It was with a grim (or, perhaps joyful) sense of inevitability that the most popular, most talked-about and most listened to pop record on the planet right now ascends gracefully to the top of the UK singles chart this week. Shouldering The Script out of the way is Korean pop sensation Psy with the inescapable "Gangnam Style". As has been previously noted on these pages it is the first Korean language track to be a hit of any kind in the UK and so by definition it is the first Number One single of its tongue ever.
Moreover it is the first foreign language chart-topping single for many a long year in the UK, the perceived British insularity towards music whose meaning is not immediately discernible means that pop hits in languages other than English are few and far between - and when they do appear they are invariably little more than novelty offerings. Although recent years have seen tracks such as "Loca People", "Hips Don't Lie" and "The Ketchup Song" top the charts featuring lyrics in Spanish, all three restricted their foreign tongue to brief snatches, and in the case of the third it was a specially recorded English version of the track which was released here (echoes of "99 Red Balloons"). The last Number One single to feature no English lyrics at all was Yolanda Be Cool's "We Speak No Americano" in July 2010, but prior to that you have to look as far back as Enigma's "Sadness (Part 1)" which topped the charts briefly at the start of 1991 and which was performed in a mixture of Spanish and Latin. Two further foreign language tracks hit the top during the 1980s - Julio Iglesias' Spanish "Begin The Beguine" in 1981 and Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus" which was performed predominantly in German. To be pedantic, the Yolanda Be Cool, Iglesias and Falco feature brief lines of English - but then again so does "Gangnam Style" as part of Psy's cries of "Hey, sexy lady".
A Top 10 largely bereft of big new hits leaves the door open for some existing chart songs to reassert chart placings. Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Getting Back Together" rebounds further to Number 4 after dropping as low as Number 8 and in the process lands its highest chart placing to date. Swift can boast two side by side Top 40 hits this week as her newest track "Begin Again" makes a chart debut at Number 30 as the final taster for her album Red which hits the stores at the end of this month.
Mind you if she thinks that is impressive, she needs to check out Ne-Yo. He has two singles in the Top 10 alone this week with his own "Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)" at Number 5 and the Conor Maynard single "Turn Around" on which he guests jumping nine places to Number 9 this week.
Watch "Turn Around"
DJ Fresh's last three singles have all been instant Top 10 hits but although his fourth in the last year is the highest new entry of the week this week "The Feeling" falls foul of the law of diminishing returns and can only make Number 13 in its first week on release. Perhaps slightly more notable and indeed far more quirky is the appearance at Number 16 of Paloma Faith with her take on the 1988 INXS hit "Never Tear Us Apart". The cover version is the latest of a series of singles to flow from TV commercials for John Lewis, following the likes of Slow Moving Millie's "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want" and Ellie Goulding's take on Elton John's "Your Song". The original version of "Never Tear Us Apart" peaked at Number 24 in June 1988 and has inevitably benefitted from a surge in interest following the Paloma Faith cover, sitting at Number 92 this week after reaching Number 58 seven days ago when it was the only version of the track available.
Listen to "Never Tear Us Apart"
There is slightly more activity at the top end of the UK albums chart this week with a new entry at Number One for Mumford and Sons with Babel. Their second chart album, it just beats the Number 2 peak of their debut Sigh No More to give them a first ever chart-topper, in the process selling 159,000 copies to clock up the biggest weekly sale of the year to date. Meanwhile the album's lead single "I Will Wait" reasserts its position as their biggest hit to date, climbing to a new high of Number 12.
Curiously the folk band are the only new arrivals to the album chart this week to boast a current hit single of any kind. Landing at Number 2 are Green Day with Uno, the first in what is promised to be a trilogy of album releases over the next few months. Despite several singles having preceded the album release, none have registered on the Top 100 at all.
Meanwhile they may have finished runners-up in Britain's Got Talent this year but as the most viable recording act in the competition it was inevitable that operatic duo Jonathan & Charlotte would hit the charts sooner rather than later. Their debut album Together storms in at Number 5 this week, not quite Susan Boyle territory admittedly but enough to justify the faith put in them by everyone who voted for them. Finally to round off the album chart Top 10, Canadian dance producer Deadmau5 arrives at Number 9 with the wittily named > Album Title Goes Here <.
To finish this week, remember the saga of X Factor contestant Lucy Spraggan and her self-released album which was pulled from the shelves a few weeks ago when it was in severe danger of turning her into a chart star before the competition had even started? Well the absence of her product has inevitability worked to the advantage of the music industry's bottom-feeders, namely the soundalike cover version factories. Hence the cash-in appearance of badly made renditions of Spraggan tracks such as "Tea And Toast" at Number 52 and "Last Night" at Number 74, both credited to Big Hits 2012. Nothing anyone can do to stop this of course, except perhaps trust in people to have more sense than to hand over money for them.