With the top end of the singles chart being the most foregone of foregone conclusions this week, most attention was being paid to the albums chart and the four-way battle that was set to develop between The Beatles, U2, Westlife and Oasis, all of whom had major new albums out this week. Within a few days, this had settled down to a two-way tussle, which the less well-informed sections of the media decided was an excuse to campaign against the Westlife album at all costs.
Personally, I'm glad it failed (The Love Album sneaks in at Number One a few thousand copies ahead of Stop The Clocks). Admittedly Westlife are in my good books at the moment for taking The Rose to Number One but on top of that out of all the big new releases of the week, they alone were touting newly recorded material. The Oasis album was a "best of", U2s was a singles collection and the Beatles release is a bizarre collection of tracks that have been mashed up and remixed by their original producer George Martin. That said, Westlife's album is hardly original in itself, being their usual fare of warmed up MOR ballads from years gone by.
In fact, you will look in vain for original works at the top end of the album chart. Who else is in there? George Michael (Greatest Hits), Jamiroquai (Greatest Hits), Girls Aloud (Greatest Hits) and the Sugababes (Greatest Hits). Not until the Number 9 album do we come across Razorlight who have the biggest selling album of original material of the week. It makes the singles chart look rather more worthwhile of our attention.
8 new entries, 1 re-entry, 5 climbers and 2 non-movers is the tale of the tape this week but of course, there are no prizes for guessing who makes it to Number One.
An inevitability right from the first note of their first comeback concert, the first new Take That single in over ten years makes a 4-1 jump to give the veteran boy band a sensational Number One hit single. Their ninth in total, Patience returns them to the top of the singles chart almost exactly ten years and six months to the week since their original farewell single How Deep Is Your Love ascended to the summit. It is an achievement that should be celebrated and applauded, particularly as this is no one-off recording plundered from the archives but the first offering from an entire album of brand new material.
It is also worthy of note that this is the second time in 2006 that an act has topped the chart again after a prolonged absence. Leo Sayer hit the top earlier in the year alongside Meck on Thunder In My Heart Again which for him was his first chart-topper in 29 years. I expect Take That are rather relieved to have not had to wait quite so long.
Also making a leap, as confidently predicted here last week, is Emma Bunton who ultimately misses out on the Number 2 slot by a narrow margin (early reports suggest it was the small matter of 57 sales!) and instead has to content herself with Number 3 for Downtown. This still succeeds in giving her the second biggest hit of her solo career, beaten only by the Number One peak of What Took You So Long in April 2001, although she also made Number 2 as a guest singer on Tin Tin Out's What I Am from November 1999. Petula Clark for the moment remains the person with the biggest hit version of the track, her original rendition (of which Emma's is a worthy successor) having made Number 2 when first released no less than 42 years ago.
The rest of the Top 10 remains pretty quiet with the only action coming lower down where Girls Aloud make a 12-9 move with the six week old Something Kinda Ooh whilst Razorlight's former Number One America shows even more staying power. Now nine weeks around, the single lifts 14-10 to return to the Top 10 a fortnight after seemingly dipping out for good.
As if she hadn't had a good enough year already, Nelly Furtado rounds 2006 off in style by landing the highest new entry of the week with All Good Things (Come To An End) which hits Number 13 on downloads alone - a very impressive performance for what is after all the third single from the album. It arrives to keep her last single Promiscuous company in the chart as its continual sales have helped it hover on the cusp of the Top 40 for the last few weeks, the single this week dipping out again to Number 41. Good work on the record company for still letting the single chart for the moment, in marked contrast to the Number One single Maneater which became one of the most high profile casualties of the unpopular "two weeks after physical deletion" rule when it was dropped from the chart in September despite still being eligible for a Top 40 placing.
Also new in are the Red Hot Chili Peppers who saw their third single of the year Snow (Hey Oh) hit Number 50 on downloads last week and who can now watch it soar to Number 16 on combined sales. It thus matches the chart peak of their last hit Tell Me Baby from July, a shame in a way as the new single is easily one of the standout tracks from their album.
It is a similar story for The Feeling who after releasing a genuine potential classic in the form of Never Be Lonely last time out release the heartwarming and just as singable Love It When You Call as their fourth single of the year. In truth, had they turned this track into a single earlier it would have been just as massive as Sewn and Fill My Little World but instead has to be content with a Number 18 placing on combined sales, the track having just missed the Top 40 on downloads last week.
Also new in, but on downloads alone, this time is current club sensation Boogie 2Nite by Booty Luv. The song began life as a track on Tweet's 2002 album Southern Hummingbird and eventually wound up as the b-side of her Turn Da Lights Off single. With its potential as a club smash duly spotted, the track has now been radically reworked to take it even further away from its original R&B roots with a crushing electro bassline brought to the fore. Vocals on the track are provided by Big Brovaz stars Nadia and Cherise and the result is a quite delicious club hit that is clearly oozing Christmas party crossover potential. Top 3 next week without a doubt.
There is less good news for the ever wonderful Lemar whose chances of a Top 10 follow-up to the Number 7 hit 'It's Not That Easy' have been dealt a blow as his second single of the year Someone Should Tell You can only reach Number 21 after making a rather lowly Number 59 on downloads last week. Somewhat bizarrely his only other single to miss the Top 10 also stalled at Number 21, 2005's Don't Give Up.
Also making a club smash this week are Faithless who are guaranteed a good reception for their first brand new material in over two years - especially after the rumours that 2004s No Roots and last year's Greatest Hits collection would mark the end of the concept. Featuring the vocal talents of Harry Collier alongside Maxi Jazz, Bombs is taken from their new album To All New Arrivals and comes complete with a typically bleak video which MTV eagerly refused to play. Brand new Faithless tracks are more or less guaranteed a Top 10 placing and this one should be no exception, its Number 26 arrival coming thanks to online sales alone. It is incredible to think that it is now exactly ten years since the pizzicato strings of Insomnia forced their way to Number 3 and turned Rollo, Sister Bliss and Maxi Jazz into mainstream stars.
Bringing up the rear this week is Pink who limps to Number 27 with the combined sales release of her latest single Nobody Knows. It is hard to blame the fact that it is the third single from her current album for this lamentable chart position, so let's try this as an explanation. She has shown her balladeering side in the past and had worthwhile hits with tracks such as Family Portrait but compared to the sparkling energy of her last two hits Who Knew and the entertaining U and UR Hand it becomes clear why Nobody Knows is set to become her smallest hit single ever. It's HORRIBLE.