Praise be, a new Number One single, the reign of Michelle McManus coming to an end after three weeks. Replacing her is what seems at first sight to be just another meaningless dance record, full of floaty synths and diva vocals. Dig a little deeper however and you actually have one of the most divisive records for many a long month.
Take Me To The Clouds Above is the result of what could have been a very messy collision of two classic pop records from the 1980s. As the U2 credit on the single suggests, central melody of the song is based around The Edge's famous singing guitar figure from their 1987 track With Or Without You. The first single to be released from their legendary Joshua Tree album, the single reached Number 4 and is arguably one of their greatest moments on record. The lyrics of Take Me To The Clouds Above date from a year even before that as they are actually the first verse of Whitney Houston's How Will I Know, her second ever hit single in fact and a Number 5 hit almost exactly 18 years ago. In terms of her out and out pop records it is right up there with I Wanna Dance With Somebody and So Emotional as one of her own greatest ever hits.
On that basis then you can see why the single divides people. On its own it is a fine, uplifting dance record that has built up enough of a head of steam to crash into the charts at Number One, on the other hand it can be viewed as an outrageous bastardization of two very famous pop records. Somehow I suspect most of this generation of singles buyers will buy into the former argument.
The singer on the track is Rachel McFarlane who finally has a smash hit single after almost a decade. She first found fame back in 1994 as the singer with Loveland. Their first and biggest hit came at the start of that year when Let The Music (Lift You Up) made Number 16, the track being followed by three more Top 40 hits, none of which made the Top 20. Rachel McFarlane also had a solo Top 40 hit in 1998, Lover reaching a mere Number 38, a fact which she blames on the producers of the musical Rent in which she was starring at the time refusing to let her take time off to promote the track.
Fans of U2 must surely marvel at the continuing way the band appear to be relaxed about their back catalogue being raided by clubland. Three years ago they agreed to Musique turning New Years Day into New Years Dub, the track reaching Number 15. It is a far cry from days of yore, 1988 to be precise when Kiss AMC's use of the same track on A Bit Of... caused legal threats and injunctions to fly around. Given their co-credit on the single, this is effectively a Number One hit for U2, their first since Beautiful Day topped the charts in 2000 and the fifth of their career?
So there you go, I told you there were some stories to tell. Tucking up just behind LMC is Kelis, Milkshake clocking up a third week in the runners up slot. The success of the single has prompted much debate over just what the milkshake of the title actually is. I suspect most of the ruder theories you have heard are wide of the mark, my more with it friends advising that milkshake is the female equivalent of pimp juice which is er, pretty dope. [Opinion is still divided. I could teach you, but I'd have to charge].
The biggest new hit of the week sledges in at Number 5 at what I suspect is to the delight of "real music" fans everywhere. Snow Patrol have been labelled in many places as the new Coldplay which in simplistic terms sums up their music nicely. Unlike fellow Chris Martin-a-likes Starsailor, these boys seem to have a magic spark about them. Their first single Spitting Games made a lowly Number 54 in September last year but with this new single [which I've conspicuously failed to name here, clearly still working the kinks out of the new format. It is only their second most famous hit ever too and a future Number One in a very different form] they have catapulted themselves out of XFM and Evening Session playlists and straight into the mainstream.
Next to come is Emma Bunton who has certainly proved to be a revelation over the last few months. Her comeback began in June last year with Free Me which although it was a Number 6 hit hardly gave hope for the future, being an anaemic throwaway pop record. It made what happened next all the more joyous as she homed in on a 1960s lounge pop sound with Maybe, still only a Number 6 hit but one which actually made people sit up and pay attention. Clearly, this was a niche worth exploiting and so I'll Be There follows a similar formula, OK maybe not to quite the same inspired effect but enough to take this single beyond offensively ordinary and into the realms of being, well, quite appealing really. She finds herself in the unique position of being the only former Spice Girl with a career that is actively going places (sorry Victoria but the jury is still out on you). Looks like the Spice reunion may have to wait a little while longer.
Just below her, Lostprophets sneak it at Number 8, Last Train Home being the follow-up to Burn Burn which was a Number 17 hit briefly back in November. It is deservedly the first Top 10 hit single for the Welsh band who are at last proving that they are more than just nu-metal bandwagoners. If you don't think much of the a-side, the second track on the CD is worth a listen. Who would have thought that Justin Timberlake's Cry Me A River would sound so good with guitars?
The news is perhaps less bright for Pink whose new album has been on the end of some rather lukewarm reviews. Following on from Trouble, this new track tones down the guitars just a little but is still a long way from some of her more inspired pop-dance moments in the past. Not that God Is A DJ is a bad single, just an annoyingly average one and she drops out of Top 10 contention on this occasion, the single only able to match the peak of 2002's Family Portrait.
Jameson too can feel hard done by. After a brace of Number 4 hits in 2003 with True and the utterly gorgeous Complete, this new single makes a disappointing Number 16. The failure of the track to do much better is all the more surprising given the exposure it has had lately as the soundtrack to a TV commercial for Tia Lusso.
As far as many people are concerned the record of the week is at Number 18. 16-year-old Devon lass Joss Stone would be a revelation in any event but her debut single has caused a stir in a number of places thanks to her choice of material. Fell In Love With A Boy is actually a re-gendered version of the White Stripes' Fell In Love With A Girl. Whereas the original is the quintessential Jack and Meg track, full of howling guitars and raw vocals, Joss Stone's version drags the inner soul out of the track as she slows it down to a blues tempo and sings it with a lustiness of a singer twice her age. A more breathtaking single release you will struggle to find this week and it is maybe a little sad that a minor Top 20 entry looks as good as she is going to manage this time around.Just outside the Top 20 is another long anticipated dance record, albeit one that hasn't quite caught fire in the way that LMC have. Mr On's collaboration with the Jungle Brothers is actually similarly inspired, being as it is a fusion of two other better-known tracks. The swirling strings on the production should be instantly familiar, taken as they are from Michael Jackson's Don't Stop Til You Get Enough (hey, he could probably use the money). The lyrics are inspired by Q-Tip's Breathe And Stop, a Number 12 hit in February 2000. Astonishingly enough this ranks as the second biggest ever credited hit by the Jungle Brothers, second only to Jungle Brother which formed their big comeback single and which made Number 18 in 1998. Surprisingly their most well-known single of the last few years, Freakin' You could only reach Number 70 when released in March 2000.
Three more singles enter between positions 22 and 30, the first of these at 23 as Incubus score their first chart single in over a year. New album A Crow To The Left Of Murder hits the shops this week and to herald this Brandon Boyd et al have their biggest hit single so far [which is...?]. At Number 27 are Razorlight with Stumble And Fall, whilst at Number 29 Tube & Berger enter with Straight Ahead. Their single is notable for the presence of a genuine music legend on guest vocals, none other than Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hynde. This is by no means her first foray into clubland, although her last attempt was some time ago - 1991 being the year she appeared on Moodswings' Spiritual High - a remake of the Jon and Vangelis/Donna Summer track State Of Independence.
Finally to bring up the rear on the chart this week is the ever living proof that not all superstar collaborations are the sum of their parts. The Bad Boys II soundtrack has spawned this hit, an almost all-star collaboration of Lenny Kravitz, P Diddy, Pharrell Williams and Loon. Show Me Your Soul could have been inspired but sadly ends up as little more than a shouty mess. It isn't even a cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers track of the same name - now that would actually have been worth a listen.