1 DISCOTHEQUE (U2)
Where there are chart records I suppose there are occasions when they are meant to be broken and this week is just such an occasion. First of all in the matter of the Number One position which for the first time ever sees the sixth different single in as many weeks take up residency. Although twice in the 1960s the Number One slot changed hands six times in as many weeks, both of those involved just five records. The procession of chart-toppers by the Spice Girls, Tori Amos, White Town, Blur and LL Cool J is now rounded off by one of the most eagerly awaited new singles of the year. The first new single in over 18 months from one of the biggest bands in the world could hardly fail to be big, and it duly becomes a massive smash hit and the third Number One hit for the Irish band following on from Desire in 1988 and The Fly in 1991. Interestingly enough both of those singles were the lead track from what was at the time an unreleased album. Desire preceded the release of Rattle And Hum; whilst The Fly was a trailer for Achtung Baby. Note that the only album U2 have released since was Zooropa in 1993 but which had no single to trail it and indeed only spawned one single in the shape of Stay (Faraway So Close) which was not released until six months later. However, any theories that all brand new U2 singles are guaranteed to reach Number One are knocked back by the presence of Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me which despite being a one-off for the Batman Forever soundtrack, could only reach Number 2, in June 1995. As you would expect from U2 these days they have reinvented themselves yet again, producing an astonishing single that has clearly appealed to their fans but which the casual listener will find to be little more than a cacophonous mess... suggesting that next week we could see the seventh Number One hit of the year.
2 WHERE DO YOU GO (No Mercy)
Plaudits for No Mercy as they register a surge in sales to remain at Number 2 for a second week. In many ways this is probably the most worthy hit single of the moment as although it may never reach Number One has already proved itself to have more staying power than most of the records that have outsold it each week.. you can guarantee it will end up selling more copies than Beetlebum and that in itself speaks volumes.
3 CLEMENTINE (Mark Owen)
He may have been the third former Take That member to release a solo single but he becomes the first to manage a followup. Whilst the careers of Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams attract the most media attention, Mark Owen has simply got on with the business of making hit records. The album Green Man may have disappointed slightly but in terms of singles success he is certainly holding his own. The new single instantly matches the peak scaled by Child just prior to Christmas and in many ways is actually the better single. By no means an out and out pop stormer but a rather impressively written song which suggests that this is no former teen idol trying to prolong his career but an artist worthy of former attention.
4 BARREL OF A GUN (Depeche Mode)
A welcome return to the charts for Depeche Mode who over the last year appeared to have self-destructed following a series of well-publicised problems. The traumas behind them, they continue to stake their claim as the Godfathers of alternative music. Certainly they are in danger of looking a bit long in the tooth these days, having first charted back in the synth-pop days of 1981. This is their 22nd Top 20 hit and the eighth to make the Top 10. More impressively Barrel Of A Gun matches the peak of People Are People back in March 1984 to become their biggest ever hit single. These days of course they have come a long way from the out and out pop brilliance of their early work, guitars having all but replaced synthesisers in the mix and a dark ponderous tone having replaced any semblance of commercial melody but they are still darlings to their fans and I suspect this is just the first of a number of hit singles from them over the next few months.
7 AIN'T TALKIN' 'BOUT DUB (Apollo Four Forty)
Amidst the seemingly endless procession of dance acts flying in and out of the Top 40 recently it is refreshing to be able to acknowledge the work of one act who are genuinely trying to push the boundaries. Apollo Four Forty had their biggest sucess to date last year with Krupa which mixed the jazz rhythms of Gene Krupa to a 1990s dancefloor beat and ended up with a Top 30 hit used prominently in a TV advertising campaign. For the followup they go even better and sample an old Eddie Van Halen guitar riff to wonderful effect, one of the best fusions of rock and dance heard in a long long time. The result is their biggest hit ever and an instant Top 10 smash.
8 REMEMBER ME (Blueboy)
Remember Me swims against an otherwise unstoppable tide and becomes one of the few upwardly mobile records in the Top 40 at present and reverses its decline of last week to land at its highest chart position yet.
9 SHE MAKES MY NOSE BLEED (Mansun)
Mansun have been threatening to have a smash hit for ages and it finally arrives with their first single of 1997. Each of their four singles last year charted higher than the last, Wide Open Space making Number 15 in December so it is only logical that their fifth Top 40 hit should be their first Top 10 single.
10 NOVOCAINE FOR THE SOUL (Eels)
To make chart history on your debut is quite a feat but that is precisely what the Eels have done. Novocaine For The Soul is the sixth record to enter the chart inside the Top this week, an all time record. The frontiers are constantly being pushed back and it is not inconceivable that one week will see every single Top 10 hit being a new entry [never happened, seven at once was the worst it ever got]. At some point there has to be a critical mass for this frantic turnover of chart hits. Britain is almost unique in the world for having such a fast-moving chart with singles entering high or not at all. Not that it is the fault of the system but mainly record companies themselves. Distribution is so efficient that many thousands of copies can be made available to shops the week of a singles release... and if that single has been released to radio anything up to six weeks beforehand a demand will have built up that will ensure that almost all of those stocks find their way off the shelves. Record companies may complain that the chart makes it hard to develop new acts but it is a monster of their own creation... would Mark Owen's single for example have charted quite so high if he had not begun promoting it before Christmas?
