Back when The Cure were starting out, in the post-punk era of “Killing An Arab” and “10.15 Saturday Night,” the idea of a commercial hit single would probably have been the last thing on their minds. Robert Smith and the band were all about building credibility through edgy, atmospheric performances and recordings, as they released formative albums such as Three Imaginary Boys and Seventeen Seconds. But in 1983, the Top 10 came to them, with “The Lovecats.”
After five 45s in a row that charted consistently, but all peaked outside the UK Top 30, The Cure’s audience was building in the singles market, too. Earlier in 1983, “The Walk” took them into the Top 20 for the first time, at No.12. The next step was the Top 10, and “The Lovecats” was the song to do it. In typically unconventional Cure style, the song wasn’t on a regular studio album, appearing as a stand-alone single until it featured on the compilation Japanese Whispers towards the end of 1983. That was the set that gave the band their first US album chart appearance.
Alternative, but undeniably catchy
Undeniably catchy but true to the band’s alternative ethic, Robert Smith’s composition entered the UK chart on October 29, 1983, at No.24. It was a time when the commercial British pop of Culture Club, Duran Duran, and UB40 sat comfortably alongside the synth stylings of Depeche Mode and New Order. The commercial wave also embraced artists who had come through the new wave, including not just The Cure but Siouxsie and the Banshees, who had just been in the Top 10 with their cover of The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence.”
“The Lovecats” purred its way into the Top 20 in its second week, hitting No.12, then No.10 and finally peaking in mid-November at No.7. It would be nearly six years before the Cure bettered that singles performance, with a No.5 peak for “Lullaby.”
Buy or stream “The Lovecats” on the compilation Japanese Whispers.