Cozy familiarity at the top of the charts? Welcome sir, welcome madam, hope you feel at home. Showing few signs of slowing down, Tony Christie and OK go on then Peter Kay notch up a sixth straight week at the top with (Is This The Way To) Amarillo. The single now matches the run of Black Eyed Peas' Where Is The Love from 2003 to gain joint honours as the longest running chart-topper of the decade so far. Next on the horizon is the job of equaling the seven week run of Believe by Cher from back in 1998, and would you really back against it? Six weeks at the top is also enough to make Amarillo the longest running charity Number One of all time. Yes, the single was released in aid of Comic Relief - surely we can't all have forgotten this?
Can it be we are almost at the end? The mass Elvis re-release programme that has been going on since the start of the year finally starts to wind down as the 16th week in the sequence gives the King yet another Number 2 hit. After discovering cabaret in the early 1970s, Elvis spent the final years of his life morphing slowly into a country star, turning songs from the likes of BJ Thomas, Mark James and Tony Joe White into mid-table chart hits. The chances of him hitting the top of the charts again seemed slimmer than ever. Then came August 16th, 1977 and that fateful trip to the bathroom. The King was dead and as is always the case, there was a mad rush to snap up whatever Elvis product was available. Purely by chance Way Down had hit the shops just before Elvis' death and was swimming around the lower end of the Top 50 showing few signs of becoming a hit. The week after his death the single had shot to Number 4 and topped the charts a week later for a four-week run. No, it is far from Elvis' greatest ever single (in fact its immediate predecessor Moody Blue is a far better example of country Elvis) but by hitting the top it put a nice exclamation point on his stellar career. When Way Down hit the top it became Presley's 17th Number One single, putting him into an astounding but somehow appropriate tie with the Beatles who had held that particular record since 1969. 25 years later Elvis would finally shatter the record once and for all - which means that next week's re-release brings us nicely to the present day.
Second biggest hit of the week is a track that once again proves that the new singles chart is in no way discriminating against club tracks. Shooting in at Number 3 is Bodyrockers' I Like The Way - and trust me a great many people do. Producer Dylan Burns is the brains behind this track and indeed it is his voice that can be heard on the track which builds slowly into an insistent nagging anthem. This is one of those rare beasts of club records, a track that works as well on the radio as well as on the decks. Best of all there isn't a looped 80s sample in sight.
Just below at Number 4 is the ever-ascendant, Will Smith, Switch rising a place to Number 4 having now moved 6-8-5-5-4 since it first hit the old chart. Whilst singles that hang around the Top 10 are not completely unknown (if rare in this day and age), the online popularity of the track should not be overlooked and it can easily rank as the first example of the newfound stability that the addition of download sales has brought to the singles chart.
Next to play at Number 7 is nothing less than a jaw-dropping chart sensation. Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails have spent a decade and a half being something of a dark guilty pleasure to a hardcore few. Pioneering a style of music dubbed "industrial hardcore" in the early 1990s they fused thrash metal with club beats, an intoxicating mix that really should have made them instant superstars. What held them back was the dark nature of their work, their lyrics dealing with pain, suffering and with dark overtones that would make even Marilyn Manson blanch. NIN fans the world over were an odd bunch - one of my old school friends was such a fan that her obsession was one of the things which is believed to have led to her suicide in America ten tears ago [still a story which gives everyone I knew chills. RIP Jane]. Hence I suspect the reason Reznor has only ever tickled the charts in this country until now - rightly or wrongly he has just been too scary a prospect for the mainstream to contemplate. Six chart singles is all they have to show for a career that has spanned two decades, only three of which actually went Top 40. The biggest was 1994s Closer which hit Number 24 and was famously accidentally played in full on the Radio One Top 40 show to rank as the most profane track ever played on daytime radio in this country. Now in 2005 a combination of the new chart methodology and what is in truth one of their most accessible singles yet sends The Hand That Feeds soaring into the charts to give the band a quite unexpected Top 10 smash hit. The usual formula is intact but for perhaps the first time the mainstream can appreciate that rare beast - a thundering rock track that all but commands you to get up and dance. Purveyors of weirdness they may have been but there was always something wrong about a world where Nine Inch Nails had never had a massive commercial hit. All that changes today.
The Top 40 this week is notable for a mass invasion of new guitar bands. Editors, Rakes and Cribs all land themselves new entries in the Top 30 but the highest honours go to the Caesars. Jerk It Out should, of course, be instantly familiar to anyone who has been within five miles of a television of late, the track being just the latest to soundtrack a TV commercial for the iPod. Hence the insanely fun track's strong chart showing - OK maybe not quite as high as you might have expected but just for a change we can no longer assume a record's first chart showing is the be all and end all of its chart run. Could this single do a Switch as well?
The invasion of the guitar bands continues with Hard-Fi's new entry Tied Up Too Tight. The four west Londoners mark their major label debut with an impressive chart showing as it nips in nicely at Number 15 (some midweek predictions had even pitched this as a Top 10 single). This follows time spent as one of 2004's up and coming new acts with a handful of independent singles, increasingly high profile tour slots and some well received radio sessions. It was all worth it in the end and whilst Tied Up Too Tigh' isn't stratospherically good it is well worth the five minutes of your time to hear it. Previous single Cash Machine is, dare I say it, slightly better and all being well it will get a re-release in fairly short order. Then again that was the old way of doing things wasn't it? Just go online and buy it!
Also making a debut inside the Top 20 is Ja Rule who can feel a little put out at old making Number 20 with Caught Up given that his last single Wonderful was a Number One single at the back end of 2004. Put it down to the stellar nature of his collaborators I guess, Wonderful did after all feature both R Kelly and Ashanti whilst this new single makes do with Lloyd on guest vocal duties. Back to the address book I think.
Finally to wrap up this week, just cast an eye over the lower end of the Top 40 and the continuing presence of the Stereophonics' Dakota whose impressive online sales mean that the single is just refusing to die. The full chart run of the single goes 1-4-12-22-29-34-34-31, the arrival of downloaded sales having clearly reversed the chart decline of the single. When old singles refused to die and risked getting in the way of the marketing of new ones, record companies used to simply delete the track from the catalogue and prevent shops from stocking it. Will such tactics be countenanced or even possible in the new digital era?