Sometimes it isn't a bad thing to be a talent contest winner or runner up. We have new Number Ones on both charts this week, and both just happen to be products of the Saturday night entertainment ecosystem.
Sitting pretty on top of the singles chart this week with a huge six figure sale is former X Factor runner up Olly Murs. Heart Skips A Beat is his second chart-topping single since the show and indeed arrives at the top of the pile just shy of a year of his debut single Please Don't Let Me Go which also entered at the top of the pile to give him his first. Time waits for no man it seems, and with his public profile currently higher than ever thanks to his new role as co-host of the spin-off Xtra Factor TV show which is airing alongside the main X Factor series (which kicked off once again in the UK last week) it seems only appropriate that he should move forward with brand new material. Hence one suspects, the heightened demand for this new single, taken from his forthcoming second album which is due out in November and which as we have noted in past weeks features a vocal turn from Rizzle Kicks who thus occupy two places in the Top 10 with their own Down With The Trumpets currently locked in place at Number 8.
After an all-new Top 3 last week, the fun turnover of new hits at the top continues apace as for the second week running the Top 2 biggest selling singles are both brand new entries. Sliding into second place, and in truth some way behind the former X Factor star, is the possibly slightly more credible figure of Calvin Harris. Feel So Close is his second Number 2 hit in a row, the follow-up to Bounce which charted back in June and which itself is still floating around the Top 40, down at Number 32 this week. Despite insisting that he was taking a step back from the microphone to concentrate on just being a producer, this new single features a vocal turn from the man himself, hence the lack of any co-credit this time around. Both this and Bounce are taken from what will be his third studio album as a performer, albeit one which for the moment lacks both title and release date.
At one stage it looked very much like we were heading for a second straight Top 3 wipe-out of new entries, but in the event the third big new release of the week faded towards the weekend, stalling eventually at Number 5 - although given the circumstances that is actually a very impressive arrival indeed. The track in question is Jealousy, the first chart single in almost two years from the original 2002 Pop Idol winner Will Young and perhaps more impressively his first Top 10 single since 2008 and his first Top 5 single since All Time Love peaked at Number 3 in early 2006. Can we consider this a comeback of sorts?
What makes the success of the single all the more surprising (and also explaining why its shot at topping the chart missed so badly) is that Jealousy was unusually not released ahead of its parent album but in fact simultaneously with it. Hence if you cast your eyes towards the album chart you will note that it is indeed a former TV Talent star at the top of both listings as Will Young's fifth studio album Echoes has stormed to the top to give him a third Number One album and his first since Friday's Child topped the listings in 2003 and 2004. All things considered one cannot help but admire his staying power. Given he is the product of an audience-selected production line of acts which has produced more flashes in the pan than genuine superstars, Will Young is really the inspiration for all who have followed him. Ten years since he first appeared on our screens as a nervous auditionee performing Blame It On The Boogie for a weary-looking Simon Cowell , and years after he should have ceased to be a credible mainstream pop act, Will Young is still around, still commanding an audience of what is presumably adoring housewives and still in a position to have Number One albums and Top 5 singles. Nobody has ever gone out of their way to fawn over Will Young as a superstar in quite the way they do for the likes of Leona Lewis, but as a man who by the time the promotion for this album finishes will be entering his second decade of music making, you cannot help but think he is long overdue his fair share of proper respect.
Mind you, this is where it gets even more entertaining, for if it is not possible for the latest crop of X Factor auditionees to take inspiration from the continuing success of Will Young, they could do worse than note the back from the brink second wind of Joe McElderry's career. The 2009 X Factor winner (ahead of a certain Olly Murs in the public vote) effectively had his career throttled before it had even begun, thanks to his unwitting part in the Rage Against The Machine debacle the Christmas before last which saw him help up as the ultimate embodiment of X Factor naffness and with his debut single The Climb denied what was assumed to be its rightful place at the top of the charts for the holiday. No matter that the single went to Number One a week later anyway, McElderry was holed below the waterline and it came as little surprise that his album when it finally came last year was pretty much shoved out as a contractual obligation and then forgotten, with 19 records and Syco declining to take up the option on extending his career beyond the one year he was entitled to as winner of the show.
