October 2004. Just over eight years ago. That is how long it has been since Robbie Williams featured on a Number One single in the UK, the track in question being Radio, the lead single from his Greatest Hits collection released that year. Since then in all fairness he has been rather unlucky, watching 2005 single Tripping and 2009 comeback track Bodies stall at Number 2, as did the burying the hatchet Gary Barlow duet Shame in 2010 and even his much anticipated return to the Take That fold The Flood landed frustratingly in second place. Nonetheless, to all intents and purposes Williams was heading towards the door marked "legacy act", a man who could continue to make hit music but whose work would never quite hit the heights of his turn of the millennium popularity.
Time to change those perceptions it seems. Helped not a little by being his best single release for years, his latest release Candy storms to Number One this week, restoring him to the chart summit after what chart history records as a quite considerable absence. Candy grabs the chart crown in some style too, a sale of 137,000 copies in the last week ensuring it is his fastest selling single since Rock DJ sold just short of 200,000 in its opening week back in 2000. The success of Candy marks something of a songwriting renaissance for his Take That bandmate Gary Barlow who is credited as co-writer and whose credentials as a hitmaker have taken something of a knock of late following an underwhelming reception for tracks he has penned for the likes of Westlife and Matt Cardle. Candy is the second Number One single Barlow has written this year, following the Jubilee track Sing which reached the top in June.
Candy is Williams' seventh solo Number One and the 14th of his career, counting the Take That chart-toppers on which he participated between 1993 and 1995. As a song title, Candy is a startlingly popular choice, this single the seventh different song of that name to be a Top 40 hit since 1986. [Say Candy again, I double dare you].
No small degree of sympathy should go to last week's chart champions Labrinth and Emeli Sande for despite being dumped down to Number 2 this week their single Beneath Your Beautiful still broke the six figure sales barrier for a second week running and is thus only the second single this year to sell over 100,000 copies in a week and not top the charts. The other? Next To Me by…. Emeli Sande.
With the Williams single widely predicted to sweep aside most competition this week, many other acts steered clear of the chart this week, leaving just one other new release to make a chart impact. Entering at Number 3 this week is Can You Hear Me (Ayayaya) from Wiley, a single which features an extended cast of guest stars, most prominently Skepta and Ms D, the featured vocalist on his last release, the chart-topping Heatwave. Like its Number One predecessor, the track features on his forthcoming album The Ascent which is slated for release in February next year.
The huge sale of the Robbie Williams single can naturally be attributed to his barnstorming performance of the single on the X Factor results show last weekend, but it is the dramatic improvement in the fortunes of the other act to appear on the show last week which are most worthy of comment. I've made the point many times in the past that the TV audience for the show includes large numbers of people who will cheerfully swoop to purchase music that they might previously have been unaware of. Hence a rather startling sales boost for Fun who appeared on the show and who rather than perform any new material chose instead to give the old faithful We Are Young another run-out. To put this in some kind of perspective, the single has already sold over 910,000 copies this year and is in third place in the 2012 chart at present. Released in April, it spent a week at the top of the charts in early June and has never fallen lower than Number 52, the chart position it has occupied for the last fortnight. Yet this week, following that results show performance the single rockets back up the chart to Number 13, its highest placing since August and in the process inspires follow-up single Some Nights to climb back to Number 23 and the parent album of the same now to rise back to Number 4. According to Music Week the single sold just under 20,000 copies in this latest chart surge, a total which will go a long way towards helping it inch towards becoming the third million selling release of 2012..
On the album chart itself a two way battle between Calvin Harris and Kylie Minogue is resolved in favour of the Scotsman as his album 18 Months becomes his second Number One album in a row, following on from 2009 release Ready For The Weekend. Home to five Top 3 singles even before it hit the shores, the long player now sparks a new mini chart invasion for the producer with tracks Drinking From The Bottle and I Need Your Love landing at Numbers 25 and 85 respectively.
Kylie Minogue's album is The Abbey Road Sessions, an anniversary release to mark her 25th(!) year of recording music and which features brand new recordings of some of her past hits in new orchestral arrangements. Curiously the album's only brand new track Flower has failed as a single to date, sitting at Number 96 on the singles chart.
Other new album chart arrivals include American Soul to give Mick Hucknall a second solo hit album at Number 6, The Fire, the second album from the newly independent 2010 X Factor winner Matt Cardle at Number 8 and Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da from Madness at Number 10, this the second full album from the group since their 21st century recording comeback, the follow-up to The Liberty Of Norton Folgate which reached Number 5 when released back in 2009.
Chart fans in the UK can expect a great deal of media coverage this week as the UK charts marks the 60th anniversary of the first ever singles chart published in the NME for the week of November 14th 1952. Next week also marks a particular anniversary of my own - more on that in this week's podcast online within days.