Make that three weeks and running for James Blunt as he continues his all-encompassing chart domination. Single You're Beautiful consolidates its position at the top of the singles chart once more, the single also moving up to become the biggest selling download of the week. Parent album Back To Bedlam also clings onto top spot leaving Coldplay's X & Y in runners up slot once again. The rise from nowhere of the singing sensation has led to ever increasing amounts of media coverage with everything from his upbringing to the true story of the girl described in the lyrics of You're Beautiful coming in for scrutiny. This is of course nothing short of fabulous. Whilst Crazy Frog and Tony Christie may have also had Number One singles this year which attracted mainstream attention they were both in their own way hits with novelty value. Just for once a major new star has emerged by the simple means of being at the top of the bestsellers. He is Number One and it matters. That is a great feeling.
As if in sympathy the second biggest selling single of the week and the highest new entry on the chart is a track that musically and artistically is not a million miles away from James Blunt's all-conquering hit. Daniel Powter hails from Canada but his success to date has been confined to Europe where Bad Day has already been a major hit - his place on the bill of the German Live-8 concert a testament to this. Now with just about every radio station in the nation playing the single in heavy rotation, he storms to success in the UK. Comparisons with Blunt are pretty much inevitable although to continue to mention Powter in the same sentence is to do his talent a disservice. Bad Day is an awesome single, a mid-tempo ballad that comes complete with an uplifting chorus that all but demands a second listen. Whatever the circumstances the single would have become a major hit all by itself, but with You're Beautiful at one and Bad Day at two the singles chart has a complementary brace of self-penned debut hits by sweet voices male singers at its summit. You could hardly have scripted it better. [Although given they both proceeded to sit there for the rest of the month, people were starting to tire of them by the end. Bad Day is fascinating, a worldwide hit in 2005 but one which did not escape to America and become a hit there until a full year later].
The only other new splash in an otherwise largely calm Top 10 lands at Number 4 in the shape of Eminem and the fourth single from the Encore album Ass Like That. An innovative Turkish-flavoured production backs a back to basics cheeky rap about ladies rear ends which whilst it may not be the height of Eminem's lyrical genius does just about enough to bring a smile to your face. It matches the peak of his last single Mockingbird from back in May and extends his run of Top 10 singles (under his own name at least) to 13. The single is, of course, joined in the chart by the continuing Top 3 run of 2Pac's Ghetto Gospel which Mr Mathers also had a hand in producing.
Next up at Number 14 is what was hoped would be the most spectacular comeback of the year. Notwithstanding the efforts of the Spice Girls, All Saints, Girls Aloud and countless others since the 1990s it is Bananarama who have the honour of being the most successful all-girl group in British chart history (at least in terms of total chart hits) with a run of 26 chart singles between 1982 and 1993. Famously they never managed a Number One hit, peaking instead at Number 3 with three different singles (including Robert De Niro's Waiting in 1984 and the pop perfection of Love In The First Degree in 1987). After keeping the same lineup throughout the 80s they lost Siobahn Fahey to Shakespeare's Sister in 1988, added new member Jacqui to their ranks briefly and were finally reduced to a duo of Sarah and Keren when the hits finally dried up in the early 90s. It is the latter pair that have now set out on the comeback trail with the Europop Move In My Direction.
As comebacks go it all seems rather pointless. Bananarama had no more songwriting nous than Girls Aloud do today and their career rose and fall on the strength of the material they were given to sing (witness the way their mid-80s decline was arrested by a timely arrival on the Stock/Aitken/Waterman roster). As a result, their celebrated comeback is nothing more than two middle aged women singing a generic pop song that might as well be a Girls Aloud b-side for all the originality it shows. Where they go with this is unclear, Move In My Direction works as a one-off nostalgia trip but their legacy as a great pop act deserves more than the renewed flogging of a horse that expired over a decade ago. Still, at the very least Number 14 isn't a bad chart entry, making the single their biggest hit since the heady days of 1989 when the Comic Relief Beatles cover Help hit Number 3.
Just below at Number 15 are Uniting Nations who belatedly follow-up Out Of Touch, the Hall and Oates sampling looped house track that may only have peaked at Number 7 in December last year but which rode the new year rollercoaster to clock up an impressive 16 week Top 40 run. Paul Keenan and Daz Simpson were also the producers behind Cabin Crew's Star To Fall earlier in the spring but have now turned their back on the whole looping house craze to produce a brand new original song - albeit one which coincidentally resembles So Much Love To Give which was a hit for the Freeloaders back in April. Although available online, like many club singles the track is selling predominantly in the shops and as a result finds its chart performance hampered somewhat.
Anyway, the looping house phenomenon itself is far from dead, as proved by the next new entry from the Dancing DJs having been kicking around as a white label for what seems like months the single finally gets a full release having obtained the appropriate clearances for the tune it samples. Said tune is Fading Like A Flower, originally a Number 12 hit for Swedish superstars Roxette back in 1991. Craftily their approval of the sample came complete with the insistence that they get full chart credit and as a result, the track ranks as the first Top 40 hit for Per and Marie since I Wish I Could Fly hit Number 11 in March 1999. Yes, if you are a big fan of the original you are entitled to curse this bowdlerisation of the track into a brainless club tune. Come to terms with it however and like all others in its genre, Fading Like A Flower is damn good fun.
Fun is almost certainly the last thing on the mind of Trent Reznor as he takes Nine Inch Nails into the Top 20 for the second time this year with Only, the follow-up to The Hand That Feeds which spectacularly gave him his first-ever Top 10 hit when it made Number 7 back in April. The new single (the second to be taken from the album With Teeth) can't quite replicate that feat but at Number 20 it is still the second biggest hit the group have ever had in their 14-year chart career.
Down in the Top 30 there are mixed fortunes for many of the artists. Winner amongst them all is Martin Solveig who lands at Number 22 with new single Everybody, the follow-up to Rocking Music which hit a mere Number 35 in April. The news isn't quite as good one place below for Natalie Imbruglia. No matter how many people loved Top 10 single Shiver, not enough of them raced out to buy Counting Down The Days which disappoints in a big way with its chart showing. Still, she has done better than Lucie Silvas who nestles in the depths at Number 34 with Don't Look Back. This is now her second single in a row to miss the Top 30 compared with the two Top 10 singles with which she opened her account.
Finally, let's focus on a single which is either a winner or a loser depending on which way you view it. After topping the charts for weeks and selling over a million copies of Is This The Way To Amarillo, Tony Christie continues his comeback with another classic re-release. This time it is possibly his second most famous single Avenues And Alleyways which doubled as the theme to the 1970s TV series The Protectors. Compared to Amarillo it fares poorly (and at the end of the day it doesn't have the Peter Kay cachet to help it to the heights) at a mere Number 26 but even this chart placing is enough for the single to have beaten its original chart peak, a lowly Number 37 which it scaled in early 1973.