This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 ROCK DJ (Robbie Williams) 

No look, I'm not even going to pretend there was any kind of a shadow of doubt over this one. From the moment the single received its first airing about a month ago there was never any question it was going to give Robbie Williams another Number One single. All the hype, the 'controversial' (read: Clothes Shedding, Skin Ripping and Flesh Tearing) video, the tiger logo pants, the suspiciously convenient 'romance' with Geri Halliwell was hardly necessary but the package overall has added up to one of the biggest smash hits of the year so far. For those that haven't heard Rock DJ it must surely rank as one of the most derivative singles ever to still qualify as inspired. Built around a groove that is acknowledged to have been lifted from Barry White's It's Ecstacy When You Lay Down Next To Me and with a half-spoken, half-rapped verse that is one part One Night In Bangkok to two parts Reasons To Be Cheerful, the song builds up to an insistent chorus that is as catchy as it is meaningless. That is pop genius, pure and simple. The first single to be taken from Robbie Williams' forthcoming new album, it gives him a third solo Number One hit and his second in a row following She's The One/It's Only Us from November last year. Add to that the seven times he topped the UK chart as a member of Take That and it can be noted the only men to have featured on more Number One singles in chart history are Cliff, Elvis and the four members of the Beatles (although he is still ironically tied with arch-rival Gary Barlow who was on 8 Number Ones with Take That and has himself had two solo chart-topping hits).


2 7 DAYS (Craig David) 

A star though he is, Craig David stood little chance of resisting the challenge of Robbie Williams and so like many hitmakers before him of late, he surrenders the Number One position after just a week. This means that Robbie Williams' Rock DJ is the ninth different Number One single in as many weeks, dating back from June 17th which was the last of Sonqiue's three weeks at the top with It Feels So Good. Strange though it seems, this is by no means a record although we are getting close. The fastest period of turnover in chart history came between December 12th 1998 and February 27th 1999 - a period of 12 weeks - when there was a different record at the top of every single chart.


3 TIME TO BURN (Storm) 

Amazing what a change of name can do for you sometimes. The artists known as Storm are actually German legends Jam El Mar and Mark Spoon although given that this was known as far back as 1998 when the first Storm single came out (it reached Number 32) I'm not quite sure why it is suddenly such a sensation. Jam and Spoon's most successful chart run in this country came in 1995 when after faltering on first release a year before, their international smash Right In The Night made Number 10 and brought Find Me and Angel into the Top 40 in its wake. Five years on from those hits they eclipse them all with this Storm single, a more hard on floor burner than their usual output which makes the change of name seem all the more logical. On a side note this is by no means the first time Jam and Spoon have used an alias to have a hit single, recording the cult 1995 track Everybody On The Floor as the fantastically named Tokyo Ghetto Pussy. It made Number 26 in September that year, charting in the same week as Find Me.


8 I CAN ONLY DISAPPOINT (Mansun) 

This week sees the return to the chart of two long-established British bands, both with what is arguably a welcome return to form. First off are Mansun whose first hit came back in 1996 in the shape of Egg Shaped Fred and who have been a consistent chart presence ever since and with past hits such as Stripper Vicar and Wide Open Space still standing up today and deserving of near-classic status. Their last hit came in February 1999 when Six made Number 16 and now they do even better with the quite inspired I Can Only Disappoint, easily one of their most appealing singles for years. It duly becomes what is only their third Top 10 single ever and charts just one place short of the peak scaled by Legacy in July 1998, for now their biggest hit single ever.


10 BATTLE (Wookie) 

Notice the lack of any major new pop releases this week as everyone stays out of the way of Robbie Williams. Instead the gate is left open for alternative acts (hello again Mansun) and for garage to bite back big time. The first of two big new garage releases to chart this week is the debut single from new big thing (tm) Wookie. Battle is actually 'proper' garage in the sense that it contains few sops to commercialism and sounds more at home in a club than it does on the stereo. Nonetheless a Top 10 hit it becomes. The only one or the first of many?


13 SINCERE (MJ Cole) 

Now if you are a dedicated garage fan there is every chance you already have this single. Matt Coleman first released Sincere under the alias of MJ Cole back in May 1998. This was over a year before the commercial potential of two-step garage had been noticed by anyone and the single went largely unnoticed, peaking at Number 38. Fast forward a year and suddenly garage was the big thing of the moment, prompting a slew of "Best of Garage" compilations to hit the shops many of which featured Sincere as a headlining track. The last MJ Cole single was Crazy Love which hit Number 10 in May and which of course had everyone (myself included) commenting on how he was the same man who made that rather famous Sincere record which was ahead of its time and wasn't such a big hit first time around. Now in the light of all this one doesn't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out what the next MJ Cole release was likely to be. So it is that the reactivated Sincere (complete with a few new mixes) slides nicely into the Top 20 to become the hit it probably always should have been.


