Well that was…. unexpected. It is stuff like this which makes this job such an eternal pleasure because no matter what you think you know, there are always curveballs to be thrown by the singles market. Dead cert guaranteed Number One hit single? Assume absolutely nothing.
So congratulations then, truly, to Rihanna who confounds all expectations by remaining at Number One for a second week running with Only Girl (In The World) and in the process denies what even the most casual of observer could have pegged as the most significant single release of the year a straightforward passage to the top of the charts. Compared to many of her earlier pop classics, Only Girl (In The World) can hardly been seen as one of the greatest singles she has ever released, but for whatever reason it has a strange hold over the British public - enough to ensure she has sold more than a set of national treasures when it was the last thing that was expected of her. Hats off.
So enough of being coy - just what is the single that is shall we say, sensationally, at Number 2. Step forward Take That with The Flood. Back when the famous 90s boy band reformed at the end of 2006 with the four piece line-up with which they had ended their first career ten years earlier, we always kind of knew there was a further chapter that they could write. One crucial bit of the story was missing, and in truth it was a brilliant piece of marketing to hold that last piece of the jigsaw back until we the public could no longer stand the suspense. The Take That reunion would not truly be complete without the moment when prodigal son Robbie Williams returned to the fold to finally complete the line-up that performed on all but one of their original singles. Maybe the Robbie/Gary collaboration on Shame spoiled the big reveal slightly, but let us not underplay the significance of this brand new single release. The Flood is the first Take That single since August 1995's Never Forget to feature Gary, Jason, Mark, Howard AND Robbie all singing together on record and is to all intents and purposes the Take That single for which we have been waiting a decade and a half to see - never mind just the last four.
With that kind of backstory, with that kind of sheer historical significance riding on it, you can see why it would have been just too convenient for the single to fly straight to Number One. After all most other Take That singles have done just that - so why not the one which really mattered the most? Well sorry boys, but to beat Rihanna the single needed to do something rather special, and when the final sales figures appeared it seems they simply did not. 'The Flood' sold a healthy 70,000 copies last week, leaving them some way behind the 93,000 that the Rihanna track sold. Whilst we held our breath during the week at the closeness of the race, the truth of the matter was that Take That actually never really stood a chance. Hence 'The Flood' enters the chart at Number 2, actually by no means a shabby performance and indeed their biggest chart single since Greatest Day topped the charts in December 2008, but let's be honest. We wanted this to be Number One. We needed this to be Number One. And it isn't.
Once upon a time it was a shock when McFly single didn't top the charts, after all 7 of their first 12 releases did so, but given that they haven't had a Number One for three and a half years it is entirely possible those days are behind them - although as I will explain in a moment these appearances can be deceptive. After a mixed reception to their last single Party Girl which saw the boys try to turn themselves into 3OH!3 the boys give us another taste of the surprises due on their new album Above The Noise by teaming up with Taio Cruz for new release Shine A Light and they are rewarded with the highest new entry of the week at Number 4. Once again the single marks a pleasant diversion from their usual style, a single which straddles the twin worlds of rock and urban as if it is the most natural crossover in the world. What is fascinating to note is that the single has landed in the Top 5 with a sale of over 50,000 copies, a larger first week sale than many of their chart-topping singles from the middle of the last decade. A full five years on from their pop idol heights and after an acrimonious parting from their record label it is as if McFly have actually carved out a whole new fanbase for themselves and in the process discovered an entirely new lease of life as a group.
The power of X Factor strikes again this week as Adele's rendering of Make You Feel My Love vaults ten places to reclaim a place in the Top 10 following fresh exposure for the track on the show broadcast two Saturdays ago. The 2008 single had already staged a spectacular chart comeback thanks to some memorable performances during the auditions stages of the show, hitting the dizzy heights of Number 4 in early October. With the live shows proper commanding a slightly higher audience than the early part of the series, I guess it should not come as too much of a surprise that there are still people to whom the song was an essential new purchase, but for any track, never mind a spontaneous random download hit, to make two separate Top 10 appearances six weeks apart from each other is something quite extraordinary. Lower down the chart there is an equally startling comeback for Roberta Flack's famous version of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face following a show-stopping performance of the song by Matt Cardle. Originally a Number 14 hit in June 1972, this is its first chart appearance for the standard since then.
No less a bunch of legends than the Black Eyed Peas make a curiously slow start with their brand new single The Time (The Dirty Bit), the first track to be lifted from their forthcoming new album 'The Beginning'. Maybe more of a grower than some of their past releases, the track enters the chart at a rather understated Number 11, its presence in the shops possibly eclipsed by other releases this week. Don't be fooled though, if there is one thing Black Eyed Peas singles have it is staying power. I Gotta Feeling may be the biggest selling download in the history of the planet, but it still took a several week climb to reach Number One and indeed it seems more or less a given that this, their first brand new single in a year and a half, is set for a slightly more stellar chart career than this initial entry proves. The track samples extensively from the chorus of (I've Had) The Time Of My Life, as originally recorded by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes for the soundtrack of the film Dirty Dancing back in 1987, by no means the first time the Black Eyed Peas have looked to a familiar classic as the base for a single - 2006 release Pump It based around the guitar riff from Dick Dale's rendition of Misirlou for example.
