This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 HOLLER/LET LOVE LEAD THE WAY (Spice Girls) 

Just to put this into perspective it has been three years since the release of the last Spice Girls album and almost two years since their last single release. In that time the group have seen defections, marriages, births, the odd divorce and a plethora of solo releases from every single member. Now it is time for the original British girl band, the ones that broke the mould of pop and set the standard for all the others to follow, to nervously check to see if time has passed them by or if they are still the chart force they always were. Well, so far so good, as this double-sided first single from the new album, the first product of their work with US R&B star Rodney Jerkins eases its way nicely into pole position. Neither Holler nor Let Love Lead The Way are even close to being their best work ever but at the end of the day there was little that could stop the single becoming their ninth UK Number One hit.

Only five other acts in chart history have topped the chart as many times as the Spice Girls. Their total puts them level with Abba, one behind Madonna who had her tenth a few months ago but still some way behind Cliff Richard (14) and Elvis and The Beatles (17 each). What is worth noting is the time it has taken for the girls to rack up this total. Their first single Wannabe hit the top on July 27th 1996, just over 4 years and 3 months ago. Abba had their ninth chart topper in November 1980, 6 years and 6 months after Waterloo became the first. Madonna's ninth was in March this year after a wait of almost 15 years, longer than Cliff's whose ninth Number One came just a few months short of nine years since his first. The rate at which the Spice Girls have notched up Number Ones is comparable only with the two acts who lead the all-time listings. The Beatles had their first nine Number One hits between April 1963 and December 1965 whilst Elvis racked his up between June 1957 and November 1961. Before anyone makes accusations of pouring cold water on the chart feats of the Spice Girls it is worth noting that none of the aforementioned acts managed their nine Number One hits in the space of their first 10 releases like the Spice Girls have done. The only other act in chart history with a comparable strike rate are of course Westlife whose first six singles have all had 100% success in topping the chart and who could well be on course to make it a seventh next week.


2 I'M OVER YOU (Martine McCutcheon) 

The fuss surrounding the new Spice Girls single is in severe danger of eclipsing the success of Martine McCutcheon's new release which sells strongly enough to become her fourth successive Top 10 single and returns her to the Top 3 for the first time since her debut Perfect Moment topped the chart in April 1999. In contrast to her first singles which were all big ballads, this new track sees the former soap star up the tempo slightly as I'm Over You is a catchy mid-tempo pop track that would not sound out of place on a Mariah Carey album and one which still gives the singer room to show off the fact that she has a better singing voice than many of her chart contemporaries.


3 SHE BANGS (Ricky Martin) 

Do you get the feeling that this is one song that probably makes perfect sense when performed in Spanish? Or maybe it is just the idiomatic nature of colloquial English that makes it hard to listen to the words of the song without sniggering. Soft rock songwriting legend Des Child is the man to ask as this song is a product of his fevered imagination, one in which the Latino hunk is in awe of the energy and vitality of his girl and so is metaphorically comparing her to a drum. Hence, She Bangs. Glad we got that sorted out. Joking aside, this is quite possibly why the record sounds as good as it does. Ricky Martin records work best when they are so over the top that they tread the fine line between genius and ludicrous. Living La Vida Loca got it right and topped the chart, Shake Your Bon-Bon got it badly wrong and suffered accordingly. Hence it makes perfect sense that She Bangs which if anything is even more over the top than anything he has ever recorded becomes Ricky Martin's biggest hit single since his chart-topping days in the summer of 1999. The single is now his fourth Top 10 hit following both Livin... and his last single Private Emotion but also the Ricky Martin hit that everyone forgets he had... (Un Dos Tres) Maria which hit Number 6 in September 1997. She Bangs also rounds off a Top 3 made up entirely of new entries, the first time this has happened since September 17th.


10 TROUBLE (Coldplay) 

No questioning it. Coldplay are the band of the year. Virtual unknowns at the start and virtually ignored by the "ones to watch in 2000" articles that came out at the time (always a good sign) they now have to their credit a string of superlative live dates, a Number One album and now a second successive Top 10 hit. If anything Trouble manages to be even more memorable than July's Number 4 hit Yellow, the slow build production just enough to tug on your heartstrings if you happen to be in the right mood.


13 SHOULD I STAY (Gabrielle) 

Clearly not one to rush the release of her singles, Gabrielle makes an easy if rather understated debut on the chart this week with her third hit of the year and the fourth from her current album Rise. Capturing the same kind of mood as her past two hits Rise and When A Woman, this new single sadly fails to reach the Top 10 and so looks certain to end a run of five that stretches back to her cover of If You Ever which made Number 2 in 1996. The only real puzzle is how a singer with a voice that melancholy can make such inspiring sounding music.


20 OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET (Iron Maiden) 

Welcome to the chart if you will, the second Iron Maiden single of the year, this the followup to The Wicker Man which made Number 9 in May. Once more one can do little more than marvel at the way the heavy metal act have sustained their success over such a long period of time, maintaining a solid fanbase throughout and one which will happily snap up everything they release, even if nobody else has any interest in doing so. This is now their 22nd Top 20 hit and just to show that the years have taken nothing away from their ability to find inspiration from the strangest sources, Out Of The Silent Planet is inspired by a CS Lewis story with which it shares its title.


22 I DON'T REALLY CARE (K Gee) 

The name of this chap may not be familiar but his work certainly is. K Gee's real name is Karl Gordon and he was responsible for producting and co-writing many of the tracks on All Saints' debut album which meant he was the man who turned the Red Hot Chilli Peppers' Under The Bridge into such an understated R&B classic. With the girls having moved on to other producers it was time for him to step into the limelight and so this single (complete with its so-original concept of a Vivaldi sample) is the first from his forthcoming new album. Whilst this Number 22 entry for his debut is respectable enough it also possibly tells its own story. Although this is a man who has produced Number One hits for other people he doesn't quite seem to have the magic touch when applied to his own work. For now file this under 'OK if you like that kind of thing'.


29 OCTOBER SWIMMER (JJ72) 

The gradual rise to prominence of Dublin's finest continues nicely on schedule it seems although they can be forgiven for being just a little disappinted that October Swimmer hasn't made the Top 20 after all the exposure it (and indeed the band themselves) have received. JJ72 made their long-awaited Top 40 breakthrough back in August with the Number 23 hit Oxygen and after the plaudits that were heaped on their album follow that single up with one that has given them even more mainstream acceptance. REM probably wish they could write songs like this still, the single one of those records that touches an emotional chord whether or not you were paying attention to it when it first started playing. I'm looking forward to the day they start having even bigger hits as just for a change JJ72 are a band that are as good as the hype makes them out to be.


30 GETTIN' IN THE WAY (Jill Scott) 

I almost know this track backwards thanks to the fact that the chap at the desk opposite me at work is a mad keen fan of Jill Scott and has been playing her album at his desk virtually non-stop for the past few weeks. The singer-songwriter from Philadelphia is certainly no tool of superstar producers nor would anyone dare attach the label 'manufactured' to her. Instead she is seen as the next big thing in US R&B and with this track makes her UK singles chart debut.


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