1 SPACEMAN (Babylon Zoo)
Like leaves falling from the trees, the sales of Spaceman have been steadily slipping away over the last few weeks. The lead the single commanded over the chasing pack has kept it strong at the top but the end has been forecast for weeks. Babylon Zoo's tenure at the top of the charts is surely now going to come to an end after five weeks reigning supreme. This week see's the release of a new Oasis single followed by Take That next week, both of which will surely prove too much of a challenge to resist.
3 CHILDREN (Robert Miles)
The licence for this Italian track became available just before Christmas. It sparked off a bidding war between the main dance labels that was almost frightening in its ferocity. The battle was eventually won by DeConstruction records and their persistence has been amply rewarded with the biggest, and some would say the most surprising, new hit of the week. Robert Miles is one of the leading proponents of the Italian 'technotrance' movement and of which Children is one of its most famous recordings. The record is a gorgeous, ethereal electronic instrumental which mixes both techno and ambient to an astonishing effect. The track was destined to be big after the hype preceding its release but few people could have predicted that it would be a Top 3 hit. The cynics may suggest that it sounds like Jean Michel Jarre with a new drum machine but given my own genetic hatred of meaningless dance records, I bought this on the day it was released and have been playing it ever since.
7 STEREOTYPES (Blur)
This week is Brit awards week. Tonight (Monday) will see the annual ceremony to celebrate the best in British music. Much attention will be paid to the various awards for which both Blur and Oasis share nominations - another royal battle of the bands is on the cards. The televised ceremony will also inevitably result in a sales boost for the featured acts so it makes sense for them to have product out. Blur are first off the mark with Stereotypes, originally touted as the lead single from The Great Escape it now winds up as the third and lands an instant Top Ten position to follow on from the Number 5 reached by The Universal just before Christmas. Just prior to the release of this single there was speculation that there would be a repeat of last summers shenanigans with Oasis releasing a new single on the same day. As it turns out the much-delayed Don't Look Back In Anger is due out this week and is predicted to leave the Blur track standing. As I write, the outcome of tonight's ceremony is still open to question...
8 HYPERBALLAD (Bjork)
It's Oh So Quiet gave Bjork the biggest hit of her career, charging up to Number 4 and staying in the Top 10 until well after Christmas. She is now faced with the challenge of following on from that success, a challenge not helped by the way the aforementioned monster was so atypical of all her other material. So far that has not proved to be a problem as the fourth single from the Post album becomes the third to go straight into the Top Ten. Hyperballad is more typically Bjork, a stark electronic record setting off her astonishingly dexterous yodellings to a magical effect. It may not match ..Quiet for commercialism but it is a smash hit nonetheless.
11 ELECTRONIC PLEASURE (N-Trance)
N-Trance certainly don't believe in flooding the market with releases. Last year they released just two hit singles but both of them were spiritual chart-toppers, peaking at a frustrating Number 2. The first of these was the commercial jungle track Set You Free, followed by their frantic remake of the Bee Gees' Staying Alive in the summer. This new single sees them back on more conventional ground - although for 'conventional' you could read 'uninspiring' as this new hit is a simple electronic dance track that could have been produced by virtually anyone. Ricardo da Force's rapping saves the day but a chart peak to match their previous hits looks a bit unlikely.
12 COUNT ON ME (Whitney Houston and Ce Ce Winans)
'Waiting To Exhale' is no 'Bodyguard'. Cinema audiences over here are decidedly average and the soundtrack album has certainly failed to sell in vast quantities. That does not stop it containing some fabulous songs, the latest of which debuts here this week. Count On Me is in a similar vein to Exhale which peaked at Number 11 back in November. For this release she teams up with Ce Ce Winans which makes her the fourth time she has duetted with another artist on a single release. It is also her biggest duet hit ever, out of Teddy Prendergrass, Aretha Franklin and Bobby Brown, only her estranged husband has ever taken her into the Top 20.
15 GIVE ME A LITTLE MORE TIME (Gabrielle)
Helping Police with their enquiries into a murder investigation is hardly an auspicious way to try to relaunch your career after a break but this was precisely the situation Gabrielle found herself in a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately that little incident (still largely shrouded in mystery) [her ex-boyfriend beheaded his stepfather with a Japanese sword. Nasty business] has not affected the progress of her new single too much. Gabrielle shot to fame in mid-1993 with her single Dreams which set a record at the time for being the highest ever new entry from an unknown artist when it shot in at Number 2 before climbing to the top a week later (the last record, incidentally, to enter at Number 2 and subsequently top the charts). A massive hit like that was always going to prove a bit of a millstone and subsequent hits were not quite as big, her last being Because Of You which reached Number 24 in February 1994. The long break has clearly done her good because she explodes back with an utter classic. This new hit takes the classic Supremes handclap rhythm and slows it right the way down to create a sexy, ethereal effect over which she warbles a plaintive ballad. The result is easily the most gorgeous single this side of Robert Miles. The lady who turned an eyepatch into a fashion accessory when promoting her first album is back with a vengeance.
