It doesn't really matter what anyone says does it? We can rant forever about Cheryl Cole's vocal shortcomings, the way her "national treasure" status is a total PR invention and the sheer inappropriateness of her annual job of sitting in judgement over people who are trying themselves to prove to the world they can sing, but with the sheer power of the X Factor and ITV1 marketing machine behind her, when she releases a new single there really is very much that can stand in her way.
So it is, that just as last year when her debut solo single Fight For This Love was rocketed to the top of the charts with what was at the time a best of the year first week sale - all thanks to some timely exposure and hero worship on the TV show in which she participates - this week the erstwhile Girl Aloud charges straight to Number One with brand new single Promise This - neatly on the back of not only a semi-live X Factor performance but also an in depth prime time ITV1 interview during which she said little of note. The actual quality of the single is pretty much immaterial. With that kind of promotional head start there was very little to stand in its way.
History naturally enough repeats itself in terms of the sales of the single. Just as back in 2009, the first week sales of 290,000 were far and away the highest single week total of the year so far, last week Promise This shifted a not quite so massive but still damn impressive 157,000 copies - not actually the biggest weekly sale this year as I suggested last night, but the highest seven day total by a "normal" single if one discounts the half a million shifted by the Helping Haiti single Everybody Hurts back in February which we can overlook as a stat-bending aberration. Taken from her forthcoming second solo album Messy Little Raindrops, the track is Cheryl Cole's second solo Number One and the sixth of her career.
Her new single may well be titled Only Girl (In The World) but Number 2 act Rihanna can lay claim to being one of the unluckiest girls in the world, or at the very least the singles charts this week. It is all about the sales again, the brand new track from the Bajan superstar shifted a non too shabby 126,000 copies during the course of the last seven days. That would be enough to have given her the Number One single in every single week of 2010 so far - barring that one week in February when Everybody Hurts was forcing us to overlook it for dramatic effect. Only one record - Riverside (Let's Go) by Sidney Samson back in January has even come close to selling in six figures and only reached Number 2 with most of the rest falling some way short. In actual fact Only Girl (In The World) is only the seventh single since 2001 to sell over 100,000 copies in a week and fail to reach the top and if one excludes Christmas weeks from the reckoning it is the highest sale by a Number 2 single since Uptown Girl by Westlife sold 195,000 copies in 2001. By a strange coincidence, if one overlooks Christmas week last year, the last "normal" track to rack up such a total was Bad Boys by Alexandra Burke which sold 122,000 copies in the week ending October 31st, its second week on sale. The track which outsold it to deny it a place at Number One? Fight For This Love by Cheryl Cole.
As for the single itself? It is the lead single from what will be her fifth studio album; entitled Loud it lands in the shops next week. Assuming it progresses no further (which is actually something of a dangerous assumption) given its continuing strength online, it will rank as Rihanna's eighth Number 2 hit single and her second of the year, hard on the heels of the Eminem duet Love The Way You Lie which remains for the moment the biggest seller of 2010 to date, despite never quite topping the charts.
Phew. An otherwise quiet and largely stat-free sees just a handful of other singles making pleasing forward progress. Mike Posner's Cooler Than Me advances a place to fulfil its destiny of becoming a Top 5 single whilst three places lower at Number 8 Nelly makes good on his threat to go Top 10 with Just A Dream. It is officially his first Top 10 hit since 2005.
Turning briefly to the album chart and the story of the week is actually almost totally the reverse of the goings on in the singles market. Where long players are concerned, the two big new pop releases of the week find themselves playing second fiddle to some already well established albums. Kings Of Leon are unshiftable at the top with Come Around Sundown but they are run a close second by a resurgent Michael Buble whose relentless promotional work in support of the new "Hollywood" edition of his already massive selling Crazy Love album helps it rise to Number 2, its highest chart placing since it also landed the runners up slot back in June. Crazy Love has to date managed a solitary week at the top of the charts, the week ending January 2nd which crucially covered sales in Christmas week last year. Interest in the album has had a positive effect on its only brand new studio track Hollywood which leaps 27-11 on the singles chart to land its highest chart position to date. Similarly the older 'Haven't Met You Yet' also mounts a small comeback, rising to Number 55.
