1 7 DAYS (Craig David)
Heavens, it seems almost refreshing this week to have a Number One single that is free of controversy. Leading contender for discovery of the year, Craig David finds his second solo single following nicely in the footsteps of the first as he claims his second Number One, just three months after Fill Me In had a week of glory at the summit. Last time around he made headlines because of his age, at just 19 years old he was the youngest man for 12 years to top the UK charts. The fact that he has done so twice now elevates him onto an entirely new plane and can lay claim to being the youngest man to have a brace of chart-toppers for well over a generation. Maybe it is way the industry has focussed on young female stars for the last two decades but to find a solo gent with similar success at such tender years you have to go back to 1973 when Donny Osmond's cover of The Twelfth Of Never gave him a second solo Number One at the tender age of 15 years and 3 months. In doing so Donny Osmond beat the previous record holder by a matter of four years... no less a figure than Cliff Richard had his second Number One hit in 1959 just a day after his 19th birthday. Back to Craig David though and whilst his recent involvement with the last Artful Dodger single shows he is still very much a part of the garage scene, 7 Days is soulful R&B at its very finest and more of an indication of where his career is likely to develop in the future.
2 FREESTYLER (Bomfunk MCs)
Typical isn't it. You wait almost 50 years for a Top 10 hit from Finland and then two come along at once. Hot on the heels of Darude come the Bomfunk MCs with a single that has been a smash hit all over the rest of Europe already this summer and which now charges straight into the Top 3 over here. Listening to the single it isn't hard to understand why as the track is the kind of riotous hip-hop dance record of the kind you thought they were supposed to have stopped making years ago. Throw in a production that has echoes of Norman Cook in it and you have a sure-fire smash hit. Interestingly enough the connection with the Darude single doesn't end there as one of the producers of Freestyler is Jakko "JS16" Salovaara who also had a hand in one of the mixes of Sandstorm.
3 WE WILL ROCK YOU (Five & Queen)
So how do you think they feel about their Number One triumph now? The collaboration between boy band and rock legends (who incidentally were having their sixth spell at the top, not their fifth as I miscounted last week) stormed to the summit last week only to be greeted by a storm of press as it was revealed that the illegal copies of the Ronan Keating single almost certainly denied the Irish star a second week at the top (see below), to the benefit of course of Five. Those with long memories may be permitted a smile at this. Exactly a year ago last week Five and their management were complaining bitterly when their single If Ya Getting Down charted at Number 2 behind Ricky Martin's Livin' La Vida Loca. Their beef was that in certain players the running time of CD2 of Martin's single clocked in at 20:02 and this theoretically broke chart rules, even though the actual audio content of the single was a good few seconds under the limit. Common sense doesn't always have a part to play in the battle to top the charts.
4 LIFE IS A ROLLERCOASTER (Ronan Keating)
The rogue chart ineligible copies of the single may well be all but gone from the shops but that still does not stop Ronan from sliding down the listings after being denied a second week at the top due to a misreading of the rules, and apologies as well to RCA who were "credited" with the error last week when of course Ronan Keating is a Polydor artist. The fuss over the mix up of formats prompted a number of pieces of email last week. First of all, people wanted to know just what it was about CD1 that meant it could not count towards the charts. As I explained last week, extra multimedia tracks are allowed on singles, as long as they are effectively an "enhanced" version of one of the audio tracks - ie the video and a graphical environment in which to play it. Where this single fell down is that the multimedia track was an on-camera interview with the star that had nothing to do with any of the other tracks on the single. Consequently, it had to go.
More than one person also wrote to enquire just how Polydor were allowed to release a revised version of the single after they pulled the illegal CD from the shelves. The answer here is contained in the rules which state that there is nothing to stop a record company from releasing as many different versions of a single as they like, they simply have to nominate which three they want to count towards a chart placing. Polydor wound up with only two formats counting towards the chart so there was nothing to stop them belatedly releasing another whose sales could be combined with the other two. In actual fact this was common practice a few years ago with extra remixes of singles arriving in the shops anything up to two or three weeks later than the first release of the track in an attempt to give sales an extra boost.
5 THE REAL SLIM SHADY (Eminem)
A further one place slide for Eminem's former Number One this week. Nothing too remarkable about that you may think but it does mean that the single has slipped 1-2-3-4-5 in its chart career to date, the first record to move down the Top 5 in consecutive weeks since Michael Jackson's You Are Not Alone did the trick in September 1995.
