It may not have escaped your attention that it is of course just a few weeks until Christmas. Sadly I have to announce that this year I'm boycotting all speculation about the Christmas Number One. This is entirely due to the fact that the annual race for the prize has been spoiled completely over the last few years by the cynical release of TV talent show singles just in time to grab the spoils. This year will be no exception with "X Factor Winner" all but pencilled in as the single at the top come Christmas Day. It is like entering a cheetah into a greyhound race and being surprised at the result.
9 new entries, just 2 climbers and a massive 6 non-movers kind of tells the story of the singles chart this week. In truth, we are in a bit of still water as the industry holds its breath before the final big push before Christmas.
This also means no change at the top of the singles chart and colour me fickle, but I'm actually getting less excited about the big Take That comeback as the weeks go by. Time and time again we have seen that there is limited commercial mileage in nostalgia. For all the joy people are getting at seeing their former teen crushes back performing just like the old days, does this really represent the future of pop music? Or just a diverting nod back to the past?
For the moment I seem to be in the minority as Patience clocks up a second week as the biggest selling single in the nation and at the same time their first brand new album for 11 years Beautiful World soars to the top of the long players listing. This actually marks the first time in their career that Take That have topped both charts simultaneously. First time around, Take That topped the charts with two of their three original studio albums as well as the "career ending" Greatest Hits collection. Everything Changes topped the album chart upon release in October 1993, just too late to coincide with Relight My Fire having its run at the top. Similarly two years later it was the turn of the album Nobody Else which spent a fortnight at the summit in May that year, two weeks after Back For Good had been deposed from its month long run at the top. It was the exact same story in early 1996 when their final Greatest Hits album missed the Number One run of How Deep Is Your Love by two weeks.
With Akon and Eminem holding firm at Number 2, it is left to last weeks two big download singles to make the only inroads into the Top 5. Winning the mini battle are Booty Luv who soar 19-3 with Boogie 2Nite. Yes, it is a cover version of a song whose commercial potential was mysteriously overlooked first time around but it is still worth cheering the fact that mainstream dance music has hauled itself out of the mediocrity of cheesy looped 80s covers and has instead produced some of the best sounding singles of the last few months. Coming hard on the heels of both the Fedde Le Grand and Bodyrox singles, Booty Luv have carved themselves a perfect slice of the seasonal party market.
Let's also cheer Nelly Furtado could have been forgiven for seeing her latest hit All Good Things (Come To An End) succumbing to third single from the album-itis and doing nothing more than creep into the Top 20. Instead, it shot in at Number 13 on downloads last week and now motors to Number 4 to become her third Top 5 hit in a row and the fifth in total of her career.
There are two more Top 10 new entries this week, both from singles which shoot up the chart on combined sales. First up are the Fratellis with Whistle For The Choir which leaps 52-9. The single duly becomes their third Top 40 hit and the second to reach the Top 10, following on from Chelsea Dagger which made Number 5 in September. The new single marks a dramatic departure from its predecessor and shows the more mellow side of the band in a semi-acoustic track that is Beatle-esque in all the right ways. This should give a deserved boost to the album Costello Music which moves 42-34 on the album chart. [Their greatest ever moment, bar none].
Behind them at Number 10 are Muse who similarly are notching up their third hit single of 2006. Taken from the Black Holes And Revelations album, the slightly less commercially inclined Knights Of Cydonia will be listed as a new entry in all record books thanks to its download sales only dragging it to a non-canon Number 92 last week. Not that they or their fans will complain about the Number 10 the single has achieved on combined sales as it is only their third such hit single, the crowning glory in a year that also saw the album's title track become their biggest chart hit ever when it made Number 4 back in July.
