After several weekends of surprises, the top end of the UK singles chart has an air of rather tiresome predictability about it this time around. For the fourth year in a row the annual ensemble charity record, as performed by the current crop of X Factor finalists, soars straight to the top of the charts with a sale that pretty much guaranteed it was going to be unbeatable.
Hard on the heels of Hero (2008), You Are Not Alone (2009) and Heroes (2010), the class of 2011 head the sales rankings with their cover of the Rose Royce classic Wishing On A Star, in the process outgunning the original version which peaked at Number 3 in 1978. What makes this year's charity single slightly different is the addition of some outside help, with both JLS and One Direction making cameo appearances on the single to forever confuse the issue of just how many Number One singles they have had [tell me about it!].
I suspect this injection of star power isn't so much a reflection on the poor state of the talent on offer on the show this year as a desire to reverse what is an unmistakeable decline in the appeal of these annual charity offerings. Whilst the opening week sale of the very first single in 2008 was an impressive 300,000 copies, the all-important opening sale of the subsequent singles has dipped by a third in the past two years. If the addition of the two X Factor-discovered boy bands was an attempt to reverse this trend, then sadly it failed, with Love Don't Live Here Any More selling "just" 98,000 copies last week - more than 50% ahead of its nearest challenger but still too few to avoid it becoming the most limply selling X Factor charity offering to date.
Money for good causes aside, I've a theory that the charity single is also aimed at locking down the top of the charts until the winner is crowned, so that the ultimate victor of the talent contest can claim to have replaced themselves at Number One. To date this has never happened, however with the charity record having appeared in the shops slightly later than previous efforts, and with the X Factor winners single being released a week earlier than usual, Wishing On A Star needs only to remain at Number One next week for this ambition to finally be realised.
Inevitably this new Number One has meant that the longest reigning chart-topper for four years is finally dethroned for what surely is for good. Rihanna and Calvin Harris even dip to Number 3 this week, leaving Olly Murs as a non-mover at Number 2 with Dance With Me Tonight, thus in a small way reversing the narrow defeat it suffered seven days ago.
In an otherwise becalmed Top 10 the only other new arrival is Who You Are from Jessie J which takes a flying 37-8 leap up the chart to ensure that the year's hottest new star rounds off 2011 with her fourth Top 10 single. The title track from her debut album, Who You Are had a brief chart run as an album cut back in the spring when contemporaneous with the long player's release it peaked at Number 28.
Other singles chart moves include a 43-15 jump for Fight For You by Jason Derulo, this the follow-up to the Number 4 hit It Girl. Keeping up the British end of things is Emeli Sande who lands at a rather understated Number 21 with her new single Daddy. The hit comes hard on the heels of her vocal contribution to Professor Green's Number One single Read All About It (the track which interrupted the Number One run of We Found Love) but is technically her second solo hit, the follow-up to Heaven which peaked at Number 2 back in August.
A rather quieter week than we've been used to recently on the album chart sees just two new entries inside the Top 10, the biggest for Olly Murs who soars straight to the top with new album In Case You Didn't Know - a one place improvement on his self-titled debut release which stalled at Number 2 exactly one year ago this week. Meanwhile Simon Cowell's pop-opera vocal group Il Divo land at Number 6 with their latest release Wicked Game, this now their fifth full studio album since their 2004 debut albeit their lowest charting non-compilation release.
Finally with just three chart weekends left until the Christmas holiday, as expected the seasonal classics have arrived en masse with seven festive veteran singles all scattered around the Top 100. As they do every year, Fairytale Of New York and All I Want For Christmas Is You lead the way, the former now at Number 23 to become a Top 40 hit for the ninth time in total and the seventh year in succession.