1 NO MATTER WHAT (Boyzone)
Did you doubt me when I suggested Boyzone would have an extended run at the top? Despite a very strong challenge from Stardust, No Matter What made up a sizeable midweek deficit to land a second week at the top of the charts, helped along the way by numerous TV appearances and a Top Of The Pops performance that featured writer Andrew Lloyd-Webber on piano, a rare public performance by the millionaire composer. Significantly this is the first Boyzone single to spend more than a solitary week at Number One, suggesting that the single is appealing to a far wider demographic than the teenage girls that the cliche suggests make up the vast majority of their audience. As was widely reported last week, Boyzone have now become one of the most successful chart acts ever and with this single giving them 12 out of 12 Top 5 hits they have surpassed the record set by Kylie Minogue who opened her career with 11 Top 5 singles only for What Do I Have To Do to peak at Number 6. They have now equalled the 12 consecutive Top 10 hits of Take That and are one behind Kylie Minogue's ultimate total of 13 in a row. Ahead of them in this list of course are the likes of Cliff Richard, The Rolling Stones and of course record holder Madonna (who had 32 in a row between 1984 and 1994) but it should be noticed that Boyzone are making faster progress up the list than anyone else on it. Meanwhile the countdown continues to the next centennial Number One hit - No Matter What is number 798 in the list of Number One hits.
2 MUSIC SOUNDS BETTER WITH YOU (Stardust)
This was the single that was supposed to sweep all before it this week in a charge to Number One and indeed was leading the tables for most of the week before finally falling at the final hurdle. Quite simply one of the most popular dance singles of the moment, Music Sounds Better With You comes from Thomas Bangalter, the same mind that gave us Daft Punk and has a similarly 70s-retro vibe only this time sounding like a take on classic Philly sounds rather than techno wizardry. Apparently a huge smash in Ibiza clubs the demand for this single reached fever pitch recently which prompted the chain HMV to arrange the import of several thousand copies of the single. This resulted in the single charting a fortnight ago and last week it actually increased sales, moving up to Number 55. Due to chart rules, the import registers as a separate single to the official release and the two have to chart separately, hence the import copy vanishes from the listings this week and the single lands at Number 2 as a "new entry" despite having previously been on the chart. This isn't the first time this has happened this year and is becoming increasingly common with more and more people apparently prepared to pay over the odds for imported copies of records just a few short weeks before they come out. Run-DMCs It's Like That was officially a new entry at Number One when it charted in March but it had in fact been creeping up the charts and was inside the Top 60 the week beforehand. Of course as far as the chart was concerned this was not the same record, merely an import of the German release which would have resulted in around a fiver less in your change had you wanted to buy it. The question has to be asked - would the extra 'lost' sales that resulted from the availability of the import have given Stardust the sales clout to have sent Music Sounds Better With You to Number One instead of Boyzone?
3 TO THE MOON AND BACK (Savage Garden)
To think Savage Garden were in danger of becoming one hit wonders. The reason for this was simple, after I Want You had made Number 11 in July 1997 they released their next international smash To The Moon And Back which failed to get anywhere near the Top 40. That was that for the Australian duo until Truly Madly Deeply was released in February and is now second only to My Heart Will Go On as the most globally-popular love song of the year. In this country alone the single spent 11 weeks in the Top 10 and a further two months after that in the Top 40. So now the time is ripe for a reactivation of the single that failed, the original album mix bolstered by the, dare I say it, slightly intrusive addition of a remix which gives the track some pop club legitimacy. Still, it has worked and whilst still sounding like it could have been made in 1986 To The Moon And Back now becomes Savage Gardens highest-charting single to date as it crashes straight into the Top 3.
