I run out of creative ways to describe a chart in which very little actually happens. This last sales week of 2009 was all about the post-Christmas discounting rush in which stores and shoppers alike were more concerned with bargains and the hoovering up of existing stock to pay much attention to things that are actually new. Hence back catalogue sales rise to unheard of levels and some odd chart behaviour results. Not that this doesn't leave room for some genuine stories as the top ends of both the singles and albums charts produce some unexpected stories.
On the singles chart it is hearty congratulations to Lady Gaga as after two weeks at Number 3 whilst all the holiday silliness went on above her head, Bad Romance climbs back to the Number One position it first occupied in the last "normal" week at the end of last year. Such a new year bounce by a December Number One is rare, but by no means unknown in recent chart history. The last such occasion came in early 2002 when Gotta Get Thru This by Daniel Bedingfield returned to the top after the Christmas Number One Something Stupid by Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman finally ran out of steam. Similarly in 1998 the all-star charity recording of Perfect Day deposed the Spice Girls from the top of the charts in the first week of January - this time a full four weeks since its first run at Number One in the closing days of 1997. For post-holiday silliness however, very little can beat the extraordinary chart duel that took place in the opening weeks of 1969 when Christmas Number One Lily The Pink by The Scaffold was first of all deposed by Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da by Marmalade, then retook Number One a week later only to finally concede the chart race to the Marmalade single. We thus wait with bated breath to see if Joe McElderry has another ace up his sleeve.
OK so that may be unlikely, meaning that thanks to some unfortunate circumstances that were hardly his doing, Joe will sit alongside Steve Brookstein as the X Factor winner with the shortest Number One run for his debut single - The Climb joining Against All Odds with just a solitary week at the top. Before anyone starts jumping up and down and restating the myth that this "proves" the public are somehow tired of X Factor singles it should be noted that a record which in three weeks has sold something of the order of 700,000 copies, was the 6th biggest seller of last year and it is first week on sale clocked up of the highest totals of any Number 2 record in history can hardly be regarded as a flop or a disaster. It just remains a bit average as a pop record, that is all.
It is also a minor curiosity to note that both the X Factor 2008 and 2009 winners have now seen their debut singles knocked off the top of the charts by Lady Gaga, Alexandra Burke's reign with Hallelujah having come to an end at the hands of Just Dance almost exactly a year ago.
Early indications during the week were that Lady Gaga would see in the new decade with a singles and albums chart double with The Fame also comfortably ascending to the top. In the event she herself is usurped rather unexpectedly by Paolo Nutini who makes a 15-1 leap with Sunny Side Up to leave his second album residing at the Number One position it last scaled back in June in its first week on release. In doing so the album joins a long list of summertime releases that suddenly find themselves with a midwinter second wind and go on to enjoy sales boosts during an otherwise flat time of the year. Past examples have included Let Go by Avril Lavigne in 2003, The Man Who by Travis in 2000, Introducing The Hard Line According To... by Terence Trent D'Arby in 1988 and Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits in 1986. In quiet sympathy with the parent album, his last single Pencil Full Of Lead is one of many to rebound back up the chart this week, hitting Number 44 in its highest placing since the start of December.
As is always the case with these new year charts we have to doff a cap to the one act bold enough to release something new in this week, just in the off chance it sneaks in under the wire to become a major hit. Sadly the days of Iron Maiden scoring a surprise Number One are long gone so the best we can do is a Number 22 entry for Take That by Wiley & Chew Fu. It is the first hit for the godfather of Grime since the end of 2008, the year in which he climbed to Number 2 with Wearing My Rolex. This single is the first product of a new deal the star signed with Island records last year which should see him working with a host of top producers - hence the co-credit on this single for noted remixer Chew Fu on what is his own first proper chart credit.
As part of the flood of catalogue product on the charts, we welcome back to the Top 40 two hardy perennials which are well on their way to notching up record setting chart runs. Sex On Fire from Kings Of Leon is back at Number 30, its highest placing since the end of October. The track has now been a Top 75 single for a grand total of 67 weeks - impressive but still some way short of the total run up by Chasing Cars from Snow Patrol which is back as well, soaring up to Number 39 on the back of fresh publicity which this week named it as the most played song of the decade. This is now the single's 95th week in the Top 75, leaving it now just five short of becoming only the second single in chart history to clock up 100 official chart weeks.