As you were then. The James Blunt/Daniel Powter chart hegemony continues with Bad Day locking horns at Number 2 behind You're Beautiful for a third straight week. This also means a fifth week at the top for the James Blunt single, easing it past Crazy Frog to become the second longest-running chart-topper of the year. Indeed not since 1998 have we had two records top the charts for longer than four weeks in the same calendar year, but James Blunt and Tony Christie have both managed it in the space of a few short months.
James Blunt also reigns supreme at the top of the albums chart yet again. As reported by Alan Jones in Music Week last week, Blunt is the first artist since Celine Dion (in 1995) to top both the singles and album charts for five consecutive weeks. To find the last British act to manage this spectacular level of domination you have to look back even further - to 1975 and the dominance of Rod Stewart with the album Atlantic Crossing and the single Sailing. Oddly enough the last act to manage a six-week duopoly were none other than John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John whose Summer Nights was accompanied at the top by the Grease soundtrack for six of the seven weeks it spent at the summit, way back in 1978. It is this particular record that James Blunt is gunning for next week.
Honours for the biggest new hit of the week go to an artist returning to the chart for the first time in two years - Craig David. He was hailed as a superstar back in 2000 when following on from guest vocal duties on Artful Dodger records he topped the charts with his first two solo singles Fill Me In and 7 Days. Such was his celebrity that he even inspired a TV comedy show. Bo Selecta indeed. His second album released in 2002 didn't inspire quite as many rave reviews but still produced six hit singles, the biggest of which was Rise And Fall which was based around the old Sting track Shape Of My Heart and for which the star was happy to receive a co-credit. New single All The Way proves that his appeal is still as strong as ever, soaring into the Top 3 and putting to rest the memories of his last single You Don't Miss Your Water which couldn't even make the Top 40. Critics may point out that All The Way is unmistakably a Craig David track, his sound having evolved so little that it would not have sounded out of place on his debut album. Still, if it is a formula it is one that works. We have few enough homegrown R&B singer-songwriters so thank goodness that the one we do have is easily one of the best.
Next up at Number 4 is a new entry which will bring a huge smile to the faces of those who have been tipping this particular act for stardom since the start of the decade. Supernature will be the third album from Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory and its lead single Ooh La La storms the singles chart to give Goldfrapp far and away their biggest hit single ever, shooting them into the Top 10 and indeed the Top 5 for the very first time. The irony is that the single is possibly being snapped up by people who are comparing it favourably to a Rachel Stevens record. In actual fact it was Stevens' producers who appropriated the Goldfrapp sound to turn around the failing career of the pop singer, Some Girls being heavily inspired by Soft Machine which hitherto was Goldfrapp's biggest chart single. Be in no doubt that this pair are the originals and the new single is just the ticket to propel them to greater heights with their usual Giorgio Moroder style being augmented by a chorus which evokes memories of T-Rex and Mark Bolan. Truly a thing of beauty, and the fact that it is a Number 4 hit makes it even better still. On a fun note, a distribution leak meant that the single actually appeared in the full unpublished Top 250 last week at 224 which technically makes this a 220 place climb the highest by any record in chart history - but for the fact that "chart history" only recognises the Top 75 as official placings owing to the rules which allow for the removal of underperforming singles below this point. Only pedants will insist this is anything other than a brand new entry.
Is this all getting too nice this week? Let's try being lukewarm about a single then. Number 5 entrant Akon is, of course, coming off his career high thus far, the acclaimed single Lonely which topped the chart for a fortnight back in May and went a long way to making the rapper [he's not a rapper, for the LAST TIME] a household name. His third single release is Belly Dancer (Bananza) which hits you like a blast of hot air after the melancholia of his last single. It is a fun, upbeat single which sings the praises of the titular dancer albeit in a way that is careful not to focus on her behind too much. In terms of overall commercial appeal, Akon is easier on the ear than the likes of 50 Cent or The Game and is matching them well in terms of chart performance. I can't really be lukewarm about the record as there is nothing wrong with it. It isn't the career-defining performance that Lonely was, but then that wasn't really the idea.
