Before 2007 you would have to scan the records as far back as 1995 to find a year with three different singles spending as long as five weeks each at the top. Instead, we now find 2008 marking the second year in succession that the trio has been completed as I Kissed A Girl joins Now You're Gone and Mercy in extending its run at the top into a second month.
What was theoretically going to be a titanic battle for the very top of the singles chart eventually turned into a bit of a damp squib with Eric Prydz and Pjanoo never looking likely to overhaul the Katy Perry juggernaut and give us an all too rare instrumental Number One hit. With both of the top two singles going physical, it was actually the Katy Perry single that surged in sales, the CD and vinyl versions of the Eric Prydz track barely lifting his sales at all.
The real threat to Katy Perry's crown lies just one place below as the biggest new hit of the week makes an instant Top 3 smash. Born from the famous Burlesque dance act, the Pussycat Dolls were transforming into singing superstars back in 2005 thanks to some clever choice of material and the swift realisation that frontwoman Nicole Scherzinger clearly had more to offer than just a nice pair of legs. First single Don't Cha set the ball rolling by going straight to Number One in late 2005 and subsequently spending most of the next year on the chart, and was followed in short order by four more Top 10 hits including the drippy ballad Stickwitu which followed their first hit to very top of the chart.
Now after a brief hiatus, while Nicole attempted a misfiring solo run, the Pussycat Dolls are back to see if lightning can strike twice. Well if it hasn't it was a damn near miss. New single When I Grow Up lodged itself at the top of the rankings of most of the online stores within a few hours of being made available and has ended the week as their fifth Top 3 hit with the potential for even greater things to come. The track itself follows their usual formula (or should that be lack of it), firing off in about seven different directions at once and neatly challenging all perceptions as to what an R&B hit should sound like. I'm tempted to suggest that Rodney Jerkins and his team of writers maybe should have spent a little more time giving the track an actual tune but there is no doubting that once again this is a single that makes you sit up and pay attention, something that I may have said many times before it really all you can ask of a worldwide smash hit single.
The PCDs are the only major activity in an otherwise only slightly adjusted Top 10, but once more the bottom half of the Top 20 is a different story. Miley Cyrus leads the way with her single See You Again clearly still with sales to hoover up - the disturbingly faultless teen star charges 23-14 to make the Top 20 for the very first time in her career.
New at Number 16 are Gym Class Heroes with new single Cookie Jar, the lead track from a digital single marketed as the Patches From The Quilt EP to herald the release of their new album The Quilt which hits the shops later this month. The new hit is their first since the New York group made their British breakthrough in 2007 with the hits Cupid's Chokehold and Clothes Off!, both singles memorably based around some famous hits of the past, although third single 'The Queen And I' was a mysterious flop, missing the main singles chart altogether despite a full physical release. The new single refreshingly moves away from the old hit recycled formula and allows the group to stretch their songwriting legs properly. Special guest on the single is The-Dream, aka singer and songwriter Terius Nash who could be forgiven for deciding to retire and never work again given that his name appeared on the credits for a certain song called Umbrella which you might remember from last year.
Now to the single that lands at Number 17, which if you believe everything Radio One is telling you is the cult sensation of the summer and the track that has the whole nation dancing. Steve Mac's Paddy's Revenge is one of those devastatingly simple ideas that works so well you wonder why everyone hasn't been doing it for years - taking what sounds like a traditional Irish reel and marrying it to some techno beats to conjure up an instant party smash hit. Almost overnight a popular meme has sprung up around the song, with people dancing to the song in the most unlikely of public places and uploading the resulting videos to YouTube [or at least so the PR company behind them attempted to convince people. This was a misfiring attempt to make the track go viral, thus by the back door inventing Haarlem Shake five years early]. The music at the heart of the single is one of those pieces of music that is instantly familiar to many without anyone being aware of what it is actually called. Paddy's Revenge is actually based on Music For A Found Harmonium as performed by Irish band Patrick Street back in the 1980s. Their recording has been used on countless film soundtracks, TV commercials and as a backing for anything requiring an even vaguely Irish flavour to the extent that it is probably the most ubiquitous Irish jig in popular culture - all of which makes its transformation into a club track even more inspired. What is maybe more surprising given the level of hype attached to it is that the single has only made Number 17. Either this is a slow start for a track that is destined to become a cult classic, or once again the Radio One presenters queuing up to hype it to the hills have proved that they don't quite have their fingers on the pulse of popular culture to the extent they believe.
Music For A Found Harmonium, of course, predates even the famous Patrick Street recording, having been originally written by the late Simon Jeffes for the famous Penguin Cafe Orchestra. The works of the legendary jazz collective have spawned many covers, reinterpretations and cultural reference points over the years but precious few have ever been turned into proper pop hits. I was tempted to set a trivia quiz, asking which Britpop-era group used a PCO track as the inspiration for their most famous hit but the answer is actually far too easy to find - so step forward Spacehog who took Telephones And Rubber Bands as the basis for their 1996 single In The Meantime. Obviously, you knew that already...
Just missing out on a Top 20 place is the lady who is one of the aforementioned five-week Number One stars of 2008. Duffy has already proved that she is no one-hit wonder with Warwick Avenue having had a lengthy run at the top end of the singles chart, even with continual pressure from the still charting Mercy. Now she seems set for a third big hit as Stepping Stone charges to Number 21 this week. Although there was apparently some indecision as to what the third single proper from the album was to be (Serious under consideration at one point), the decision to go with Stepping Stone makes sense given it was one of the most popular tracks when her album Rockferry was released back in March, the track garnering enough solo sales to creep to the bottom end of the Top 100.
Ten places below at Number 31 is much-lauded soul singer Bryn Christopher who makes his Top 40 debut with second single Smilin', this after debut hit The Quest missed the Top 40 by inches earlier in the summer. Another powerfully voiced star to rival established names such as Paulo Nutini and James Morrison, Christopher first came to people's attention thanks to support slots with Amy Winehouse at the tail end of last year. A series of appearances on the undercard of several festivals this summer was clearly designed to push him to even greater things, so the rather lacklustre performance of his singles to date remains something of a puzzle.
Now we all love comebacks, don't we? Few people would dispute that the celebrated reappearance of Take That two years ago made a great many people happy and even produced its fair share of classic singles along the way. Was anyone seriously awaiting the return of New Kids On The Block though? Well, they are back regardless. The group were formed as teenagers at the tail end of the 80s by svengali Maurice Starr. After a stuttering start and an initial flop album, they had a short but spectacular run of fame in the United States in 1989 and 1990 which also found its way to these shores, to the extent that they continued to have hits in the UK long after their stars had faded stateside. The group disbanded after attempts to go for a more adult market ended in failure in 1994 and perhaps surprisingly solo hits from the group were few and far between - a shame actually as Jordan Knight's 1999 single Give It To You was a true guilty pleasure.
Their 2008 comeback follows several abortive attempts to persuade them to reunite in the past and I have to confess I'm watching the results with a kind of morbid curiosity. Check out Summertime for yourself below. Number 34 first week out isn't exactly impressive, but there must still be some people out there hankering for the boys they had as pinups eighteen years ago, aren't there?