With more lead changes than a rain-sodden Grand Prix, the race to be King of the UK singles chart this week was one of the more unpredictable ones of late, with no less than three singles in contention at one point. Perhaps surprisingly, given that it began the week some distance behind the chasing pack, Example remains at Number One with Change The Way You Kiss Me outselling the competition for a second straight week.
What competition it was as well. In the space of two short weeks, we have gone from a Top 10 featuring barely any British acts to a Top 5 in which all but one of its incumbents are British male stars. Time for the blokes to fight back it seems.
Grabbing the honours as the highest new entry of the week, and in fairness unlucky not to be Number One in the end is the returning Calvin Harris who flies straight in at Number 2 with Bounce. A brand new track to be taken from an as yet unannounced new album, the track sees the the 27 year old Scotsman take a step back from the microphone to resume his other calling as an expert electropop producer. Replacing his own tones on vocals is American star Kelis who thus appears on her highest charting hit single for some seven years - not since Trick Me also made Number 2 back in June 2004 has she been quite this high in the charts. Calvin Harris on the other hand already has two Number One hits to his name but this single too returns him to the chart form of old, his biggest hit single since I'm Not Alone topped the charts in April 2009.
[Superstar debut klaxon!] Those whose tastes run to slightly more mellow offerings will react with joy at the next new entry, a much deserved commercial breakthrough for Halifax born singer songwriter Ed Sheeran who arrives at Number 3 with The A Team. A relentless gigging schedule over the past few years has seen him build up an impressive reputation and a following to match, his live work having taken him all over the country and also with some degree of success in LA as well. His first chart hit came earlier this year, a kind of farewell to the independent years in the shape of the No.5 Collaborations Project EP which saw him team up with a string of grime stars on some quite diverting tracks, the collection peaking at Number 46 back in January. Now signed to a major label, Ed Sheeran is on the verge of stardom proper and he lands himself a Top 3 single straight out of the gate, his debut Top 40 hit a gentle semi acoustic ballad which has also lent itself to an interesting serious of chilled-out club remixes too. His debut album + is set to arrive after the summer - and on the strength of this it will be deservedly massive [called it].
The third new entry of the week, and one which completes our British dominated Top 5 is Spaceship the biggest hit single in almost two years for Tinchy Stryder. Never one to rest on his laurels, Stryder's last album Third Strike only came out last November, but already he has moved on to the release of brand new material, something only the most cynical of observers can credit to the somewhat lukewarm reception his 2010 release received. Still, if reviving his chart fortunes was the aim then this new single has done the job perfectly. The first track to be lifted from a forthcoming new long player called Lights, Camera, Action, Spaceship features a credited co-vocal from N-Dubz singer Dappy as well as what is claimed to be an uncredited cameo from his own co-star Tulisa, soon to have her own profile lifted thanks to her judging role on X Factor. Spaceship was performed by the pair as part of the pre-match entertainment at the Champions League Final last month and now storms the singles chart, Tinchy Stryder's biggest hit single since Never Leave You topped the chart in August 2009.
There are further shocks in store on the album chart this week. Naturally last week's Number One from the Arctic Monkeys takes a tumble but it is replaced at the top by an album which has already had a lengthy spell at the top of the charts and sold in vast numbers to boot. Nope, not 21 which locks firm at Number 2 yet again, but oddly enough Progress from Take That, the biggest selling release of 2010 and which was last at the top of the charts in the first week of January. Its dramatic return to the summit for what is now its seventh week in total is thanks in part to their current arena tour but mostly due to a tactical out of season release for a new special edition of the album which repackages it with a second CD of brand new tracks. The re-promotion of the album has had a beneficial effect on the fortunes of Take That's current single Love Love which returns to the Top 40 at Number 28, five weeks after it first peaked at what is for them a rather disappointing Number 15.
There are also album new entries for Paul Simon with his first Top 10 album for five years So Beautiful Or So What at Number 6 whilst one place behind Bad Meets Evil, the new collaboration between Eminem and former D12 member Royce Da 5'9" land themselves a hit album with Hell - The Sequel, promoted for some reason as an EP despite having an album sized 9 or 11 tracks depending on which edition you buy. The album/EP also spawns a Top 40 single in the shape of the track Lighters which features Bruno Mars on guest vocals.
Lower down the Top 40 singles chart itself, the only real move of note is that of Lady Gaga's The Edge Of Glory which debuted its video this week ahead of becoming a single for real and which thus shifts 28-16 to take over as the biggest of her current trio of Top 40 hits. Fellow American star Katy Perry has a new entry of her own with Last Friday Night (TGIF) which arrives at Number 24 as the latest hit lifted from the Teenage Dream album. It has some work to do if it is to match up to its four immediate predecessors which all went Top 3 or better.
One track which is making heavy work of becoming a hit single is the third release from Adele's 21 album - Set Fire To The Rain. The track has been bubbling around the lower end of the singles chart for a couple of months now, never quite sure whether it is going to become a proper hit or not. It climbed as high as Number 44 in mid-May before dropping out of the Top 100 altogether. Now with some proper promotion behind it the track is taking off at last and this week sticks its head above the parapet at Number 25 to make the Top 40 for the very first time. In truth it hardly matters a jot whether the track becomes a massive hit or not. The aim of single releases is to further call attention to the parent album and prolong its sales to reach its full potential. With 21 having spent almost half a year at either Number One or Number 2, you have to wonder just how many people are unaware of its existence and the kind of music it contains. Go figure...