This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 AMERICAN PIE (Madonna) 

*browses top end of charts* Hmm... Oasis at the top of the albums listing. *yawn* Didn't see that one coming. What about singles... Madonna? Yeah, OK no shocks there really either. After generating more fuss and more comment than probably any other Madonna single in recent years there was never any doubt that American Pie would bring to an end All Saints' two week run at the top - and sure enough, the fortune tellers were correct. First of all the straight facts: The single (her 50th hit) is an incredible 9th Number One single for Madonna. I say 'incredible' as it further cements her as one of the leading chart stars of all time. 9 Number Ones brings her level with Abba as the 4th most successful chart act in history. The only other acts to have had more chart-topping singles are of course Cliff (14) and The Beatles and Elvis with 17 apiece. With this Number One hit, which of course comes two years after her last (Frozen), Madonna has the honour of becoming the first person to have a Number One single in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s although it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that others will follow where she has lead. As I'm sure most people are aware the record is actually a cover version, her take on Don McLean's celebrated allegorical account of the death of Buddy Holly which famously missed out on topping the charts first time around. When released in 1972 it peaked at Number 2, shut out by Nilsson's Without You. Finally to end this parade of stats, consider the producer's credits for a moment. American Pie is produced (as was the whole of the Ray Of Light album) by William Orbit, who as producer of Pure Shores thus replaces himself at Number One - the first producer to do this since Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman had three Number Ones in a row back in 1989.

Of course there is more to the single than just chart facts. Taken from the soundtrack of the Madonna-starring The Next Best Thing, the single has set a number of people foaming at the mouth with outrage. Not only has she dared to cover one of the all-time greats but she has had the temerity to transform it musically, replacing the acoustic backing beloved of a million subway buskers with a thin electronic base. Not only that but as the song is famously over 8 minutes long in its original form she has missed out a number of verses in order to fit the beginning and the end on the single. Personally I don't feel comfortable commenting too deeply. Whilst there is no doubting that there are certain songs (of which American Pie is certainly one) that command the highest levels of musical respect you cannot help but note that the people who are expressing outrage at the way Madonna has dared to do something different with the track are the very same ones who sneer at the likes of Boyzone and Westlife for doing note for note cover versions of similarly classic songs. You cannot have it both ways I'm afraid. OK so American Pie maybe deserves more respect than Madonna and Orbit have shown it but heck, they have had the balls to do something different and have been rewarded with a massive Number One single. I don't think they will be losing too much sleep to be honest.


2 PURE SHORES (All Saints) 

So after all the above, All Saints slide a place to settle in the runners-up slot after a two week run at the top. Note that one soundtrack single has replaced another at the top of the chart, the first time this has happened since 1991 when Color Me Badd's I Wanna Sex You Up (from New Jack City) replaced Cher's The Shoop Shoop Song - taken from Mermaids.


3 BYE BYE BYE ('N Sync) 

Right, best not to hang around now as we have 16 more new entries to deal with here. Highest of these is perhaps deservedly the brand new single from 'N Sync, following up their new year collaboration with Gloria Estefan on Music Of My Heart. Those paying attention to these things will notice that the UK;s slowness in picking up on their appeal (hits such as I Want You Back only escaping here at the start of last year) means that we have had to skip a few of their other worldwide hits - most notably (God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You which never got a UK single release. Instead we move on to their brand new album and this storming smash hit which comes across as Britney Spears on hormones. This is mainly explained by the presence of Kristian Lundin on production duties who can in turn claim part responsibility for Britney Spears' own style [along with everyone else at Cheiron Studios of course]. Bye Bye Bye dutifully becomes 'N Sync's biggest ever hit single, beating the Number 5 peak of I Want You Back and, OK then if you insist is probably a far worthier candidate to be Number One than certain other singles I could mention.


5 SHALALA LALA (Vengaboys) 

Come on, snobbishness aside there is something rather endearing about the Vengaboys isn't there? With every single release they sound cuter and cuter and the truth of the matter is that their last single Kiss (When The Sun Don't Shine) was a fabulous pop record. As a result their sixth hit single is just as big as the rest, complete with what appear to be Boney M influences and a cliche-ridden Austrian-style video it charges into the Top 5 and a reflection on their form so far comes with the revelation that if Shalala Lala progresses no further it will actually be their smallest hit to date.


