1 BLOOD ON THE DANCEFLOOR (Michael Jackson)
It may have seemed inevitable, but believe it or not the concept of Michael Jackson being a certain candidate for Number One is a fairly recent innovation. Indeed it was not until September 1995 when You Are Not Alone made a triumphant climb to the top that Jacko's status as a genuine chart-topping star was re-established. That single of course was written by R Kelly and now Jacko returns the favour with a slight kick in the teeth by deposing him from the top of the charts. Blood On The Dancefloor is a brand new track taken from the forthcoming History Revisited collection of remixes and is nothing more, nothing less, than a typical full-on Jackson dance workout that fortunately gets the balance of groove over melody exactly right. It is his first Number One single since Earth Song was top of the charts for Christmas 1995 and is the seventh solo chart-topper of his career. That total puts him level in a curious tie with both Madonna and George Michael, the two acts whom you would pigeonhole with Jackson as the biggest stars of the last decade. Of course if you delve further into Jacko's past you can add the Jacksons' Show You The Way To Go to his list of Number One hits which would give him 8 - the same as er...Take That. Whether he can hang on for another week will be interesting as there is now a brief window in the release schedules with few major new releases on the horizon - at least for a few weeks until we all start doing the MMMBop.
3 BODYSHAKIN' (911)
It is far too easy to dismiss 911 as just another boy band as with every new single they switch styles with astonishing ease. Their first chart career began just under a year ago with a minor Top 40 entry with their cover of Shalamar's Night To Remember before switching to first gear with tracks such as Don't Make Me Wait and Love Sensation which called to mind 1990s Motown. The start of this year saw them in barber-shop harmony mode with the slushy The Day We Find Love and now they charge into the Top 3 for the first time ever with this track which moves away from the pop angle and finds the lads in a swingbeat groove.
4 LOVEFOOL (Cardigans)
The new "Romeo and Juliet" film is probably the most curious interpretation of Shakespeare ever, described by some reviewers as the Bard meets Pulp Fiction. The soundtrack of the film is something special too, featuring tracks from Mundy, The Wannadies and also this track from the Cardigans. Lovefool was first released last September by the Swedish band as the first single from their First Band On The Moon album. Despite saturation radio play it was something of a chart disappointment, peaking at Number 21 in the week of release. What a difference a film appearance can make, the re-release puts right the damage and finally gives the Cardigans a deserved Top 5 hit and subject to competition from next week's releases and/or the resilience of Michael Jackson it is by no means out of the question that the single could be topping the pile next week.
7 DROP DEAD GORGEOUS (Republica)
Aren't Republica great? There is currently no other act like them so they have the market in rock and dance fusion completely sewn up. The followup to the anthemic Ready To Go charges into the Top 10 to become their biggest hit to date, Saffron's tirade against an ex-boyfriend clearly appealing to many. After all, what other record encourages its listeners to "drop dead" in the final bar? Whilst it may be Republica's first foray into the Top 10 lead singer Saffron has hit these heights before, as the singer on N-Joi's Anthem which reached Number 8 in April 1991.
10 HYPNOTIZE (Notorious B.I.G.)
It is far too easy to be disrespectful in these matters but the famous record industry quote about death being commercial clearly applies to rap stars too. Just as the demise (or not, depending on which conspiracy theorists you have spoken to lately) of Tupac Shakur last year led to a flood of hit singles so now Biggy Smalls finds his commercial stock has increased. This is not to suggest that this single would not have managed a chart placing without the tragedy of his death but an instant Top 10 smash is a dramatic improvement on the last Top 40 single from Notorious B.I.G. One More Chance which made Number 33 in August 1995.
11 NIGHTMARE (Brainbug)
Could this be one of the first Gothic dance hits? Brainbug's astonishing track lands tantalisingly short of the Top 10 but could well have more staying power than the average dance hit. The dark instrumental owes more to the Sisters Of Mercy than anything else, a chilling combination of strings and techo beats that more than deserves this chart placing.
12 TOMORROW (James)
James' second hit single of the year, coming just a couple of months since She's A Star peaked at Number 9. It is their sixth UK Top 20 hit.
18 VAPOURS (Snoop Doggy Dogg)
Snoop this week achieves the honour of having two Top 40 singles, his duet with 2-Pac Wanted Dead Or Alive is still on the chart at Number 35. In solo terms this is his second recent hit single, the direct successor to Snoops Upside Your Head which made Number 12 just before Christmas.