This might possibly have been the end of him, but for a timely booking as one of the participants in the ITV show "Popstar to Operastar". During the six week run of the show, which featured a number of singing stars trying their hand at rather more challenging vocal techniques, Joe McElderry demonstrated a vocal dexterity which his X Factor performances had previously only hinted at. Far from the young lad who got lucky in a comparatively weak field, McElderry proved himself to be a singer of some versatility and his victory on the series resurrected interest in his abilities to sell records. Barely two months after winning the show, Joe McElderry is back on the charts with a hastily recorded album Classic featuring a series of light operatic numbers sprinkled with a few more contemporary ballad numbers. Completing a reality TV 1-2, the album crashes in at Number 2, one place higher than his previous release Wide Awake which charted at Number 3 in what would turn out to be a disastrously short 8 week chart run. It will be interesting to see just where he goes from here, for whilst Classic is undoubtedly a rush release cash-in on his second spell of fame, it is worth noting that Joe McElderry has now won two different TV talent shows based on votes from the public. It is clear somebody out there likes him, and maybe those who wrote him off as yet another X Factor failure (myself included) may be forced into a slightly more considered re-evaluation.
So wait a moment though, if Will Young is at Number One and Joe McElderry is at Number 2 - doesn't that mean there is something unusual looking about the album chart this week? Dead right there is - 21 by Adele for the first time in its 31 weeks on release is no longer a Top 2 album. Granted the biggest selling release of the year is still at Number 3, and with 19 still holding firm in the Top 5 she maintains the extraordinary feat of having had two simultaneous Top 5 albums for 31 weeks, but for those who have been following this rather startling chart run for most of the year, this week marks something of a watershed for this most spectacular of chart albums.
Back on the singles chart now and at Number 15 is a new entry which, if you are the kind of person taking sides in the war of the Gallagher brothers, appears to tip the balance firmly in favour of the older one. When Liam and Noel finally parted company after one argument too many, it was inevitable that both would emerge with new material in their own right. Liam was first out of the blocks, gathering what was left of his old group together and re-christening them Beady Eye. Whilst their singles hardly set the world alight, with The Roller peaking at Number 31 upon release back in February, his new group's debut album Different Gear Still Speeding managed to reach Number 3 when released back in March.
Nine months on and it is the turn of the other Gallagher brother to take his first semi-solo steps, with Noel Gallagher choosing to name the collection of musicians he gathered for his new album Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. Ahead of a planned October release for the album comes its first single The Death Of You And Me which instantly becomes a far more successful single than anything his baby brother has managed so far, planting him firmly inside the Top 20 without breaking sweat.
With the pair conducting an increasingly bitter war of words in public, it is hard not to take sides in the matter and harder still not to let your views on each colour your attitude to the music. With Liam for my money having always been a bit of a tosser, the lukewarm reaction to the Beady Eye album only served to reinforce the view that his brother was always the most talented songwriter out of the pair, although the way Different Gear Still Speeding flew up the charts indicated clearly that there was a still an audience ready to hear him sing whatever songs he had to offer. Noel on the other hand was always the deep, thoughtful one, a song writing genius and for what it is worth, a genuinely nice down to earth and extremely likeable man. On that basis there is something vaguely karmic about seeing the High Flying Birds in the singles chart Top 20. Watching the progress of the album should be enormous fun indeed.
Just two more new singles we have to take note of this week - at Number 24 is What The Water Gave Me, a brand new single release from Florence & The Machine and our first chance to hear the material she has lined up for her second album. For now the single has started slowly, although it was held back somewhat by not appearing online until Tuesday last week. Judging it properly on a full week of sales is the most sensible way forward, and I'll be shocked if it doesn't at least have a go at reaching the Top 20 in seven days time.
Finally also new at Number 35 is Night Of Your Life, yet another promotional track from David Guetta as he emulates the trick pulled off by Lady Gaga at the start of the year and drip feeds some of the best tracks from his album Nothing But The Best which has finally hit the shops this week. Hence the rash of recent new entries from the Frenchman, with Little Bad Girl having been joined by Titanium (Number 16 a fortnight ago) and 'Lunar' (which oddly failed to grab the attention of many and which bombed out at Number 90 on last week's chart. Titanium has sunk to Number 53 this week but with Little Bad Girl and Where Them Girls At still selling healthily, David Guetta once again has three singles on the Top 40 as his album hits the stores. Promotional releases may make a mockery of the old concept of "releasing a single", but as a means of putting an artists name up in lights ahead of what is hopefully a major new album it can in the right hands be terrifically effective.