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Substantial sales push G4 to number one

Setting a very high benchmark for X Factor winner Steve Brookstein, competition runners-up G4's self-titled debut album sold a massive 244,671 copies last week, to debut at number one, writes Alan Jones.

Its release, timed to coincide with the Mother's Day market, enjoyed the highest first week for any album since Robbie Williams' Greatest Hits opened with 320,081 last October and the highest first week for a debut album since HearSay's PopStars sold 306,631 in April 2001.

There's also a delicious irony in the fact that G4 were famously NOT given a contract with X Factor creator Simon Cowell's SyCo Music label - they eventually signed for Sony - but deprive his similarly-themed 'popera' act Il Divo of a return to number one this week with their self-titled debut, which enjoyed a spectacular 246.4% hike in sales last week to 82,964, but still ended up selling only a third as many copies as the G4 album.

Il Divo of course, has legs, with sales of 1,164,193 to date - a total G4 will find hard to match. But G4 has already beaten both Il Divo's opening week sales of 132,829 and its best of 209,208. The G4/Il Divo duopoly is good news for the merged Sony BMG company, which is home to both the Sony and SyCo labels.

G4's fast start helped propel album sales to a 2005 best of 3,633,914 - a 51% increase week-on-week, despite the inclement weather which affected much of the country throughout the week. In 2004, Mother's Day fell a fortnight later than in 2005 and drove sales to more than 3,651,000 - about half a percent higher than this year. The number one Mother's Day album last year was also a Sony release - George Michael's Patience, which sold 274,816 copies.

Meanwhile, three albums not best suited musically to enjoy the Mother's Day bonanza nevertheless had landmark weeks. Franz Ferdinand's self-titled debut album topped the million sales mark domestically on Tuesday, followed by Green Day's American Idiot on Wednesday, and U2's How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb on Friday. It's a new experience for the others, but par for the course for U2, who last got there with their previous studio album, 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind - though its tally of 1,083,169 sales will soon be overhauled by How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, which sold 18,051 copies last week to bring its cume to 1,008,196 in only 15 weeks.

Providing the Carpenters with their highest charting album since a previous 'best of' set Only Yesterday reached number one 15 years ago, the tuneful two's Gold: Greatest Hits dashes 17-4 this week, with sales up 254.9% to 53,200. First released in 2000, the album was reactivated last month with a bonus DVD, and is one of the major beneficiaries of the mother's day market. The album originally peaked at number 21 in 2000, and had been absent from the charts for more than two years before it re-entered last week. Cumulative sales of Gold are 680,352.

Baritone Patrizio Buanne's introductory release The Italian debuts at number 12 on the album chart, after first week sales of 30,065. Boosted by a number of recent TV appearances - including GMTV and Today With Des & Mel - the 26 year old from Naples names Dean Martin, Paul Anka and Tom Jones among his idols, and his debut album was recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It was also apparently boosted by the inclusion of one of the crooner's tracks on a recent Mail On Sunday CD, suggesting that there may be some value in putting new artists on newspaper freebies after all.

Jennifer Lopez picked up the second number one single of her career with Get Right a fortnight ago but there's no such luck for new album Rebirth, which has to settle for a number eight debut. Rebirth sold 40,951 copies last week, easily beating the 27,579 copies Lopez's highest charting album - J. Lo - sold when it debuted in runners-up position in February 2001. Rebirth didn't have Lopez's biggest first week however - that honour goes to last album This Is Me...Then, which opened with sales of 47,099 in December 2002, despite debuting at number 13.

The Doves' Some Cities album suffered a 52.9% dip in sales on its second week in the shops - not an unusual fate for a fanbase act but the effects of this were compounded by fast rising sales of many other albums in the Mother's Day market. In fact, the Doves album tumbles 1-14 on this week's chart despite respectable second week sales of 28,148, thus equalling the biggest ever fall from number one, established by the Wu-Tang Clan's Wu-Tang Forever in 1997. For the record, the Wu-Tang Clan album suffered a 62.8% dip that week, selling 9,686 copies, about a third as many as the Doves album sold last week.

