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Christie leads chart into new era

It might be a new era for the singles chart, with downloads being added to physical sales for the first time but it's the same old number one, writes Alan Jones.

Tony Christie's (Is This The Way To) Amarillo effortlessly retains its crown, with physical sales of 64,339 (down 35.4%) and download sales of 4,661, adding up to a nice, round 69,000.

Amarillo has now been number one for five weeks, enjoying the longest continuous reign since Black Eyed Peas' Where Is The Love spent six weeks on top in 2003, though Eric Prydz's Call On Me also managed five weeks on top, split into separate reigns of three weeks and two weeks last autumn.

Tony Christie's continued domination of the singles chart was never in doubt this week. His nearest challengers were new entries from Razorlight, Ciara and Elvis Presley, which debuted at two, three and four, respectively.

Razorlight's debut album Up All Night sold 450,000 and spun-off five singles - Rock 'n' Roll Lies (number 56), Rip It Up (number 42), Stumble And Fall (number 27), Golden Touch (number nine) and Vice (number 18) - but Somewhere Else, the introductory single from their upcoming second album blasts the group into a higher orbit this week. Released hot on the heels of a sell-out tour, and acclaimed by Q as "a punk rock symphony...a thrilling change of direction," Somewhere Else debuts at number two, with first week sales of 28,537 (2,310 downloads).

Ciara was the first artist to interrupt in the expected string of number ones by Elvis Presley in January, when her debut single Goodies got the better of Presley's A Fool Such As I, though it didn't exactly run away with the chart title - it sold just 21,128 copies that week, the second lowest recorded tally for a number one. Ciara's follow-up 1 2 Step, featuring Missy Elliott, sold more copies last week - 26,057, including 1,781 downloads - but has to settle for a number three debut. Her Goodies album climbs 64-43, while passing 50,000 sales.

Elvis Presley's first number one for five years and his last before his 1977 death, The Wonder Of You topped the chart for six weeks in 1970, dethroning Mungo Jerry's even more tenacious In The Summertime, which spent seven week on top. The Wonder Of You re-enters the chart at number four this week, with sales of 26,024 (79 downloads). Meanwhile, the previous week's Presley single, Crying In The Chapel, crashes 2-33 - the biggest dip from number two in chart history, though its fall would be 2-24 on physical sales alone.

The fourth and last new entry to the Top 10 this week is So Much Love To Give by the Freeloaders featuring The Real Thing, at number nine.

Love's Such A Wonderful Thing wasn't one of the bigger hits of Liverpool disco act The Real Thing when it was released in 1977, peaking at number 33 - but 28 years on it provides the sample that drives The Freeloaders' debut single So Much Love To Give. Selling 8,296 copies last week including 596 downloads,, the track provides Blackburn's indie label All Around The World with its 3rd Top 20 of 2005, the others being by Verbalicious and Styles & Breeze.

Physical singles sales were down 11% last week, at 392,882 but the introduction of downloads to the chart increased the combined market to 747,502, Only 12 singles in the Top 75 (those at 1, 2, 7, 12, 13, 26, 28, 29, 35, 36, 51 and 60) have the same position in the combined chart as in the physical chart, with the first record to miss out on a Top 40 place being the Kings Of Leon's King Of The Rodeo, which ranks 37 on physical sales but 41 on combined sales.

Six singles which are in the Top 75 on physical sales fall short once downloads are added, these being the new releases by the Brand New Heavies (62 physical, 78 combined), Melanie Blatt (67-82), The Features (71-85), DJ Fresh (70-87), 10,000 Things (74-90) and Konflict (75-92). The addition of downloads made the sales threshold for the Top 75 105% higher than last week, and 51% higher than for this week on physical sales alone.

In the Top 40, the only two singles not available as downloads are Tiesto's Adagio For Strings and Hal's Play The Hits. It cost them both six places, with physical positions of 31 and 32 becoming combined placings of 37 and 38.

Meanwhile, Gorillaz' Feel Good Inc. debuts at number 22 on the combined chart. It was the second biggest selling download, with 3,965 purchases online, but was released it a very limited edition on 7-inch picture disc, which accounted for just 125 sales, or 3.05% of its total, and ranks only 197th on physical sales.