4 I WANT YOU BACK (Cleopatra)
Everyone loves the Higgins sisters it seems. Even America where thanks to Madonna's advocacy of the young trio Cleopatra's Theme is a Top 10 single. Those who have compared Cleopatra Higgins' singing to a young Michael Jackson clearly anticipated this release as for their third British single they have released a cover of the song that launched the Jackson Five back in 1970. This is not so much a cover as a note for note copy, right down to the last detail. Every little yelp and hoot uttered by the then 11 year old Michael Jackson on the original is duplicated here without any question of deviating from the script. Artistically it has no merit whatsoever but then again neither do records by Robson and Jerome or Jane McDonald and they still sell in their thousands. At least Cleopatra have already had two Top 5 singles written by their own teenage hands and have far more talent between them than many other acts one could mention so I suppose the release of something they could knock up in an hour in a studio is forgivable and at the end of the day this is nothing short of a superb but faithful rendition of an all time classic song by a group with the voices to carry it off perfectly. Their third Top 5 hit then, matching the peak of Life Ain't Easy which charted in May. The original version of I Want You Back made Number 2 here in 1970 but has been back in the Top 10 more recently when it reached Number 8 in May 1988 in a remixed form that was inspired by the sampling of the track in many dance singles of the time.
6 THE AIR THAT I BREATHE (Simply Red)
Just when you think Mick Hucknall has disappeared up his own songwriting he shows that he is not above acknowledging the work of others. After the rather dull (but charity-benefitting) Say You Love Me the second single from the album Blue is the classic Albert Hammond song that was a career-reviving Number 2 hit for the Hollies in 1974. The same logic that can be used with the Cleopatra single can be applied here, covering someone else's song is a far more legitimate statement when you have proved that your own songwriting compares favourably to it and nobody can doubt the mastery of this art that Mick Hucknall has demonstrated over the years. As he has also demonstrated in the past he knows how to treat a song to best effect and indeed his 1989 version of If You Don't Know Me By Now made Number 2 and remains one of the biggest Simply Red singles ever. The single has benefitted somewhat from being featured on the soundtrack of TV adverts broadcast by Sky Television to advertise their coverage of the brand new football season and in which Mick Hucknall had a cameo role. More interestingly most airplay attention has focussed not on the faithful to the original album version that is used on the advert but on the 'Reprise' version of the song which is sung to a different tune and which borrows the guitar riff from John Mellencamp's Jack And Diane.
[Both versions had their own video too. Amusingly the 'original' melody (above) is the one which features on the Simply Red Vevo channel whilst the 'reprise' version pops up on the band's own YouTube feed...]
7 EVERYTHING'S GONNA BE ALRIGHT (Sweetbox)
Not the biggest new entry of the week but as befits the fifth inside the Top 10, one of the most talked about. The premise of the single is simple, a sweet uplifting rap that is soundtracked to the tones of Bach's Air On A G-String, another example of the way classical music can provide a surprisingly effective soundtrack to what is normally a less than restrained performing style... just as Coolio. Air On A G-String has been used in pop records before and indeed is a part of one of the most famous pop-classical fusions of all time, Procol Harum's A Whiter Shade Of Pale which was a Number One hit around the world in 1967.
22 MAKE IT HOT (Nicole featuring Missy Elliott)
When Missy Elliott signed the deal with East West records last year which turned her into one of R&Bs biggest female stars she arranged the distribution of her own label one which she could oversee other female talent. One of the first signings to the label was 19 year old Nicole who chalks up a Top 40 hit with this single, and guess what - producer and mentor Elliott makes a fairly prominent guest appearance on the track which even outsells her own single this week. Compilers of chart databases will have fun with any future hits by Nicole, she is now the third female soloist to chart under that name although those with a twisted sense of humour may prefer to comment on how she has hardly aged since she sang New York Eyes. Or indeed, A Little Peace.
23 GOT THE LIFE (Korn)
Nice to have some rock to break things up a little, this is the first Top 40 single for Korn in over a year. In 1997 they had two chart hits, A.D.I.D.A.S. and Good God which made Nos 22 and 25 respectively. Both singles also had the distinction of vanishing from the Top 40 after just a week and it will be interesting to see whether this single, unlikely to appeal to anyone other than hardcore rock fans, manages to last another seven days as one of the 40 biggest selling singles in the country.
25 HIT 'EM WIT DA HEE (Missy 'Misdemeanour' Elliott)
Speaking of Missy Elliott, here she is with her fourth solo chart hit, the follow-up to Beep Me 911 which made Number 14 back in April, giving her the unusual but not unknown distinction for featuring on two of this week's new singles. Somehow I suspect her biggest hit is yet to come, I Want You Back, the much-publicised duet with Spice Girl Mel B is due to become a single over here later this Autumn.