6 MARIA MARIA (Santana)
The US Number One and second single to be lifted from the globally-celebrated Supernatural album is actually a number of weeks late. Originally scheduled for release at the end of June to coincide with Santana's brief set of dates in this country, it finally arrives in the shops long after people's memories of the concerts have faded. In a sense the timing is still perfect as like most of the album, Maria Maria is a perfect summertime soundtrack that works best when the sun is shining. The production on the track is unmistakeable, Wyclef Jean creating his usual sensual groove and with vocals being provided by the Product G&B, the latest proteges of the superstar producer. Four months after Smooth made Number 3, Santana has only the second Top 10 hit of his career and one which surely cements his reputation as the king of effortless cool.
14 YOU (Point Break)
So does anyone apart from the odd fanatical Smash Hits reader know much about Point Break? You see the problem here don't you? The former TV actors are stuck in a boy band limbo that has meant that their three previous singles have all come and gone from the chart without anyone paying too much attention, even though the second, Stand Tough, capitalised on the January lull to reach Number 7. Still they hang in there chartwise, their fourth single (which sees them doing the most scarily accurate A-Ha impression ever) slides in just one place below the peak of April's Freaky Time to make this three Top 20 hits from their last three releases. Still you get the feeling this isn't quite enough.
15 FOR SURE (Scooch)
Whilst we are on the subject of pop acts who haven't quite clicked with the public, Scooch are still merrily treading their chosen furrow of being Steps' own living, breathing tribute band. Mike Stock and Matt Aitken's creations were last on the chart in May when The Best Is Yet To Come reached Number 12 and now they too have a third Top 20 hit with their fourth single release. For Sure may well rank as their catchiest release to date, even if radio appears to have largely ignored it, and you never know - with a worryingly large number of people just waiting for the Steps bubble to burst and for the group to finally explode, Scooch are in prime position if the nation decides it needs a replacement.
21 PURE PLEASURE SEEKER (Moloko)
Hey, we haven't had a recurring theme so far this week have we? How about: after the hype, the reality. Moloko's The Time Is Now was deservedly one of the hits of the year, peaking at Number 2 in April with a 10 week run on the Top 75 and a single which sounded as much at home on Galaxy as it did on Radio 2. The second single from their current album doesn't quite fare as well being as it is a more representative example of the kind of spaced-out musical meanderings that characterise their output. Still, after years of being unappreciated any hit for them is one worth savouring. During the week I was inspired to look up old clippings from 1996 when they made the Top 40 for the first time with Fun For Me only to discover they were best known for throwing a strop when people insisted on comparing them to Portishead. Strange but true.
28 WHEN THE WORLD IS RUNNING DOWN (Different Gear vs. The Police)
Not all inspired ideas work as well as they should in practice I guess. This single as you might have guessed, began life as a bootleg thrown together by London outfit Different Gear. The requisite legendary status was bestowed upon it before the appropriate licences were sorted out for an official release of the remixed track. The single in question is When The World Is Running Down which began life as track three on the Police's 1980 album Zenyatta Mondatta. The Different Gear production strips away almost everything except Sting's vocals and adds a beat which is not unpleasantly evocative of some ten year old deep house classics. However in spite of the hype (and just like several other "potentially big" dance singles of late) a massive hit this is not and set to become just another footnote when the tale of this year gets told. This is by no means the first time that an old Police album track has be resurrected in a more modern style. Back in 1993 Demolition Man was exhumed from their 1981 album Ghost In The Machine and Sting's vocal track was used to create a new dance version that formed the theme to the Sylvester Stallone/Wesley Snipes movie of the same name. Credited as a solo single by Sting, it made Number 21 in November that year.
34 ROME WASN'T BUILT IN A DAY (Morcheeba)
If there was a chart of acts whose music press coverage was way out of proportion to their actual appeal then Morcheeba would probably be heading it at the moment. The group have just released their new album which has been reviewed as a major new arrival, despite the fact that their last hit single, 1998's Number 38 hit Part Of The Process was only their second every foray into the Top 40. Well now Rome Wasn't Built In A Day is their third and ironically (and not, it must be stated, undeservingly) the biggest of their career to date but for now they remain the band music writers like to talk about as if to prove to the rest of us what we are missing. Just like they used to do with Moloko actually...
38 WHY DIDN'T YOU CALL ME (Macy Gray)
After the hype, the reality (part II). Proof that Macy Gray desperately needs a new marketing twist (or at the very least some new material) comes in the shape of her fourth single which fares even worse from the well-exposed Still by barely creeping into the Top 40. As is so often the case, this is something of a shame as Why Didn't You Call Me is her least cloying single to date with some very distinctly Sly Stone influences running right the way through. As I said back in March when Still made a surprising debut at a lowly Number 18, it is not that the lady who made such a sensation at Christmastime has suddenly fallen out of favour, it is just that her music clearly appeals to a strong album-buying market and that just for a change, releasing a succession of CDs is almost certainly an exercise in wasted promotion. She will have big hits again, at least in the Top 20, just not until she releases some brand new material. Which seems fair enough.