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Monday, 18 March, 2002, 18:30 GMT
Chart battle for Pop Idol finalists
Fans buy the singer's record
Gareth Gates' fans were out in force
Pop Idol runner up Gareth Gates has launched his chart challenge against the show's winner Will Young, who has topped the charts for three weeks.

Gates, released his debut single, a cover of Unchained Melody, on Monday, after advance orders of 1.3 million.

The UK top 10
1. Anything is Possible/Evergreen: Will Young
2. Me Julie: Ali G and Shaggy
3. Whenever Wherever: Shakira
4. Ain't It Funny: Jennifer Lopez
5. How You Remind Me: Nickelback
6. Something: Lasgo
7. A New Day Has Come: Celine Dion
8. Hero: Enrique Iglesias
9. Run to the Hills: Iron Maiden
10. Wrong Impression: Natalie Imbruglia

The single is "guaranteed" to go to number one, according to sales analyst Gennaro Castaldo of the HMV retail chain - beating off competition from George Michael's new single Freeek!

But Gates is unlikely to beat Young's achievement of having the fastest-selling British single of all time.

Mr Castaldo described Gates' sales as "fantastic" but estimated his first sales as "in the region of 220,000 - 250,000" - compared to the figure of 385,000 achieved by Will with Anything Is Possible/Evergreen on 25 February.

The analyst said that there were signs of a strong regional bias - with Gates performing far more strongly UK's northern cities like Leeds and Newcastle and his home town of Bradford.

Fans queuing

Will Young
Will Young: Record breaker
The HMV store in Bradford had some fans queuing from 0600 GMT on Monday, two hours before the shop opened.

The store manager, Andy Baxter, said: "I thought that we had seen it all with Will, but in my 14 years with HMV I have never seen scenes like this, with so many people queuing just to buy a single.

"You'd have thought that Gareth was actually in the store signing copies."

The two last battled it out in the final of ITV1's Pop Idol talent search, where the top prize was a lucrative recording contract.

Odds

Although Young won with 53.1% of the public vote, both were snapped up by record label BMG, which is headed by Pop Idol judge Simon Cowell.

Gareth Gates
Gates goes up against his idol George Michael
Young has held on to the top spot with his double A-side single for a third week, selling about 1.5 million copies in total.

Bookmakers William Hill are offering odds of 1/9 that Unchained Melody will be number one and 10/1 that it will stay at the top of the chart for eight weeks or more.

Young's number one hat-trick kept Me Julie, a duet between reggae artist Shaggy and spoof rapper Ali G, outselling it by about two to one.

The third Pop Idol candidate in the charts, Rik Waller, saw his single, I Will Always Love You, drop from number six last week to number 11 in Sunday's charts.


BBC News Online reviews Unchained MelodyGareth gets set
Pop Idol star releases his debut single
See also:

15 Mar 02 | Music
Fan frenzy for Pop Idols
15 Mar 02 | Reviews
Pop Idol concerts: Your views
14 Mar 02 | Music
Idol Will to sing on TOTP
10 Mar 02 | Music
Pop Idol Will: 'I'm gay'
10 Mar 02 | Music
Young stays top of the pops
08 Mar 02 | Music
Pop Idol managers 'naive'
01 Mar 02 | Reviews
Will takes web by storm
25 Feb 02 | Music
Will Young's solo gamble
12 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
Moody makeover for Will
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