As a result of this bed blocking, the highest new entry of the week on the album chart is only at Number 3, the much maligned Joe McElderry making the best impact he could with his contractually obligated X Factor winners release Wide Awake. Joe is only the second X Factor winner to fail to top the charts with his debut album, following in the shameful footsteps of Leon Jackson who could only manage Number 4 with his Right Now long player in 2008. The other four - Steve Brookstein, Shaybe Ward, Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke all topped the charts with ease.
It is bad news as well for The Wanted who were perhaps always going to struggle to turn pocket money into album sales. Their self-titled debut makes a rather understated arrival at Number 4, although in fairness it should be noted that the presence of the track in stores has prompted a slight blip in interest in their two singles to date. Whilst the jury is out on 'Heart Vacancy' which dips 2-9, the still evergreen All Time Low continues the rise it began last week, moving 34-28 to re-occupy the chart rank it last achieved three weeks ago.
Three other new songs arrive on the singles Top 20, all lining up one after the other as if inviting us to do them all in turn. Leading the way at Number 13 is Swedish producer Tim Berg [for the uninitiated this is Avicii trading under a version of his real name before he came up with the more marketable moniker which made him a superstar] with current Europe-wide smash Seek Bromance. The track is actually a mash-up, based musically on an instrumental track simply entitled Bromance which Berg released in its own right earlier this year. The vocals are lifted from a track called Love You Seek, originally created by Samuele Sartini earlier this year and which is sung by Amanda Wilson - better known in her normal role as the voice on Freemasons singles. Following all that? Good.
Next at Number 14 is Peter Andre who returns to the singles chart with new single Defender, his first Top 40 single since Behind Closed Doors reached Number 4 in August 2009. Once one of the biggest pop stars in the land in his 1990s heyday, Andre's main source of fame is now the interminable fly on the wall shows that have continued to chart his every move on ITV2, even after his marriage to Katie Price dissolved acrimoniously. The shows are best watched for their unintentional comedy value as Andre still acts as if he is a viable international recording star, constantly on the search for the next big hit that will act as a true reflection on his talents. Sadly all the TV shows do is reduce him to little more than a novelty act. Whilst the exposure his continuing TV and gossip mags profile afford him will have undoubtedly helped this new track into the charts, any assumptions that it is there on any musical merits it possesses are surely wide of the mark. Credit where credit is due however, this track extends his hitmaking career into a third decade and is his 13th Top 20 hit.
Music of a slightly more credible kind arrives at Number 15 in the shape of the first ever Top 20 hit for grime MC Devlin. The new track arrives on the chart hard on the heels of his last single Brainwashed which crept its way to Number 31 back in August. To make Number 15 with this follow-up suggests some pleasing progress in the growth of his appeal - debut album Bud, Sweat And Tears is in the shops now after originally being slated for release in the new year.
Finally we should note that this is the annual Halloween chart, reflecting sales in the buildup to all many of spooky themed parties and hence one which opens the door to a number of horror themed classics to make a brief chart appearance. Down the bottom end of the Top 75 we find Thriller at Number 68, Monster Mash at Number 73 and Ghostbusters at Number 75. These three are however not the most notably golden oldie floating around the bottom of the listings. That honour goes to 1992 Number One smash single Stay as performed by Shakespear's Sister and which makes an extraordinary reappearance at Number 64. It is extraordinary as this chart placing is almost entirely based on about three and a half hours sales, representing a surge in interest in the track when X Factor contestant Cher Lloyd performed the track on Saturday evening's show. Exposing it to a whole new audience it seems many of them simply could not wait to land their own copy of the original and enough copies were sold in the final hours of the survey window to grant it this chart position. Its sales have continued to grow in the hours since - don't be too surprised if the 19 year old track spends the week threatening a Top 10 entry next time around.