So let's recap.
Last week: long-running Number One stays where it is, previous Number One sticks at Number 2 yet again and an older hit rebounds back up the chart after some award ceremony to retake the Number 3 slot.
This week: all change.
Yes, as is so often the case a singles chart in danger of the wind changing and being stuck like that forever is suddenly transformed by a welcome chart surge from newly minted hit singles with the Top 4 places all occupied by singles that were previously nowhere near the Top 10.
Leading the charge is the single that storms to the top of the chart as a brand new entry at Number One. When we last saw Kelly Clarkson she was the cause of several furrowed brows. Having seen her stock rise from "reality TV winner" to "globe-straddling superstar" in 2005 thanks to second album Breakaway and long-running hit singles such as Since U Been Gone and Behind These Hazel Eyes she then proceeded to come close to flushing it all down the toilet with her 2007 album My December whose contents were the source of rows with her management and label and which resulted in a fraction of the worldwide sales of its predecessor and a rapid downscaling of the tour she had planned to support it. Many casual observers could have been forgiven for assuming she had dropped a career-ending rick with that one "difficult" album, certainly on these shores where she charted just the one single Never Again from the project and then vanished off the face of the earth.
It is, therefore, something of a joy to see her return with material that is not only much better but actually ranks as one of her best singles ever. My Life Would Suck Without You effortlessly duplicates its American success and crashes straight in at Number One to give the star her first ever UK chart-topping single. Musically speaking it is a case of going back to what has worked in the past, Since U Been Gone writers Max Martin and Dr Luke are at the helm again for a single that maybe could be accused of being a little formulaic but as an exercise in putting Kelly Clarkson back on top where she belongs does the trick perfectly.
As you will have doubtless read in many other places before you see this, by reaching Number One Kelly Clarkson now becomes the record-breaking fifth female singer in a row to top the UK charts, continuing a run that stretches back to mid-December last year. Never before have female stars achieved such a stranglehold over the very top of the British charts. Not that they haven't come reasonably close before - in fact as recently as this time last year the charts saw a run of five Number One hits from Duffy, Estelle, Madonna, The Ting Tings and Rihanna all with females on lead vocals, even if the middle three were all technically duets with male stars.
I can tell you however that the domination of the fairer sex extends to a clean sweep of the Top 3. At Number 2 is Love Story from Taylor Swift which as expected takes a flying leap up the singles chart. It is easily one of the biggest nu-country hits to date, eclipsing the Number 3 peaks scaled in the past decade by the likes of Shania Twain and Faith Hill. The single also has the honour of being the biggest ever hit of this name. Three other tracks called Love Story have been hits since the dawn of the charts. Jethro Tull got there first in 1969 with their track reaching Number 29. Then came the famous film theme which charted twice in 1971, for Andy Williams (Number 4) and Shirley Bassey (Number 34). Finally, there was the dance hit which made Number 8 in early 2003 for Layo and Bushwacka. Taylor Swift's song has outstripped them all.
Now the phenomenon is becoming so common we really need an expression for it, so let's coin the phrase Halo Hit. Smash hit singles for certain artists are increasingly generating a "halo effect" around their music, causing a second single track to rise up the charts in their wake, either very close behind or simultaneously with the net effect being two back to back hit singles at a pace that flies in the face of all conventional marketing strategy. One such beneficiary of this is Lady Gaga who charted in early January with Just Dance only for the follow-up to land on the Top 40 just two weeks later as a halo hit. This week as Just Dance finally drops out of the Top 3, it is replaced by that second single as Poker Face ends a seven-week chart climb to accelerate 15-3. Opinion is divided as to whether this second single is as good as her first, some say it is an improvement, I've yet to have it grow on me. Regardless of your point of view, it firmly establishes her as the major new talent of 2009. The only question now is just how well her next single will do, given that the halo hit effect generally only lasts for one single. Her third release from the album will rise and fall on its own merits alone. Oh yes, and Just Dance isn't going away just yet - it is still at Number 6.
Making similarly great strides this week are Take That who shoot up 20 places to Number 17 with their latest offering Up All Night. Whereas normally their singles are expected to fly to the top of the singles chart in short order, they are in a curious position with this new track, coming as it does on the back of some record-bending sales of parent album The Circus which has inevitably diluted the potential market for its second single. As they demonstrated back in 2007, they are not immune from having smaller hit singles in the download era, their single I'd Wait For Life peaking at what is for them a comparatively lowly Number 17. It's not that Up All Night is necessarily destined to go no further, but should it fall back next week we should not be totally shocked. Its one saving grace is the fact that it goes physical this week meaning that a small sales boost from dedicated collectors is on the cards. In the meantime, they can console themselves with the fact that this is one of three Top 75 singles they can claim this week, with Greatest Day still smouldering at Number 52 and the evergreen Rule The World refusing to die, this week at Number 73 on what is its 64th week as a Top 75 hit.
Expect bigger things in the next few weeks for Beautiful by Akon which becomes a Top 40 single for the first time at Number 30. Far and away one of the most popular tracks on the album Freedom, it appeared for a wander around the lower reaches in mid-December and has been hovering on the edge of the Top 50 more or less ever since. Now formally announced as a single, the track has a video and increased airplay and seems well on its way to becoming a hit. The single is notably the next big hit to feature a guest vocal from Colby O'Donis, hard on the heels of his guest role on Just Dance.
Finally for this week just to demonstrate the continuing power of television, the new Adidas commercial that celebrates their 60th anniversary with an array of international celebrities has had a knock-on effect on the singles chart. The advert uses the Pilooski remix of Beggin' from the Four Seasons as its soundtrack, resulting in the track returning to the chart at Number 57, its first appearance since it first peaked at Number 32 back in 2007. As an odd side effect, the TV advert has had an even more positive effect on the Madcon version of the track which makes an extraordinary leap back up the chart to Number 35. It has no connection to the advert, but as the most recent and therefore presumably most familiar version of the song available is benefitting accordingly.