6 SITTING DOWN HERE (Lene Marlin) 

Speaking of catching up, across the other side of the North Sea, Lene Marlin has spent most of the last two years as one of Norway's biggest chart sensations ever. The teenager from Tromso spent 1999 adding award after award to her mantelpiece from all over mainland Europe and playing to rapturous audiences in Japan. Despite this she remained a relative unknown over here, sure we heard talk of someone called Lene Marlin and saw her name on European charts but she never saw a sniff of action. Until now of course. A full year after it was first a European hit, Sitting Down Here charges into the Top 10. Clearly the UK is now ready for her.


7 WON'T TAKE IT LYING DOWN (Honeyz) 

So the Honeyz are only capable of epic, lushly-produced ballads such as Never Let You Down and End Of The Line are they? Think again. Won't Take It Lying Down is one the new tracks featuring new member Mariama that were grafted onto the reworked version of their album Wonder No.8 and it proves to be the biggest revelation of their career. This is where the girls get nasty with an addictive slab of US-style R&B that puts anything Eternal et al have done recently to shame. The single is their 5th hit and 5th Top 10 hit in a row, matching the peak scaled by Never Let You Down at the back end of last year.


8 SATISFY YOU (Puff Daddy featuring R Kelly) 

One of the most eagerly awaited singles of the week, this collaboration between Puff Daddy and R Kelly finally gets an official release and explodes nicely into the Top 10. The single has spent most of the last month just outside the Top 75 on import, twice sneaking into the main listings at Number 73. For R Kelly it is his first hit this year, follow-up up If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time which set up a near-permanent residence in the chart at the back end of last year. Puff Daddy hasn't been seen on the chart since November when Best Friend reached Number 24. This single becomes his biggest hit since Come With Me hit Number 2 in August 1998.


10 THANK GOD I FOUND YOU (Mariah Carey) 

Only the records that made up last week's Top 3 survive in the upper reaches of the list as a record-equalling seven new entries occupy the rest of the Top 10. The final one of these comes from Mariah Carey and a cast of thousands (almost), the second single release from her current album and the follow-up to last November's Heartbreaker. Don't be too surprised at the way this single has only just scraped into the Top 10 as it is the kind of single that the US appears to love but to which the Brits remain distinctly lukewarm. Funky Mariah is put back in her box for a moment to be replaced by Foghorn Mariah so that she can warble her way another of those ballads which is as devoid of genuine emotion as it is of a tune. She is joined in the caterwauling by Joe, boy band 98 Degrees and on the single mix by rapper Nas. Needless to say it is an American Number One but in the UK one of her smaller hits of late.


14 DON'T YOU WORRY (Madasun) 

Another Girl Band (as opposed of course to Another Boy Band) although really we should be labelling them as Not Just etc. as Madasun have taken a fresh sounding R&B route for this debut single. They have a support slot for Boyzone already under their belts with a slot on tour before Five to come. Beyond that it is hard to comment more, but Number 14 is good enough for their first time out.


15 LOVE ON THE NORTHERN LINE (Northern Line) 

Still struggling to make much of an impact, despite the celebrity endorsements (ie Elton John) that accompanied their debut, Northern Line (or Another Boy Band if we are going to continue the joke) creep almost unnoticed into the Top 20 with their second single. Slowly but surely appears to be the maxim here as Love On The Northern Line lands a mere three places higher than Run For Your Life reached in October last year.


16 SUNSHINE (Yomanda) 

A second hit single for Paul "no relation even if he had the same name as me which he doesn't" Masterson, the followup to Synth And Strings which made Number 8 in July last year. Sadly I'm going to soil my reputation here by not being able to identify the sample that supplies the track's main hook [Sunshne Hotel by Richard T. Bear. And in truth nobody would be any the wiser had 2000 James known either]. There, that feels so liberating.


