1 BLUE (DA BA DEE) (Eiffel 65)
Look at this! A new look for dotmusic! Well I like it anyway, I get my own direct link from the charts page and I won't get laughed at for that strange photo of me with the gleaming teeth. Until they put the new one up that is. What's that? Shut up and talk about the chart? OK, if you are going to insist.
[Failed attempts at whimsy aside, the above-referenced redesign was a direct consequence of the appointment of music journalism veteran Andy Strickland as editor of the dotmusic site earlier in the year. He finally did away with any lingering connection the site had as the online presence of Music Week and recast it for real as a thriving and vibrant music hub. This also meant goodbye to the "weaverman" logo and the introduction of the big yellow dot which would remain its brand image for the rest of its life. Oh yes, and if memory serves this relaunch also saw the introduction of the still legendary dotmusic forums, the many offshoots of which still exist online today].
Actually the top end is the quietest bit of the chart at the moment as the whole of the Top 3 remain static. Eiffel 65 spend a third week as the nation's bestseller whilst both S Club 7 and Shania Twain beneath them maintain their entry points from last week, denying none other than a Spice Girl a Top 3 entry with her debut single. In these days of a high level of top-end activity in the chart such occasions of the entire Top 3 remaining the same from week to week are rare indeed and this is the first occasion this has happened so far in 1999. Eiffel 65 this week tie Ricky Martin for the longest running Number One single of the year. Remember no record has topped the charts for longer than three weeks since Cher's epic seven week run with Believe almost a year ago.
2 S CLUB PARTY (S Club 7)
Given the competition they were experiencing from the Mel C single (which was actually the Number 2 record early on in the week) S Club 7 can be congratulated for clinging on to the runners-up slot in the manner they have this week. Believe it or not they are actually only the second act this year to peak at Number 2 for more than a solitary week. Plenty of other singles have spent more than a week here of course but all of them have been records on their way down from Number One. The only other track to hold down second place for any length of time this year was Alice Deejay's Better Off Alone which managed three weeks earlier in the summer - than feat alone making it the longest running Number 2 single since Fat Les' Vindaloo did the same in the summer of 1998. The record for the longest consecutive stay at Number 2 (by a single that failed to top the chart at all) is held by All-4-One's I Swear which spent seven weeks in second place during the summer of 1994 [plus a record from the 1950s which I can never call to mind when it actually matters].
4 GOIN' DOWN (Melanie C)
Apparantly she is "Melanie" rather than just plain "Mel" but whatever form her name is in Sporty Spice has become Punk Spice. Always regarded as one of the best singers in the Spice Girls, Melanie Chisholm becomes the third member of the group to hit the chart with a solo single and has chosen to do so in the most astonishing chance of style yet. This is no pop record believe me, this is dirty, crunching rock at its very basic, Chisholm yelping rather than singing her way through one of the rawest songs to hit the Top 10 all year (heck, she even recorded the thing in LA). Her name and the sensation of the song alone will have helped the single to this Top 5 entry point but you cannot help but feel that its appeal is substantially more limited than any offering so far from the Spices, either solo or as a group. In a way it is a shame that this track has become her first single as Ga Ga, her Garbage-inspired contribution to the Big Daddy soundtrack was itself picking up airplay earlier this summer and would probably have made a better hit single. Nonetheless a third Spice Girl has hit the chart solo, ironically at the same time as the girls are holed up in a studio recording their third album together. Watch out for Emma Bunton hitting the charts in her own right in a few weeks time to equal a very famous chart record - but that is a tale for a future commentary.
9 SUNSHINE (Gabrielle)
The most famous eye patch in pop is... well gone actually as Gabrielle has finally ditched the image that has characterised her career since it began in 1993. Happily the music remains the same and Sunshine is a sweet, melodic single as befits the chart legacy of one of Britain's most consistent solo female artists of the decade. For those who need reminding, her first hit single was the chart-topping Dreams in June 1993 and since then she has notched up three albums worth of hits, all of which have gone Top 30 or better. Sunshine is her sixth Top 10 hit.
