This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG (Emma Bunton)

Janet Jackson a potential challenger to the Number One slot? Not on your life. Indeed the biggest threat to Emma Bunton's crown at the top of the chart eventually came from Shaggy's now two month old It Wasn't Me but as it turns out Mekon Spice [possibly the first ever reference to a Popbitch meme in these pages] did more than enough to hold them both at bay. As a result What Took You So Long spends a second week at Number One, making this the second time this year that two successive singles have topped the chart for longer than a week - something that was once commonplace but in the present climate is cause for comment. Emma Bunton also carves out a record of her own as this is the first solo single from a Spice Girl to cling to the top for longer than the fabled seven days. All the others from Mel B, Geri Halliwell and Melanie C could manage no more than a week. Her prospects for a third week at the top of the chart look fairly slim as a quick scan of the release schedules shows that big new singles from both Madonna and Ronan Keating are set to chart next week.
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2 IT WASN'T ME (Shaggy)

It is worth taking a moment to note the continuing success of It Wasn't Me which may well have sold its millionth copy by the time you read this. Having first charted on import sales alone in the middle of February, the single debuted officially at Number One on March 10th and has never been out of the Top 3 since. Its lowest chart placing was the Number 3 position it reached in its third week on release but since then it has rebounded and this week spends a third successive week in therunners-upp slot. Make no mistake this is a massive, massive hit.
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3 ALL FOR YOU (Janet Jackson)

Now if chart positions were judged on record sleeves then this week there would have been no contest. Whilst Emma Bunton is falling out of her dress in all manner of interesting ways, Janet Jackson has forgotten to put hers on at all. Heralding a brand new album, this is Janet Jackson's first hit single since the soundtrack hit Doesn't Really Matter made Number 5 in August last year. One could have been forgiven for expecting this long-awaited new single to charge straight to the top but after bubbling at Number 2 on most midweek listings the single can eventually do little more than settle for a Top 3 berth. In the process this continues what must seem like a frustrating chart jinx for the American superstar as after 15 years of hit singles she has yet to have a Number One hit in this country. Before now she has had five Top 3 hit singles but the closest she has come to topping the chart has been on her duet with Luther Vandross on The Best Things In Life Are Free and her solo hit That's The Way Love Goes which both hit Number 2 in 1992 and 1993 respectively. Bizarrely enough this single also has a Luther Vandross connection as it samples heavily from Change's The Glow Of Love (a Number 14 hit here in 1980) which just happened to features the sometime heavyweight soul star on lead vocals. Also worthy of note is that Janet Jackson appears now to have reverted back to using her surname after spending the last few years billed simply as "Janet".


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4 OUT OF REACH (Gabrielle)

Honours for the second biggest new hit of the week go to Gabrielle who can celebrate her biggest hit since the chart-topping Rise at the start of 2000. Her ninth Top 10 hit comes courtesy of a film soundtrack as Out Of Reach features prominently in the movie Bridget Jones' Diary which opened nationwide this weekend. The ability of Gabrielle's music to evoke emotions has meant that her songs have often found their way into the backgrounds of TV dramas and even the odd film but this is the first time she has released a single as a deliberate tie-in to a cinematic release.


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10 LET LOVE BE YOUR ENERGY (Robbie Williams)

As if to show that nobody is guaranteed a big hit single every time out, Robbie Williams' run of successive Top 5 hits (which had stood at 9) comes to a crashing halt as this latest single can do no more than sneak in at the very bottom end of the Top 10. Not that a Top 10 hit is anything to be sneered at of course and this, the following to Supreme which made Number 4 in December, is still his tenth in a row and the 13th of his solo career. In a way this rather lowly chart position is something of a shame as it is actually an irresistible slice of what he does best, a thundering rock-dance fusion accompanied by high-concept and enormously entertaining video. Sadly he seems to be quickly learning that whilst he keeps feeding the tabloids obsession with the exact nature of his relationship with Geri Halliwell he runs the risk of his records being pushed to the background.
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13 RUN FOR COVER (Sugababes)

