1 SETTING SUN (Chemical Brothers)
Alright so the rules of nature state quite plainly and categorically that there is no such thing as a sure thing, but even so there was a sense of inevitability about this one. Following their success with the Number 13 hit Loops Of Fury earlier this year the Chemical Brothers capitalise on their ever-growing popularity and charge straight to the top of the charts. Of course there is more to it than that, the overwhelmingly distinguishing feature about this track is the presence of one Noel Gallagher on guitar and vocals. The Oasis songwriter has been recently playing down his contribution to the track but there is clearly no escaping the reason for its phenomenal popularity. Released after a great deal of anticipation it could really do no other than shoot straight to the top of the charts, incredibly the 11th single this year to do so.
3 YOU'RE GORGEOUS (Baby Bird)
How is it, you may ask, that Baby Bird's second single of the year marks such an astonishing surge in their popularity, given that the first. Goodnight only reached Number 28 in August. The reason is quite simply that You're Gorgeous lives up to its title in every sense of the word. The rather lovely lilting ballad proves that talk of the Sheffield band being the Next Big Thing was completely justified. It's a wonderful lyric to boot, at first sounding like a romantic account of one half of a couple flattering the other with the sentiments of the title until halfway through you realise the song is actually being sung by a woman to the man who is about to exploit her. Brilliant. [A song about pornography and exploitation, so misunderstood that people would get married to it].
6 ROTTERDAM (Beautiful South)
It has been almost a year since the last Beautiful South single, the gentle Pretenders To The Throne which reached Number 18 and went some way to compensate for their inexplicable failure to release Dream A Little Dream as a single in this country. Despite the success of their Greatest Hits collection from which that single was taken the band had always struggled slightly with their chart positions, having only ever scored three top ten hits in their entire career. That is until this new single, sung entirely by Jaqueline Abbott whose performance is so mesmerising that Paul Heaton hasn't even bothered to join the band onstage when promoting the single. It is another guitar and piano driven ballad in the same countrified style as Everybody's Talking and with a lyric that has so far defied my attempts to analyse it. Quite simply the best single they have made in a long, long time and it can surely be no coincidence that the last time they released a track this popular and this successful was back in 1990 when A Little Time shot to Number One in its second week on the chart. You have been warned.
9 KEVIN CARTER (Manic Street Preachers)
Notching up hits now with such regularity that they are making it look easy the Manics score their third Top Ten hit of the year from the Everything Must Go album. Kevin Carter is every bit as good as every other track on their recent masterpiece but as one of the less commercially appealing tracks is likely to suffer an even swifter in-and-out performance than their other singles this year.
11 STAMP! (Jeremy Healy and Amos)
How do two successful pop musicians from the early 1980s make one of the hippest dance records of 1996? Very easily apparently. Healy began the last decade as the male half of Haysi Fantaysee whose biggest hit was the somewhat remarkable 'John Wayne Is Big Leggy' in 1982. When the groups brief star faded he turned to dance music, forming the E-Zee Posse who had a Top 20 hit in 1990 with the controversial Everything Starts With A E. Ever since then he has become one of the country's most successful DJs, his remixing talents much in demand and his name being prominent on the labels of many of the more popular dance mix compilations. Amos was part of the scene in the early 80s as well, albeit merely as a session musician, playing with acts such as Culture Club. After months as an underground smash the collaboration between the pair surfaces, one of the most manic dance hits of the year, every bit as percussive as the title suggests.
12 LOVE II LOVE (Damage)
At the risk of being scathing Damage are "another boy band", this time being sold as the British 3T. Their first single is helped by an innovative video and shoots straight into the Top 20 to give their career a major boost right at the start.
14 YOUR SECRET LOVE (Luther Vandross)
Another artist with his first release since a Greatest Hits collection is Luther Vandross who last charted at the back end of last year with a re-release of The Best Things In Life Are Free. The new single is the title track from a forthcoming new album, his first of original material for three years. His constant but somehow inconsistent run of hits over the years has meant he has found a formula for success and sticks to it rigidly but tracks like this suggest he is in danger of stagnating, Your Secret Love could have been released in 1987 and would still not have sounded out of place.
18 IF YOU DON'T WANT ME TO DESTROY YOU (Super Furry Animals)
The third hit of the year for the Welsh band, matching the peak of their last single Something For The Weekend.
24 RHYTHM OF MY HEART (Runrig)
Phrase of the week is clearly "Greatest Hits" and as we approach Christmas it is one that is likely to be used more and more. The latest act to issue a career retrospective are Runrig, the all-time top Celtic rock band who in recent years have broken away from the regional appeal that had hampered their chart success. Never before has a band in the UK had such a marked geographical appeal, their singles all becoming smash hits on the Scottish charts yet nationally they have only ever had one Top 20 hit, the commercial-driven An Ubhal As Airde. This new single to herald the hits retrospective is a curious choice, an ode to their native land first recorded by Rod Stewart in 1991 who took it to Number 3. Commercially it is a very sound choice with their version being distinctively different and removing much of Rod the Mod's schmaltz to give them their second biggest ever hit.
27 THINGS WE DO FOR LOVE (Horace Brown)
Horace Brown's second single of the year, following on from his Number 12 debut One For The Money back in May.
30 EVERYTHING (Sarah Washington)
Sarah Washington continues her transformation from a pop covers act to dance diva with her second hit of the year, in pretty much the same vein as Heaven, her last single which made Number 28 back in May. Her biggest hit remains her dance remake of I Will Always Love You which reached Number 12 in 1993.