1 WHOLE AGAIN (Atomic Kitten)
[An amazingly famous moment this, as a throwaway pop group whose album had stiffed and who were essentially dead in the water become a long-term and viable act. And all because of one shag with a good Catholic boy].
Just what is it about today's female popstars that they seem to susceptible to unexpected pregnancies? Two of the Spice Girls have become mothers since they became famous, so has one of the All Saints with another baby on the way. Now it is the turn of Atomic Kitten to have their career plan thrown off course slightly by the fact that Kerry Katona, easily the most photogenic and charismatic member of the group has been knocked up by her equally talented boyfriend and has quit the group accordingly. All of the resultant publicity from this has actually done their profile no harm at all and suddenly Atomic Kitten have shot from being just another manufactured teen band into genuine showbiz gossip fodder. Hence the rather unexpected way that their fifth chart single has suddenly become their biggest ever, rocketing past every other track they have released in the past year to give them their first ever Number One single. Actually it would be a little unfair to suggest that the pregnancy angle was the only reason the track has become as big as it is, even before the story broke the girls had been promoting the single heavily since the Christmas holiday and the record itself is a rather tender love song that is a world away from some of the bubblegum pop of their earlier singles. At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, it is also worth noting that Whole Again is the biggest single Andy McCluskey has ever written in his two-decade career, eclipsing the No.3 peaks of Souvenir and Sailing On The Seven Seas which were his two biggest hits with OMD. Given that those singles were released in 1981 and 1991 respectively it is somehow appropriate that he should finally write a Number One single in 2001.
One or two people wrote in last week to note that in recent weeks we have seen Number One hits from Jennifer Lopez and Limp Bizkit, both of which were the followup hits to singles that failed to make the Top 10. Atomic Kitten continue this sequence as their last hit Follow Me could only reach No.20. In actual fact this isn't as unusual as you might think and indeed just two years ago we saw a run of four hits - Offspring, Armand Van Helden, Blondie and Lenny Kravitz - all from acts whose previous hits had failed even to make the Top 30. What is more notable is that Whole Again is no less than the fifth single to be taken from Atomic Kitten's debut album Right Now. Though extremely unusual it is still by no means unheard of. Just go back to 1996 when no less a star than er, Peter Andre topped the chart for a third time with I Feel You, the fifth single from his album Natural. Back to Atomic Kitten though, who now have a solid base on which to launch the second stage of their career with a new album and a new member later this year. So long Chipshop Kitten, I'll never forget the day you looked me in the eyes and suggested a new use for the office stapler.
[The video in circulation on YouTube is the slightly tweaked version which substitutes Jenny Frost for Kerry Katona, even though it was the version with Kerry's vocals (and in particular the spoken interlude) which was the hit].
2 STUCK IN A MOMENT YOU CAN'T GET OUT OF (U2)
From the song that has topped the charts to the one which I suspect most people will argue should have done so. U2 follow up last October's Number One hit Beautiful Day with what is arguably one of the most outstanding tracks from the All That You Can't Leave Behind album. Stuck In A Moment... is a classic U2 ballad, one that is up there with legendary tracks such as With Or Without You, All I Want Is You and for many people it is the best single they have released since One. Like all the best songs it has a deeper meaning behind the lyrics, the song in this case having been penned by Bono about the death of his friend, INXS singer Michael Hutchence. Sadly U2 for this week at least continue their run of never having had two consecutive Number One hits and have to be content with the runners' up slot although as ever, it helps to point out that this is no less than their ninth Top 3 hit single in a chart career that spans almost 20 years.
3 CASE OF THE EX (Mya)
This may be Mya's first ever solo chart hit but it is by no means her first credited appearance on the singles chart. In actual fact she has guested on two Top 10 hits before, firstly Pras Michel's Ghetto Superstar (No.2 in 1998) and then later that year as one of the many voices on Blackstreet's Take Me There which hit No.7 when it was used as the theme to the Rugrats movie. Her breakthrough as a solo star comes in the shape of an R&B track that sees her worried about how her man is going to react to seeing a former lover again. In actual fact the track is so formulaic it could have been given to anyone from Destiny's Child to Pink or even Jennifer Lopez and it would have had exactly the same impact. Still, nobody ever went bankrupt from milking a successful formula whilst it was still hot and for the moment songs about emancipated womanhood are where it is at. Hence a not too unimpressive Top 3 hit.
