This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 AGAINST ALL ODDS (Mariah Carey featuring Westlife) 

The two-week reign of Modjo is brought to an end and their place at the top of the charts is taken by a superstar pairing that was probably destined to be massive, regardless of what they actually sang. In fact, the presence of the single at the top of the chart is so significant it doesn't so much require a commentary as a full list. So here we go:

  • This is Westlife's sixth single release and their sixth to fly straight to the top of the chart. It now means they are level with the Spice Girls for the best ever career-opening stretch. No other act has managed to top the chart every single time with their first six releases. You will doubtless read press coverage this week shouting that Westlife are the actual record holders which strictly speaking isn't correct. What they do hold is the record for going straight in at the top of the chart which is something the Spice Girls cannot claim (Wannabe hit the top in its second week on release) but as far as actual chart placings are concerned the two acts are neck and neck.
  • Against All Odds is Westlife's sixth successive Number One single, the Irishmen duplicating a feat which has only ever been achieved by two other acts. As already mentioned the Spice Girls are one and perhaps unsurprisingly that act is The Beatles who actually managed it twice, once at the start of their career between 1962 and 1967 on a run that eventually extended into a record-breaking 11 in a row and again between 1967 and 1969 for the final six Number Ones of their career. The Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley have both done five in a row but all fell short when it came to a sixth.
  • What of Mariah Carey though, reduced it seems, to little more than a footnote despite the fact that Against All Odds is actually her record and that Westlife are just the featured guest stars. She may have spent her career setting Westlife-level chart records back home in the States but over here has had to content herself with a run of Top 10 hits rather than hitting the very top. In actual fact, this is only her second Number One single, the first ironically also being a cover. Her version of Nilsson's Without You topped the charts for four weeks in February 1994. Against All Odds is her 18th UK Top 10 hit, an impressive statistic when you consider that between 1990 and 1993 she managed just two and it appeared that her stardom in this country would never reach the same levels it had back home.
  • Onto the song itself. Against All Odds was written by Phil Collins as the theme song for the film of the same name. The single became one of his most successful solo hits, reaching Number 2 in this country and going all the way in America. He was nominated for an Oscar for the song as well, losing out in the end to Stevie Wonder's I Just Called To Say I Love You. To be honest, this new version does the original few favours, the Collins original was filled with enough emotion to suggest that it was indeed being sung by a brokenhearted man at the end of his tether. Mariah Carey does her usual trick of turning the song into an excuse to show off just how many notes she can hit with one breath and the usual immaculate harmonies of Westlife don't exactly help in restoring any soul.
  • Finally, it is worth noting that this is the fifth cover version to top the charts this year following in the footsteps of American Pie, You See The Trouble With Me, We Will Rock You and Take On Me. Perhaps spookily every single one of these singles was a remake of a track that made Number 2 in its original version.

  • 2 KERNKRAFT 400 (Zombie Nation) 

    You would be amazed how many people so desperately wanted this record to top the charts, not just because they liked it but because it was seen as a triumph of creativity and innovation over bland corporate cover versions. In the end blandness wins the day it seems but the Zombie Nation can content themselves with a Top 3 hit single. You need to suspend your disbelief a little for this one as Munich-based DJ Splank! claims that the Zombie Nation is a movement of which he is the ruler. Or something, track down his website if you want to know more. The track itself is at the same time bizarre and beautiful, a mix of thundering drums, a rabble-rousing chant (at least on some of the mixes) and a central high-pitched keyboard riff that sounds as if Brian Eno has suddenly decided to make dance music. Deservedly massive, even if the dream of a Number One single went ultimately unrealised.


    4 SOMETHING DEEP INSIDE (Billie Piper) 

    Following her Number One hit Day And Night from May, the newly-turned 18 Billie Piper lands her second hit single from her new album and her sixth solo Top 10 hit (she has actually had seven if you count the all-star Abba medley hit on which she featured in 1999). If her last single stood comparison with Britney Spears then Something Deep Inside evokes the spirit of Janet Jackson in its own small way although Billie Piper is clearly carving out a pop-based R&B niche of her own, perhaps a necessary step as she is after all the only British teenage female with a chart reputation to rival (and in some cases beat) her American clones. More power to her.


