The girls won yesterday (Dec. 22) at the end of a week of media hype over the race for the U.K.'s Christmas No. 1 single. The two-horse race between the male and female groups created from the ITV tal

The girls won yesterday (Dec. 22) at the end of a week of media hype over the race for the U.K.'s Christmas No. 1 single. The two-horse race between the male and female groups created from the ITV talent series "Popstars: The Rivals," found Girls Aloud taking the crown with "Sound of the Underground" (Polydor). The single sold 213,000 copies to finish comfortably ahead of runner up One True Voice's "Sacred Trust" (Ebul/Jive), which moved 147,000 copies.

The tabloid press and other media gave massive coverage to the contest throughout last week, much of it on a supposed war of words between fellow "Popstars" judges Pete Waterman and Louis Walsh. Waterman, whose label One True Voice is signed to, accused Girls Aloud of not singing on its single, later qualifying the remark by saying that session singers were also on the track.

Walsh, who manages Girls Aloud, called him a liar, reminding Waterman that during the series he had threatened to kill himself if the boys didn't win, as the promotional campaign grew increasingly barbed.

Girls Aloud's single (accompanied by a poster campaign in recent weeks proclaiming "Buy girls, bye boys") has a pop-rock flavor reminiscent of the Bangles, while One True Voice's effort is a cover of a Gibb brothers song that was the second single last year from the Bee Gees' "This Is Where I Came In" (Universal). In the first-ever case of one television show generating the entire U.K. top three singles, failed "Popstars" competitors the Cheeky Girls fell 2-3 with "Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum)" (Multiply).

Two other singles debuted in the U.K.'s top-10: Love Inc.'s dance crossover "You're a Superstar" (NuLife) at No. 7 and Avril Lavigne's "Sk8er Boi" (Arista) at No. 9. Death In Vegas' "Scorpio Rising" (Concrete), featuring a guest vocal by Oasis' Liam Gallagher, opened at No. 14, and a new version of Tommy James and the Shondells' 1967 U.S. smash "I Think We're Alone Now" by Pascal featuring Karen Parry (All Around The World) bowed at at No. 23.

The Christmas top-40's final new entry was the Rolling Stones' "Don't Stop" (Virgin), which managed a No. 36 debut. It's the Stones' first top-40 appearance since "Saint Of Me" reached No. 26 in February 1998. It's their 40th top-40 single over a span of 40 years and five months.

Robbie Williams' "Escapology" (EMI) had no trouble in securing the seasonal top spot on the U.K. album chart, marking its fifth week at the peak. Blue's "One Love" (Innocent/Virgin) held onto the No. 2 position.

Measuring the European market, Williams is also No. 1 for a fourth week on Music & Media's European Top 100 Albums tally, while Las Ketchup's "Asereje/The Ketchup Song" (Columbia) reaches its 15th week atop the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles chart. "The Ketchup Song" has now matched the run of its immediate predecessor, Eminem's "Without Me" (Interscope/Polydor). Not one to be kept down, Eminem also climbs 3-2 on the chart with "Lose Yourself."