28 IF YOU'LL BE MINE (Babybird)
The second hit of the year for Steven Jones and Babybird, coming just a couple of weeks before the release of their brand new album. If You'll Be Mine improves on the chart position of Bad Old Man which made Number 31 in May but it is still something of a disappointment when you consider the quality of the music they are making at the moment. Jones himself is hardly likely to complain too much - after all it took years for Babybird to get even a sniff of chart action but for the moment the overwhelming success of You're Gorgeous from two years ago will continue to be an albatross around their necks - nothing they can do will come close to the extraordinary popularity of one of the most misunderstood songs of the decade. It isn't an insurmountable problem, just ask Radiohead, but their second big commercial smash is still apparently some way off.
33 GUARDIANS OF THE LAND (George Bowyer)
I will be perfectly honest here and confess that at the time of writing this I have no information whatsoever about the origins and motives of this particular record so all I can do is report on what the track is. Whether serious or not this track from George Bowyer is a cod-Irish folk song extolling the virtues of country sports - hunting, game shooting etc. - and the contribution they make to the ecosystem and complaining about how the countryside would suffer if they were banned. Either the record is serious in which case I boggle at the several thousand who have bought it to send it into the Top 40 or it is intended as a joke or a satire in which case I must have a highly developed sense of irony to get it in the first place. Either way, hold the presence of this record up as an example of the magic of an almost-total rundown of the record sales in the country, if it sells it goes in, regardless of who or what the record is. [And despite my doubts this was absolutely genuine, a pre-digital example of a chart campaign as promoted by the Countryside Alliance].
34 THIS BOY (Justin)
Child prodigy time yet again I'm afraid. Justin is 14 years old and first came to attention on the BBC Children's series The Fame Game, a kind of junior talent show which from which thankfully few of the acts ever escape. This lad has and lands in the chart with a bouncy reggae-fied cover of one of the better known Beatles album tracks, thus giving him the distinction of being one of the few artists to have the first charted version of a Lennon and McCartney song.
35 BORA BORA (Da Hool)
The follow-up has been a long time coming but Da Hool finally registers a second chart hit following the short-lived club smash Meet Her At The Love Parade which made Number 15 in February. Not that DJ Hooligan has been out of the public eye thanks to his arrest for involvement in the notorious rioting that marred many England matches in the World Cup in France and his subsequent angry denials of being involved in anything except being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This new single stutters away pleasantly enough but without anything to make it distinct from the sudden rash of dance hits that the holiday season invariably produces.
37 DEVIL IN YOUR SHOES (WALKING ALL OVER) (Shed Seven)
Suddenly the mighty have fallen as Shed Seven's third hit of the year makes a very disappointing entry, barely managing to register a place inside the Top 40. Compare that with the Top 20 placings of She Left Me On A Friday (Number 11) and The Heroes (Number 18) from earlier this year and the failure of this typically melodic track from the York band (the fourth from the album Let It Ride) is all the more curious. Should, as is likely to be the case, this single fails to progress it will become their smallest chart hit ever.
38 COME INTO MY LIFE (Gala)
How Are The Mighty Fallen - Part Two. This time last year Gala was lodged inside the Top 10 as Freed From Desire was on its way to becoming one of the biggest hits of the year. Let A Boy Cry made a similarly impressive Number 11 at the end of the year but her first hit since has failed to make any kind of impression as this lowly chart entry shows.
39 BOUNCE WITH THE MASSIVE (Tzant)
This could well be Part 3 - something of a fall from grace here for Tzant as their second hit of the year scrapes into the Top 40 by the skin of its teeth. Following the same formula as Sounds Of Wickedness (including a rap from ODC) theoretically it should have emulated the Number 11 peak of Sounds Of Wickedness from April but looks set instead to vanish next week as quickly as it came.
40 REWIND (FIND A WAY) (Beverley Knight)
A sigh of relief as Beverley Knight brings up the rear in what even by today's standards is a frantic week for new chart hits, this being the 16th new entry of the week. Rewind is the follow-up to Made It Back which made Number 21 in May.