teenagers on both sides of the Atlantic. The brothers had hits together as The Osmonds whilst charismatic lead singer Donny also had a string of solo hits as well as hits with his sister Marie. Even baby brother Little Jimmy Osmond got in on the act, famously scoring the 1972 Christmas Number One with Long Haired Lover From Liverpool. Such was their domination at that time that 3 of the Top 10 singles in December 1972 were by various incarnations of the Osmonds. Still, it was Donny who was the true star, and he topped the charts three times during 1972 and 1973, mainly with covers of old love songs such as Puppy Love and The Twelfth Of Never. After the hits stopped coming the Osmonds remained stars in the States, Donny and Marie going on to host their own long-running chat show on US TV.
Donny Osmond's last chart comeback came in the late 1980s. Figuring that Europe was a good place to start, he recorded a new album in 1987. First single I'm In It For Love was a flop but second single Soldier Of Love did better, hitting Number 29 here in August 1988 but famously going to Number 2 in the States on its second release after radio stations there played it for weeks without revealing who the singer was. 16 years later and Donny is back. For this new single he has enlisted a man who knows only too well what it is like to be the subject of mass teen adulation - none other than former Take That star Gary Barlow. Together the pair have taken an old George Benson hook and created a light, breezy pop tune that against all expectations has all but blown away the chart competition. Suddenly Donny Osmond is a pop star again with his first Top 10 hit since November 1973. We talk of artists having comebacks - effectively Donny Osmond has now managed two.
The second biggest hit of the week is also an oldie of sorts. Groove Armada's I See You Baby was originally released in November 1999 as their second hit single. Featuring a strident vocal from Gram'ma Funk, the irresistible song about, well, booty shaking, was a dance-floor hit. Chart success was however rather more muted and the single could only reach Number 17. This re-release follows the use of the track on a celebrated series of car adverts. Although the ads have been running for a good while now, only this week is the single re-released. At a stroke, it beats the peak of the original by a full six places - and it can count itself unlucky not to go Top 10. Still, this is enough to make it Groove Armada's biggest hit single ever, eclipsing the Number 12 peak of Superstylin' which charted in August 2001.
One place below is what must surely be considered as a disappointing new entry for Fatboy Slim. Brand new single Slash Dot Dash has been critically panned and in a way, I find this rather curious. It is not a bad single by any means, a raucous frantic dance record with an air of Rockafeller Skank about it. The video is, as you would expect, an eye-opener. Two blokes in jumpsuits in a room covering the walls, floor, ceiling and eventually each other with marker pen. Maybe it is the lack of innovation that concerns people or the overwhelming view that there are far better tracks on his new album. Either way, few people seem to like the single although this chart position is really not to be sniffed at. It is Norman Cook's first Top 40 hit since September 2001's A Song For Shelter made a lowly Number 30. He can be forgiven for regarding a Top 20 new entry as a triumphant comeback. As do I, sorry.
Although they were widely predicted to score a Top 10 hit this week, Muse have to settle for a rather lower new entry. Butterflies and Hurricanes is their second hit single of the year, following on from Sing For Absolution which hit Number 16 back in May. The slightly increased appeal of this single can be put down to a rather unusual gimmick, for the CD single features a multimedia player called u-myx which allows the various elements of the song to be remixed and saved for your own personal enjoyment, the band's website featuring an area where these fan mixes can be uploaded. Still, they are searching for their second Top 10 hit, the only one to go the distance being September 2003's Time Is Running Out which hit Number 8.
Time now to welcome an act who most had written off as one (or two) hit wonders. Swedish foursome Alcazar had a brace of hit singles at the start of the decade, hitting Number 13 in December 2001 with Crying At The Discotheque and Number 30 early the following year with Sexual Guarantee. Their gimmick was to make pop hits laced with hooks from famous old disco records and it is one they continue with here. Number 15 hit This Is The World We Live In borrows its chorus from Genesis' 1986 hit single Land Of Confusion and dare I say it to quite a delightful effect. The UK hasn't quite woken up to Alcazar as pop geniuses, and I'm just hoping that this isn't the last we see of them this year.
Next to play at Number 18 is Ian Brown who is in the middle of promoting his fourth album Solarized, a milestone that makes the two album career of his former band The Stone Roses seem rather miserable in comparison. Not exactly your average pop star, Brown remains the kind of artist who sustains appeal amongst a loyal gathering of fans rather than being heavily promoted as a mainstream star. Nonetheless, that doesn't stop him having hits and when they are as appealing as this one you can see why. Keep What Ya Got is his fifth solo Top 20 hit and his first Top 40 single since Whispers reached Number 33 in February 2002. His biggest solo successes have been a brace of Number 5 hits - solo debut My Star in 1998 and Dolphins Were Monkeys in early 2000.