    5 MOST GIRLS (Pink) 

    Speaking of teenagers, the American girl who is most emphatically not a clone of all the others storms back into the Top 10 with her second hit single. If you thought June's There You Go had enough intensity to last a lifetime then check out this new single as the pink-haired lass from Philadelphia sets out her demands for a man (presumably to replace the one she kicked out in the last single). Catchy enough to be a pop hit yet credible enough to appeal to R&B fans, the single actually beats the Number 6 peak of There You Go to take the crown as her biggest hit so far.


    6 UNLEASH THE DRAGON (Sisqo) 

    Sisqo himself admitted that The Thong Song was probably destined to be far and away the biggest hit he would ever have and a novelty with which he was saddling himself to the possible detriment of his chances of being appreciated for his more serious music. Even so he was going to enjoy it while it lasted. Enjoy it he did, with a worldwide smash hit and a Number 3 hit in this country which spent a full 8 weeks inside the Top 20. Unleash The Dragon is a more down to earth record, devoid of a big budget video yet it still manages to ride the wave of his popularity to land nicely inside the Top 10 to become the second Top 10 hit of his solo career. He has, of course, had similar sized hits in the past as one of the members of Dru Hill, hitting Number 9 in October 1998 with How Deep Is Your Love and Number 4 the following February on These Are The Times. Dru Hill were also backing singers on Will Smith's Wild Wild West which made Number 2 in July last year.


    7 I'M OUTTA LOVE (Anastacia) 

    Anastacia Newkirk is the lady's full name. She comes from New York and made a splash back home in the States with this single earlier in the year. Far from being just another Britney/Christina clone she is being painted as a serious artist and with a whole clutch of respected R&B songwriters waiting to work with her. Back home she is marketed as something of a novelty, a white girl singing black women's music. In Britain this is certain to be less of an issue and it is possible to take her debut single at face value - an enormously appealing crossover blend of R&B and disco that makes for a fine pop record - and a Top 10 hit to boot.


    18 MINORITY (Green Day) 

    Good to see these guys back in the chart. Green Day were arguably the band that proved it was possible to sell US-college rock in Britain, largely thanks to the inspired goofiness of their early material when they made Number 7 in January 1995 with Basket Case, a single which remains the biggest hit of their career. They proved too that more serious material could work as well, the acoustic Time Of Your Life made Number 11 in January 1998 but they have not been seen on the chart since the follow-up Redundant made Number 27 the following May. After a two year break the band return and immediately make an impact, landing their fifth Top 20 hit single with this first release from a forthcoming new album.


    19 YOU USED TO HOLD ME (Scott & Leon) 

    OK time for a short history lesson. House music was, as everyone is probably aware, born in Chicago, and many of the records made by Chicago producers between 1986 and 1988 stand as the inspiration for all that followed. One such track was You Used To Hold Me, produced in early 1987 by Ralphie Rosario and featuring a lead vocal from Xaviera Gold. Like many of these early classics it was never a hit single in its own right, but can be found on many house music compilations of the era. The track found its way into a few mainstream hits thanks to sampling of its rhythms and vocals, Gold's vocals forming an integral part of Mixmaster's 1989 Top 10 hit Grand Piano whilst in 1991 Richie Rich turned the track into You Used To Salsa (although he peaked at Number 52). So isn't it about time this legendary track became a hit in its own right? Scott Anderson clearly thought so. The resident DJ at Tenerife's Bobby's Bar decided this summer that it was time to remake the single for a new generation, hence the presence of this hit in the chart. The Scott and Leon remake will cause furrowed brows amongst some purists as the crashing house pianos of the original are replaced by a subtle not-quite-garage rhythm although the soundalike female singer retains virtually all Xaviera Gold's original vocal stylings, right down to the post-chorus wail that still has the power to inspire subliminal flashbacks to 1001 dance records of the late 80s and early 90s.


