This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 BARBIE GIRL (Aqua)

A second week at the top for the most annoying record of the moment. I say annoying as Barbie Girl is easily that unique type of single - the one that nobody but nobody will admit to liking but for some reason is selling 100,000 copies a week. [Actually it was way, way more than that although I had no way of knowing this on the Sunday afternoon. One knock-on effect of the whole Elton John fuss was that the golden age of the CD single had kicked off and chart hits were suddenly a mainstream impulse buy product. Barbie Girl actually sold over a quarter of a million copies that week and was just part of a string of utterly phenomenal sales which would persist well into the new millennium].


2 TORN (Natalie Imbruglia)

The reviews for this single when it was first premiered were universally along the same lines - ex-Neighbours star in "quite good" record shock. Natalie Imbruglia (with a silent 'g') is famous for, depending on which side of the Atlantic you live, starring for two years as Beth Brennan in the aforementioned TV soap or for briefly being the subject of gossip columns for her relationship with Friends star David Schwimmer. Despite this cheesy background her first single is a revalation and cuts through the stereotype that all former soap stars make records like the two Minogue sisters. Torn is a marvellous pop single, beloved by radio producers and quite plainly the public alike, hence this spectacular chart debut - just don't listen to this and James' She's A Star back to back.


6 LONELY (Peter Andre)

The curtained locks appear to have gone and so has his prediliction for baring his chest at every opportunity. Instead here is the quieter, more thoughtful Peter Andre. As a solo male hearthrob he is somewhat unique amongst the boy bands that currently preoccupy the teeny press but it has meant his impact has been all the greater as his brace of Number One hits at the back end of last year demonstrates. This is the second single (the first being August's All About Us) from his forthcoming new album and although he clearly is no longer an instant chart-topping prospect his appeal is for the moment undimmed with this, his sixth successive Top 10 single.


8 ALL YOU GOOD GOOD PEOPLE (Embrace)

For the lads from Embrace this will come as a marvellous moment. This year has seen them rise from chart wannabes from Batley to far and away the most feted band of the moment. Talk of them achieving a similar plateau to the likes of Oasis and The Verve is no idle banter as All You Good Good People demonstrates, a track easily able to give the aforementioned superstars a run for their money. This is actually a kind of public-demand re-release, the single having first been available in a limited edition at the start of this year and was instrumental in getting their name known in the right places. Far and away it is their biggest hit to date, storming past the Number 21 peak of their last single One Big Family which was released in July.


14 THE BEST OF LOVE (Michael Bolton)

The latest beneficiary of a Disney film, Michael Bolton returns to the Top 40 after a long absence during the course of which most of his hair seems to have fallen off. Like most Walt Disney songs, the anthem from 'Hercules' is typical MOR saccharine but is still appealing enough to bring him back into the Top 40 for the first time since March 1996 and become his biggest hit single since Can I Touch You There made Number 6 in September 1995.


18 STILL WATERS (RUN DEEP) (Bee Gees)

Depending on your point of view it was either a marvellous moment of television or a horrendously bad piece of stunt-inspired action. I refer to the incident that was splashed all over the papers last week when the three Gibb brothers took offence to the typically acerbic questioning of TV interviewer Clive Anderson and walked out of the recording of his show, an incident that was shown in full over the weekend. Stunt or no, it helped to draw attention to the band once more and the fact that they had a new single out - one which duly arrives in the Top 20. In fact relatively speaking this has been a phenomenally successful year for the Bee Gees, the current album's tally of three Top 20 hits has given them their most consistent chart run since 1979.


20 TRAFFIC (Stereophonics)

The third Stereophonics hit and easily their best to date, even if it seemed that A Thousand Trees would be difficult to beat. This is reflected in the chart position, breaking them into the Top 20 for the first time ever.


22 HOW COULD AN ANGEL BREAK MY HEART (Toni Braxton)

Now that the clocks have gone back and the dark nights have set in the time is ripe for the deep atmospheric ballad. As the overwhelming success of Unbreak My Heart proved last year, this is a genre at which Toni Braxton excels in. Following the Top 10 hit I Don't Want To earlier this year comes this new epic, full of overblown production, saxophone solos and emotive singing. In short it works a treat, the only downside being this rather average chart entry. Indeed, this is the first Toni Braxton single not to enter the chart inside the Top 10 since Love Shoulda Brought You Home entered at Number 33 in December 1994.


27 BREATHING (North And South)

Yes it is that time of year again. The drippy ballad season where the world and its dog slows down the tempo and adds lots of tinkling, twinkling noises to singles in an attempt to sound Christmassy. First of the pop acts in on the game are North And South whose third single is such a record, full of harmonies and soulful expression and in the process their smallest hit to date for some reason. North and South are struggling to be taken seriously, possibly due to their connection with the TV series "No Sweat" in which they all starred. This is despite the fact that they are all musicians and singles such as Tarantino's New Star showed that they are quite a refreshing alternative to your average boy band... everyone else it seems has yet to catch on.


28 DON'T GIVE UP (Michelle Weeks)

A new name to the Top 40 but this is in fact the second hit single for this lady. Michelle Weeks was the featuring singer on Bobby D'Ambrosio's Moment Of My Life which reached Number 23 in August.


37 MONDAY MORNING 5:19 (Rialto)

Gosh, this is rather lovely. The first Top 40 hit for Rialto is a wonderfully atmospheric narrative tale a la Day Before You Came but delivered in a way that is reminiscent of forgotten genuis Momus. Worthy of more than Number 37. [The debut of one of the great underrated bands of their time and you'll find much love for Rialto's next few hits on these pages. This period coincided with Chris Moyles' earliest Radio One work and as host of the early breakfast show at the time he arranged for the group to play their hit live in the studio one Monday morning at 5:19].


39 I NEED A MIRACLE (Coco)

A lady with a great deal of experience behind her, Coco enjoys her first solo Top 40 single. A chart record is far from a new experience for her thanks to her work as a backing singer, most notably for East 17 and more recently as the singer for Way Out West, despite the fact that she was bumped in favour of Joanna Law for their biggest hit The Gift[And if you are paying close attention, this is the first appearance of a vocal line (if not production) which would become one of the biggest club hits of early 2000 and a Number One smash to boot].