12 LET ME IN (OTT)
The latest boy band to challenge for teen adoration are OTT who crash into the Top 20 with their debut hit single following an exhausting promotional tour during the past few weeks. Having met them just before one such appearance last week I can confirm they are a lively group of Irish lads, clearly modelled on the formula that gave us Boyzone. Indeed their first hit single is an Osmonds cover, the original having made Number 2 in November 1973. Their rep from Epic records tried to deny to me it wasn't cynical... I remain unconvinced.
17 2 BECOME 1 (Spice Girls)
As America follows suit with Europe and falls at their feet the Spice Girls remain in the Top 20 here, sales of the former Christmas Number One holding up so well it actually rises a place this week. What is even more astonishing is that two of the singles that followed it at Number One have now fallen down the chart below them... Tori Amos and Blur landing at Numbers 28 and 29 respectively. Much attention will surround the release of the double a-side of Mama and Who Do You Think You Are... can they make history and become the first act ever to open their careers with four Number One hits? Release date is in March.
19 BANKROBBER (Audioweb)
Audioweb have been threatening to have a hit for a while, spending the whole of last year landing frustratingly short of the Top 40. They came closest with the second release of Sleeper whose pounding rhythms made it an obvious choice as the theme to Channel 4s Basketball coverage. I suspect their most famous anthem will be in line for a re-release now they have finally broken through with this, a well-interpreted remake of the Clash's 1980 Number 12 hit.
22 A.D.I.D.A.S. (Korn)
The second hit single for Korn, their first was No Place To Hide which made Number 26 in October last year.
24 INFERNO (Souvlaki)
One of the most underrated dance hits of the early 1990s was Summers Magic. A homemade track by DJ Mark Summers it was a frantic mix of samples and scratches all anchored around the theme music to the Magic Roundabout. Possibly too goofy to become a real smash hit, it could only reach Number 27 in February 1991. After that Mark Summers appeared to vanish, prefering to concentrate on producing and remixing for other people. Now he is back and in style as the brains behind this single by Souvlaki. At first glance Inferno could be mistaken for the followup to Stretch and Vern's summer hit I'm Alive as it features a frantically paced female rap over the loop of a celebrated 1970s disco classic - in this case Dan Hartman's original version of Relight My Fire. No a big hit unfortuantely but for sheer energy you would have to go a long way to beat this record.
29 BEETLEBUM (Blur)
Even for a single which was always going to have a limited shelf life this is an astonishing fall, Blur's former Number One tumbles to Number 29 in what is only its third week on the chart. If it fails to register a Top 40 placing next week it will set a new record for the briefest Top 40 stay of any Number One single ever.
31 ON A RAGGA TIP '97 (SL2)
Stand by for a wave of remixes and re-releases of early 1990s dance hits. The first of these is this reworking of SL2s 1992 Number 2 hit which was one of the first singles to bring the sound of dancehall ragga into the charts courtesy of its fusion with the rave beats of the day. At the time it was a long-running club smash and attracted unlikely praise from none other than Paul McCartney. Watch out for the reappearance of The Source and Robin S over the next few weeks.
32 SOMETIMES WHEN WE TOUCH (Newton)
Newton has for a long time been the subject of a concerted record company campaign to make him into a star. The potential teen idol has clearly chosen to do this by the safe method of reworking 1970s pop songs. His first attempt was in 1995 with a remake of Jigsaw's Sky High which despite a succession of re-releases failed to reach the Top 40. Finally the breakthrough is made with this rather anodyne cover of one of the most beautiful songs ever made. Dan Hill's 1978 Number 13 hit is one of those records which brings a lump to the throat and can melt even the hardest of hearts. For some reason always ignored by the compilers of those interminable love compilations it has become something of a lost pop classic. Newton's version is welcome in the sense that it brings the song to prominence after all this time, but this is still by no means the greatest version of one of the greatest love songs ever.
35 SECOND NATURE (Electronic)
They couldn't make a bad record if they tried, even if sometimes they don't become massive hit singles. The third single from the current album from Sumner and Marr falls some way short of the Top 20 placing managed by the previous two. They will be back, let's just hope there isn't a five-year wait this time round.
37 DAYS OF OUR LIVEZ (Bone Thugs-N-Harmony)
The third hit single for Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, this single taken from the soundtrack of the film 'Set It Off'. Their star doesn't shine quite as brightly over here that it does in America and this lowly position is likely to be as good as they get this time round.