Well if nothing else you cannot knock them for consistency. For the third time in four releases, McFly charge straight to the top of the singles chart, bringing to seven their tally of Number One hits. The hit is a double a-side, and whilst Transylvania becomes the third track from their Motion In The Ocean album to top the charts, most of the interest will be focused on the brand new recording which leads the single as it represents a long overdue chart triumph for a song from one of the most underrated bands of the 90s.
Power-pop trio Jellyfish were active in the early 1990s, the start of the decade marking the release of their first album Bellybutton. Crammed full of inspiring and uplifting pop tunes, singles such as The King Is Half Undressed and Now She Knows She's Wrong were instant radio hits both in their native US and in this country. In spite of this they never really caught on commercially. They had two Top 20 hits in the states and just one Top 40 single on these shores (The King Is Half Undressed creeping to Number 39 in January 1991). Their first album didn't even chart here and after one more long player release in 1993 the group dissolved, destined it seemed to remain a fleeting memory for those of us who were aware of them at the time.
All that changes this week as in one of the more inspired cover version choices of recent years, McFly take Baby's Coming Back, one of the best tracks from Bellybutton (and a Number 51 flop in its original version) and turn it into a certified Number One hit. It is almost enough to make you forgive the usual McFly shortcomings. Almost, but not quite. However much of a pleasure it is to hear a towering giant of a pop song given a suitably affectionate tribute and turned into a hit single for the first time ever, deep down we all know what is going to happen next. McFly are almost destined never to escape the teen-pop tag and as their dramatic chart tumble next week will demonstrate, this single just like all the others will be bought by a hardcore crowd of 12-year-old girls and quite literally nobody else. [Needless to say it is the lead track on the single which has a video, and not the one I've just wasted two paragraphs on].
With Beautiful Liar clinging on to Number 2, the Top 3 is completed by the expected surge by Akon's now fully released Don't Matter which moves 11-3 to become his second Top 3 hit of the year, or rather his third counting his appearance on Gwen Stefani's The Sweet Escape. The new single matches the peak of his last single in his own name, the Snoop Dogg duet I Wanna Love You which was a hit in January. It is his seventh Top 10 hit in all, his only chart appearance to date to fall short of the upper reaches being Young Jeezy's Soul Survivor which even an Akon appearance could not propel further than Number 16.
So to the second biggest new hit of the week and our chance to address Eurovision. With the transformation in this country of the Eurovision Song Contest into a three hour slice of gay chic reaching its zenith with the choice of Scooch's Flying The Flag (For You) as the UK entry it came as a delicious irony to see the song finish second to last on the night, whilst in the meantime Serbia and their lesbian prison guards ran away with the voting. Having escaped the zero point humiliation that looked on the cards at one stage (everyone holiday in Malta this summer), the reformed Scooch do at least have the consolation of charging straight to Number 5 with their failed slice of Euro-camp.
The four piece pop group had their first moment in the sun back in 1999 and 2000 when after winning a TV talent contest they were paired with producers Mike Stock and Matt Aitken who elected to turn them into a clone of Steps, who were of course produced by their former comrade Pete Waterman. Steps-lite started slowly with the Number 29 hit When My Baby but hit their stride a few months later, going Top 10 with More Than I Needed To Know and following it with underrated Top 20 hits The Best Is Yet To Come and For Sure. They never became superstars but their bubbly pop singles fitted the mood of the time perfectly and I confess I always had a soft spot for them. Seven years on their reform was prompted by Russ Spencer wanting to make a great Eurovision entry and although their colourful cabin crew dance routine and double-entendre sprinkled song ran away with the public vote in this country, Eurovision glory was not to be theirs. Still, they can take heart from the fact that Flying The Flag (For You) equals their best chart performance ever, beats the Number 8 peak of Daz Sampson's Teenage Life from last year and indeed becomes the biggest Eurovision hit single since Katrina and the Waves made Number 3 with their victorious 1997 entry Love Shine A Light.
The fact that the UK and other western European countries fail to light up the contest compared to the Eastern bloc has now become something of a Eurovision cliché in itself, overlooking of course the fact that it was as recently as 2002 that we were in contention for the prize, Jessica Garlick coming third that year with Come Back. Really the problem stems from two factors. First, as I mentioned earlier, is the elevation of the event as a moment of gay chic rather than inclusive, mainstream entertainment, resulting in the UK entering acts such as Scooch and Daz Sampson who may wow the crowd onstage at the London Astoria but who are regarded with bemusement by the rest of Europe. The second is the now notorious 2003 debacle which saw Jemini fail to score and kill their potential career off in one fell swoop. With the risk of that happening again, the acts and indeed songwriters who are willing to risk their reputations in this manner are few and far between. Hence Song For Europe ends up being a choice between faded stars desperate for one more moment in the limelight or no-mark performers whose talent wouldn't get them an audience any other way. There was a time when Eurovision was a celebration of pop brilliance and the chance to launch a career. In spite of their impressive chart performance, Scooch will be lucky to survive this one, the only saving grace being that as pop flops first time around they really had very little to lose.
