This is one of those odd-weeks where the true headline-grabber on the UK charts is a release which due to chart rules does not feature on either the main singles or albums charts. Instead, it is a compilation - Volume 85 of the now 30-year-old Now! That's What I Call Music hits collection was released last week and powers its way to the top of the bestseller lists in a quite breathtaking style.
Now! 85 sold a grand total of 317,376 copies last week, more than the entire Top 75 artist albums put together (which, according to Music Week totalled 307,000 copies between them). In comparison, the second biggest selling compilation of the week shifted a mere 16,000 copies. In an era when a vast catalogue of digital tracks mean it is possible to build your own hits compilation at any time, the continuing popularity of the long-running series is perhaps slightly baffling, but where it scores is in terms of sheer value for money. Now! 85 is retailing on iTunes for £12.99 for which you get 44 different tracks. At just over 29p a track, that undercuts the standard 99p per track for standalone downloads by some considerable distance - and that, in a nutshell, is why the albums sell.
The Official UK Singles chart is effectively in snooze mode this week, as a dearth of new releases simply means a reshuffling of the pack by and large. Naturally enough nothing was able to challenge Avicii's Wake Me Up at the top of the charts as after its record sale last week the single sells another 154,000 copies to take its two week total to just over 421,000. If it keeps up this rate, we are looking at 2013's third million seller within the space of as many months. Indeed following the blip a fortnight ago when Robin Thicke topped the charts with a sub-100,000 sale, the number of units required to top the charts is back into six figures once again. Number One singles have crossed the threshold for 14 of the last 15 weeks, a consistency not seen since 1997.
Sympathies then to global sensations One Direction who have in the past shown the kind of chart form which would have ensured they grabbed the Number One position this week. Instead, they are relegated to second place, brand new single Best Song Ever the follow-up to the charity Number One hit One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks) from back in the spring and oddly enough the first single of their career to make its chart debut in second place. Whilst the lyrics of the song are slightly more meta than the title suggests, calling a pop record Best Song Ever is naturally fraught with danger, and the fact that despite the cheeky homage to the old Who song Baba O'Reilly in the crashing guitar chords at the start, this track is a long way from being the best One Direction song ever. The fact that it has failed to top the charts is maybe something of a blessing.
With the Number 2 hit of the week inspired in part by an early 70s classic, it seems entirely appropriate that one of the more odd chart appearances of the week is itself a cover of a moderately famous 1970s hit. Propelled into the Top 30 by a combination of a 59p promotion on iTunes and the aforementioned quiet sales week, Toploader's cover version of Dancing In The Moonlight makes a flying leap to Number 27 this week. Originally recorded by King Harvest for their 1973 album of the same name, the track was an American Top 20 hit in 1972 for its creators but failed to chart in this country. The Toploader cover was a chart hit twice within the space of a year at the turn of the millennium, reaching Number 19 in March 2000 and subsequently Number 7 during an epic chart run at the start of 2001 after it was both remixed by Starlight and featured in a long-running TV commercial for Sainsbury's supermarkets.
The Number One album of the week doesn't so much come straight out of left field as smack down the middle of the road. Jahmene Douglas finished as runner-up to James Arthur on last year's X Factor competition and dutifully becomes the first of the class of 2012 to land himself a chart career of his own. His self-titled debut Love Never Fails sneaks to Number One in a manner which has annoyed several online commentators. His talent as a singer and performer is not in question, and we all were able to witness this last summer. Sadly this collection of songs does not give him the chance to show this off, the album nothing more than a series of bland cover versions of songs such as Titanium, Halo and Fix You. X Factor sells itself on being an avenue of discovery for new recording talent. Instead the first star to emerge from last year's series has been reduced in an instant to Simon Cowell sausage factory fodder, useful for stocking impulse buy racks in supermarkets but very little else.