19 SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT (Reef) 

Reef began their chart career as the unlikely stars of a series of TV adverts for minidiscs, performing their song Naked to an unimpressed industry boss who throws the disc out the window only for it to be picked up by a passing jogger. At the height of the golden summer of Britpop it helped them to establish a niche as a gritty British rock band who weren't actually Britpop, if that makes any sense. The height of their chart career came in late 1996 and early 1997 when Place Your Hands and Come Back Brighter made the Top 10. Of late they have struggled slightly and last years Rides album only produced one Top 40 single in the shape of I've Got Something To Say which reached Number 15. One year later they return with a brand new track and another crunching yet tuneful hit single. Set The Record Straight gives them their ninth Top 40 hit and in a way it is refreshing to see them maintain a level of popularity even after five years with the kind of uncompromising blues-tinged rock that was never supposed to be in fashion. And which was never Britpop.


23 HOW'S YOUR EVENING SO FAR (Josh Wink and Lil Louis) 

Looking back it is hard to convey to anyone who wasn't there the impact Lil' Louis' French Kiss had. Released at first as only on 12 inch it was over six minutes of synthesised, sensual, pulsing acid house rhythms which gradually got slower and slower as the sounds of a woman in the final stages of ecstacy grew louder and louder. After slowing down to almost a stop, the rhythms began at high speed until they spiralled off into infinity. It charged to Number 2 to the horror of radio producers all over the country and 11 years later it stands as one of the most subltly inspired dance singles ever recorded. Now it is back. Josh Wink, best known for his 1996 hit Higher State Of Consciousness has remixed the track to bring it up to date for a new generation, or at least I think that was the theory. The problem is, strip out the female orgasm as this new retitled version does, and you are left with a rather dated sounding track that would be called trance these days, but for the fact it is about five times too fast. Maybe the rather curious retitling of the track was a subtle way of pointing out the truth of the matter... French Kiss was unique in a way that cannot be duplicated and to try to rework it is to effectively make an entirely new record out of the beats of the original. Which is really what this is.


31 MORE AND MORE (Spoiled And Zigo) 

More Eurodance and as is often the case these days, half the fun comes in noting just where the single originated. In this case the answer is somewhat surprisingly Israel, who I guess only qualify as being able to make eurodance singles by virtue of the fact they enter the Eurovision Song Contest. Actually it was said contest that was the source of the last Israeli single to reach the UK Top 40, Dana International's Diva made Number 11 in 1998 in the wake of its victory in that years telecast. Prior to that you had to go back to 1988 to find a star from Israel with a hit to their name, the late Ofra Haza making Number 15 with Im Nin'Alu after it was sampled extensively by just about every house record made at the time. The biggest ever Israeli hit came in 1968 when Esther and Abi Ofarim topped the chart with the still extraordinary Cinderella Rockafeller.


35 CALL IT FATE (Richie Dan) 

Another garage single? Well why not after all as Agia Napa fever is running wild at the moment. Call It Fate extends the current minor fad for fusing garage rhythms with ragga as the single plods along like Shabba Ranks b-side, skipping wildly between a Mediterranean and Carribean feel. By no means a commercial single so this minor chart entry is possibly no more than it deserves.


35 I DISAPPEAR (Metallica) 

I can just picture what Andy the editor is thinking here. Is it possible to write a piece on Metallica without mentioning Napster or indeed what a pillock Lars Ulrich is making of himself? Let's try shall we. I Disappear is the second single to be taken from the soundtrack of MI:2, hard on the heels of Limp Bizkit's Take A Look Around. Rather less of a hit than the theme itself, despite featuring heavily in trailers for the movie it at least gives Metallica their first chart hit since their cover of Thin Lizzy's Whisky In The Jar made Number 29 in February 1999. Maybe they would have had at least another since but for the fact that no singles were ever lifted from the S&M album even though they would have had a Top 20 hit with the novelty value alone. Aside from idle speculation Metallica have now clocked up 16 consecutive Top 40 hits since 1987 and I Disappear ranks alongside any of them as a fine sounding MP3, er single.