For the people who haven't heard yet... yes it's true. Last night, Westlife nabbed their 14th UK number one for The Rose, beating out the Green Day/U2 collaboration. They were number two in Ireland, beaten by the same UK runner-up.
They now equal Cliff Richard for the 3rd most UK number ones of all time, beaten only by the Beatles (17) and Elvis Presley (21).
But there's a strange sort of excitement surrounding the single. It's a decent song, yes, and it's very exciting that Westlife have managed another number one, but if you read the comments from fans, there's an opinion that seems to pop up a lot.
"I don't really like the song, but I'm so glad they've gone number one! They deserve it!"
It's an odd sort of mentality, to be supporting a song you really don't like all that much. Of course, it's the Westlife-factor that does it. Support your band to the end, regardless of what they release, but if you don't agree with the covers direction and don't really like the song, should you be supporting it at all? And what's with this 'deserving' thing? It seems that releasing a single at all is enough to deserve a number one, for some fans.
I know I bought the single. I quite like The Rose, but admittedly I was much more interested in hearing the b-sides. Which I could have downloaded from the internet for free and still not offered my support. I hate that they're turning into a covers band, I don't really want to support it, but I still bought the single.
But if a single isn't successful they do learn from the experience. Look at Hey Whatever. One of the most exciting, fun, GOOD songs they've ever released, it was a semi-cover (same music, different lyric to de-gayify it) of a Relish! song that Mark found, and was recorded on the proviso that if it didn't go to number one, the next song they'd release would be Mandy, a saccharine Barry Manilow cover.
It went to number 4. They released Mandy.
And they've not looked back from covers since.
So what would happen, then, if their covers started to fail? If the original, interesting stuff was doing better than the covers?
Well, one option would be that they'd stop recording them and start looking up the aforementioned original, interesting stuff. The other option would be that maybe - just maybe - they'd lose heart and stop recording at all.
And I think that's what frightens a lot of fans. It's the theory that if we do not offer our undying, militant support to every single, the lads will think we don't like them anymore. Ridiculous, yes (they didn't stop when Hey Whatever went number four, did they?), but it's a fear a lot of fans seem to hold. Or maybe, like me, they're just extremely anally retentive when it comes to single buying. Either way, we've reached a stalemate. They won't stop releasing covers, and we won't do anything about it.
Which one affects the other? Do we not do anything because they wouldn't stop? Or do they not stop because we're not doing anything? Either way, they still have our money in their pockets.
Or maybe it's hope that this is just a phase they'll grow out of, and next time we'll get this 'original album' they've been promising.
If we don't, we'll still eat it up with a giant spoon.
But there's always a point where you get full. When you get sick of reheated leftovers and go looking for some fresh fruit.
Not yet, apparently.