Now according to the usual way of things, the Magic Numbers should really be a well-kept secret. Two pairs of brothers and sisters based in the UK performing summery Californian pop songs as if they were the reincarnation of the Mamas and the Papas. First single Forever Lost hit Number 15 but after that nobody would have really been surprised if they drifted off into obscurity, being mentioned in dispatches during end of year reviews. Instead, everyone has swiftly woken up to the fact that their debut album is in fact astoundingly incredibly good. One Mercury Prize nomination later the album is a must-have amongst the trendy set and their second single Love Me Like You was at one stage challenging for a Top 10 place earlier in the week. They hit the headlines this week thanks to an enormously entertaining spat when they walked out of a Top Of The Pops recording after a jibe by presenter Richard Bacon which may or may not have been referring to their ample waistlines. This may actually have backfired on them slightly with the foursome coming across as slightly lacking in either humour or self-awareness but for sheer publicity purposes, it worked a treat. Suddenly everyone was reading about the Magic Numbers, their new single and the fact their album was considered so good it was a frontrunner for the Mercury Prize. From such things, great careers are made. In the event, the single didn't reach the Top 10 and slipped in the final rankings to Number 12 but still does well enough to become their biggest hit to date. Personally, I love them to bits and would pick them up and cuddle them, except that I don't think my arms would reach that far.
The highest charting debut of the week is at Number 15. Preetesh and Marlon are Mattafix, a London based duo whose biography suggests they have attempted to absorb the influences of just about every musical genre under the sun. Their debut single Big City Life arrives on the chart on the back of heavy Radio One support and its presence here in mid table will be considered a most satisfactory performance. The single itself is a fascinating fusion of soul and ragga which perhaps isn't quite as effective as it was intended to be but it certainly diverting enough to justify the four minutes of your time it takes to hear it. Word is they have better songs than this and better chart placings in the future are certainly not impossible.
On an almost completely different musical note is Axwell's Feel The Vibe (Til The Morning Comes) which slides in at Number 16. Axwell hails from Sweden and this track was a big European smash as long ago as last summer. MOS imprint Data have held the licence for the track since the back end of 2004 but only now has it escaped into the charts on a commercial release. Run of the mill Europop is the order of the day here and the fact that it hasn't exactly set the charts on fire may have something to do with the fact that it doesn't really do anything all that different.
At Number 22 are the returning Supergrass. Last year, of course, they released a tenth-anniversary compilation album which spawned the single Kiss Of Life. Now they are set to begin the promotion of their fifth studio album Road To Rouen, hyped by the band themselves as featuring a slightly funkier edge. New single St Petersburg shows few signs of this however and in fact is quite comfortingly familiar, Gaz Coombs' voice being drowned in psychedelic echo to give the single a wonderful dreamlike quality. For some odd reason, their chart placings appear mired in mid-table, the band having not managed to scale the Top 10 since Moving hit Number 9 back in September 1999. It would be remiss not to mention of course the fact that it is now ten years since the golden summer of Britpop that saw Supergrass leading the charge with Number 2 smash Alright, even if the band themselves have studiously avoided being defined by that one piece of whimsy ever since.
Finally this week at Number 24 we issue a howl of frustration on behalf of Longview (or Long-View as we are now supposed to call them even if the chart database hasn't caught on to this yet). The Winchester indie band have had a long slog to the top thus far, debut album Mercury having been released as far back as 2003. Credit to their record company they know they have a good thing on their hands and are trying every trick in the book to turn them into stars. The latest trick is to repackage the album with Innovations, a twin remix album which turns their already impressive songs into miniature masterpieces. "New" single Further is a case in point. Originally released in 2003 it first peaked at Number 27 but now returns in a new version complete with multi-tracked choir and a soaring string section. No way is this just a Number 24 hit, this is worthy of being ranked as one of the finest singles of the year. At one stage the single looked as if it would grab a place in the Top 20 but to no avail. Still, at Number 24 it is still their biggest hit to date but you have to start wondering just how many rolls of the dice they have left.