     29 BREAKOUT (Foo Fighters) 

    The creeping commercialism that caused so many furrowed brows amongst Foo Fighters fans rears its head again with their first chart single since Learn To Fly made Number 21 in October last year. Hence this is a rock song with a proper chorus, words you can follow and one which doesn't leave your ears bleeding at the end. This isn't a bad thing by the way. It becomes the tenth successive Top 30 hit for Dave Grohl et al, even if it does rank as their smallest to date, falling one place below the Number 28 peak of For All The Cows in December 1995.


    33 UBIK (Timo Maas and Martin Bettinghaus) 

    Call me biased but the fact that a dance record appears on the Perfecto label is always a good sign that it is going to be good. This is actually the second Timo Maas single to chart this year although this track performs a great deal better than his last, Der Schieber having made Number 50 back in April.


    40 TOO MANY DJS (Soulwax) 

    Too many jokes. Soulwax finally poke their heads above the parapet and get a Top 40 hit after a number of near-misses. Already this year the band have made Number 65 with Conversation Intercom and Number 56 with Much Against Everybody's Advice. Mainstream appeal could be on the way, in the meantime they keep progressing with those baby steps.

    <B>1 AGAINST ALL ODDS</B> (Mariah Carey featuring Westlife)&nbsp;
    <P>The two week reign of Modjo is brought to an end and their place at the top of the charts is taken by a superstar pairing that was probably destined to be massive, regardless of what they actually sang. In fact the presence of the single at the top of the chart is so significant it doesn't so much require a commentary as a full list. So here we go:</P>
     
    <P><DL><LI>This is Westlife's sixth single release and their sixth to fly straight to the top of the chart. It now means they are level with the Spice Girls for the best ever career-opening stretch. No other act has managed to top the chart every single time with their first six releases. You will doubtless read press coverage this week shouting that Westlife are the actual record holders which strictly speaking isn't correct. What they do hold is the record for going straight in at the top of the chart which is something the Spice Girls cannot claim (Wannabe hit the top in its second week on release) but as far as actual chart placings are concerned the two acts are neck and neck.</LI>
     
    <LI>Against All Odds is Westlife's sixth successive Number One single, the Irishmen duplicating a feat which has only ever been achieved by two other acts. As already mentioned the Spice Girls are one and perhaps unsurprisingly that act is The Beatles who actually managed it twice, once at the start of their career between 1962 and 1967 on a run that eventually extended into a record-breaking 11 in a row and again between 1967 and 1969 for the final six Number Ones of their career. The Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley have both done five in a row but all fell short when it came to a sixth.</LI>
     
    <LI>What of Mariah Carey though, reduced it seems to little more than a footnote despite the fact that Against All Odds is actually her record and that Westlife are just the featured guest stars. She may have spent her career setting Westlife-level chart records back home in the States but over here has had to content herself with a run of Top 10 hits rather than hitting the very top. In actual fact this is only her second Number One single, the first ironically also being a cover. Her version of Nilsson's Without You topped the charts for four weeks in February 1994. Against All Odds is her 18th UK Top 10 hit, an impressive statistic when you consider that between 1990 and 1993 she managed just two and it appeared that her stardom in this country would never reach the same levels it had back home.</LI>
     
    <LI>Onto the song itself. Against All Odds was written by Phil Collins as the theme song for the film of the same name. The single became one of his most successful solo hits, reaching Number 2 in this country and going all the way in America. He was nominated for an Oscar for the song as well, losing out in the end to Stevie Wonder's I Just Called To Say I Love You. To be honest this new version does the original few favours, the Collins original was filled with enough emotion to suggest that it was indeed being sung by a brokenhearted man at the end of his tether. Mariah Carey does her usual trick of turning the song into an excuse to show off just how many notes she can hit with one breath and the usual immaculate harmonies of Westlife don't exactly help in restoring any soul.</LI>
     