10 I TRY (Macy Gray)
Presenting the chart debut of the latest soul diva set for stardom. Imagine Lauryn Hill with a throat problem and you have Ms Gray's vocal style down to a tee and she certainly makes music with a great deal more kick than the aforementioned superstar. I Try blends elements of classic 70s funk together to produce a quite sensational modern soul track that almost certainly needs to be hear late at night whilst surveying the bright lights of the city in order to appreciate its atmosphere properly. Converting the UK to Macy Gray has been hard work, her first single Do Something could only splutter to Number 51 in back in July and this dramatic chart turnaround will come as a welcome surprise to many..
11 THE AWAKENING (York)
Well it couldn't last could it? After a week and a half of mainstream pop singles becoming the big new hits of the week it is time for a rush of semi-anonymous dance singles to take up their places inside this week's Top 40. The result of this is for James to flail around trying to find constructive to say about a single that is forgettable as all the others and which is credited to an artist with no previous chart form and with very little likelihood of ever having any. Still it is a chance for you to flood the dance forum on dotmusic [OK, so maybe they'd been online for a bit before the relaunch] with lots of comments about how badly I suck and how devoid of musical taste I am for preferring to listen to S Club 7 rather than the latest Cream compilation. Am I trying to avoid commenting on the single here? Quite possibly but look, if you went to Ibiza this year or have been inside a nightclub in the last month you will almost certainly know all there is to know about The Awakening by York. What else can I possibly add other than to say it goes bleep at the appropriate moments and thump thump in the others?
14 NEW YORK CITY BOY (Pet Shop Boys)
Yeah, bring on the Pet Shop Boys. I can write lots about them you see. Actually it is worth referring back to what I penned back in July when I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Anymore charted:
"It is also worth bearing in mind that the duo have often used the first single from a new album as a gentle introduction, hitting the public with a stunning pop tune for the second single. I Don't Know What You Want... may not be the most exciting record the Pet Shop Boys have ever released but you can rest assured that the expected followup is destined for far greater things."
So here it is. Was I right? Certainly as always Neil and Chris' second single from the forthcoming new album is intended as its showpiece. In this case New York City Boy is far and away the most camp record they have ever put their names to (and granted that is saying something), a lovingly crafted Village People pastiche extolling the virtues of New York in a Hi-NRG single that cannot fail to bring a huge grin to your face - and that is before you have seen them actually perform the track complete with outrageous new hairstyles and male backing singers dressed in sailor suits. Of course for all the cheeky sense of fun they bring to the track you cannot escape the feeling that the end result isn't quite as inspired as was intended. Certainly the chart position bears this out, as yes, I was right in predicting it would be a bigger hit than its predecessor... but only just. New York City boy enters at Number 14, one place above I Don't Know What You Want... causing the Pet Shop Boys to miss the Top 10 for the second time running. Could this new album be their first not to contain any big hits at all?
18 RUN FOR YOUR LIFE (Northern Line)
These guys are from North London as you might expect and are the latest boy band to attempt to add their faces to the bedroom walls of teenagers all around the country. Their own unique selling point is the personal endorsement of none other than Sir Elton John who has publicly said that he thinks they can be bigger than Take That and has even offered to write them a song. A springboard to stardom or the kiss of death? Who knows... their debut release dutifully makes the Top 20 and we wait to see whether they can add themselves to the pop superstar ranks of the A1Backstreet911WestlifeBoyzoneFiveAdamRickitt Boys.
19 LIBERATION (TEMPTATION - FLY LIKE AN ANGEL (Matt Darey presents Mash Up)
Another dance single but actually one of considerable interest this time. Although almost totally unknown in mainstream terms Matt Darey is the golden boy of British trance and with this single makes his first trip "overground" if you will. Of course few trance singles are complete without a haunting female vocal track but the wailing on this single is done by the clasically-trained Marcella Woods who adds a touch of class to what ranks as one of the most accessible trance-pop releases of the summer. Incidentally is it right to call this music "dance" given that all people seem to do to it is sway about slightly.
21 BLUE SKIES (Longpigs)
Nice to see these guys back in the chart, the Longpigs returning to singles action after almost three years away. Time will tell as to whether they can maintain the momentum they had in 1996 when they hit the Top 20 twice in quick succession with On And On and She Said. English garage rock at its best, but this isn't necessarily their time.