5 CHASE THE SUN (Planet Funk)
Yes, it is this record [The PDC Darts anthem!] The track that has been all over the radio in the last few weeks and which even the most blinkered of commentators had to agree was going to be a hit. Planet Funk are possibly the most numerous dance supergroup ever formed with just about everyone who is anyone in the club scene in Naples(!) involved in its production. Throw into the mix some genuine musicians (including Dan Black from Servant) and a singer in the shape Auli Cocco, a 40 year old jazz singer from Lapland. This is the result, a thundering club hit that is led by a guitar line that could have been lifted from any early-80s new romantic collection and Ms Cocco's deep in the mix vocals. What makes this record so good is that it works on whatever level you care to approach it. As a club record it is perfection itself, a rock fan can enjoy a blend of guitars and beats that works for a change whilst the single is catchy and has enough of a hook to simply work as a radio-friendly pop record. That is true genuis and this could well be one of the best club hits ever.
8 SHINING LIGHT (Ash)
[Another example of how this was such an amazing year. Six years into their career Ash suddenly sparkle, make their best record ever, and start sounding like the best band in the world]. If 2001 is to be the year that guitar bands fight back then it is entirely appropriate that Ash should be a part of that musical revolution. They originally hit the charts during the golden summer of britpop in 1995 with a cheaply recorded debut album, an age gimmick (they were still waiting for their A-level results at the time) and several relatively memorable hit singles. They added to their lineup in 1998 with the arrival of guitarist Charlotte and could now be set to take their stardom to an even more mainstream level. This first single from a brand new album is a great start, taking the more tuneful and ultra radio friendly Ash into the Top 10 for the first time since A Life Less Ordinary reached No.10 in October 1997. In all it is their fourth Top 10 hit single, albeit one which lands three places short of their biggest, Goldfinger having made No.5 in April 1996.
13 DANCING IN THE MOONLIGHT (Toploader)
From the drawer marked 'what the hell is going on here then' come Toploader with yet another chapter in the frankly bizarre performance of Dancing In The Moonlight. Just to recap the story so far, the single had been a Top 20 hit at the start of 2000, was re-released in a slightly remixed form in November last year when it made No.11 before slipping straight back down the chart. It spent Christmas just outside the Top 20, rising back to No.20 over the holiday season, fell back again and then last week broke back into the 20 again with a No.17 chart placing. This week, after no less than 12 weeks on release, the single rises again to now occupy its highest chart placing since the week it first charted at No.11. You have to wonder just where it can go next.
17 CELEBRATE OUR LOVE (Alice Deejay)
Another hit single for Alice Deejay, this now their fifth and the followup to The Lonely One which made Number 16 in October last year. A No.17 entry makes this their smallest so far and no matter how bubbly and catchy the records being made by the Dutch act are, when most of the attention is focused on the strange way the breasts of your lead singer have grown since the last hit then you know you are probably fighting an uphill battle for sustained success.
20 MY DESIRE (Amira)
Nothing less than the third release and second remix of an American club track that first was given a commercial release in December 1997 when it could only reach No.51. A few months later VC Recordings, who hold the UK licence for the track tried again, this time with a remix by Club Asylum. Released in August 1998 the single fared a little better, but not much reaching No.46. Two and a half years on, the single gets another studio reworking and this time slides nicely into the Top 20. Does this mean though that we can expect another release next Christmas to take it into the Top 10?
21 SNOW (JJ72)
"Angst-ridden" says the dotmusic review of this single that accompanied our exclusive presentation of the full length video. Are JJ72 really that unhappy? Mind you they have yet to have the chart hits that their promise suggests, their commercial breakthrough so far being limited to two Top 30 hits last year in the shape of Oxygen and October Swimmer. Still if they get to join the 2001 guitar revolution then there are better times ahead. Snow actually began life as their first single which was released in 1999 without ever coming near the chart. In truth it is one of their best, the sweet tones of October Swimmer replaced by Mark Greaney doing his best Bob Dylan wail on a song that is possibly meant to represent more than a complaint about the weathermen getting it wrong. Nobody is in any doubt that the threesome from Dublin are the future, it is just a question of when that future is going to be.
28 FOOL (Mansun)
Single Number 3 from the Little Kix album, albeit one which sees their chart positions slip some more, Fool landing five places lower than its predecessor Electric Man did back in November last year. All I can say is "wot, no Perfecto mix on the single?"
38 THE CRYSTAL LAKE (Grandaddy)
Just sneaking in at the bottom is the debut Top 40 single from Grandaddy. The buzz surrounding the band began to grow last year whent their album The Sophtware Slump found itself on the list of one of the best albums of last year in a poll of music writers conducted by HMV. Their only other chart single to date has been Hewlett's Daughter which made a not too respectable No.71 in September last year. Consider this yet another baby step towards mainstream recognition.