This week is quite a week to be a veteran. First came Donny Osmond and now similarly out of the blue is a man who, quite simply, can claim to be even more of a legend. Paul McCartney's first Top 40 hit for seven years is actually a 20 year on a followup to one of his more derided but similarly most loved hits. Christmas 1984 saw the former Beatles star hit the charts with We All Stand Together, an anthemic childrens song taken from the soundtrack of the animated film "Rupert And The Frog Song". It made Number 3 and is pretty much guaranteed airplay every Christmas. Earlier this year he announced a long standing ambition to follow up both the animated film and the song. As a result here is Tropic Island Hum at Number 21, released as a double a-side along with We All Stand Together and taken from a forthcoming DVD of animated shorts, all accompanied by McCartney songs. The new single is made in the same style as its predecessor, ostensibly sung by a cast of animals rather than Paul himself. Speaking as someone for whom We All Stand Together was a core part of childhood I have to confess to being a little disappointed by the new offering. But then again I'm hardly its target audience so not really in a position to judge. Paul McCartney has struggled to prove his continuing relevance in recent years, he has astonishingly been absent from the Top 10 since 1987 and has scored just two Top 20 hits in the last decade. Good though it is to hear him having fun, there must be a fair number of people wishing the man who was once the most famous pop star on the planet could get his act together to make one more last really great album.
Before the invasion of yet more veterans, there are two more new entries from some rather newer kids on the block. Biffy Clyro clock up a third chart hit, this one coming less than two months after Glitter And Trauma gave them their biggest hit to date when it charted at Number 21. Number 24 for My Recovery Injection is a slight step backwards but three Top 30 hits so far this year is a good grounding for their second album to take them to the next level. Also new are the Ordinary Boys, they too notching up a third hit, Seaside being the follow-up to Talk Talk Talk which gave them a Number 17 hit back in July.
So on to yet another veteran. Brian Wilson was, of course, the leading light behind the Beach Boys, writer and creator of most of their most famous hits. His big tragedy was that he was always something of a tortured genius, his mind apparently unable to deal with his inbuilt sense of creativity. His instability wasn't helped by the failure of what he regarded as his masterpiece - Pet Sounds, a 1966 album which to this day is critically acclaimed but by their own standards was a commercial disaster. This spurred him on to try again on a project entitled Smile but the effort proved too much and another breakdown ensured that the project was never properly finished, the work appearing in dribs and drabs and in a watered down form scattered across several later Beach Boys albums.
Then last year a recovered Brian Wilson (long since having parted company with the band he formed with his brothers) announced that he was going to resurrect the project. Smile was to be re-recorded from scratch, released to the world in the way he had originally envisaged and taken on tour with a new band. Few thought it would happen - but now it has. Full credit to whoever chose the first single as well. The obvious choice would have been Good Vibrations given that it was the only track from the album ever to be completed and released in its intended form, but the song is so familiar and such a model of production perfection today that to release the re-recorded version would have shown it up as a poor imitation. No, instead here is Wonderful which originally surfaced on the 1967 Smiley Smile, a half hearted apologetic way of using some of the material from the abandoned sessions for Smile proper. The track now appears as a Brian Wilson solo single - only his second ever Top 40 entry. The first wasn't so long ago either, Imagination having hit Number 30 in June 1998. Exactly how relevant the music is to the 21st century is open to debate, but the chance to hear some familiar songs in the way their composer originally conceived them is as fascinating an exercise as the Beatles' Let It Be - Naked project was.
To round off the parade of more senior gentleman, Number 34 is a long overdue solo hit for Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler. Although he has clocked up a string of chart albums in recent years, his singles CV looks rather sparse. Boom Like That is only his second Top 40 hit under his own name - effectively a follow-up to Darling Pretty which made Number 32 in 1996.
Finally to the customary look at the download chart which with the odd exception continues to run several weeks behind the physical singles listing. Natasha Bedingfield spends a third week at the top whilst the chart is filled with new entries for Brian McFadden (3 weeks old), Nelly (four weeks old), The Thrills (ditto) and Girls Aloud (two weeks old). Appropriately enough for a single named after computer terms, Fatboy Slim's 'Slash Dot Dash' clambers in at Number 19 to coincide with its shop release.