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The 'Pop Idol' loser knocks winner Will Young from his perch with sales just under a million...

‘POP IDOL’ runner-up GARETH GATES has struck gold this evening (March 24), becoming the youngest British male solo star to have a Number One single.

The 17-year-old’s debut release, a cover of ’Unchained Melody’, went straight in at the top kicking’ Pop Idol’ winner Will Young from his perch after three weeks.

Gates is believed to have sold around 900,000 copies of the song, 200,000 shy of the 1.1million copies Young registered during his first week on sale. ‘Unchained Melody’ is the only song to have made it to Number One for four different artists. It’s good news too for Paul McCartney. It has emerged that the former Beatle owns the rights to the song and stands to get a handsome royalty cheque.

Marilyn Manson, who had been involved in a war of words with Gates over chart positions in recent weeks, scored one of the the best single UK single positions of his career, entering at Number Five with his vaunted cover of ’Tainted Love’. The God Of Fuck entered ahead of popular boyband Blue, who went in at Six with ’Fly By’ while George Micheal scored at Seven with comeback single ’Freeek’, a relatively low position given the multi-million pound video and campaign behind the release. Darren Hayes, at eight with ’Insatiable’, is the only other new entry on the Top Ten.

On down the chart, pop behemoths Pet Shop Boys comeback track ’Home And Dry’ stuttered in at 14, four above Alicia Keys at 18 with ’A Woman’s Worth.

Starsailor went in at 23 with ’Poor Misguided Fool’, the fifth single from platinum selling debut album ’Love Is Here’.

On the album charts, Nickelback remain at the top with MOR favourite ’Silver Side Up’, while Jennifer Lopez, at Four with ’J To Tha L-O The Remixes’, has the highest new entry. Veteran indie journeymen Gomez score strongly, going in at Eight with ’In Our Gun’. Jamiroquai, Alicia Keys and Anastacia are amongst the usual suspects also on the Top Ten.