    <LI>Finally it is worth noting that this is the fifth cover version to top the charts this year following in the footsteps of American Pie, You See The Trouble With Me, We Will Rock You and Take On Me. Perhaps spookily every single one of these singles was a remake of a track that made Number 2 in its original version.</LI></DL></P>
     
    <HR WIDTH="100%"><A NAME="2"></A><B>2 KERNKRAFT 400</B> (Zombie Nation)&nbsp;
     
    <P>You would be amazed how many people so desperately wanted this record to top the charts, not just because they liked it but because it was seen as a triumph of creativity and innovation over bland corporate cover versions. In the end blandness wins the day it seems but the Zombie Nation can content themselves with a Top 3 hit single. You need to suspend your disbelief a little for this one as Munich-based DJ Splank! claims that the Zombie Nation is a movement of which he is the ruler. Or something, track down his website if you want to know more. The track itself is at the same time bizarre and beautiful, a mix of thundering drums, a rabble-rousing chant (at least on some of the mixes) and a central high pitched keyboard riff that sounds as if Brian Eno has suddenly decided to make dance music. Deservedly massive, even if the dream of a Number One single went ultimately unrealised.</P>
     
    <HR WIDTH="100%"><A NAME="4"></A><B>4 SOMETHING DEEP INSIDE</B> (Billie Piper)&nbsp;
     
    <P>Following her Number One hit Day And Night from May, the newly-turned 18 Billie Piper lands her second hit single from her new album and her sixth solo Top 10 hit (she has actually had seven if you count the all-star Abba medley hit on which she featured in 1999). If her last single stood comparison with Britney Spears then Something Deep Inside evokes the spirit of Janet Jackson in its own small way although Billie Piper is clearly carving out a pop-based R&B niche of her own, perhaps a necessary step as she is after all the only British teenage female with a chart reputation to rival (and in some cases beat) her American clones. More power to her.</P>
     
    <HR WIDTH="100%"><A NAME="5"></A><B>5 MOST GIRL</B> (Pink)&nbsp;
     
    <P>Speaking of teenagers, the American girl who is most emphatically not a clone of all the others storms back into the Top 10 with her second hit single. If you thought June's There You Go had enough intensity to last a lifetime then check out this new single as the pink-haired lass from Philadelphia sets out her demands for a man (presumably to replace the one she kicked out in the last single). Catchy enough to be a pop hit yet credible enough to appeal to R&B fans, the single actually beats the Number 6 peak of There You Go to take the crown as her biggest hit so far.</P>
     
    <HR WIDTH="100%"><A NAME="6"></A><B>6 UNLEASH THE DRAGON</B>
    (Sisqo)&nbsp;
     
    <P>Sisqo himself admitted that The Thong Song was probably destined to be far and away the biggest hit he would ever have and a novelty with which he was saddling himself to the possible detriment of his chances of being appreciated for his more serious music. Even so he was going to enjoy it while it lasted. Enjoy it he did, with a worldwide smash hit and a Number 3 hit in this country which spent a full 8 weeks inside the Top 20. Unleash The Dragon is a more down to earth record, devoid of a big budget video yet it still manages to ride the wave of his popularity to land nicely inside the Top 10 to become the second Top 10 hit of his solo career. He has of course had similar sized hits in the past as one of the members of Dru Hill, hitting Number 9 in October 1998 with How Deep Is Your Love and Number 4 the following February on these are the times. Dru Hill were also backing singers on Will Smith's Wild Wild West which made Number 2 in July last year.</P>
     
    <HR WIDTH="100%"><A NAME="7"></A><B>7 I'M OUTTA LOVE</B> (Anastacia)&nbsp;
     
