It's a tale of two records at the top end of the singles chart this week, one experiencing the best of times the other wondering just what might have been had things been different.
Still conquering all are the Proclaimers and their comedy partners who are still outselling all comers with (I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles which manages a second week at Number One. Its fortunes this week contrast ever more sharply with those of the other Comic Relief single Walk This Way which takes a dramatic 14-2 tumble this week - although this will make it easier for us all to move on and pretend it never existed which is surely no bad thing.
Its absence from the Top 10 leaves the way clear for the records which occupied numbers 3-6 last week to rise a place, thus enabling Avril Lavigne to move to Number 2 with Girlfriend which duly becomes her biggest hit single to date. With the sparky pop track hitting the shops this Monday (2nd) one would ordinarily not have to be much of a clairvoyant to predict an easy rise to Number One in seven days time. These are of course no ordinary circumstances and the commanding lead enjoyed by the Proclaimers single suggests that Girlfriend is destined instead to be one of those records which famously locks at Number 2 behind an insanely popular novelty.
Outside the Top 5, Fergie's Glamorous gets a full shop release and so accelerates to Number 6, still three places short of the Number 3 peak scaled by her first solo hit London Bridge in September last year. Collaborator Ludacris lands himself his third biggest chart single, nestling behind the Number 4 peak of Ciara's Oh from August 2005 and Usher's 2004 Number One hit Yeah both of which featured guest turns from the rapper. His biggest hits have all come as second banana to another act, his biggest solo or lead artist success coming in November 2003 when Stand Up peaked at Number 14.
The only other new arrivals in the Top 10 are older hits on the rebound, Justin Timberlake's What Goes Around Comes Around advancing 12-9 whilst Mika's Grace Kelly still refuses to go away and moves 11-10 this week. The former Number One stands a good chance of colliding with his next single Love Today which is starting to pick up sales and airplay ahead of its April 23 release. The album cut makes its Top 75 debut this week at Number 48 and all things being equal should be a Top 40 hit in time for Easter Sunday.
The highest Top 40 climber this week is Last Night A DJ Saved My Life from celebrated remixer Seamus Haji which vaults 38-13 upon physical release. The song is far and away one of the most famous soul/dance tracks of the early 80s. Originally recorded by InDeep, the track was a club hit on both sides of the Atlantic and reached Number 13 here in 1983. Even untouched in its original form it is an almost guaranteed floor filler to this day. Many club acts have attempted to cover the track since but few have been able to do it justice. Cold Jam limped to Number 64 in 1990, Sylk 130 made Number 33 in 1998 and most recently Fab For crept to Number 34 with a cover version in 2003. Seamus Haji's electro remake was an underground hit in 2004 but now finally escapes for a full commercial release. His take on the track is radical to say the least, transforming it into a frantic Electro-house track that races along at a breathtaking pace. His reward is the most successful remake of the song to date, agonisingly matching the peak of the 24-year-old original.
Also entering the Top 20 is Christina Aguilera who rises 21-17 with Candyman. The track is destined to end up as another Say It Right, having been announced for a physical release at the start of the year only for this to be cancelled and the track left to fend for itself as a download-only release. It has been a frustrating experience for many of her fans who were hoping that the forties themed track would have given her a major smash hit but whilst its continued upward mobility is encouraging it may well struggle to climb any further. The bigger labels are certainly keen to experiment with the concept of digital-only singles promotions although it seems to be transatlantic female soloists who are in the firing line. As well as the Christina and Nelly Furtado singles in the Top 20, we also have Pink's rather fantastic Leave Me Alone (I'm Lonely) which has been sculling around just inside the Top 40 for the last three weeks and which tumbles 34-37 this week. As a CD single it would have been a sure-fire Top 20 hit and maybe more, but as a belatedly promoted album cut, it may end up as her smallest ever Top 40 single.
The highest Top 40 new entry lands at Number 18 as Kings Of Leon arrive on the chart with brand new single On Call. The first single to be taken from their third album Because Of The Times, it neatly becomes their second Top 20 hit, landing just a couple of places short of The Bucket which was a Number 16 hit in November 2004.
If the stories are to be believed, the one thing which so far has prevented a lucrative Spice Girls reunion is the continuing belief of Melanie C that she alone still is a viable prospect as a solo artist. Her last attempt at solo stardom came in 2005 with the self-released album Beautiful Intentions. It only spawned one hit single here, the Number 10 hit Next Best Superstar, second single Better Alone having been sold only through iTunes and via mail order and was thus chart ineligible. It is claimed that the album sold more worldwide than her last major label album Reason and thus for the moment the former Sporty Spice remains resolute in her aim of being a solo star. Her latest single is a cover of one of the most enduring novelty songs of the 60s. Originally an American hit for the Strangeloves in 1965, I Want Candy was first taken into the charts here by Brian Poole and the Tremeloes who hit Number 25 that same year. The song is probably best known on these shores thanks to the exciteable version by Bow Wow Wow which was a Number 9 hit in 1982. Its most recent appearance was back in 2000 when Aaron Carter made a rather annoying version that crept to Number 31. The Melanie C single doubles as the title song to the new Britflick of the same name which has been advertised incessantly over the last couple of weeks with the song pushed to the fore. Needless to say, it hasn't done much good. With a combined physical and online release the track makes a rather apologetic Number 24, not quite her worst ever singles chart performance but hardly the kind of placing that is going to bolster her credentials as a mainstream pop act. I'm not one to kick a girl when she is down, but really when there is potentially a massive payday waiting in the wings for a Spice Girls reunion tour, why is she even bothering?
Let's wind up the Top 40 singles on a more positive note. The Number 26 peak of Faithless' last single Bombs was not the best of starts for their new album To All New Arrivals but the prospects are perhaps slightly better for second single Music Matters which arrives at Number 38 some way ahead of its planned April 23 release. Even as a committed hater of dance music, I'm consistently blown away by Faithless and this new single is the very essence of why they are so good. All the elements are there, from the eerie Sister Bliss backing track, the lead vocals from guest singer Cass Fox and the obligatory contribution from the always effortlessly cool Maxi Jazz. It has been three years since their last Top 10 hit and although expecting this track to get that far might be a little too optimistic, you can't blame a bloke for dreaming.
Finally, it is worth noting the effect of the rather disturbingly fawning coverage of Elton John's 60th birthday celebrations this week. His new collection of Greatest Hits flies to Number 2 on the albums chart, unable to dethrone Take That despite an ITV special on his career at the end of the week. The occasion was also marked by the arrival online for the first time of his entire back catalogue (frustratingly restricted to iTunes for the moment to the annoyance of those of us who use Napster or 7Digital). Those journalists who continue to lazily speculate that a potential mass release of Beatles songs will result in a single-artist Top 10 should note that although a handful of Elton classics have dutifully appeared in the Top 200 singles listing, just one sells enough to make the Top 75. Said track is the one from which his new collection takes its name - 1972 Number 2 hit Rocket Man. The fact that it was central to the plot of this week's episode of the BBC series Life On Mars couldn't have had anything to do with this could it?