21 EVERYTHING (Dum Dums) 

Narrowly missing out on the Top 20 by a whisker, this is the debut hit single from the wonderfully titled Dum Dums, three lads from Kent who are resolutely Not Just Another Boy Band. Their angle is to be a prettier version of Blur, real instruments which they play themselves, the same producers as Robbie Williams and a marketing spin which sees them quite at home on MTV and assorted Saturday morning televisions shows. Will this combination work? Well, give it time for now. Their first single is the kind that you want to annoy the neighbours with by playing it as loud as possible despite somehow never managing to progress beyond being 'OK' but there is potential in their lack of posing.


27 WAIT AND BLEED (Slipknot) 

The UK chart debut for latest US shock-rockers Slipknot who hail from Iowa, dress in boilersuits and other assorted skating-inspired fashions and who have built their name so far on some astonishing live shows. Musically they sound like rap and thrash metal thrown in a blender but for whatever reason it works. This first chart hit comes on the back of a series of small-scale UK dates during which time they managed to draw headlines by seemingly trying to kill members of the audience. Now that is style.


29 THE HARDEST THING (98 Degrees) 

Now this is spooky. Just as Mariah Carey lands inside the Top 10 complete with a guest appearance from 98 Degrees, so the group themselves creep into the Top 40. 98 Degrees are at roughly the same stage that 'N Sync were about 18 months ago, a teen band with massive US success who have so far failed to catch fire in this country. Their only other hit single to date came exactly one year ago when Because Of You made Number 36. On that basis they have progressed, albeit not by much.


30 FORGIVE ME (Lynden David Hall) 

Hailed as a hot new soul sensation when he first emerged in 1997, Lyden David Hall has yet to make the commercial breakthrough that was expected. His only Top 40 hits to date came back in 1998 with Do I Qualify and the reissued Sexy Cinderella which had stiffed first time around a year beforehand. His first single release since is nothing less than a very good record but some way short of a fully fledged hit, only able to scrape into the Top 30.


31 CAN'T GET USED TO LOSING YOU (Colour Girl) 

New entry 15 of 17 and this is actually something a little bit special. The bump-start rhythm of garage underpins the vocals of potential new star Rebecca King but this is no ordinary garage single, oh no. Instead it is a cover of an all-time easy listening classic, Can't Get Used To Losing You having been a Number 2 hit for Andy Williams back in 1963. That the combination of the song and the beats works so well shouldn't actually be too much of a surprise as the same thing has been tried before. Cast your minds back to the original ska boom of the early 1980s. Top 3 in May 1983 was indeed another cover of Can't Get Used To Losing You - as done ska-style by The Beat.


33 OFF THE WALL (Wisdome) 

OK what is this? Did Michael Jackson suddenly had a fit of benevolence towards the back end of last year and start agreeing to have his songs played around with by dance producers? Hot on the heels of Scanty Sandwich and Baby Bumps comes yet another dance record that takes a Jackson classic as its inspiration. As the title suggest, this Italian hit uses the title track (thankfully resung rather than sampled) of first post-Jacksons solo album and turns it into what is, in fairness a dance hit that is not without its charm. Sorry, was I being nice about it there? I've been working too hard...


36 BEACHED (Orbital & Angelo Badalamenti) 

Given that The Beach is by the same team as Trainspotting a few comparisons seems appropriate. If Pure Shores is The Beach's Born Slippy then this is the equivalent of Choose Life. Beached is not so much a track as a soundscape, Angelo Badalementi's main theme from the score has been mixed by Orbital to include a series of Di Caprio soundbites from the film. To quite wonderful effect I might add. This is by no means the first time Orbital have contributed to a film soundtrack, one of the biggest hits of their career having been their Number 3 remake of The Saint theme back in 1997. Finally at the end of what has been one of the busiest Top 40 charts ever, it is worth noting that it is almost ten years to the week since the Hartnoll brothers made the Top 40 with their first ever single - the instrumental Chime which peaked at Number 17. You wonder if even they imagined they would still be making hit records a decade later.


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