This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 WHEN YOU SAY NOTHING AT ALL (Ronan Keating) 

I get letters... some of them are even so good they are worth reproducing. After last weekend, Gerry Callan wrote saying:

"Ronan Keating's hit song actually dates back to 1988 when it was an American country hit for the late Keith Whitley, who died in 1989. It first appeared on his '88 album Don't Close Your Eyes (incidentally, another song just waiting to be covered) and was re-recorded as part of a tribute album by Alison Krauss in 1994. I've suspected for some time that [Boyzone manager] Louis Walsh is a closet country music fan, what with Boyzone recording the Anne Murray hit You Needed Me and the John Michael Montgomery hit I Love The Way You Love Me as well as Ronan's solo cover version of yet another country song. In addition, one of the songs his other proteges Westlife perform live is a cover of the Garth Brooks US hit If Tomorrow Never Comes which has been mentioned as a possible future single for the group [it would end up as a Ronan Keating single instead]. Walsh himself has history that takes him back to the days of booking and managing Irish showbands where the staple diet of these acts were cover versions of pop hits, Irish ballads and American country hits as well. The more things change, the more they stay the same."

Now we know. Whatever it's origin, Ronan Keating's song continues to rule the roost at the top of the chart this week. The absence of any big selling new entries working to his advantage, and indeed to Ricky Martin and DJ Jurgen who also continue to sell well, the sales of all three singles well ahead of their nearest competition. Although a long period at the top of the chart cannot be counted out, the most likely scenario is that Ronan will suffer the unique experience of being knocked off the top of the charts by Westlife - the band he himself helps to manage [no he doesn't].


2 BETTER OFF ALONE (DJ Jurgen featuring Alice Deejay) 

Speaking of DJ Jurgen and Alice Deejay, Better Off Alone bucks most current chart trends for the second week and climbs still further up the chart. In contrast to most singles which, as any fule kno, enter inside the Top 10 and then fall like a stone, this particular track has now climbed 4-3-2 and for the first time in many many months the question has to be asked, can it actually climb still higher and overtake Ronan at the top?


4 RENDEZ-VOUS (Basement Jaxx) 

After a relatively quiet few weeks the Top 10 experiences a flurry of activity with no less than five new entries in the upper reaches. Biggest of these (perhaps inevitably) is the second hit single this year for producers of the moment Basement Jaxx. More of the same is the order of the day as the same formula that turned Red Alert into a Top 5 hit back in May comes into play here although this time vocodered vocals and a hint of flamenco guitar are added to the mix. Massive in the clubs for as long as you care to remember and now the biggest new hit of the week.


5 GUILTY CONSCIENCE (Eminem featuring Dr Dre) 

With his second hit single, Eminem has once again produced a perfect example of why his debut album has managed to get so many people hot under the collar back home in America. In the first instance Guilty Conscience is quite probably the cleverest rap single of the year. Eminem and mentor Dr Dre describe a series of moral dilemmas for the hero of the song, each talking as the different sides of his conscience. Needless to say the effect is quite brilliant, enormously appealing and incredibly commercial. It is also incredibly profane. Here lies the problem of course, just how do you deal with music that is clearly targetted at a mass audience but which uses language that quite plainly isn't suited to it? The answer is to listen to it with your sense of humour circuits switched on. There, that wasn't hard was it? Guilty Conscience gives Eminem his second Top 5 hit of the year following the Number 2 peak of My Name Is... back in April. The single has even managed a fair bit of radio airplay as well, thanks of course to a cleaned up radio edit, even if that does involve roughly half the lyrics being muted out.


7 FEEL GOOD (Phats and Small) 

Just a fortnight after their remix job on Earth Wind And Fire's September charted in the Top 30 the pair who have been responsible for one of the biggest commercial dance hits of the year return to the chart with their second release proper. Despite mutterings from some quarters that the whole disco-house concept is getting just a little bit old, Feel Good has the same magic that made Turn Around such a big hit back in April. Ignore the doubters, this is another masterful piece of dance music.


9 LET FOREVER BE (Chemical Brothers) 

Cast your mind back to 1996. The Chemical Brothers had charted with a number of small hits, were a trendy name to drop but lacked that certain something to push them into the mainstream. That certain something turned out to be Noel Gallagher who obliged them with a tape of a half-written song and a few discordant guitar licks that were just too out-there to ever become an Oasis song. Setting Sun was the track and after the Chemical Brothers had done their work it became a Number One single. Noel himself remained uncredited but it was arguably dance music's worst kept secret ever. Now two and a half years later he has returned the favour. This time the single is twice as tuneful, far and away the most rock-inspired Chemical Brothers single to date and, as this chart position indicates a massive hit single. Like most of the acts in this week's Top 10 it is the second hit of the year for the duo, this one following in the footsteps of Hey Boy Hey Girl which peaked at Number 3 back in June.


