It's a week when the influence of certain award ceremonies shows its influence in the singles chart like never before rather than one characterized by outstanding new product. The lack of anything approaching a major new release makes for a totally static Top 4 (by my reckoning for the first time since January 1998), topped out by Meck and Leo Sayer spending a second week at the summit with Thunder In My Heart Again. Sayer's presence at the top of the chart means that for a second year running we have a Number One single by a man well into his sixth decade. Sayer is 57 years old, having been born on May 21st 1948. That makes him even older than Tony Christie who was 52 last year when his own career revival gave him a Number One hit and almost as old as Cliff Richard who was a few months past his 59th birthday when The Millennium Prayer hit the top in 1999.
The oldest man ever to have a Number One hit remains the great Louis Armstrong who topped the chart in 1968 with What A Wonderful World just a few months short of his 67th birthday. Elvis Presley hit the top last year a full 70 years after he was born but is disqualified from the "oldest man" record books on the technicality that he died in 1977.
The rest of the Top 3 is made up of former Number One single Nasty Girl holding firm for a second week at Number 2 and the Ordinary Boys' re-released single Boys Will Be Boys still shifting copies on the back of lead singer Preston's unexpected brush with fame. It won't be the coolest thing he ever did but his Celebrity Big Brother turn has given the career of his band the greatest shot in the arm they could wish for.
That leaves the only Top 10 debut this week as Liz McLarnon becomes the first former Atomic Kitten to score a solo hit single. She isn't the first to release one, of course, that honour going to Jenny Frost who released Crash Landing in association with Route-1 last October, that record living up to its title by bombing out at Number 47. For someone whose songwriting skills were much in evidence on the later Kitten releases, it is rather a surprise that McLarnon has launched her solo career with a double sided cover version. The single is led by her rendition of Woman In Love, a song penned by Barry Gibb for Barbara Streisand and which gave the legendary entertainer a Number One single in October 1980, a few months before Liz McLarnon was even born. Just for a change, some imagination has been shown in the production of the single and the song is transformed from a slow-dance disco number into a breezy acoustic pop song to quite an impressive effect. The other side of the single is her version of a song that is hard to ruin, Jackie Wilson's I Get The Sweetest Feeling. Liz' version currently has the honour of soundtracking a fabric conditioner advert. Now there's marketing for you.
As to where Liz Kitten's solo career is destined to go, well we wait to see. There is an argument to say that few if any pop stars go on to extended solo success once divorced from the manufactured group which made them famous to begin with. The problem is, of course, that because of the superstardom of Robbie Williams (and if you want to go even further back George Michael), you have to give each group a shot at spawning a spin-off star. Liz McLarnon can at least carry a tune and given that she was hardly the best-looking member of the trio to begin with, you can argue that extended solo success for her will be nothing less than a triumph of artistry over image. We can dream anyway.
The first big single mover of the week is Will Young's All Time Love which I suspect benefits greatly from the Valentines day effect to leap four places 11-7. Now five weeks old, the single first peaked at Number 3 when first released last month.
The next new hit of the week goes to Friday Hill, the act formed out of the ashes of Blazin' Squad and who of course coincidentally feature Kenzie who was himself a Big Brother contestant last year. One More Night Alone is the follow-up to Baby Goodbye which hit Number 5 back in October last year. The five-month gap between singles that has ensued may possibly have harmed their momentum. Certainly to only hit Number 13 on a very low selling week is not the vote of public confidence they may have wished for.
Did anyone else think it odd that Goldfrapp's Supernature was totally overlooked by the Brit awards last week? So much for having their finger on the pulse of coolness. After Top 10 hits last year with Ooh La La and Number One, Alison and Will clock up a further Top 20 hit with wonderful Ride A White Horse which hits you like a warm blast of 80s nostalgia. If Blancmange had a female singer, this is what they would have sounded like and whilst it may not quite have the commercial appeal of earlier hits it is still enough to make you wonder just what the Brits committee were thinking when Kate Bush got a nomination over this pair of geniuses.
Speaking of Brits nominees though, next up are the Magic Numbers who came away gong less but do at least have the satisfaction of a third Top 20 hit, new single I See You You See Me slipping in at Number 20, four places above the chart peak of their last single Love's A Game. They could so easily have been one hit wonders, first single Forever Lost charting just on novelty value alone but no, everyone fell in love with their album and their following was dedicated enough to ensure their singles were all worthwhile releases. I think that justifies overlooking the fat jokes sense of humour failure doesn't it?
Lower down the chart the positive effect of performing at the Brit awards ceremony is much in evidence. James Blunt sees Goodbye My Lover leap 27-21 whilst the ever-present You're Beautiful charges 51-31 to make its sixth appearance inside the Top 40 since it was released. Make the most of it, with the physical single having been deleted months ago, the track is likely to be one of the most high profile casualties of the new chart rules set to come into effect next month.
Also re-entering the Top 40 are the Kaiser Chiefs whose I Predict A Riot moves 44-28, the highest chart placing for the track since the start of October last year. On the rise too is Kanye West who gave us the image of the body painted dancers in our dreams and should, therefore, be forever thanked. Gold Digger rises 50-36 this week. Lower down as well there is a rise for KT Tunstall whose performance of Suddenly I See helps the track move 81-63. In a way, it's a shame no Prince tracks are currently chart-eligible as it would have been interesting to see if his show-opening medley had any effect on his sales. His highest charting album this week is Greatest Hits which creeps in at Number 79.
So that's really your lot for this week. Consider it the calm before the storm. The great Jacko revival starts here....