So here we are then, with what is not so much the end of the year but the end of an entire era. This week marks the last ever "old school" singles chart compiled under the old rules that ties chart listings into the availability of physical singles. Quite aside from that, this is, of course, the new year chart, a listing which traditionally produces some of the strangest results of the year as sales crash down from their Christmas high. Last year this same chart played host to a new phenomenon, best described as the "iTunes gift voucher" effect as far from seeing a slump, online stores reported a new surge in business as people scrambled to fill their Christmas presents with downloaded music.
This year, the effect is slightly less pronounced although the lower end of the chart does still witness some upward moves for some slightly older product. Unlike in 2005 of course, the chart is handicapped slightly by the forced deletion of certain big selling singles which prevent them from registering surges. Crazy may well have been on the shopping lists of many people last week but in the chart you will, of course, see no sign.
At the top end there is no change, Leona Lewis' sales momentum enough to ensure that A Moment Like This spends a second week at Number One, helped I'm sure not a little by the fact that this chart includes sales for Christmas Eve when the single was still selling impressive numbers of copies. On A Moment Like This is the kind of song that works best when it has something else to stir the emotions. On record alone it could be any other MOR ballad of the last ten years, but tied into the video which is cleverly edited so that the final orchestral climax arrives as the same time as the footage from the X Factor final, the song becomes the grand expression of triumph and joy it was intended to be.
Just below, Patience continues Take That's tenacious grip on the Top 3 as seven weeks on from its initial chart appearance it shows little sign of slipping down the rankings. It is the same story on the album chart with Beautiful World retaining its place at the top.
The biggest new hit of the week comes from a group who have made targetted marketing something of an art form. It was arguably Iron Maiden who first invented the concept of first-week marketing when in 1991 they released their single Bring Your Daughter... To The Slaughter in the week immediately after Christmas. A limited edition, it was promoted almost exclusively to their loyal fan base who all scampered out and bought the single to give this heaviest of heavy metal bands an unexpected Number One. Whilst it would be wrong to accuse them of trying the same trick again, new single Different World benefits from a similar attention to timing, arriving as it does in this traditionally quiet week and released in the immediate aftermath of their London concert just before Christmas. The track is the first chart single to be taken from their latest album A Matter Of Life And Death which came out in September and leaving aside their golden oldies which went Top 10 in 2005 is their first brand new hit since Rainmaker charted just over three years ago. Their last brand new single to go Top 3 was Be Quick Or Be Dead which hit Number 2 in 1992, although their most recent visit to the top end of the the chart came in January 2005 when the re-released The Number Of The Beast also hit Number 3.
Also new to the Top 10 this week is PATT (Party All The Time) by Sharam which crept in at Number 36 on download sales last week but shoots up to Number 8 on combined sales. Although all but lost in the mix, the singer on the track is none other than comedian Eddie Murphy who originated the song in 1985 when at the height of his fame he was attempting a pop career. This hit remix is thanks to the talents of Sharam Tayebi, better known as one-half of Deep Dish and who gets sole credit on the chart.
The other new chart arrival is a retrospective oddity of an entirely different kind. Arnold Layne was the first ever single released by legendary rock band Pink Floyd. Considered a psychedelic classic of its kind, the song tells the tale of a transvestite who spends his time stealing women's clothes from washing lines, a subject matter that could, of course, have only come from the mind of Syd Barrett. It peaked at Number 20 in 1967. Earlier this year the song made an unexpected appearance in the live sets of Floyd axeman David Gilmour and it was so well received it remained there. This single release (featuring a guest vocal from none other than David Bowie) is a live version from that concert tour, recorded at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this year. After a pair of Number 72 hits earlier in the year, Dave Gilmour finally has a solo hit to call his own as the single beats its original peak to chart at Number 19. The Pink Floyd songbook is set to be raided once more with Eric Prydz' remake of the 1979 Christmas Number One Another Brick In The Wall waiting in the wings. Retitled Proper Education it sits at Number 77 on downloaded sales this week and should join a host of other new singles in the new chart next week.
As far as the older singles go there are some entertaining moves, not least those of both Razorlight and the Scissor Sisters. Both acts see their former Number One hits outsell their "current" singles, with America climbing to Number 15 at the expense of the tumbling Before I Fall To Pieces and most astonishingly of all I Don't Feel Like Dancin' shooting 27-16 while the Sisters' follow-up Land Of A Thousand Words sits miserably at Number 100. The summer is still fresh in the minds of some buyers, Justin Timberlake's SexyBack rising 53-30 and Shakira's Hips Don't Lie moves 49-33 and refuses to die.
As well as the climbers there are some spectacular tumblers but none more dramatic than the 3-20 fall experienced by McFly's Sorry's Not Good Enough. I've made the point before but it is impossible to ignore it. McFly's singles performances point to just one fact, their audience consists of the teenage girl crowd and quite literally nobody else. No other "mainstream" pop act in history has suffered from that level of niche appeal. Back in their heydey, you didn't have to be 13 to love Take That, everyone appreciated them just as they do today. McFly are granted no such favours in spite of the fact that when you strip away the cheese they make some bright, breezy, feel good pop music that should have been a staple of every party this Christmas.
So that was 2006 and that was the old singles chart. Next week we ring in the new in a manner that would have been inconceivable five years ago. I can hardly wait.