    <P>Anastacia Newkirk is the lady's full name. She comes from New York and made a splash back home in the States with this single earlier in the year. Far from being just another Britney/Christina clone she is being painted as a serious artist and with a whole clutch of respected R&B songwriters waiting to work with her. Back home she is marketed as something of a novelty, a white girl singing black women's music. In Britain this is certain to be less of an issue and it is possible to take her debut single at face value - an enormously appealing crossover blend of R&B and disco that makes for a fine pop record - and a Top 10 hit to boot.</P>
     
    <HR WIDTH="100%"><A NAME="18"></A><B>18 MINORITY</B> (Green Day)&nbsp;
     
    <P>Good to see these guys back in the chart. Green Day were arguably the band that proved it was possible to sell US-college rock in Britain, largely thanks to the inspired goofiness of their early material when they made Number 7 in January 1995 with Basket Case, a single which remains the biggest hit of their career. They proved too that more serious material could work as well, the acoustic Time Of Your Life made Number 11 in January 1998 but they have not been seen on the chart since the followup Redundant made Number 27 the following May. After a two year break the band return and immediately make an impact, landing their fifth Top 20 hit single with this first release from a forthcoming new album.</P>
     
    <HR WIDTH="100%"><A NAME="19"></A><B>19 YOU USED TO HOLD ME</B> (Scott & Leon)&nbsp;
     
    <P>OK time for a short history lesson. House music was, as everyone is probably aware, born in Chicago, and many of the records made by Chicago producers between 1986 and 1988 stand as the inspiration for all that followed. One such track was You Used To Hold Me, produced in early 1987 by Ralphie Rosario and featuring a lead vocal from Xaviera Gold. Like many of these early classics it was never a hit single in its own right, but can be found on many house music compilations of the era. The track found its way into a few mainstream hits thanks to sampling of its rhythms and vocals, Gold's vocals forming an integral part of Mixmaster's 1989 Top 10 hit Grand Piano whilst in 1991 Richie Rich turned the track into You Used To Salsa (although he peaked at Number 52). So isn't it about time this legendary track became a hit in its own right? Scott Anderson clearly thought so. The resident DJ at Tenerife's Bobby's Bar decided this summer that it was time to remake the single for a new generation, hence the presence of this hit in the chart. The Scott and Leon remake will cause furrowed brows amongst some purists as the crashing house pianos of the original are replaced by a subtle not-quite-garage rhythm although the soundalike female singer retains virtually all Xaviera Gold's original vocal stylings, right down to the post-chorus wail that still has the power to inspire subliminal flashbacks to 1001 dance records of the late 80s and early 90s.</P>
     
    <HR WIDTH="100%"><A NAME="29"></A><B>29 BREAKOUT</B> (Foo Fighters)&nbsp;
     
    <P>The creeping commercialism that caused so many furrowed brows amongst Foo Fighters fans rears its head again with their first chart single since Learn To Fly made Number 21 in October last year. Hence this is a rock song with a proper chorus, words you can follow and one which doesn't leave your ears bleeding at the end. This isn't a bad thing by the way. It becomes the tenth successive Top 30 hit for Dave Grohl et al, even if it does rank as their smallest to date, falling one place below the Number 28 peak of For All The Cows in December 1995.</P>
     
    <HR WIDTH="100%"><A NAME="33"></A><B>33 UBIK</B> (Timo Maas and Martin Bettinghaus)&nbsp;
     
    <P>Call me biased but the fact that a dance record appears on the Perfecto label is always a good sign that it is going to be good. This is actually the second Timo Maas single to chart this year although this track performs a great deal better than his last, Der Schieber having made Number 50 back in April.</P>
     
    <HR WIDTH="100%"><A NAME="40"></A><B>40 TOO MANY DJS</B> (Soulwax)&nbsp;
     
    <P>Too many jokes. Soulwax finally poke their heads above the parapet and get a Top 40 hit after a number of near misses. Already this year the band have made Number 65 with Conversation Intercom and Number 56 with Much Against Everybody's Advice. Mainstream appeal could be on the way, in the meantime they keep progressing with those baby steps.</P>

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