1 THE REAL SLIM SHADY (Eminem)
America is a funny place. The land of the free appears in some respects to be stuffed to the gills with self-appointed moral guardians, screaming blue murder at anything they find objectionable, be it in TV, film or music. For the past year and a half Eminem has been the target of much extremist bile, the more records he sells of explicit and often downright offensive lyrics wrapped up a very commercial package, the more hysterical people seem to get. Here in Britain, there isn't quite the same depth of feeling so it is possible to view the fuss with an amused detachment. That still doesn't take away the impact of the content of Eminem's second album, the chart-topping Marshall Mathers LP on which he goes on several extended rants about the sheer stupidity of the fuss that surrounds him, and the futility of any self-appointed censors trying to stop him saying what he damn well likes. The album's first single release is a prime example of this and in the process manages to be one of the most intelligent, thought-provoking yet at the same time shocking and at times incredibly amusing rap singles produced for years.
Now it is a Number One single. After two consecutive Top 10 hits from his first album last year (My Name Is reaching Number 2 and Guilty Conscience making Number 5) and following on from his co-credited appearance on Dr Dre's Forgot About Dre (which is still inside the Top 40), the lad from Detroit can celebrate his biggest hit single ever. The Real Slim Shady is the first rap record to top the UK charts since Run DMC's remixed It's Like That spent six weeks at the top in March 1998. Furthermore, it is only the presence of Richard Ashcroft at the top of the albums listing that prevents him from becoming the first rap act ever to top both singles and albums listings simultaneously. Go and listen to the lyrics of the track carefully if you haven't done already. Be offended at his language by all means, feel free to wonder why the track hasn't sent Christina Aguilera scurrying to her lawyers but after that go find a copy of 2 Live Crew's Banned In The USA and marvel at how the most maligned acts are always the ones to defend their position with the greatest inspiration.
2 GOTTA TELL YOU (Samantha Mumba)
A slim sales lead early in the week rapidly evaporated to nothing as the Eminem bandwagon gathered pace so the latest chart sensation to come from Ireland has to settle for the runners-up slot for her debut hit single. Samantha Mumba is yet another 'discovery' of Boyzone and Westlife svengali Louis Walsh but be assured she is far from another bland balladeer as her debut single is a sparkling three and a half minutes of pop music that serve as a gentle reminder that not every pop record has to emulate the Cheiron-patented Eurobang rhythm or indeed requires a 2SG beat to propel it chartwards. Incidentally the performance of the single serves as a gentle reminder of the perils of relying on reports of early midweek sales figures as an accurate picture of what is going to happen when the chart is officially published. In this information age it is inevitable that there will be a greater awareness of how singles are performing throughout the week, however much CIN would doubtless love to ritually flog people who are leaking the data. Nonetheless it is always worth remembering that anything you see or hear reported during the week is based on some very raw data that is usually untouched by the strict scrutinising process that all chart information has to undergo to preserve the integrity of the listings. Records that were given midweek placings have been famously removed from the chart altogether by the weekend in the past and you can bet your life that it will happen again at some stage. Just remember that next time you see reports (even here on dotmusic) of how such and such a single is ahead of the pack in the middle of the week. As Samantha Mumba found out, midweek figures can sometimes be little more than a false dawn.
4 YELLOW (Coldplay)
Now here is a puzzle. How is it that Coldplay's debut single Shiver could only stagger to Number 35 back in March yet this second release charges straight into the Top 5? For the answer look no further than last weekend's annual Glastonbury festival, three days of thousands of people with string in their hair camped in a muddy field to hear the cream of music perform live and discover new depths of self-control whilst queueing for the toilets. Coldplay's set was widely reported as one of the highlights of the undercard and this, coupled with extensive support from the likes of Radio One has helped to propel the band towards stardom. The single itself is no instant classic for sure [facepalm] but lovers of bands who know how to play will certainly lap up their style which nicely bridges the gap between Radiohead and the Stereophonics. Watch out for their debut album soon...
6 UNCLE JOHN FROM JAMAICA (Vengaboys)
Credit where credit is due as far as the Vengaboys are concerned. Over the past few years they have evolved from making incredibly annoying and cheesy dance tunes (Up And Down and We Like To Party) to churning out cute little pop records which it is hard to hate. Despite having members from all over the world the group are based in Holland and so in those terms it is possible to regard them as the most successful Dutch act in chart history. Uncle John From Jamaica is now their seventh successive Top 10 hit, even if for the moment it has the dubious honour of being their first single to miss the Top 5 completely. OK so the single sounds like a poor copy of Montego Bay but if you want a track to remind you that summer is here, this is the one and surely it has been far far too long since we had a Top 10 single with a steel drum solo stuck in the middle...