Another possible surprise sits at Number 12, as even the rub of an X Factor performance cannot help the new single from 2005 winner Shayne Ward any higher up the charts. Ward is a curious case, the only male winner of the show to have ever amounted to anything and a man whose talent was able to survive beyond his initial rush-release post-victory album and instead onto a credible chart career under his own terms. His only problem is the huge gap between his last album and this new single. Whilst second release Breathless saw him land two Top 10 singles at the end of 2007, he has been all but forgotten in the intervening three years whilst subsequent X Factor winners have overtaken him to become some of the biggest stars the show has ever produced. Hence the problem facing Shayne Ward in 2010 isn't so much his ability or the quality of his music but simply the indifference of the public. For all the hype his new single was given on his return to X Factor last weekend, I'm not sure we really have any reason to care about his current chart comeback. New single Gotta Be Somebody thus becomes only his second single ever to miss the Top 10 and whilst the album Obsession will play well to the still loyal masses who voted for him five years ago, you can't help but wonder where he will go from here.
One act seemingly without any problems in going on and on is Pink, landing this week at Number 13 with her brand new single Raise Your Glass. Her first release of 2010, it outperforms both of her last two singles to become her biggest hit since Please Don't Leave Me reached Number 12 in March 2009. With her first chart hit dating back to June 2000 it means she now extends her hitmaking career into a second decade, a perfect time then to release a Greatest Hits collection from which this new track is taken.
It has been far too long since we had some good old fashioned reggae in the Top 40, so the presence of Gyptian at Number 16 with Hold You is a very welcome one indeed. The Jamaican born star has been active since 2003 and has released four albums to date, but Hold You is his first mainstream crossover success, the single charting here after a surprising level of popularity in the United States during the course of the summer. A set of remixes doubtless have helped the track fulfil its dancefloor potential, but it is the gentle lilting lovers' rock of the original version which holds the full charm of the single and makes it one of the most worthwhile listens of the week.
At Number 20 a genuine oddity, a charity single released by the Royal British Legion in support of the annual Poppy appeal and timed to coincide with Remembrance Sunday. The track is called 2 Minute Silence and it is essentially the "soundtrack" to the accompanying video which features a host of famous faces paying their own silent tribute to the fallen for a few brief seconds each. The concept was enough of a headline-grabber to prompt all kinds of speculation in the press that it could be a surprise chart-topper just in time for the Armistice. Of course that was never going to happen, the idea that people would queue up in their thousands to buy nothing happening was a little too far fetched, so in actual fact we should simply note it as an extraordinary achievement that the track even made Number 20. If we are being honest it reduces the buying of what is supposed to be music to little more than a personal gesture, nobody has bought this "single" based on what it sounds like in preference to others after all, and whilst it is hard to criticise something whose sole aim was to raise money for a good cause you do have to wonder just what the point was really. Was buying this really any better than putting money in a collection tin? I'm not completely sure.
In a week characterised by a whole string of "well they have charted higher in the past" moments, the return of My Chemical Romance is marked not with a smash hit single but with the rather more understated Number 31 entry of brand new single Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na). The bizarrely named track is the first to be lifted from their brand new album Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys, their first release in four years and the follow-up to the genre defining The Black Parade. Four years on from that career triumph it appears their mainstream appeal has waned somewhat, and in truth the new single (whose title I'm not typing out again) represents more of a back to basics approach compared to the lavish production of tracks such as Welcome To The Black Parade which gave them a celebrated Number One when released back in 2006. This is still MCR at their very best, but at least for the moment the number of people who actually care appears to have been reduced to a rump.
Finally as far as singles are concerned, watch out next week for Ellie Goulding's striking cover of Your Song which opens its chart account at Number 39 after being rush released on Friday. A new track taken from the forthcoming special edition of her debut album Lights, the old Elton John song has benefitted from extra exposure as the soundtrack to the current TV adverts for John Lewis and is rapidly becoming one of the most sought after singles of the moment - in much the same way that Fyfe Dangerfield's cover of She's Always A Woman did earlier this year after its own use in a John Lewis advert. With the benefit of a full week of sales next week, just watch this one fly.
As for the album chart, well that is perhaps slightly more predictable this week. One year after storming to Number One with her debut album Susan Boyle is back once again with her second offering, debuting at the top with consummate ease with new collection The Gift, without the added bonus of a hit single this time around. In the process she eclipses the debut of James Blunt whose new album Some Kind Of Trouble opens at a mere Number 4, perhaps held back a little by the failure of its lead single to make much of an impression - Stay The Night rising this week to Number 26 in its third week on sale.