1 BLOCK ROCKIN' BEATS (Chemical Brothers)
An instant and perhaps inevitable chart-topper, but only by a whisker. As the release of Setting Sun last October proved, the Chemical Brothers now command the kind of following that can propel their singles to the very top of the charts upon release, clearly even without the vocal contribution of Noel Gallagher. Vocals for this single (such as they are) come from Schooly D but by and large the single is a perfect example of the powerful industrial rhythms that for some reason have most journalists falling over their feet to praise them, except this one who finds their records a cacophonous mess, devoid of all musical content. It becomes their second Number One single by a margin of less than 1,000 copies and given the somewhat transient appeal of such a hardcore single, a return to the top for the Spice Girls is by no means out of the question next week.
4 NORTH COUNTRY BOY (Charlatans)
Timing their single releases carefully, the Charlatans finally followup last September's Top 3 hit One To Another. North Country Boy becomes their third Top 10 hit.
6 BELLISSMA (DJ Quicksilver)
An instant and predictable success for this single from DJ Quicksilver via the well-trodden route of continental club success, white label recognition and ultimate commercial release in this country.
7 FREE ME (Cast)
Another hit single for Cast, their first of the year and their fourth Top 10 hit in succession following the pre-Christmas success of Flying which became their first Top 5 hit. John Power's band appear to have a penchant for brief song titles, Free Me is their first single to have more than one word in its name.
8 HIT 'EM HIGH (THE MONSTARS' ANTHEM) (B Real/Busta Rhymes/Coolio/LL Cool J/Method Man)
For anyone with the slightest interest in rap, this record must be a mouthwatering prospect. The single from the 'Spacejam' soundtrack lands with a bang inside the Top 10 and must surely rank as one of the most comprehensive all-star rap singles ever [Spacejam must rank as one of the most poorly-received movies ever to have such a hit-laden soundtrack]. Such rap collaborations aren't actually all that uncommon, the Jungle Brothers' Doing Our Own Dang which featured guest appearances from Monie Love and De La Soul is one other that springs to mind. Back in 1977 the Philadelphia International Allstars reached Number 34 with Let's Clean Up The Ghetto although none of the artists involved were directly credited on the chart whilst in 1985 Dionne Warwick and Friends Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight reached Number 16 with That's What Friends Are For. Lists of superstar collabortations must surely include the various charity ensembles that have been assembled down the years but in recent years the only complete artists credit to rival Hit Em High was the 1989 charity version of Ferry Cross The Mersey released in aid of the Hillsbrough Disaster Fund which was credited to: (deep breath) Christians, Holly Johnson, Paul McCartney, Gerry Marsden and Stock Aitken and Waterman.
10 GOTTA BE YOU (3T featuring Herbie)
3T ease back on the shmaltz and go swingbeat with this new single. It is their fifth hit single, three of which of course have been slow soul ballads. All have made the Top 10, the exception being their only other uptempo hit 24/7 which could only manage Number 11.
11 D.I.S.C.O. (N-Trance)
The names of Kevin O'Toole and Dale Longworth may not mean much on their own but together they are N-Trance whose singles are nearly always runaway hits. They first appeared in 1994 with Set You Free which could only nudge the Top 40 first time round but became a smash Top 3 hit when re-released at the start of 1995. They followed it up later that summer with their astonishing take on the Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive which mixed the original song with a wonderfully commercial rap from Ricardo Da Force. Their first hit since last years' Electronic Pleasure is a wonderful return to that concept, this time taking apart Ottowan's 1980 Eurodisco classic and turning it into a 1990s dancefloor smash. Living proof that dance music at the end of the day is still pop music and that pop music is all about having fun.
12 WHERE CAN I FIND LOVE (Livin' Joy)
The enormously popular Livin' Joy notch up their first hit single of 1997 and are looking to emulate their achievements of 1996 when both Follow The Rules and Don't Stop Movin' became enduring Top 10 hits. If you couple those two with their 1995 Number One Dreamer it means that this new hit could well be their first to miss the Top 10 altogether. You can possibly put that down to bad luck, given the flood of new singles this week which have virtually wiped out last week's biggest selling singles.
13 CONSIDERATION (Reef)
Reef's second hit of the year, and the first from their current run of hits not to reach the Top 10. Attribute this to little more than the law of diminishing returns as the music from one of Britain's brightest rock bands is as strong as ever.
30 JUST PLAYIN' (JT Playaz)
Another manically-voiced dance hit, cleverly sampling parts of Sister Sledge's He's The Greatest Dance from the twisted mind of Mark Summers who has had one hit already this year in the shape of Inferno, which was credited to Souvlaki. The change of name is, I suspect, a sop to the culture of dance music which sets a great store on exciting new sounds from hitherto undiscovered artists and one which is, of course, open to abuse by people such as the charismatic Mr Summers.
31 2 BECOME 1 (Spice Girls)
I've commented before that there is no such thing as an unstoppable trend. This week is arguably one of the most top-heavy Top 40 charts ever, with nine of the Top 15 singles being new entries. You would expect the rest of the chart to be occupied by singles pushed out of the way, and by and large it is, the exception being the former Number One from the Spice Girls which suddenly has a new lease of life, re-entering the Top 40 having slipped out for the first time since its release when it landed at Number 44 last week. Nobody is sure exactly what has caused this sudden surge in sales but it means that 2 Become 1 becomes the second former chart-topper this year to re-enter the Top 40, following the example of the Dunblane single which made a brief reappearance a fortnight ago.
34 FREAK (Silverchair)
Ash may be championed as the recent giants of schoolboy rock, but most forget that Silverchair actually got there first, the Australian band were noted for having an average age of 16 when their first album Frogstomp was released two years ago. To herald their brand new album comes this single which rockets them into the UK Top 40 for the first time.
36 I'M NOT FEELING YOU (Yvette Michelle)
..to which the obvious response is possibly 'damn'. Sniggering innuendo aside, Yvette Michelle is a former prodigy of Funkmaster Flex, here with her first UK hit single.
37 PUT THE MESSAGE IN THE BOX (Brian Kennedy)
The first hit of 1997 for Brian Kennedy after his two Top 30 hits last year, the biggest of which was Life, Love and Happiness which reached Number 27 last September. The somewhat disappointing initial peak of this single suggests he will have to wait a little while longer until he is noted for more than being the only artist so far to appear on 'National Lottery Live' twice. The single is a cover of an old World Party song but has at least beaten the peak of the original which reached Number 39 in June 1990. The CD single also features his renditions of the Beatles' Free As A Bird and also Radiohead's Street Spirit.