I don't know why I feel the need to keep apologising for it, but once again the influence of the all-conquering X Factor TV show is all over the UK singles chart this week. Westlife's failure to reach the top last week may have broken the pattern slightly, but for the third time in a row, the fate of the Number One single is directly linked to a performance on the Sunday night results show.
Step forward then JLS who bring the two-week reign of Cheryl Cole to a slightly premature end. The foursome have already had one chart-topper this year with Beat Again, but it is almost certainly thanks to their X Factor performance that the 2008 runners-up make it two in a row with brand new single Everybody In Love. Heralding the release of their debut album which hits the shops this week. Musically speaking Everybody In Love is actually a far more appealing pop track than its predecessor and debuts at the top with another six-figure weekly sale, the 120,000 copies the track sold last we beating even the 106,000 sales achieved by Beat Again in its first week back in July. [This was the point where the market for download singles had reached critical mass, becoming a mainstream consumer product and resulting in top-level singles sales that were matching those of a decade earlier at the peak of the CD market. And they were still 3 years away from peaking as well].
We also should take time to note once more the remarkable number of acts who have topped the singles chart with two different tracks in 2009. The tally now stands at eight, with JLS having added themselves to a list which already included Lady Gaga, Flo Rida, Tinchy Stryder, Black Eyed Peas, Dizzee Rascal, Pixie Lott and David Guetta.
Not that Cheryl Cole has too much to complain about really this week. Another hefty sale for Fight For This Love makes it the seventh single this year to sell over half a million copies and she still reigns supreme at Number One on the album chart with 3 Words. Her closest challengers in this race were Bon Jovi with new album The Circle, the group just happening to appear on a certain reality TV show last weekend to plug their new release. It is the third Number 2 album in a row for the veteran rock band following Have A Nice Day in 2005 and Lost Highway in 2007. They haven't topped the album chart since 2000 release Crush. On the singles chart, they fare slightly less well, perhaps something of a surprise given that their new single was the track they performed (in an admittedly bowdlerised form) on the X Factor show last weekend. We Weren't Born To Follow makes its chart debut at a rather lowly Number 25, an improvement at least on the Number 33 peak of their last hit (You Want To) Make A Memory in 2007 but a long way short of adding to their impressive tally of Top 10 hit singles. Maybe there is only a limited amount of X Factor magic to go around after all.
Back to the singles chart, and the second highest new entry of the week goes to a lady who may not have any connection to X Factor but has actually had a Number One single already this year without anyone noticing. Ke$ha made her chart debut back in March when she provided the female vocal on Flo Rida's Number One single Right Round. Her appearance on that track (at the recommendation of producer Dr Luke) led to a full record deal and now a single of her own. Tik Tok enters strongly at Number 6, her profile in this country helped by a support slot for Calvin Harris during the summer. Tik Tok is one of those singles which will irritate as well as entertain in almost equal proportions. There is something maddeningly appealing about the half-rapped and half sung track but its detractors will once again note that the fad for drowning American R&B tracks in Autotune shows no sign of abating.
The Top 10 also plays host to the third new entry of the week as End Credits crashes in at Number 9 for London based producers Chase & Status. It is the culmination of a year of steadily growing popularity for the duo after their 2008 debut album More Than Alot (sic) spawned two minor chart hits - the biggest, Against All Odds, peaking at Number 45 back in February. End Credits is a brand new track and is featured heavily on the soundtrack of the new Michael Caine film 'Harry Brown' which opened in the UK this week. Even hardened dance music haters should give this track a whirl because End Credits is the most remarkable club track you will hear all year, opening not with a beat but with the trademark acoustic guitar of singer Plan B, whose plaintive vocals soar for almost a minute before the track kicks in for real. One of those records that can't help but sound amazing over a cinema sound system, it is hardly surprising that this has shot straight to the Top 10 upon release. Chase & Status are set to increase their profile still further over the coming months with the new Rihanna album set to feature at least one track that they have helmed. [Two in the end, although neither became singles].
Also climbing into the Top 10 is Lady Gaga who moves 14-10 with Bad Romance. Did I call her new special edition album something stupid last week? It is of course called The Fame Monster and is set for release at the end of this month. In the meantime, its lead single becomes her fourth Top 10 hit of the year and reverses the slight dip in fortunes she suffered when Lovegame could only reach Number 19.
'Tis the season for Greatest Hits collections and possibly one of the more surprising smash hits is set to be Up To Now from Snow Patrol which will feature work from the band's 15-year recording career and not just the five years that they have enjoyed mainstream success. As well as including now established classics such as Chasing Cars and their own original version of Run, the album also hosts their brand new single Just Say Yes which charts this week at Number 15. The song actually has a chequered history of its own, having originally been penned for Gwen Stefani who turned it down. Instead, the track was recorded by Nicole Scherzinger and was intended for inclusion on her yet to be released solo album. Tired of waiting, Gary Lightbody retook ownership of the track and I don't think it is unfair to say we should all be glad that he did. It may not be quite the instant classic it aspires to be, but Just Say Yes is another uplifting Snow Patrol anthem that will almost certainly find a way to strike a chord with you over the coming weeks. It is for the moment their seventh Top 20 hit single and their first to reach the Top 40 since Take Back The City hit Number 6 back in October last year.
Also arriving in the Top 20 are Pencil Full Of Lead from Paolo Nutini (28-17 and his second Top 20 hit of the year) and Flashback from Calvin Harris (25-18 and the follow-up to Top 3 hit Ready For The Weekend). They are joined however by a far more notable third arrival, a single which first charted way back in 1982, has never before been a Top 40 hit and yet is one of the most downloaded 20th-century recordings on iTunes. The track in question is Don't Stop Believing by Journey, originally taken from their 1981 album Escape. Released as a single here in February 1982, the track peaked at Number 62, one of only two chart hits the band scored during their initial period of fame. It returned to popular attention in late 2007 thanks to its surreal use as the soundtrack to the closing scenes of TV drama The Sopranos, and ever since then has taken on a life of its own, dancing around the lower end of the sales charts. The track made the Top 75 for the first time since its first release back in April this year but until now had never once cracked the Top 50. This week Don't Stop Believing jumps to Number 19 thanks - what else - to the X Factor performance of the song by Joe McElderry during last week's Rock themed show. It means that veteran rock band Journey finally have a UK Top 40 hit to call their own, their biggest chart single until now being Who's Crying Now which peaked at Number 46 in 1982. Aside from Don't Stop Believing their best-known track is perhaps Open Arms which was a Number 2 hit in America and the object of a cover version by Mariah Carey who took the song to Number 4 on these shores back in 1996. [This was but the start of a long chart run for the almost 30 year old single, as it would enter the new year going head to head with the almost as era-defining Glee Cast rendition].
You will note that not everything X Factor related automatically gets the rub. Try to go it alone outside the closeted family of the show and you might as well be dead to them. Just ask last years shock elimination Laura White. Always one of the most talented of the class of 2008. her early exit from the competition was one of the major talking points of the week when it happened and topically enough was a prime example of the judges often acting perversely and eliminating an act who genuinely didn't deserve it. Bouncing back from that setback, she now has a record of her own but it has gone unrecognised and unnoticed by the TV show that first catapulted her to fame. Without this guaranteed promotion the single has struggled for now, You Should Have Known languishing at a rather sorry Number 32. It is a crying shame as the single passes the "is it any good" test with flying colours and it is not as if she hasn't worked hard to promote it in every other outlet available. I'll leave you with it here as this week of all weeks, I like the idea of doing something that makes Simon Cowell unhappy.