8 SUMMER OF LOVE (Lonyo)
Now for most of the last five years it has been easy to pinpoint the source of the appeal of any number of big dance hits. One just looks to the clubs of Ibiza for the answer. Now the waters are muddied by the steady rise of Agia Napa which last year saw the first rumblings of the explosion of interest in UK Garage. Hence the appearance in the UK Top 10 of Lonyo who provided vocals for one of last year's Napa anthems Destiny (a Number 54 hit in October 1998 for Dem 2 and which is surely due a re-release at some stage) and who will be a familiar face to anyone who frequents the Rotation club in London. Summer Of Love may well be an indication of the way forward for club hits this summer. I'll drink a shot of Ouzo to that...
11 GOT YOUR MONEY (Ol' Dirty Bastard featuring Kelis)
Remarkably enough this is the first ever lead chart credit for Wu-Tang mainstay ODB. He featured on one of the mixes of Mariah Carey's Fantasy back in 1995, reached Number 29 in conjunction with Omar on Say Nothin' in 1997 and two years ago was at Number 2 as one of the many featured acts on Pras Michel's Ghetto Supastar. His first ever official solo hit lands just shy of a place in the Top 10 but at the very least is a boost to the chart record of his own guest star Kelis, her second single Good Stuff having disappointed slightly at Number 19 a fortnight ago.
14 GOOD THING GOING (Sid Owen)
I don't care how lazy it is to refer to this in such terms but the endless parade of soap actors leaving the series which made their names to become pop stars is starting to become a cliche. Last year Martine McCutcheon waved goodbye to her Eastenders character Tiffany Mitchell to become a Number One hitmaker and this year it is the turn of Sid Owen aka Ricky Butcher to walk out of the BBC soap and straight into the charts. Whilst his voice may only be on the border of being adequate, his debut single isn't that bad an attempt, a cover version of the old Motown standard Good Thing Going which was originally handed to a young Michael Jackson to sing but which was first turned into a UK hit by Sugar Minott who reached Number 4 in 1981. Owen's version borrows the lovers' rock feel of that version and a contributing ragga toast from Chuckie Star gives the whole track a suitably authentic feel. Sid Owen's chart debut comes almost nine years since that of his onscreen sister, Sophie Lawrence (aka Diane Butcher) reached Number 21 with a cover of Donna Summer's Love's Unkind in August 1991.
17 WHAT'S MY AGE AGAIN (Blink 182)
Having been turned into stars by the impressive Number 2 peak of their last single All The Small Things, Blink 182 attempt to replicate that success by reactivating their first UK single. What's My Age Again was first released in October last year and made Number 38 whilst the UK got their heads round the concept of this group of Americans who took their clothes off at any given opportunity. Second time around the single does rather better but at the same time makes the performance of All The Small Things look a bit of a fluke. Time will tell as always.
18 CAN'T GET YOU OUT OF MY THOUGHTS (Dum Dums)
So are they named after the Hanna Barbera character or not? This is what the world wants to know. Meanwhile the implausibly named Dum Dums clock up their second hit single, the follow-up to March's Everything which made Number 21. A boy band who at least possess a fair degree of musicianship, this track sounds pleasantly like the Dave Clark Five with extra amplifiers and whilst they still haven't quite set the world on fire, the fact that they are booked on the summer festival circuit means that their chart story is far from over.
29 SANDWICHES (Detroit Grand Pu Bahs)
Now you see the problem with making a novelty record is that everyone expects it to be a massive smash hit. So much so in fact that you can almost hear the shockwaves when it lands much lower down the chart than was expected. Such is the case with this single, born in America (father: Andy 'Dr Toefinger' Roth) and imported over here a few months ago and adopted with glee by many top UK DJs who probably should have known better. A weedy male voice intones the rather risque lyrics over an electronic backing and effectively that is it, a single that will stick in your mind far longer than it should. However, a massive hit single it is not and whatever the qualities of the record, it doesn't quite possess the magic that makes people want to race to the shops to buy it. I'm reminded eerily of Suntan, a spoken word novelty hit released in 1993 by the enigmatically named Stan and which was supposed to be the smash hit of the summer. It peaked at Number 40.
31 JULY/I AM THE NEWS (Ocean Colour Scene)
Well they are still plodding on, despite the clear evidence that their time has gone. OCSs last single So Low stay true to its title and became one of their lowest charting singles ever when it peaked at Number 34 last November and this double sided release fares little better. Still they can take some small consolation from the fact that even their chart positions are better than some of their mid-90s contemporaries have been managing of late. Take Space, guaranteed Top 10 hitmakers as recently as 2 years ago but whose long-awaited comeback single Diary Of A Wimp can only reach Number 49 this week.