18 NEVER NEVER LOVE (Simply Red)
After the Number One success of Fairground it came as something of a shock just before Christmas when Remembering The First Time crashed out at Number 22. Looking at the form book it perhaps was not so surprising, Simply Red for all their success have often struggled to maintain a consistent strike rate with singles. Fairground was actually the exception to the rule, a smash hit single for Mick Hucknall et al that wasn't a cover of a soul classic. Hence the somewhat lowly entry point for this latest single, the third from the album, which clearly points in the direction of many previous Simply Red singles, a minor Top 20 peak but nothing too exciting beyond that.
19 ROOTS BLOODY ROOTS (Sepultura)
Just to prove that there is room for just about anything in the British charts, here come Sepultura, Brazil's most popular Death Metal band with their biggest ever hit. Proponents of serious 'heads down, chug away and pretend it is cool to be dead' rock they have had a brief flirtation with the singles chart before and just missed out on a Top 40 placing with Brave New World in June 1994. You would be hard pressed to find any single on release this week as utterly uncommercial as this and whilst a swift exit next week is assured the presence of the single is still cause to celebrate the "anything goes" culture of a chart that is based on nothing more than the records people choose to buy. Cheers.
20 WHAM BAM (Candy Girls)
An eagerly anticipated release, the Candy Girls explode onto the chart with yet another frantic piece of ludicrous dance. Lately it almost seems as if dance producers have discovered irony with Scooter and Technohead both joining this in the bestsellers this week.
21 SKIN ON SKIN (Grace)
A third hit single for Perfecto stars Grace, still living in the shadow of Not Over Yet their Number 6 classic from April last year. This new hit follows in the same vein as previous releases and follows their cover of Gavin Friday's I Want To Live which reached Number 30 back in September.
24 YOU LEARN (Alanis Morissette)
Virtually every magazine in the newsagents has an article on Alanis Morissette and her typification of the new breed of snarling, sneering female singer songwriters. After only a couple of minor hit singles here the Jagged Little Pill album has taken up residence in the Top 10 of the album chart and on the back of this comes her third hit single, landing just two places short of the peak of You Outta Know in August last year. She has yet to break the Top 20 but given the current success of Joan Osborne this is surely a matter of time.
25 PATHWAY TO THE MOON (MN8)
Unless you have just returned from an intergalactic trip you cannot fail to have noticed that it was Valentine's day this week. Mariah Carey and 3T virtually cornered the market in slushy ballads to be sent as Valentine gifts but MN8 make a brave late attempt with this rather brilliant track. Pathway To The Moon gives the young soulsters their fifth Top 30 hit almost exactly a year since I've Got A Little Something For You reached Number 2 and made them a pop force to be reckoned with.
27 HOLDING ON 4 U (Clock)
A fifth hit also for Clock, their first release of 1996 following on from their chart successes last year. Now that they have moved away from remakes of classic hits their star seems to have faded a little, this new track unlikely to progress beyond this Number 27 compared to their Top 10 successes with Axel F and Whooomph! There It Is.
31 WHO DO U LOVE (Deborah Cox)
The second hit single for Deborah Cox, following on from Sentimental which made Number 34 in November last year. She is currently being touted as the new Mariah Carey who of course in her day was the new Whitney Houston.
40 NEVER KNEW LOVE LIKE THIS (Pauline Henry featuring Wayne Marshall)
Since she left The Chimes a few years ago Pauline Henry has lurched her way through a solo career in a way that fails to do justice to the fantastic voice she has. Her biggest solo hit came in November 1993 with her soul-rock remake of Bad Company's Feel Like Making Love which peaked at Number 12. Followup singles in a similar vein such as the brilliant Can't Take Your Love fared less well, the aforementioned peaking at Number 30. Recently she has reinvented herself as a down the wire soul singer, reaching Number 37 with Love Hangover just before Christmas. This latest hit is a remake of the song which was taken to Number 26 by Alexander O'Neal and Cherelle in February 1988. For the male vocal on the duet she has teamed up with Wayne Marshall who is best known for his Number 29 hit Ooh Aag (G-Spot) from October 1994.