22 ZORBA'S DANCE (LCD)
Picture the scene if you will. You are happily enjoying a nice day out at a summer event. The local radio station has organised a roadshow featuring a number of acts who you haven't necessarily heard of before. Suddenly the stage is invaded by four blokes in oversized rubber suits calling themselves Ed, Ted, Ned and Zed. For the next four minutes they proceed to sway about to a frantic synthesised rendition of the Greek standard Zorba's Dance. Then they go away again. Welcome to the world of LCD. This one-off novelty single complete with its expensive-looking computer animated video was first released in June 1998 when it hit Number 20 before vanishing again. Clearly there has been too much money invested in it to leave it just as that, hence the ubiquity of the men in suits at just about every event you care to mention since. On the strength of this continued promotion the single has been re-released and now charts once more - two places lower than last year. Mission accomplished? Or should I sit here and beg you to go out and buy it in sufficient numbers so Virgin don't try to release it again next year. The only other hit version of Zorba's Dance was produced by Marcello Minerbi and his Orchestra, their rendition peaking at Number 6 in 1965. See, your parents didn't know any better either.
24 FOR ALL THAT YOU WANT (Gary Barlow)
Well that was your career Gary, hope you enjoyed it. After his last single Stronger peaked at Number 16 the second offering from Gary Barlow's forthcoming second album fares even worse and fails even to register inside the Top 20. I'll repeat what I said back in July, there is actually nothing wrong with the music the former Take That mainman is making, it is well-crafted melodic pop which showcases his songwriting talents perfectly. The only problem is the songs have all the verve of a Cliff Richard compilation and with former bandmate Robbie Williams playing the superstar card to perfection for the moment it seems that Gary Barlow is destined to slide into oblivion. Why do I get the feeling I'm the only one who is sad about that? [History records this was indeed Gary Barlow's final hit single and brought to an end the first Take That era. He'd retreat to LA to get fat and contemplate his life before returning seven years later to help his old band stage the most incredible comeback of all time].
25 HEAVEN WILL COME (Space Brothers)
More Euro-trance from the Space Brothers, this single fares slightly better than their last offering Legacy which perversely I preferred yet which only made Number 31 back in July. Their biggest hit remains Shine which made Number 23 back in 1997.
29 DO WE ROCK (Point Break)
The answer here is an unequivocal YES as the debut single from Bret, Olly and Duncan hits the chart this week, albeit not quite with the splash that was expected of it. The threesome are stars of the TV series Byker Grove, the self same show that spawned Ant and Dec (aka PJ and Duncan) and MTV presenter Donna Air. The single doesn't exactly break new ground but is a sparkling four minutes of pop-rock that does everything a good pop single is supposed to whilst being totally forgettable at the same time.
35 UNIVERSAL NATION '99 (Push)
OK so how does this work? You release a remixed version of an old hit and call it Universal Nation '99 despite the fact that the single's first time around only came back in May. Anyway, having peaked at Number 36 when first released the single now makes a reappearance and improves on its chart placing ever so slightly to almost make the exercise worthwhile. Incidentally at the risk of quoting myself too much this week it is worth going back to what I wrote earlier this year when the single first charted. Word for word this was the commentary:
"Already a major dance hit in Europe, this instrumental track hit escapes over her to make what for the moment is a brief appearance in the UK Top 40. I say "for the moment" as if this summer is anything like those gone by there is scope for any number of poorly-performing dance records to find themselves given a new lease of life as holidaymakers flock to the continent a get a taste for these hitherto overlooked classics. Push could well end up being one of them."
See, I do know what I'm talking about. Sometimes. [Except that back in May you reversed the artist and title credits, fool].
36 THURSDAY'S CHILD (David Bowie)
A sharp and dramatic tumble for David Bowie this week but it is worth stopping for a moment and crediting John Torpey for writing to me earlier this week and pointing out that this single means that all seven days of the week have been mentioned in song titles in the UK charts, this final piece of the jigsaw coming a mere 19 years since The Undertones charted with Wednesday Week. Those with plenty of time to spare may like to play the game of finding song titles that have mentioned all 12 months of the year (I confess I got stuck when it came to May).
38 MERCURY AND SOLACE (BT)
Bringing up the rear this week is Brian Transeau, a man who has had more dance hits in the second half of the decade than many so-called star producers I could mention yet seems to have had half the recognition. This track is his first Top 40 hit since Remember reached Number 27 in April 1998.