Two other singles arrive in the Top 10 from lower down the chart, and as expected they are the full releases of already charting hits. Biggest winners are Linkin Park who move 17-6 with What I've Done and grab themselves their biggest ever chart hit, creeping past the Number 8 peak of In The End which gave them their first Top 10 hit in October 2001. Hopefully this will help them move on from the potential albatross of their last hit single, the mash up of their own Numb with Jay-Z's 'Encore', a collaboration which only peaked at Number 14 in December 2004 but which has been a continuous online seller ever since. After a brief Top 75 run in recent weeks, the two and a half-year-old hit dips to Number 81 this week. It will be back.
Also climbing slightly is Amerie with Take Control. She moves 13-10 to clock up a second Top 10 hit, although one still some way short of the Number 4 peak of 1 Thing from the summer of 2005. She causes a temporary reverse in the chart fortunes of Hellogoodbye who fall one place to Number 11 with Here (In Your Arms). They should reverse this next week with the addition of physical sales.
The Top 20 plays host to a multitude of chart climbers. Leading the pack here is the much hyped Jamie T who moves 34-15 with Sheila. Originally released last year, the single made Number 22 first time round as his debut hit and with this re-release now becomes his third Top 20 single. Hardly the most glamorous sounding of names, Sheila has nonetheless now been the subject of three hit singles. Tommy Roe took his ode to the lady in question to Number 3 in 1962 whilst 25 years later she became the subject of one of the biggest ever hit singles for The Smiths as Sheila Take A Bow hit Number 10.
Fancy a bit of Cymru rock? Then look no further than Number 16 and Funeral For A Friend with Into Oblivion (Reunion). Without ever really managing mainstream attention, the group have notched up 8 Top 40 hits since their chart debut in 2003. This new single now ranks as one of their biggest, their first Top 20 hit since Streetcar made Number 15 in June 2005 - that single for now ranking as their highest chart placing. New album Tales Don't Tell Themselves hits the shops this week.
Then there are Snow Patrol who arrive at Number 17 with online sales of Signal Fire, the track climbing from Number 50 last week. The song is their contribution to the 'Spiderman 3' soundtrack and becomes the first song from the film to become a hit single, prospects for a Top 10 placing looking fairly good with the physical release hitting the shops as we speak. For the moment it becomes their fifth Top 20 hit and their biggest chart single since the track we can't really avoid mentioning. Chasing Cars still proves to be the single from which they cannot move on. Now almost a year old, it is still on the chart at Number 51 this week, the first time it has been out of the Top 50 since it reappeared on the chart in the wake of the new chart rules back in January.
Brand new at Number 19 is another single which in the grand scheme of things should have made a bigger impact. The true soundtrack to the summer of 2004, Maroon 5's debut album Songs About Jane spawned a string of hit singles including the Top 5 hits 'This Love' and 'She Will Be Loved', turning the group into global superstars. Three years on (and a full five since the album was actually recorded) the group return in the hope that we haven't moved in in the intervening period. America embraced their comeback enthusiastically, the single Makes Me Wonder currently topping the Hot 100. Over here their return doesn't quite have the same luck, the new single creeping in to Number 19 on download sales, although the physical release should at the very least see it move towards the Top 10. The nagging feeling remains though, the track just isn't quite as inspired as their previous work.
The arrival on the chart of Makes Me Wonder does at least continue the notable parity between the US and UK charts, with almost all the Billboard Number One hits this year having also charted in the UK. The only exception to date is This Is Why I'm Not by MIMS but that should be corrected in a couple of weeks with the single due out here on May 21st. Not since 2001 has every US Number One also become a UK hit, although this gap is largely due to the fact that the singles from the American Idol winners are never internationally promoted.
Finally for this week pay attention to the Number 25 single Shine from Booty Luv, arriving on download sales as the follow-up to the Top 3 hit Boogie 2Nite. Like their last hit the track is an uptempo remake of a little regarded R&B joint [I really can't pull 'street' off very well can I?], the song having charted last year as a posthumous release from Luther Vandross, peaking at Number 50. Booty Luv are of course Nadia and Cherise from Big Brovaz who were themselves Song For Europe contenders. It could have all been so different...