1 YOU DON'T KNOW ME (Armand Van Helden)
Back in 1996 Dutch DJ Armand Van Helden created a record based around a few samples from the Tori Amos track Professional Widow. That mix caused such a stir that it came to the attention of Tori herself who gave it her blessing to be released officially, albeit with Amos' record company insisting that it was credited to her alone. Upon its second UK release Professional Widow became a surprise Number One single in January 1997. The brains behind it, Armand Van Helden was still a relative unknown, even if he did reach Number 38 with The Funk Phenomenon a few months later. Two years down the line and the man is back once more with a track that first appeared in the clubs at the back end of last year, was at the top of many DJs best of the year lists and now gets a commercial release. The single is similar in style to many Thomas Bangalter productions, fusing classic disco sounds with European funk rhythms. In this case, the influences are obvious as the single samples heavily from the string figure of McFadden and Whitehead's Ain't No Stopping Us Now. After just a week on release, it shoots to Number One and continues the record-breaking turnover of chart-topping singles - the ninth different single to top the charts in as many weeks. Having been denied an artist credit the last time one of his singles topped the charts Armand Van Helden can finally go down in the record books as the fourth Dutch act to have a UK Number One single, following in the footsteps of Pussycat, 2 Unlimited and er, Doop.
3 HEARTBEAT/TRAGEDY (Steps)
Believe it or not this is now Steps' 12th week on the chart. In all of that time the single has been as high as Number One and dropped as low as Number 8 but now holds firm at Number 3 for a third successive week. If this situation persists any longer there is a strong chance it can top a million copies, something no Bee Gees song has ever managed to do in this country. Certainly, it is in danger of colliding with the release of their next single Better Best Forgotten, due for release at the end of this month.
4 THESE ARE THE TIMES (Dru Hill)
Following the Number 9 peak of How Deep Is Your Love back in October last year, Dru Hill once again break their own record and have the biggest hit of their career with These Are The Times, another perfectly crafted example of close-knit harmonies. Slushy R&B may not quite have the stranglehold on the charts it does in the states but if nothing else this proves that the cream will always rise to the top.
5 WHEN YOU'RE GONE (Bryan Adams featuring Melanie C)
Astonishingly the single just keeps on selling. After slipping to Number 7 last week Bryan Adams' duet with Mel C is on the rise once more and after nine weeks on the chart climbs back into the Top 5. Perhaps unbelievably this is its highest chart placing since it debuted at Number 3 at the start of December. This is by no means the first time that the Canadian has had a single overstay what would normally be its usual welcome in the Top 10. Record-breaking Number One single Everything I Do finally dropped out of the Top 10 after 21 weeks in November 1991 and When You're Gone has now beaten the 8 week Top 10 run of Please Forgive Me in November/December 1993.
8 NATIONAL EXPRESS (Divine Comedy)
Since their first hit single Something For The Weekend in 1996, The Divine Comedy have produced a number of clever, quirky and somehow very English hit singles, dealing with a variety of subjects all delivered in a rather wry ironic style. Despite the appeal of their records they have never quite managed to go beyond cult status and have a major hit single. Instead they have fallen short of the Top 10 on a number of occasions, peaking twice at Number 14. The chances of their current album Fin De Siecle producing the long-overdue hit looked slim when its second single Certainty Of Love only reached Number 49 shortly before Christmas but now the odds have been upset. So what is it about National Express that has given it an appeal far beyond any previous Divine Comedy singles? Is it the entertaining video that MTV has played to death, featuring Neil Hannon causing havoc in a hospital? Is it the more accessible that usual lyric, ostensibly about the joys of bus travel but you suspect with a far darker meaning? Who knows, suffice to say that after joining Robbie Williams on backing vocals for No Regrets, Neil Hannon and his largely faceless band of musicians have reached the Top 10 for the first time ever. [This would end up being the one and only Top 10 hit for the Divine Comedy, but what a hit it was].
9 WHEN I GROW UP (Garbage)
Maybe the poppiest and certainly the most commercial sounding track on Version 2.0, When I Grow Up becomes the fourth single to be released from the album and perhaps rather spookily follows the same path as both Push It and I Think I'm Paranoid by entering the chart at Number 9.
10 GOOD LIFE (BUENA VIDA) (Inner City)
Chicago producer Kevin Saunderson first made Good Life in 1998. It was the second hit single for him and singer Paris Grey, reaching Number 4 after a chart run that stretched into January 1989. The hits continued for a number of years after that but the name of Inner City has not been seen in the Top 40 since Your Love made Number 28 in February 1996. Last year a white label appeared of a new version of the song. Completely re-recorded it was even sung in a different language, Spanish to be exact complete with a wild flamenco-inspired production. It turned out that that same man was behind it all, Kevin Saunderson having recreated his own track in a dramatic new style. Properly released after what seems like an eternity it becomes the first Inner City track to reach the Top 10 since Ain't Nobody Better also made Number 10 in April 1989.
11 EVERY YOU EVERY ME (Placebo)
The new cheerful-sounding Placebo will be frustrated to miss out on a Top 10 placing with this new single after hitting the upper reaches with both Pure Morning and You Don't Care About Us last year. Nonetheless it is now their fifth Top 20 hit in succession.
19 MADNESS THING (Leilani)
If Melanie was making records today is it possible that she would be making them like this? Leilani's debut single is as quirky a pop record as it is possible to get and despite having listened to it all week I am totally at a loss as to how best to describe either the song or its subject matter. Suffice it to say it is actually rather good.
26 DELTA SUN BOTTLENECK STOMP (Mercury Rev)
This is actually quite scary, or at least to me anyway. Many many years ago I was part of the music department of a tiny student radio station, charged with sorting through the piles of promotional singles coming from a variety of different 'alternative' bands, most of whom were obviously never going to make it. Amongst their number were Mercury Rev, hailing from New York and proudly sounding like a cross between Pink Floyd and Dinosaur Jnr. Their early single Carwash Hair is still very much a classic of its time and their touring antics still make for legendary reading. Needless to say they have until now never had a major hit single. After almost self-destructing in 1994 and now with a radically changed lineup the band are signed to Richard Branson's V2 label and suddenly have the major backing they have lacked until now. Hence the surprise and quite wonderful sight of Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp landing inside the Top 30 to give a great many people their first taste of the entertaining but quite bizarre world of Mercury Rev. Now the list of great alternative bands who have never made it in this country needs a new name at the top - how about the Barenaked Ladies, after all they will never have a hit single over here. Will they? [For those not following, that final sentence was a knowingly ironic call forward to another hit in waiting at the time...]
33 ONE WAY 98 (Levellers)
When a single release in 1999 is titled One Way '98 it gives you an idea of how long this single has been delayed. Originally due out to promote the Levellers' Greatest Hits collection at the back end of last year this reworking of one of their most famous hits only now gets a proper single release. Originally it was their first chart single, the first to be released from their second album and although it only made Number 51 in September 1991 has remained something of a classic ever since. By creeping into the Top 40 this new recording gives the band their 14th chart single, none of which have ever made the Top 10.
37 THE AEROPLANE SONG (Straw)
Straw's second single release becomes their first ever Top 40 hit. The band have been attracting a great deal of attention of late thanks to their rather unusual style which seems to come straight out of the drawer marked "Sgt Pepper". Certainly Beatles influences abound on this single. It remains to be seen whether this translates into bigger chart hits in the future.