Two common complaints about the singles charts: one, the turnover of hits nowadays is stupidly high; two, the charts are full of ‘manufactured pop’. What doesn’t get mentioned is that these trends neutralize one another to a degree. Yes, every boy or girl group fissions after three albums and the solo careers get going, but the fragmented fanbase of these solo singers is so tiny that they’re almost guaranteed the briefest of stays in the Top 40. No.12 — No.32 — No.Nowhere — barely even time to for ageing DJs and grumpy musicians to complain.

Unless the song’s great, of course. And ‘great’ here can just mean ‘unusual’, because a kind of basic catchiness and pep can be taken for granted in professional pop nowadays. If you don’t dislike the default sound of British pop music — energetic, clubby, transatlantically sung, chorus-centered and a little thin in the production department — you won’t find very much to offend you in the current charts. But you won’t find many British pop songs to excite you, either. Far from drowning the charts in prefab crap, British pop is marginalized in its own Top 40 — singles like Lisa Scott-Lee’s mere conjunctions between the supremely sweet confections from Denmark, Russia, Jamaica, and (of course) the US. 2003 has been another fabulous year for the British Top 40, but it’s almost nothing to do with us. Jemini’s perfunctory Eurovision flop seemed to sum it up — it sounded so rote, so tired.

British producers can still make wonderful singles — ‘No Good Advice’! — but they generally don’t. The motor of innovation that drives American pop seems to have run down in the UK — and in the rest of the world, producing international pop stars may still be enough of a novelty to keep things fresh. (European chart hucksters aren’t scared of gimmicks, either, but that’s another story.). Meanwhile Lisa has another record out, and like the last one, like the next one, it’s OK.