It should come as little surprise to note that the combination of X Factor and charitable causes proves a more or less irresistible combination for singles buyers this week, ensuring that the all-powerful TV show can claim direct credit for its fifth straight Number One single. The record in question is the second annual charitable assembly of all 12 of the contest's finalists, following on directly from the success of Hero as sung by the class of 2008.
The song of choice for the X Factor Finalists 2009 (as we should credit them) is You Are Not Alone which duly becomes the latest in a long line of tracks to have topped the charts twice. Penned by R Kelly, the song was first recorded by Michael Jackson and appeared on his HIStory double album back in 1995. Released as its second single, the track swiftly soared to the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic in September that year and went a long way towards restoring the artist's credibility as a singer of powerful soul ballads.
With all proceeds going to Great Ormond Street Hospital, comments on the musical merits of the X Factor version are almost certainly moot. What it does do is debut with another enormous sale, selling in excess of 190,000 copies in its first week on sale. It is the sixth week in a row that the Number One single of the week has clocked up a six-figure sale, a level of sales consistency that hasn't been achieved since autumn 2001 during the last peak of the singles market. Naturally, the five chart-toppers in question have all come during the six weeks thus far of the live X Factor shows. The only note of caution I would sound is that the opening gambit of 190,000 copies for the X Factor single is some way short of the 313,000 shifted by the 2008 charity single just over a year ago. Whilst this can possibly be put down to the demise of outlets such as Woolworths which has reduced slightly the availability of the physical CD version of the track and thus harmed the number of casual buyers it might have attracted, the fact that You Are Not Alone is now being outsold by several other singles rather suggests this year's charity offering is something of a one week wonder and is unlikely to duplicate its predecessors feat of becoming the second biggest selling single of the year.
Once again there is an X Factor flavour to the top of the album chart as Leona Lewis sweeps her way to the summit with her second album Echo. As well as her current single Happy, the album is also home to her diverting cover of the Oasis track Stop Crying Your Heart Out and sure enough this proves to be the most cherrypicked album track of them all, landing itself a place at Number 55 on the singles chart.
With the Black Eyed Peas dumped down to Number 2 on the singles chart, the highest charting "normal" new hit of the week lands at Number 3. Whatcha Say marks the UK chart debut of Jason Derulo, a 20-year-old musical prodigy from America who claims to have been writing songs since his early teens. His debut single is heavily based on Hide And Seek from Imogen Heap, not so much sampling the 2005 track as interpolating it as the core basis of his own record. With the original version having never been a hit here, Whatcha Say has the benefit of sounding fresh and exciting and in the unusual absence of any big hitting new release with an X Factor rub on the market this week, Jason Derulo is in a strong position to possibly grab himself the Number One single by the end of the week, keep an eye out.
We have to look as far down as Number 15 for the next new hit of the week, so step forward Alesha Dixon who arrives at Number 15 with To Love Again. The fate of this single I guess highlights the gap in influence between the two competing Saturday night TV shows as Miss Dixon's presence on the judging panel of the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing has failed to give her new single any kind of rub. To Love Again is a brand new track co-written with Gary Barlow and is taken from - you guessed it - a new "deluxe version" of her now year old album The Alesha Show which is being neatly repackaged for the seasonal market. Ah well, I guess with her TV work she's had a lot on her plate this year and a whole new album was asking a little too much.
One place below at Number 16 are Florence and the Machine who rise 11 places with their extraordinary cover of You Got The Love. The track is now their second Top 20 single and is now just a few places short of the Number 12 peak scaled by Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) back in the summer.
Now if I told you that the single at Number 18 had achieved something pretty spectacular by getting even that far, would you believe me? Well, it has, for the clumsily titled The Official BBC Children In Need Medley as credited to Peter Kay's Animated All Star Band has done so after just one day of eligible sales. Debuting on Friday night as part of the annual TV telethon, the inspired medley was raced into the stores on Saturday - a move which may have put it at something of a disadvantage in terms of chart impact but which did mean its creators were in the best position to capitalise on the huge public demand for the lovingly crafted single. The track is a medley of familiar pop songs (lead in a strange coincidence by the Jacksons track Can You Feel It) all performed by an array of animated characters past and present from both sides of the Atlantic. If you've ever wanted to hear Scooby Doo performing alongside Postman Pat and Bob The Builder, well now is your chance.
The single is one of those notable releases that is perhaps more about its visual accompaniment than the way it sounds. Most attention will be focused on the video which apparently took more than two years to assemble, featuring a superstar array of stop-motion puppets with their animated counterparts appearing on TV screens "via satellite" during the course of the video. We are told that the original voice artists for every single animated character that appears were recruited to perform, making the whole track a true labour of love for everyone concerned. The Peter Kay connection is his presence on the track in character as Big Chris, his character from Roary The Racing Car but does add to the long list of charitable singles that the comedian has used his talents to create or influence, this his first chart appearance since the two Geraldine McQueen singles he released in 2008. Oddly enough digital sales of the track remain sluggish, but you suspect most demand will be for the video itself which appears on both the DVD version of the single and is available for download either as a standalone or as part of the digital package. Sit back and enjoy for the next five minutes, for it is worth every moment.
Also new this week, Baby By Me from 50 Cent and Ne-Yo which lands at Number 23, whilst three places below is Shakira who demonstrates that whilst appearing on X Factor is all well and good, it still helps if you make your record something that people would actually want to buy. Her new single Did It Again is turgid and tuneless, and even the required hero worship on prime time TV last weekend can do little more than help the track to Number 26.
Finally, for this week it is worth noting that neither the X Factor Finalists single nor the Children In Need Medley can rank as the most extraordinary cover version of the week. That honour goes to Sweet Child Of Mine as performed by Taken By Trees, the artist name a pseudonym for Swedish singer Victoria Bergsman. Turning the classic Guns N Roses ballad into a mellow, blissed-out jazz mantra, the track has been around for some time now but comes to prominence thanks to its use in TV commercials for department store John Lewis. In week full of rather breathtaking new singles, maybe it is cause for regret that the most diverting one of all nestles at the very bottom of the Top 40.