There is a rather marvellous olde worlde look to the singles chart this week. A frantic 17 new entries in the Top 40 alone, yes, but a full 7 of those pitch up between 30 and 40, just like the good old days when new singles would slip unnoticed into the lower reaches and then steadily rise up the listings. Of course, this being 2005 none of the singles in question will actually end up doing much and just exist to be ranked as relative flops but if nothing else it is nice to look and wonder. It also gives the two local radio clowns on the Top 40 show plenty of material to poke fun about until they get round to the important bits of the chart. [It is fair to say I was not a fan of the JK and Joel incarnation of the show, leading to an infamous rant in a month or so].
Conveniently enough that is where we will start with Tony Christie reigning supreme at the top of both singles and albums listings, raising plenty of Comic Relief money and also bagging himself the longest running Number One hit since Band Aid. Funny to think that Amarillo's vast sale in its first week meant that in one fell swoop it sold more copies in a single week than it did during its whole chart run the first time around.
A lack of anything really outstanding in terms of new singles and a corresponding slight dip in overall sales results in Elvis chalking up the biggest new entry of the week and his first Number 2 hit in a month. (You're The) Devil In Disguise was a return to chart form for Elvis when it topped the charts in the summer of 1963. His last single One Broken Heart For Sale was a feeble soundtrack single from another feeble film and had become his first proper single for five years to miss the Top 10 when it peaked at Number 12. Devil In Disguise briefly stopped the rot but Merseybeat and Beatlemania, in particular, were sweeping the country and the single had just a solitary week at the top. It would be Elvis' last chart-topper for two years. Back to the present day and the single becomes the 13th in the current weekly reissue program to storm the Top 10 and thus breaks the 13 year old record held by the Wedding Present for most chart singles in a year - even if all of Elvis' have been decades old recordings rather than the new material turned out by the Leeds indie stars. Thus far the program has yielded 3 Number Ones, 6 Number Twos, 3 Number 3s and a solitary Number 5 hit. Look on the bright side, we've only got four more to go.
Honours for the biggest "new" new hit of the week go to Mariah Carey who shrugs off tales of her jaw-dropping diva demands from her recent promotional trip to land a comfortable Top 5 hit. It's Like That is her first single release in two years and duly becomes her first Top 5 hit since teaming up with Westlife for a cover of Against All Odds back in 2000 (her last Top 5 hit in her own right having been Heartbreaker a full year before that). Part of the reason for this gap was, of course, the disaster that was Glitter, the album spawning a Number 12 and Number 32 hit and driving her once flawless career totally off the rails. Her new album will be her second single those dark days at the turn of the decade but despite this improved chart position, it is almost as if the magic has gone from her. The almost bored way she plods through this tedious R&B/Hip Hop fusion is in stark contrast to the effortless joy of her very early singles (made by a woman who wanted to make music rather than money) - and of course, Miss Carey Doesn't Do Stairs.
Whilst on the subject of pop poppets, we move onto Miss Minogue. Giving You Up was the second new track to be featured on her Ultimate Kylie Greatest Hits album and follows I Believe In You and indeed her previous 11 singles straight into the Top 10. Astonishingly she is now just one release away from matching the string of 13 Top 10 hits with which she opened her career, a run which lasted from I Should Be So Lucky in 1988 right through to Shocked in June 1991. Her latest run has taken slightly longer than the first, having kicked off with comeback single Spinning Around in July 2000.
Lemar is also on a roll with his fifth Top 10 single in a row, Time To Grow, of course, being the follow-up to Christmas single If There's Any Justice which has only recently vanished from view and which hit Number 3, in the process exposing him to a far wider audience. Much was made at the time of "the curse of Fame Academy" which has (in some cases unfairly) put paid to the careers of many of the talents unearthed by the BBC show but Lemar has avoided it nicely and his second album (of which Time To Grow is the title track) has seen him go from strength to strength. Speaking of the album incidentally, his cover of the Darkness' I Believe In A Thing Called Love and really deserves to be a single in its own right - if there's any justice.
