"Only two more weeks and we're level with 'Bohemian Rhapsody'", crowed Peter Kay during an impromptu appearance on stage with Queen during the week. Alas, he crowed too soon as after seven weeks he and Tony Christie are finally deposed from the top by a record that could not be more of a musical opposite if he tried.
The rise and rise of Akon has come as a delight to hardcore hip hop fans who spent most of last year watching him be the next big thing on the underground scene. His commercial breakthrough came at the start of the year when Locked Up stormed the chart at Number 5 (the single only this week exiting the Top 40), his debut album also going great guns on the long players listing but it is with Lonely that he comes into his own as a mainstream star, charging with ease to the Number One position. In actual fact, the appearance of Lonely at the top is very much in keeping with the spirit of 2005 so far. For a start Akon is the third hip-hop artist to top the charts since January, joining Eminem and Nelly (and if you want to get technical Petey Pablo who provided the rap on Ciara's Goodies). It also contains an element of golden oldie about it, being based extensively around a sample of Bobby Vinton's 1964 US Number One hit Mr Lonely. Said sample, of course, has been jiggered about with to a quite delicious effect, speeded up to prompt all manner of Sweety The Chick jokes, which may not quite have been what Akon had in mind. Still, that shouldn't detract from the achievement of Akon in reaching the top with this astoundingly mature and thought provoking track. [My description of this as a hip-hop track raised a few eyebrows at the time. You can argue until closing time about the semantics of it. Akon is by and large classed as hip-hop despite being a singer. Go figure].
Incidentally the Top 3 this week has a distinctly mature look to it. If we credit Bobby Vinton with his performance on Lonely, at 70 years old he joins the 61-year-old Tony Christie and the also rather mature Charlie Wilson (as featured on Snoop Dogg's Signs) in the parade of musical veterans.
For the second biggest hit of the week, we look to Eminem who can be forgiven for being disappointed with not making it three successive Number One hits. Instead, the follow-up to Like Toy Soldiers slips in at Number 4, Mockingbird becoming his 13th straight Top 10 hit (a total that swells to 14 when you count his appearance on Dr Dre's 1999 hit Forgot About Dre). Only D12's Number 11 hit Fight Music prevents him from a 100% Top 10 strike rate on every single track on which he has contributed.
Also landing themselves a Top 10 hit this week are Weezer, Beverly Hills charting exactly ten years to the week after Buddy Holly gave the American band their only other Top 20 hit single. It is their first chart single for almost three years and as you may have gathered at a stroke becomes far and away their highest charting hit ever.
It is a similarly spectacular week for Lil' Jon and the East Side Boyz who storm in at Number 10 with Get Low/Lovers & Friends in a spectacular improvement on their last hit Roll Call/What U Goin Do which limped to Number 38 back in February. Lil' Jon himself has actually had three hits so far this year, having also contributed alongside Trick Daddy and Twista on Let's Go which was a Number 26 hit in February. The presence of the track this high means that the UK singles chart is looking disturbingly like its US equivalent with five rap hits and two R&B singles shouldering out pretty much anything resembling pop music. Look on the bright side, this is the first week of January that hasn't seen an Elvis Presley single in the Top 10.
Having stormed the Top 3 back in January with a timely re-release of Somebody Told Me, The Killers narrowly miss out on making it three Top 10 hits with four singles, Smile Like You Mean It squeaking in at Number 11, the appeal of the band immediately apparent by the singles' apparent ubiquity on music TV channels.
There is more R&B at Number 12 in the shape of Faith Evans and her long awaited new single Again. Technically it is her first solo hit single since 1998 when she hit Number 24 with Love Like This but of course the situation is rather more complicated than that, Faith having since appeared on hits by Puff Daddy, Eric Benet, Whitney Houston, Clipse and most recently of all Twista who's single Hope made Number 25 just last month featuring her vocals. Her most famous chart moment, of course, came in 1997 when she sang on Puff Daddy's I'll Be Missing You, the single made in tribute to her former husband Notorious B.I.G. and becoming a worldwide chart-topper. Mention should of course also be made of Fatman Scoop's Be Faithful which topped the chart in November 2003 and which was based around an extensive sample of Faith Evans and, yes, her 1998 solo hit Love Like This. [One of those overlooked hit singles that you forget how good it sounds. A joy to dig this one out again].
At Number 15 are Maximo Park who follow up the excellent Apply Some Pressure (Number 20 in March) with a bigger hit single in the shape of Graffiti. The Britpack may be having an off week in the face of so much US domination so it is good to at least have the chance to savour the best of new UK music even this low down.
It isn't such a good return for the Chemical Brothers who make a rather lowly entry at Number 18 with Believe, this coming hard on the heels of Galvanize which went Top 3 in January. Incredibly enough this is the first time in their career they have failed to follow up a Top 10 single with another immediately afterwards.
Finally a note on the continuing progress of Gorillaz' Feel Good Inc which as you may recall was released in the first week of the new chart effectively as a download-only single, its eligibility for the chart coming thanks to an extremely limited edition 7-inch release. Since then the single has moved 22-21-22 and now jumps two places to Number 20, almost all sales coming as a result of online downloads. This week, however, the single is finally made available on CD which I suspect will propel it even further up the chart. Although the ratio of shop to online sales is hovering at an almost 50:50 split, online sales are of course spread over a vastly increased range of product which means that the biggest selling download still sells considerably less than your average Top 10 single.