This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 LIVIN' LA VIDA LOCA (Ricky Martin) 

The Hispanic invasion continues. Just a few weeks after Jennifer Lopez hit the Top 10 the single that she replaced at the top of the American charts repeats its stateside feat and charges in to the top of the pile to become the 22nd new Number One single of 1999. Strange to relate that until now Ricky Martin was something of a novelty act over here. The former Menudo member made his UK chart debut in September 1997 with (Un, Dos, Tres) Maria, a single sung in a strange hybrid of English and Spanish which peaked at Number 6. A year ago he was back with the rather risible Cup Of Life, the official theme to the World Cup which barely staggered Number 29 in July last year. Things have changed since and 1999 sees him nestling at the top of the charts as a fully fledged star. Something tells me his appeal isn't quite going to hit the Godlike heights it has over in the states but Livin' La Vida Loca, complete with its raunchy video is set to become one of the summers' biggest hits.


2 9PM (TIL I COME) (ATB) 

ATB can consider themselves slightly unlucky as by the middle of the week 9PM (Til I Come) was only trailing Livin' La Vida Loca by around 1800 copies, a not insurmountable gap. By the weekend the margin had grown and so the instrumental track is relegated to the Number 2 position, making it now the seventh single to spend a fortnight at the top of the charts in 1999. It seems such a long time ago - the last single to manage three or more weeks at Number One was Cher's Believe back in November last year.


6 BRING IT ALL BACK (S Club 7) 

Is Britain having the summer off early do you think? The nationalities of this week's Top 10 acts make for some surprising reading. Present amongst the best selling singles are four Americans, two Hispanic singers (Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez whose exact countries of birth I'm going to have to plead ignorance of for the moment), one Canadian, one German and one Dutch act which features members from Brazil, Spain and Hungary. The only native Brits in the Top 10 are S Club 7 and even they are stars of a TV series set in Miami!


11 TSUNAMI (Manic Street Preachers) 

Chiming layered guitars, an impassioned James Dean Bradfield vocal and a marvellous production. All the ingredients for a massive Manic Street Preachers hit you would think. Curiously enough, even without much in the way of strong competition the second biggest new hit of the week fails even to make the Top 10. Best to get this in perspective then, this is now the 14th Top 20 hit for the decade's most consistent British band. To think back in the early 1990s they threatened to split up after the release of their first album.


14 GREATEST DAY (Beverley Knight) 

So the question is, can Beverley Knight finally build a string of consistently charting singles. Despite a succession of releases since 1995 she has until now only had three singles reach the Top 40, Flavour Of The Old School from 1995 and Made It Back which charted at Number 21 in March 1998 and at Number 19 when remixed back in April this year (in between both of those of course was Rewind (Find A Way) which hit Number 40). Now she returns to the chart with Greatest Day which despite sounding like it could have been recorded by Jaki Graham in 1986 duly becomes her biggest hit single to date.


16 STRONGER (Gary Barlow) 

Poor Gary Barlow. At one time you will remember he was the member of Take That considered most likely to succeed outside the band. The most talented songwriter of the bunch, the author of many of their hits, recipient of several Ivor Novello awards for his songwriting and lead singer on most of their Number One singles. For some reason things haven't quite worked out that way and currently it is Robbie Williams who has transformed himself into a major star with Gary Barlow regarded as something of an also-ran and his work viewed by some reviewers in a rather patronising manner. To redress the balance a little it is worth considering that Barlow's first solo album Open Road nonetheless produced four Top 20 hit singles including two Number Ones (more than Robbie has achieved to date you will note). The difference is really that whilst Robbie plays the charismatic superstar with a great showbiz presence, Gary just gets on with the matter in hand, writing pleasant if admittedly unexciting melodic pop songs, all the while dealing with interviewers who try to goad him into continuing the feud with his former bandmate. His brand new single from a forthcoming new album is a case in point, an appealing mid-tempo pop song that - coincidentally he insists - appears to be titled as a riposte to Robbie Williams' own Strong. Of course much will be made of the failure of this single to even make the Top 10 and its status has his smallest solo hit to date. He will once again be the subject of "where did it go wrong" articles in Sunday magazines but something tells me though that Gary Barlow will continue to write some superbly appealing songs long after the world tires of the antics of Robbie Williams and that the last laugh is a long way away. [Yeah, that one I got totally arse about face. No arguments there].


21 NO PIGEONS (Sporty Thievz) 

This comparatively quiet chart rundown (just seven singles entering the Top 40 this week) has left the door open to a few older hits to shift position slightly. Prime beneficiaries of this are Sporty Thievz who tear up the formbook and buck just about every chart trend going by climbing from their Number 22 entry of seven days ago. Rather spookily the song on which it is based - TLCs No Scrubs - does exactly the same this week, moving from 38-37. How's that for synchronicity?


27 IRIS (Goo Goo Dolls) 

It has taken a long time but finally it seems that the UK is catching on to the Goo Goo Dolls, currently one of the biggest rock bands in America but until now almost total unknowns over here. Iris was first released almost exactly a year ago but could only reach a disappointing Number 50. Earlier this year they tried again with the US smash hit Slide but that too could only hit Number 43 back in March. Now their first single is reactivated and the string-drenched ballad finally becomes a deserved hit, not a major one by any means but hopefully this is a start on which they can build to greater things.


32 NOTHING LEFT (Orbital) 

After smashing their way into the Top 20 with Style back in March the Hartnoll brothers make their second chart appearance of the year with this single from their current album. After the Stylophones and bagpipes featured on their last hit they are back on familiar ground here with a bubbling synthesized backing that sounds like it has stepped straight out of a time machine from the early 1980s. A breathless female vocal completes the effect on what without any sensation has wound up a minor hit.


34 IT'S ALL ABOUT YOU (Justin) 

Now logically there should be nothing to stop Justin being a massive star. He is a great concept: a reasonably looking lad in his mid-teens sporting trendy dreadlocks and singing pleasant pop-soul in a voice not too far removed from that of Peter Andre. Nonetheless the performance of this single could well bring a halt to his prospects, a major comedown from the Number 11 peak of his last hit Over You which was released in January. This is actually the second version of It's All About You to chart, SWV having recorded the song themselves in the past, their version reaching Number 36 just before Christmas 1996.