This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 BORN TO MAKE YOU HAPPY (Britney Spears) 

Cast your minds back to just under a year ago, when nobody had heard of Britney Spears. All that changed in February 1999 when she released Baby One More Time. Said single landed onto the chart, carving a whole new series of chart records along the way. For a start it sold nearly half a million copies in its first week on sale, the third highest weekly total ever. It went on to sell around 1.5 million copies, 500,000 more than any other single last year to make Britney Spears the youngest ever act to have the biggest-selling record of the year. Not only that but the sales of Baby One More Time came perilously close to eclipsing the near 1.6 million sales of Cher's Believe - which remains for the moment the biggest selling single ever by a female artist. Anything after that was bound to be an anticlimax but her next two singles performed creditably enough, Sometimes reaching Number 3 and You Drive Me Crazy making Number 5. This week she goes even further, taking advantage nicely of the still depressed new year sales to sneak in at the top to land a second Number One single. Beyond that it is hard to comment as the landscape for major new singles is still remarkably barren for the next few weeks at least [the music industry quite literally took January 2000 off and made very few plans for it, just in case there was a millennium crisis] and it is literally 50/50 as to whether she is there next week or displaced by some other opportunistic soul attempting to bring people out to record shops during these cold winter months.


3 BECAUSE OF YOU (Scanty Sandwich) 

Sorry, was I sounding all melancholy there? Let's gee things up a little with a sudden invasion of dance singles of which this is far and away the biggest. Huge radio support since Christmas has pushed this chaotic record up the chart. What has helped is the speculation that Scanty Sandwich are in fact Norman Cook using yet another alias although actually they are a genuine act with an album due out very soon, the Cook connection is as a result of the single appearing on his own Southern Fried record label. Just one question though... what on earth is that annoyingly familiar Motown-esque sample that forms the basis of the hook of the track? [Answer: an unfamiliar Michael Jackson vocal dating from 1972].


4 THE MASSES AGAINST THE CLASSES (Manic Street Preachers) 

A tumble from the top for the Manics to no great surprise of course, the now deleted single set to go into freefall over the next few weeks as the precious supplies of stock finally dry up once and for all. Bizarrely enough The Masses Against The Classes has actually performed better than their first Number One single If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next, the more freely available track having tumbled from 1 to 5 after just one week in September 1998. Work that one out if you can.


5 (WELCOME) TO THE DANCE (Des Mitchell) 

Crashing straight into the Top 5 this week is the debut single from Des Mitchell who began his career on local radio of all places [BBC Radio WM in fact] but has since graduated to become a club DJ of some note, summertime resident of BCM in Majorca and who is, we are told, quite a draw in Tokyo. Anyway, the single itself is something of a concept, supposedly a recreation of Mitchell's own sets where he goes on the mic himself to encourage the crowd. Does it work? Well, enough to be a Top 5 hit in any case.


6 PITCHIN' (IN EVERY DIRECTION) (Hi-Gate) 

The parade of big dance singles continues with this debut hit from what you might describe as a dance supergroup. Hi-Gate consist of Paul Masterson (better known of course as Yomanda of Synth And Strings fame last year), club star and sometime Radio One DJ Judge Jules and singer Jina whose face should at least be familiar as the lead singer of Superfly - the house band on Richard Blackwood's Channel 4 show. With a lineup like that, how could they fail to put together a massive club hit?


8 IN YOUR ARMS (RESCUE ME) (Nu Generation) 

Hmm... the fifth new entry inside the Top 10. Well if it's not by Britney Spears it much be a dance track. This one is bound to have the purists up in arms as it takes as its base (no pun intended) Fontella Bass' 1965 soul classic Rescue Me. Sample the vocals, add a Fatboy Slim-style beat and voila... a track which it has to be said manages to sound inspired despite its apparent lack of originality. Those who are about to blow a gasket at the way one of the greatest soul records ever has been treated may care to note that Ms Bass herself has given the track her full blessing and is even working to help promote it..


9 A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK (DJ Luck and MC Neat) 

So what do they have most of, luck or patience? Whatever it is it has done the trick. A Little Bit Of Luck shows no sign yet of running out of steam despite a wobble last week when it fell from 11 to 12. Now the single rebounds three places to finally claim a place in the Top 10, impressively enough on its sixth week on the chart.


15 DESERT ROSE (Sting featuring Cheb Mami) 

Clearly the rainforests have been saved as much as they are going to be as Sting appears to have moved on to other areas of the planet. This new single, the follow-up to last September's Brand New Day is a rather beautiful ode to the Sahara Desert and features the guest vocals of African singer Cheb Mami. As unusual a production as he has come up with in years, the song still manages to sound oddly familiar thanks to the man's own husky vocals. His second successive Top 20 hit and deservedly so.


20 DO OR DIE (Super Furry Animals) 

The Welsh wonders who are not Catatonia, Tom Jones or the Manic Street Preachers. Who else could it be but the SFAs, back with their first single of the new year to follow the two that they clocked up in 1999. Do Or Die (as manic yet tuneful a single as they have ever recorded) slides nicely into the Top 20 to beat the Number 25 peak of their last single, the underrated Fire In My Heart to become their fifth Top 20 single.


23 (JUST) ME AND YOU (New Vision) 

A club hit since well before the Christmas holiday, this track now eases nicely into the Top 30. Male vocals, strings, disco beats. Sound familiar? Yes this is another dance track taking its cue from the Stardust formula of what we apparently now supposed to call nu-skool disco. Buggered if I can keep up with the terminology. 'Tis a great pop record though.


24 I NEVER KNEW (Roger Sanchez) 

Those with long memories make have a vague recollection of this track doing the rounds of the clubs as long ago as last summer. One Full Intention remix later and the single finally gets a full commercial release in advance of Roger Sanchez' first ever proper album which is set for release in the spring. The mixing legend's only other Top 40 hit to date came in February last year when his "presentation" of Twilight's I Want Your Love made Number 31.


25 STAGE ONE (Space Manoeuvres) 

Oh boy this is weird. Imagine the most minimalist sci-fi soundtrack you can - lots of machine bleeps and a crushing atmosphere of emptiness interspersed with the occasional radio communication. Then listen to this track... odds are that it sounds just like the image in your head. It has been far too long since we had any proper ambient dub in the Top 40 so any at all is welcome. Beauty doesn't come much weirder than this.


32 APPARENTLY NOTHING (Brand New Heavies) 

Back in 1991 the industry buzzed of a new wave of exciting British soul bands nurtured by labels such as Acid Jazz. Amongst them were the Brand New Heavies and The Young Disciples. The Young Disciples were especially noted for the powerful voice of their lead singer, a young lady called Carleen Anderson. Her vocals were much in evidence on what sadly turned out to be their only hit single of note, Apparently Nothing which eventually made Number 13 in August 1991 after a couple of false starts. Anderson eventually left the Young Disciples to go solo and had three Top 40 hits of her own in 1994. Meanwhile the Brand New Heavies remained a hitmaking force despite their inability to hold onto lead singers, in recent years original member N'Dea Davenport having been replaced by Siedah Garrett who herself parted company with the group after just one album. Their last single was Saturday Nite, a Number 35 hit in September last year which as well as heralding a Greatest Hits collection showcased their new singer - none other than Carleen Anderson. So what better song could there be to record than the one with which she first cemented her reputation? So it is that this week we have the highly unusual situation of the same singer having a hit with the same song with two totally different acts. In truth this new version is barely a patch on the original but Anderson's voice sounds as breathtaking as ever and despite not winding up a massive hit the single has to score marks for novelty value alone.


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