19 THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER (D:Ream)
Of all the tales behind the tracks on this week's Top 40, this one must be the most curious. Things Can Only Get Better is of course widely acknowledged as a 1990s pop classic. First released in 1993 it staggered to Number 24 before being re-released a year later. The track shot to Number One in January 1994 to establish Peter Cunnagh's band as genine chart stars, even if none of their later hits quite managed to make the impact of the first. This week sees the climax in this country of one of the longest and possibly bitterest General Election campaigns ever as the nation goes to the polls to decide whether to end the 18-year encumbancy of John Major's Conservative Party and replace it with Tony Blair and 'New' Labour. From the very outset of the campaign Blair has adopted an American idea and used the D:Ream song as his personal theme, with the overwhelming approval of Labour-supporting Cunnagh. In support of Tony Blair and the election campaign, D:Ream have re-released the single, hence its rather surprising reappearance inside the Top 40. For a simple pop song to be tied so rigidly to a political campaign is something of a first for this country and has caused radio programmers a number of problems. British law prevents the broadcast media from taking political sides and strict rules on balance are applied during an election campaign. So does playing the record amount to giving airtime to a record associated with the Labour party? The Conservatives appeared to think so when they attempted to discourage the BBC from airing the track. As a result we have the situation of a classic hit record, back in the Top 20 but which radio stations are unable to touch with a bargepole, playing it in chart rundowns only but unable to make any reference to the reason for its re-release. Come this Thursday the nation goes to the polls and the fates of John Major, Tony Blair, Paddy Ashdown and all the other candidates will be decided. At this point Things Can Only Get Better loses its political tag and becomes just another pop song.
The above tale brings back memories of May 1987 when the Blow Monkeys, also solid Labour supporters released Celebrate (The Day After You), a song which referred to their desire to see the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher swept away at the polls. It was banned from the radio instantly until after the election, by which time the single had died a death at Number 52 and Mrs Thatcher was beginning a third term in office. Mixing music and politics can be a dangerous business.
27 NIGHTLIFE (Kenickie)
A second Top 30 hit for Kenickie following on from their breakthrough hit In My Car earlier in the year. Critical acclaim and music press attention they are getting but a smash hit will clearly have to wait, whatever the merits of this track... it has charted three places lower that its predecessor.
29 MAKES ME WANNA DIE (Tricky)
There is always a strange unnatural beauty about Tricky singles. The King of trip-hop notches up his second Top 40 hit of the year, the first Tricky Kid having made Number 28 in January. In many ways this is one of his best ever singles; slow, haunting and very very moving.
30 NOBODY (Keith Sweat featuring Anthea Cage)
He may have the kind of name that brings a smirk to the face of those of use who were supposed to have grown up years ago but full credit to his hitmaking consistency. This is Keith Sweat's first chart hit of the year and follows on from his two Top 40 entries last year, the biggest of which was November's Just A Touch which reached Number 35. This single is therefore something of an improvement and gives him his first Top 30 hit since his debut I Want Her made Number 26 in 1988.
32 GOLDEN SKIN (Silver Sun)
A welcome chart breakthrough for rising stars Silver Sun. After two singles last year Lava and Last Day which tantalisingly failed to make the grade in the Top 40 they now hit the heights and open themselves up to the wider exposure that a Top 40 hit can bring. More of a breath of fresh air that your average new band, having been described as ELO with guitars, this single suggests that there is even greater success just around the corner.
33 LET'S GET DOWN (Tony! Toni! Tone! featuring DJ Quik)
A surprising and welcome Top 40 entry for the Oakland Trio. Surprising and welcome as for all their international success and critical acclaim they have never before charted a single this high in this country. They came closest in September 1993 with If I Had No Loot which stalled at Number 44 but the 11 place improvement shown by this new single proves that all good chart placings come to those who wait...
38 HAND IN HAND (Grace)
It is a crying shame that Grace never seems to have big hits. The blonde bombshell singer had her first smash hit back in 1995 with Not Over Yet, a wonderful piece of technopop that was in many ways the epitome of the whole Perfecto sound. Since that first Top 10 hit she has charted Top 40 singles just four more times, the biggest of these being Down To Earth which reached Number 20 in June last year. Her first hit of 1997 is every bit as good, albeit without the anthemic brilliance that she has been unable to recapture since her debut, but this lowly chart entry is surely a big disappointment to her.
39 DO MY THING (Busta Rhymes)
Busta Rhymes' first solo hit of the year to add to hit two chart appearances last year, the biggest of which was the smash Woo Hah which made the Top 10 almost exactly a year ago. Strictly speaking this isn't his first chart appearance of 1997 as he was one of the featured artists on the all-star Hit Em High single which reached Number 8 last month.,
40 SHADY LANE (Pavement)
Could this finally be the summer when Pavement get widespread recognition? The Californian band are part of the lineup for just about every summer festival going and have recently had the most crucial of namechecks when Blur cited their sound as the inspiration behind Song 2. Now with their first new album in two years due out shortly they make their singles breakthrough, reaching the Top 40 for the first time in more than four years since their chart debut in this country the Watery Domestic EP reached Number 58.