The last hit for The Killers was of course the Number 2 smash hit When You Were Young, a single which would actually have been rather unsatisfying but for the fact that the entire production was geared up to the final 40 seconds when the band were joined by a full wall of sound for the climactic final chorus. The second single from the heavily-promoted Sam's Town album is Bones which just like its predecessor comes complete with a lavish (if all too literal) video which has the entire band reduced to the titular skeletons by the end. The big advertising push for the band appears to have benefited the album the most as it soars 21-11 this week, leaving the single trailing in its wake rather and limping to Number 15 after landing at Number 50 on downloads alone last week. Their wait for a fourth Top 10 hit goes on.
Booty Luv aside, the big dance release of the week came from Red FM DJs Greg Dowling and Shane Johnson who go by the name of Fish Go Deep. Their incredibly addictive track The Cure And The Cause has been bubbling around for most of the year but until now had not become a mainstream hit. A plethora of new mixes have backed up this much-demanded re-release and after just missing the Top 40 last week, the track now makes a leap to Number 23. As chart positions go this is good but not great and certainly far, far less than the track deserves. Given that this is their first hit in six years of collaboration, I doubt the pair will be too downhearted.
This week also marks the return to the chart of Irish folk balladeer Damien Rice, best known - depending on who you talk to - either for his 2004 single Cannonball or as one of the most annoyingly precious men on the planet. Taken from his debut album O, Cannonball was one of those tracks that seemed to hang around forever. First released at the end of 2003 it made Number 39 only to reappear the following summer when it peaked at Number 19. Two follow-up singles barely scraped the Top 30 and since then he has been silent, save for a reappearance alongside Lisa Hannigan on the Number 24 hit Unplayed Piano in July 2005. After a long gestation period, his second album is finally ready for public consumption and the first single 9 Crimes lands at Number 29 this week on combined sales. In truth this shouldn't be too much of a surprise. The only reason Cannonball became a mainstream hit was due to his record label insisting on remixing the track to beef up the production and make it more radio-friendly, an action that Rice only sulkily agreed to if it was agreed such a thing would never happen again. Thus 9 Crimes is closer to the "true" Damien Rice than the one portrayed by his most famous hit. As lovely and soulful as it is, it is actually an achievement in itself for the simplistic folk track to chart as high as it has.
Two download-only singles land at the lower end of the Top 40 this week in the shape of Jamelia's Beware Of The Dog at Number 34 and Can't Catch Tomorrow from Lostprophets at Number 35. Both should climb easily so we'll deal with them next week.
Of more note is the appearance at Number 39 of War Of The Worlds by Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly, the stage name of Essex boy Charles Khoo who is being hailed as one of the next big things of 2007. Frankly, I'd love him to get famous, his growling voice seemingly well suited to big heavy metal tracks instead is accompanied by his self-penned gentle acoustic ballads. It is a style clash that is all at once very wrong and so completely right at the same time. Hailed as the first indie-emo fusion act, his debut album is well worth a look and whilst War Of The Worlds is destined only to be a tiny hit, there are certainly bigger things to come. [A series of minor Top 40 entries (of which this was one) were the full extent of his destiny].
Those anticipating a second smash hit single from "High School Musical" may have a little longer to wait. Breaking Free may have been the expected Top 10 hit but the grand finale number We're All In This Together limps to a rather disappointing Number 40 on combined sales this week. The truth is that such is the phenomenal popularity of the TV film, its soundtrack has been snapped up by starry eyed teenage girls everywhere, leaving less of a market for the single tracks which in all honesty don't actually work quite so well out of the context of the movie. Not that there isn't hope. Awareness of just what the film is about it still restricted to those who can watch the Disney Channel. "High School Musical" is due for an airing on BBC1 over Christmas which should help its profile no end.
The imminent arrival of the festive season has meant a few chart evergreens making a reappearance this week. Fairytale Of New York from the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl rises to Number 46 this week, chart eligible thanks to its re-release in time for Christmas in 2005, albeit only for another fortnight before the 52-week rule comes into effect. Due a slightly longer stay is Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade which is at Number 54 after yet another timely re-release. The 1973 Christmas Number One hasn't been seen in the Top 40 in its original form since December 1983, its last chart run coming when a remixed version made Number 30 in 1998.