Sometimes the inevitable does happen. Was it really ever conceivable that America's pop sensation of the year was not going to also top the singles chart here? For the second time in recent months, the US and UK singles charts are perfectly synchronised with I Kissed A Girl by Katy Perry sitting prettily at the very top. As we mentioned last week, I Kissed A Girl boasts Cathy Dennis and Max Martin amongst its credited songwriters, making this the first chart-topping single penned in part by the pair since About You Now by the Sugababes at the tail end of last year. Also picking up his share of the royalties is Max Martin whose prodigious songwriting talents have not rewarded him with a Number One single in this country for what seems like years. In actual fact it is - the last Max Martin co-composition to top the singles chart here was Britney Spears' Oops! I Did It Again way back in 2000 and the halcyon days of the Cheiron studios hit factory.
With Katy Perry arriving at the top and with Kid Rock's spell at Number One lasting all of a week, we are in the quite unusual situation of having the Top 3 populated entirely by Number One hits, Dizzee Rascal still clinging on at Number 3 with Dance Wiv Me. The next highest charting former Number One is Coldplay's Viva La Vida which faded quickly after its spell at the top back in June but which now is starting to gain its long-expected second wind now that it is officially a single and has a video to accompany it. The track turns and walks four places, rising 18-14.
So now to The Verve, a band whose long and storied history is pretty much defined by the stormy relationship between lead singer and chief songwriter Richard Ashcroft and guitarist Nick McCabe. The tale begins in the late 1980s when the group formed in Wigan whilst still at school. Signed to a major label in 1993, they released two well-received albums until Ashcroft and McCabe decided they hated each other too much to carry on and split the back in 1995. Two years later they made up and reformed to release the near-legendary Urban Hymns album which featured famous singles Bitter Sweet Symphony and The Drugs Don't Work only for the pair to discover during the subsequent tour that they still hated each other after all. By 1999 The Verve were finished once again, this time apparently for good after Ashcroft embarked on a well-received if unspectacular solo career. You can probably guess what is coming next - last summer Ashcroft announced that the group had buried the hatchet once again and following some low key warm-up gigs they returned to the studio to record what would be only their fourth full studio album and their first in almost eleven years.
The lead single from the new album was always going to be a smash hit, particularly after their triumphant return to the Glastonbury stage earlier in the summer where they closed their set with the new song. So it proves, with Love Is Noise landing effortlessly at Number 5 on digital sales alone and in what must be a commanding position for when it goes physical next week, singles which are almost certain to be snapped up by legions of old-school fans keen to get their hands on the first piece of merchandise from their heroes in over a decade. Critical reaction to the track itself has been mixed, to say the least, the song winning as much praise for its trademark addictiveness and energy as it has criticism for being, well, not quite what people expected as well as sounding disturbingly like The Mission in places. Needless to say, you have to listen to it with an open mind. To expect them to reunite and simply pick up where they left off a decade ago is wishful thinking, to say the least. Love Is Noise is the sound of The Verve making records for 2008 and seen in that context it is nothing less than magnificent.
Needless to say, the return of The Verve has had a beneficial effect on sales of their back catalogue. The Urban Hymns album rises to Number 61 whilst its most famous cut Bitter Sweet Symphony languishes at Number 64 having already appeared at Number 58 earlier in the summer. These are its first singles chart appearances since its original 1997 run where it peaked at Number 2.
The final new arrival to the Top 10 is Disturbia from Rihanna which soars 34-9 to put to rest any fears that this would be a single too far from the Good Girl Gone Bad album. For those keeping track, this is now effectively the seventh hit in a row to be spawned by the long player and the fifth to go Top 10. The first four were from the original release; Umbrella, Shut Up And Drive, Hate That I Love You and Don't Stop The Music all released last year. 2008 saw the "reloaded" re-release of the disc with new tracks added, opening the way for Take A Bow, Disturbia and the Maroon 5 collaboration If I Never See Your Face Again to all invade the singles chart. Few and far between are the albums which are successfully mined for as many as seven Top 40 hits, Good Girl Gone Bad the first I can easily recall since janet from Janet Jackson managed the feat between 1993 and 1995. Excluding after the fact compilations of hit singles, the all-time record is held by Bad by Michael Jackson which between 1987 and 1989 saw no less than nine of its eleven tracks released as singles with all but one reaching the Top 20.
With Rihanna's last hit Take A Bow still selling strongly at Number 18 she yet again manages the feat of two simultaneous Top 20 hits, an honour she shares this week with the Ting Tings who have both Shut Up And Let Me Go at Number 11 and former Number One That's Not My Name still clinging on doggedly at Number 20.
New to the Top 40 at Number 23 is the all-star trio of Nelly, Akon and Ashanti with Body On Me. The track is Nelly's second hit of the year, the follow-up to Party People which peaked at Number 14 in early June with Fergie on co-vocals. Unusually for an R&B collaboration, Body On Me can claim a shared ownership as it not only features on Nelly's current Brass Knuckles album but is also featured on Ashanti's own The Declaration. This actually gives the single more than the usual curiosity value as neither album is currently selling in sufficient quantities to claim a place in the Top 100. Come seven days time, who will have benefitted the most from the chart performance of the single?
Finally, for this week, consider for a moment the strange career of Eurodance stars Cascada who are in the strange position of being only able to have hits with insanely bad cover versions of old songs rather than their own rather more credible compositions. Thus the singles from their second album have followed this pattern with their take on What Hurts The Most making Number 10 just before Christmas only for the follow-up What Do You Want From Me to flop badly last April at Number 51. The German group make their Top 40 comeback this week at Number 28 with their own extraordinary take on Because The Night. Co-written by Bruce Springsteen, the track making Number 5 in 1978 for Patti Smith and to this day ranking as one of the great rock performances ever. So here of course lies the critic's dilemma. Compared to the original, the Cascada remake is an insult, taking one of the most famous songs of its era, stripping it of all emotion and regurgitating it as brainless dance gunk. Hear it with no knowledge of its history however and it is actually enormously appealing, a great song immaculately produced and a storming dancefloor anthem. It all begs the question - which is the correct approach to take?