10 WHY DOES IT ALWAYS RAIN ON ME (Travis) 

Picture the scene if you will. The main stage at Glastonbury back in June. Travis are on stage, attracting a huge crowd and they launch into Why Does It Always Rain On Me. At that precise moment the heavens opened for the first time that weekend. Spooky huh? Since the start of the year and the release of their album The Man Who... Travis have been steadily growing in popularity to the point at which it was only a matter of time before they had a major hit single. Those that wondered if the aforementioned Glastonbury appearance was the fillip they needed may well have been right as the gently strummed Why Does It Always Rain On Me sneaks into the Top 10 to become their biggest hit ever. Their legion of fans will argue that such a big hit is long overdue and personally I couldn't agree more.


15 SO LONG (Fierce) 

I confess I've suddenly become a Fierce fan after doing a roadshow with them a few weeks ago. Far from the All Saints-lite that they appear to have been unfairly marked down as the three girls positively ooze talent and really deserve a better deal than they have had so far. Despite struggling for airplay their singles so far have performed nicely in the chart, their second release Dayz Like That peaking at Number 11 back in May and now this new single slides in to become their second straight Top 20 hit. So Long may not quite be the single to turn them into superstars but it is easily their best piece of work so far.


16 NOT OVER YET (Planet Perfecto featuring Grace) 

1995 was the year of Perfecto records. Virtually everything Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osbourne touched turned to gold and a single appearing on the Perfecto Fluoro label was almost guaranteed a high chart placing. Leading the pack was Not Over Yet, a storming slice of mid-80s techno that fully deserves its place as one of the classic dance singles of the decade. It peaked at Number 6 but turned out to be the only major hit single for Grace. Despite a number of well-received singles she never climbed higher than Number 20 a year later with Down To Earth. Four years after that initial success the track returns to the chart complete with the inevitable series of remixes. Arguably Not Over Yet didn't need the 'enhancements' but they do at least serve to make the track sound like a fresh new hit, presumably to blind people like me to the fact that this is a re-release of a single that is barely four years old and is surely still fresh in the minds of a fair number of people.


25 MAKES ME LOVE YOU (Eclipse) 

Come on, this is too much of a coincidence surely? At the start of a week when the country is set to go crazy over the first total eclipse of the sun to be seen on these shores for a generation a single enters the charts by a group calling themselves Eclipse. Coincidence or not it makes a nice talking point. As for the single itself it is an Italian production, once more in the disco-house mould and which is based around a sample from Sister Sledge's 1984 classic Thinking Of You.


26 SO MANY WAYS (Ellie Campbell) 

Ellie Campbell hails from my neck of the woods. Until last year she was a chambermaid in a Huddersfield hotel but now is the latest protege of Pete Waterman and is being promoted as the British answer to Britney Spears. Her first single didn't exactly set the world on fire, Sweet Lies peaking at Number 42 back in April. Second time around at the Waterman magic has worked wonders, So Many Ways giving Ellie her first ever Top 40 hit and I suspect there are bigger ones to follow.


40 MAMBO NUMBER 5 (Lou Bega) 

[And now a significant moment in chart history with the very first Top 40 appearance of... well, you'll see...]

Now when was the last time the single at the very bottom end of the Top 40 was one of the most interesting new singles of the week? Lou Bega's witty updating of Perez Prado in the shape of Mambo Number 5 is the hit single of the summer all around Europe, topping the charts in Germany (where it has been for the last 11 weeks, Austria, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Over here the single has been pegged for a late summer release, to catch the demand from people who have holidayed on the continent and are keen to pick it up once they return. Officially that is the case, but of course you cannot legislate for the unofficial import. Copies of popular European records that are some weeks away from release can often be found in larger record stores. Having been specially shipped over by the larger retailers they are sold at a more expensive price to those people who cannot possibly wait for the single to come out at a regular price. Of course provided they conform to the rules they are allowed to chart should they sell in sufficient quantities. It is becoming increasingly common to see such singles swimming around the bottom end of the singles chart, last summer Stardust's Music Sounds Better With You reached Number 55 whilst on import before the singles' official release whilst most recently no less than two different imported versions of ATBs 9PM (Til I Come) were listed on the Top 75, one peaking at Number 47 the week before the single shot to the top of the chart.

Never before has an advance import of a regularly scheduled single made the Top 40 itself - until now. Having entered the chart at Number 74 last week on a German label, Mambo Number 5 now makes a startling rocket up the chart to register on the bottom rung of the Top 40. It is an amazing testament to the popularity of the track that enough people are prepared to pay almost double the normal cost of a single to make it the 40th biggest selling single of the week. Something tells me that the official release of the track will be quickly brought forward before the import single sells enough copies to damage its chart prospects. Those who bemoan the current strategy of promoting singles weeks before they arrive in the shops to try to guarantee a high chart position will view this situation with delight - market forces turning around and biting the marketeers on the arse.