In the end, it was no contest. Despite early week sales flashes which put the gap at the top of the Official UK Singles chart as small as a few hundred copies, Rather Be by Clean Bandit eventually emerges the clear winner in the chart race once again, adding another 137,000 copies to the 163,000 it sold last week to top the charts for the second week running.
This is naturally at the expense of an all-star single which under most normal circumstances might have been expected to be a runaway chart winner, particularly considering the pedigree of the acts concerned (12 Number One singles between them at the last count). This column has been openly critical in the past of the somewhat formless and formulaic nature of will.i.am's single releases, but it is hard to ignore the sheer audacity and charm of his latest offering, the Number 2 hit single Feelin' Myself. Effectively the lead single from the new expanded edition of the star's #willpower album, the single is essentially an extended rap battle between Will himself, guest stars Wiz Khalifa and French Montana but perhaps most extraordinarily of all Miley Cyrus who has a verse all to herself to demonstrate that she can sit and spit on a beat with the very best of them. OK, so the usual criticisms do apply as the track lands on a groove and stays there for four and a half minutes, pounding the listener into submission with its sheer relentlessness but it is a formula which has served him well on this album so far and clearly continues to do so.
Timed nicely to coincide with will.i.am's third season as a judge on The Voice UK, the single is no less than the sixth Top 3 hit to be taken from all versions of the #willpower album, dating back to the release of This Is Love in summer 2012. Oddly enough the only Top 40 track from the album not to climb so high was another Miley Cyrus collaboration, the track Fall Down charting as an album cut when the collection was first released in April last year. Cyrus herself has her third Top 3 hit in a row following her brace of Number One singles last year, Wiz Khalifa his biggest chart hit since his cameo role on Maroon 5's Number One hit Payphone in 2012 whilst French Montana lands his first chart single of any kind in this country.
A singles market crying out for big new releases finally gets its wish this week with no less than three new singles landing new entries inside the Top 10. The second of these is at Number 4, electronic house production duo Gorgon City celebrating their first ever big hit single as Ready For Your Love storms the singles chart in some style. The track is their third release and the second to chart, the follow-up to Real which landed just shy of the Top 40 in March last year. This new hit features a co-credit for 19-year old producer MNEK who makes his chart debut as a credited performer for the first time following behind the scenes work on many other recent hit singles, including a writing credit on Duke Dumont's Number One hit Need U (100%) last year.
One step behind at Number 5 is a returning Katy B, storming back into the Top 10 for the first time since 2011 with her latest single Crying For No Reason. The single heralds the long-awaited release of her second album Little Red which is released next week and is effectively its second hit record, following on from 5AM which made Number 14 in November last year. Her other 2013 hit single What Love Is Made Of was initially promoted as being the first track from the collection last July although it is curiously absent from the advertised tracklisting of the finished product. In all this is fourth Top 10 hit single from the much-hyped British star and the third to become a Top 5 hit single.
Another single advancing in the right direction is Beyonce and Jay-Z's Drunk In Love which moves 12-9 to land a new peak, one place higher than the Number 10 it scaled three weeks ago. Meanwhile, her current 'official' single XO goes into reverse, dropping three places to Number 27. Also on their way up are If I Lose Myself by OneRepublic (32-11) and Let It Go by Idina Menzel (22-20). One place above her is Katy Perry whose track Dark Horse is now being promoted as her latest single and which makes a flying 70-19 leap on the way to what is presumably another comfortable Top 10 berth. It is the track's second visit to the Top 40, having reached as high as Number 21 as an album cut in September last year.
Chris Malinchak made a huge impact with his debut single So Good To Me which shot to Number 2 in May last year, but second time around he makes a rather more muted debut with If U Got It landing this week at Number 23.
On the official UK Albums Chart, there is a rather pleasant surprise debut at Number One as alt-rockers You Me At Six have their biggest chart record of any kind as their fourth album Cavalier Youth storms to the very top of the charts. It completes a meteoric rise for the group whose debut album Take Off Your Colours only reached Number 25 back in October 2008. For all their popularity amongst a subset of the late-teen population, they have yet to land what you might regard as a major hit single, their best effort so far being Lived A Lie which had a cup of coffee at Number 11 in 2013.
Although album sales overall remain in the toilet (sales for anything outside the Top 2 being quite alarmingly low) there is still a second week in the Top 5 for Sophie Ellis-Bextor's album Wanderlust, something which has aided its lead single Young Blood which rises 55-34 to become her first Top 40 hit since Bittersweet reached Number 25 in May 2010.