Downloads accounted for 47.4% of the singles market here last week - but in America the download market is more mature and 6,358,000 digital tracks were purchased there last week compared to 80,000 physical singles. Downloads make up 98.75% of the market and the number one download - Weezer's Beverly Hills - sold 40,406 last week, while number one physical single, Goin Crazy by Natalie sold 5,814 copies. All of the Top 200 downloads sold more than 2,400 copies, compared to just two physical singles.

While upcoming albums from the likes of Gorillaz, Coldplay and Oasis are sure to give the market a shot in the arm, sales drifted lower again last week, with a total 2,175,534 albums sold representing the lowest weekly figure yet in 2005. Artist albums took a 6% hit, declining to 1,725,724, while compilations sagged 18% to 449,810.

Last week's number one artist album, Counting Down The Days by Natalie Imbruglia, suffered a 38,9% dip in sales to 25,230, and falls 1-5 as a result.

Imbruglia place at the top was taken by Basement Jaxx, who become the first dance act in history to top the chart with a compilation, namely The Singles, which benefits from the weaker market and TV advertising to take pole position this week. The album, has moved 3-2-3-1, and sold 38,457 copies last week, to bring its overall sales to 171,363 - meaning it's already halfway to matching their biggest selling album thus far, 1999's Remedy, which has sold 335,850 copies. Incidentally, although number one artist album, The Singles is not quite number one album overall - that honour, for the fourth week in a row, goes to Now That's What I Call Music! 60, which sold 43,853 copies last week - a 40% fall on the previous week.

Back on the artist album chart, rising R&B/hip hop star Akon follows in Basement Jaxx's wake. The Senegal born artist's debut single Locked Up reached number five on sales but only number 36 on airplay - a position already eclipsed by upcoming follow-up Lonely, which is based on Bobby Vinton's 1964 US number one Mr Lonely. Catapulting 48-27 on radio this week, it also improves 20-16 on TV - both doubtless factors in the inexorable rise of Akon's debut album Trouble, which registers a hefty 55.4% gain in sales this week to 33,160 copies, and jumps 5-2 as a result.

A week after introductory single Why Do You Love Me gave Garbage their highest charting single for nine years, the American band fronted by Scot Shirley Manson provide this week's highest album chart debut, entering at number four with fourth album Bleed Like Me. First week sales of 27,375 can't quite match their second album Version 2.0, which debuted at number one in 1999, with sales of 31,476 but narrowly beat most recent album Beautiful Garbage's 25,173 start at number six in 2001, and far exceed the band's 1995 self-titled debut's opening week tally of 9,409.

Missing from the Top 40 of the album chart for 20 years, Shakin' Stevens returns this week with The Collection - a new double disc set featuring 25 of his biggest hits on CD and a 12 track DVD. Released two days after Shaky won ITV's new golden oldies talent show Hit Me Baby One More Time, it sold a very respectable 20,528 copies and debuts at number six, beating the number eight peak of his previous chart compilation Greatest Hits (1984) and becoming his highest charting album since Shaky got to number one in 1981.

Enduring "tributes" to Queen by the likes of Melanie C and Toyah on ITV's Queenmania sent more discerning record buyers in search of the real thing last week, with the result that increased demand for Queen's Greatest Hits I, II and III pushed the triple disc set up from number 34 to number 20 - the latter position being the highest occupied by the album since October 2002. Since the three CDs in the set were first sold together in 2000, they have sold a phenomenal 1,360,340 copies.

Mention of Melanie C brings us finally to the former Spice Girl's third solo album, Beautiful Intentions. Introductory single Next Best Superstar managed to debut at number 10 last week but the album can't match that achievement, and debuts at number 24 with first week sales of 8,970. Both of Mel's previous solo albums did much better - Northern Star opened at number 10 with 17,773 sales in 1999, and went on to peak at number four, with eventual sales of 881,420, while 2003's Reason opened and peaked at number five though its first week sales of 30,876 were flattering for an album that eventually sold only 99,859 copies.

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