Sneaking in at Number 10 is Rachel Stevens with her first single release of the year. I find myself holding my breath every time she releases a new single as of course she was famously pulled back from the brink by a drastic rethink of her musical style. First single Sweet Dreams My LA Ex was the song Britney Spears will forever kick herself for turning down when it stormed to Number 2 in September 2003 but it was quickly followed by Top 30 flop Funkydory - a chart placing that would have put paid to the career of any other artist. This however was Rachel Stevens, consistently voted one of the world's sexiest women and the only star of S Club to make it solo so really it wasn't permitted for her to fail. Happily, the second try also gave us an instant classic - Some Girls shooting to Number 2 last summer. Her last single More More More was a cover (and a Top 3 hit) so it doesn't really count, which brings us to Negotiate With Love - essentially this had to work out to continue to prove that the project had legs. Well, you'll be glad to know it does, neatly straddling the sanitised electroclash sound of Some Girls with the 80s new wave retro chic that Gwen Stefani has also neatly harnessed. OK so it is no instant classic again but it has also justified its marketing spend with a Top 10 placing. We can exhale, Rachel Stevens will make it safely to a second album.
All of this links us nicely to the Number 11 position and a man who spent 2004 making not only a very welcome comeback but also one of his best albums ever - Morrissey. In celebration of this (and the four straight Top 10 singles he managed last year), Mozza has brought out a live album and Live At Earls Court and an accompanying DVD Who Put The M In Manchester, capturing one of the best performances of his tour last year. To promote the release this double-sided single has appeared featuring live renditions of Redondo Beach (originally written and recorded by Patti Smith) and significantly There Is A Light That Never Goes Out to mark the fact that this tour is the first time since the split that he has performed old Smiths songs on stage. There Is A Light... first appeared on the Smiths' 1986 album The Queen Is Dead but was only released as a single in 1992 as part of the promotion for the two 'Best...' collections that came out at that time. This isn't the first time that Morrissey has released a live album (1993's Beethoven Was Deaf another fine example) but this live single is a genuine first.
After all that it seems strange to relate that the biggest hit by a new act comes way down at Number 12. Studio B are the act in question, I See Girls set to be one of the first big novelty hits of the spring. The track began life as a blue eyed R&B single penned by singer songwriter Harry Brooks (best known for co-writing Blue's You Make Me Wanna but it was as a house remix that the track took off becoming something of an Ibiza favourite last summer by all accounts. Having taken a frustratingly long time to reach the shops, the single now makes an appearance complete with a Monty Python-inspired video featuring a hapless hero being chased through the streets by a group of lyrca-clad lovelies. If only he'd turned around.
As for the rest of the singles bubbling around the bottom end of the chart, there are some big name flops in there. Avril Lavigne limps in at Number 23 with He Wasn't, still one place better than the November chart peak of last single Nobody's Home but enough to suggest this will wind up as her last single until she comes up with some new material. Elsewhere hot property Estelle sees her third single Go Gone make a miserable Number 32 but that is at least still better than Hanson who follow up Top 10 comeback Penny And Me with Number 39 single Lost Without Each Other.
Now fingers crossed that they don't put it off again we are once again just a few short weeks from d-day when the singles chart undergoes a significant and long overdue revamp with the integration of online sales. With that it seems appropriate to cast an eye over the current download chart which has an oddly familiar look to it, Tony Christie reigning supreme at the summit with McFly's All About You in second place. Singles selling well online ahead of their shop release are few and far between - more prevalent are older hits that have come and gone on the sales chart but are still doing business online. Hence the Stereophonics' Dakota is still a Top 5 seller despite tumbling to Number 29 on the sales listing, but most astonishing of all is the continuing presence in the Top 20 of Gwen Stefani's What You Waiting For, first released way back in November.