The top five albums in the compilation chart were all targeted at the Mother's Day market, and helped it to register a 64% boost to a year's best 792,764 sales last week. EMI/Virgin's I Love Mum sold 62,752 copies to shade it from Sony BMG's World's Best Mum, which trailed 6.3% behind

The singles market had another good week, with sales rising week-on-week by 10% to 469,416, their highest level of the year. It's the seventh time in eight weeks that the singles market has improved, and 77% more singles were sold last week than when it reached its lowest point in January. On the other hand, the market was 35% below the comparative week last year, when Britney Spears' Toxic debuted at number one with sales of 102,576 in a strong top three alongside DJ Casper's Cha Cha Slide (78,666) and Peter Andre's Mysterious Girl (69,685), which helped to drive overall singles sales of 721,180.

Topping the singles chart this week, however, required just 40,378 sales for the Stereophonics' Dakota - and even that tally was helped considerably by a special offer, which allowed fans to purchase the regular and enhanced CDs and DVD for a combined total of £5. Dakota delivers the Welsh band its 19th Top 40, 10th Top 10 and first ever number one hit, and is the first single from the band's new album Language. Sex. Violence. Other?, which is out next Monday (14th) - though whether Dakota's title is a tribute to a person or a place is not clear, as it appears nowhere in the song's lyrics. Dakota is the second number one for Richard Branson's eight year old V2 label - Liberty X gave them their first with Just A Little in 2002 - and the 11th different number one in as many weeks.

Moving down a notch to number two, second week retail sales of 33,778 copies - a dip of just 18.7% - suggest Nelly & Tim McGraw's Over And Over has staying power. Radio recognises its potency, and it vaults 6-1 on the airplay chart this week, albeit with a modest audience of 51.76m.The record's airplay chart trajectory: 198-76-36-25-17-14-6-1. Radio play is also helping to drive sales of Nelly's Suit album, on which the track appears. Said album enjoyed a 56.4% lift in sales last week but still slips 14-16 as it's overtaken by MOR opponents benefitting from Mother's Day trade.

With first week sales of 27,600, Rock-A-Hula Baby scored the third best tally yet among Elvis Presley's 70th birthday reissues but still has to settle for a number three debut. The other singles in order of release, and their first week sales: Jailhouse Rock (21,262), One Night (20,463), A Fool Such As I (20,002), It's Now Or Never (21,887), Are You Lonesome Tonight (28,500), Wooden Heart (28,377), Surrender (24,439), (Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame (27,441). So far, Presley has had three number ones, four number twos and two number threes in 2005.

Sunset Strippers got the lion's share of club and radio support again last week in the battle of covers of Waiting For A Star To Fall but Cabin Crew stole a march on their rival by getting into the shops a week earlier with their single - which has the abbreviated title of Star To Fall - and land a number four debut as a result. In so doing, they easily eclipse the number nine peak of the 1988 original, by husband and wife team George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam aka Boy Meets Girl. Star To Fall sold 24,878 copies last week.

Britney Spears' brand new single Do Somethin' was widely expected to be a contender for this week's singles chart title, but in the end it had to settle for a number six debut. Its her 16th Top 10 hit from 18 releases so far but its first week sales of 17,486 are the lowest of Spears' career, falling short even of her two non-Top 10 hits, Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know (number 12, 2001), and I Love Rock 'n' Roll (number 13, 2002), which opened with sales of 19,685 and 18,306 respectively.

Drawing double digit support from the Beeb's Radio One (10 plays) and Radio 2 (14), singer/songwriter KT Tunstall's Black Horse & The Cherry Tree climbs 9-7 to achieve a new airplay peak even as its slides 28-40 on the sales chart. All this exposure is helping Tunstall's debut album, Eye To The Telescope, however, and it jumps to number 36 - its highest place yet - on the album chart as a result, with sales of 11,496 in the most recent seven day period taking its overall sales to 54,485.

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