This week's Official UK Singles Chart
After a couple of weeks of turnover at the top, it is something of a relief to report that an element of stability creeps back into the chart, the commanding lead enjoyed by the Pussycat Dolls last week enables them to spend a second week at Number One with Don't Cha. Entertainingly the backlash against them has begun already in some quarters with the most gleeful reports centring around the discovery that Don't Cha was originally recorded by its composer, Tori Alamaze [not quite, she didn't write it, but was certainly the first to record it in 2004] who found a potential hit single taken out of her hands when it was decided that the Pussycat Dolls were far more marketable.
The biggest new hit of the week goes to Sean Paul who storms back onto the chart with his first single in 20 months. 2003 was, of course, the big year for the ragga star when his own solo career and contributions to hits by the likes of Blu Cantrell and Beyonce led him to be an almost permanent presence in the Top 10. His new single proves the time away to record a new album has done him no harm at all and We Be Burnin', the first single from his forthcoming new album The Trinity hits you like an express train and charges straight to Number 2. It is enough to make this his biggest ever solo hit, once place higher than the peak of Like Glue in September 2003. He has, of course, topped the charts once in the past, thanks to his star turn on Blu Cantrell's Breathe which was part of his epic 2003 run of hits.
I remember back in 2000 doing a write-up on Bon Jovi's It's My Life and commenting on what a sight it was to behold that Bon Jovi were still able to have Top 3 hits after all that time. By rights, they should be confined to history, the embodiment of all that was both awesome and at times a bit naff about 80s metal acts, complete with big hair, huge singalong choruses and pyrotechnic-laden stage shows. Well here we are now in 2005 and their career is still something to marvel as 20 years after their first hit singles they are still effortlessly floating into the Top 10. The other trends in metal such as grunge and even nu-metal which put paid to the careers of most of their contemporaries have simply passed Bon Jovi by. New single Have A Nice Day simply hits the same comfortable groove as most other Bon Jovi hits of the last 20 years and is all the better for it, a good old fashioned punch the air with joy metal track that for all the best reasons never seems to date at all. The first Bon Jovi single for two years, it winds up as their sixth Top 10 single since 2000 and their 17th overall. They have now clocked up an impressive 32 Top 40 singles but have only ever twice hit the Top 3 - and never in all that time had a UK Number One single. They aren't the only veteran rockers to be punching above their weight this week either.
First, however, we have to deal with a man who has managed not one but two Top 40 new entries this week. He is of course 50 Cent who may not quite manage the same kind of crossover commercial appeal as some of his contemporaries but whose appeal is wide enough to guarantee him hits time and time again. Following on from July's Number 10 hit Just A Lil Bit he returns to the Top 10 with Outta Control which to its credit is actually his most accessible hit to date, thanks in part to the guest appearance of the hitherto hitless due Mobb Deep on the track. Just a single hit would have been good enough this week but 50 Cent also hits the chart slightly lower down thanks to his starring role on Tony Yayo's So Seductive. Yayo is the third act after The Game and G-Unit to be granted the honour of a guest appearance by Fiddy but sadly he seems to have benefited the least, the Number 28 entry of Go Seductive is the smallest hit single to date to carry a 50 Cent credit. Still, it has done enough to ensure that 50 Cent has now had an astonishing six Top 40 hits in 2005 alone.
Just creeping into the very bottom of the Top 10 are Finnish rockers HIM with their first hit single in over a year. Their last single Solitary Man saw them crack the Top 10 for the very first time when it peaked at Number 9 in May 2004 and with the brand new track Wings Of A Butterfly they consolidate that position nicely. Developing a theme here Wings Of A Butterfly is so retro it shouldn't really be cool, a track that calls to mind memories of the mellower moments of 80s goths such as The Mission.
For real retro uncoolness, however, we need look no further than Number 11 and yet another hit single for Status Quo. The Quo have had their highest level of mainstream attention in years lately, not because of their music but thanks to a headline-grabbing cameo in no less TV legend than Coronation Street. That exposure has doubtless helped the single no end and as a result The Party Ain't Over Yet storms the chart at Number 11. Even after the career renaissance, they have experienced in the past few years (which has seen them grab Top 20 hits for the first time in a decade) this single is one of their best chart performances in a long time, sailing close to giving them their first Top 10 hit since 1990. Number 11 still is pretty impressive, especially for a band who are fast approaching the 40th anniversary of their first hit singles - and hey, if it is good enough for the Rolling Stones it is good enough for them. Status Quo are too easy to take lazy potshots at, all the "three chords and no more" jokes have been done to death a thousand times. Let us instead celebrate the fact that in their long career they have carved out more than their fair share of party classics and if The Party Ain't Over Yet doesn't at least make you want to tap your feet along then musically you are dead inside surely.
The only other Top 20 new entry this week arrives at Number 14. The Notting Hill Carnival now almost always guarantees that at least one hit single arrives on the charts thanks to being played to death on the sound systems at the annual event and this year the honour goes to soca star Jamesy P with the novelty track Nookie, the lyrics of the track detailing his search for the titular clothes-free shenanigans. One of those singles you will either love or hate but which always sounds just great when played on a hot day with the sun streaming through the car windows. As I write this, of course, it is a grey September morning with a hint of rain in the air. Sometimes with hit singles timing is everything.
Finally, this week let us touch on the biggest of the also-rans, Jem's Wish I which lands on the chart at Number 24. Always one of the better tracks from the Finally Woken album, the single arrives on the chart as the follow-up to the possibly more challenging Just A Ride. Diminishing returns on her hit singles (so far she has hit 6, 16 and now 24) suggests that for good or ill she is going to be one of those stars who sells more albums than she does singles. Back in the 1980s record companies discovered that repeatedly mining albums for hit singles helped prolong sales but now in the 21st century it seems that there are some artists for whom the reverse is true. Jem's debut hit They went Top 10 and helped to propel its parent album into the Top 10. I'm not completely convinced that Just A Ride and now Wish I will have helped to shift that many more copies - and sadly their understated singles chart performances will have done little to raise her mainstream profile. For those that love her, she may remain a very well kept secret.