Have any group ever been feted as much as the Sugababes? With the demise of the All Saints the music industry is desperate for something to fill the gap, a group of British girls who can sing in perfect R&B harmony and give the US girl groups a run for their money. In truth the rather disturbingly young Sugababes are Very Very Good. You will be hard pressed to find any review of their debut album (which came out at the back end of last year with little fanfare) that does not say it is Very Very Good. Their two singles to date have also been Very Very Good, Overload having made Number 6 in September last year whilst New Year made Number 12 for Christmas on its way to becoming a timeless seasonal classic. Run For Cover is every bit as good as these, featuring the three girls each taking turns at the verse before coming together on the chorus in a harmony that will send shivers down your spine. The production on the single is immaculate as well, the minimalistic piano and strings combining in a manner that hasn't been seen since the glory days of Massive Attack. So why are they not yet superstars? Could it be that they are all aged just 15 and 16 years old and so cannot be the tabloid fodder party animals that the All Saints were? Could it be that they keep being given songs to sing that are just outside their vocal range (as witnessed by the way they keep being asked to sing live on television appearances with sometimes painful results) or could it just be that however good the songs are, however well produced they might be and however tightly schooled their harmonies have become, nothing can take away the fact that they sound a bit, well... WHINY?

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15 THE WAY YOU LOVE ME (Faith Hill)

Little did Shania Twain realise what she started when she ditched all pretence of being a traditional country star and instead started turning her records into pop tracks for the European market. As a strategy you cannot knock it and where she led so others must follow. Faith Hill has already had a couple of hits in this country, This Kiss (Number 13 in November 1998) and Breathe (Number 33 in May last year) but this single is set to be her most memorable to date. The reason for this is simple, the original mid-tempo country plodder that was the album version has here been transformed into a vocodered, thundering house track that takes the song away from its country roots as far as it is possible to get. I'm something of a cloest new country fan anyway so it isn't as if I thought the original was bad but trust me this new version is much much better. Now it is just a question of whether Faith Hill the pop star will still be able to coexist with Faith Hill the country star.


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16 CRAWLING (Linkin Park)

No surprises here, just more of the same that gave Linkin Park their first hit single with One Step Closer back in January. That single reached Number 24 and so with this new release they grow their fanbase a little further to become a Top 20 act. Where next?
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17 HOW U LIKE BASS (Norman Bass)

So why is it that all dance acts are fronted by a man called Norman. Norman Bass, Norman Cook and er, well OK that is all of them but trust me the original idea for this piece was a lame joke about the odds of a man being called Bass making dance records so count your blessings. Is all of this an excuse to avoid saying anything interesting or coherent about a record at the bottom end of the Top 20? Of course.
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19 ONLY FOR A WHILE (Toploader)

So where exactly do Toploader go from here? Thanks to the remixed and re-released version of Dancing In The Moonlight they are now stars with a Top 10 hit to their name, but crucially they now have the challenge of persuading people that their own material is just as good as cover versions of thirty year old songs. Of course, those who are familiar with tracks such as Achilles Hell [that's such an amusing typo I've left it in] and Just Hold On know the the answer already but this new release is an attempt to convince everyone else. To be fair it isn't at all bad, a slightly retooled version of a track from Onka's Big Mocha in which the requisite strings n' strumming formula remains intact. It duly becomes their third Top 20 single albeit one which only just beats the Number 20 peak of Just Hold On from September last year. The only mystery really is why their second single Let The People Know has yet again been overlooked for a re-release.
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30 OOCHIE WALLY (QB Finest featuring Nas & Bravehearts)

Just what the world needed, another supergroup rap collaboration. Nas is the guiding force behind this project, designed to showcase the talent that exists in the New York borough of Queens. Hitherto unsung acts such as Capone and Mob Depp are amongst those making appearances.
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36 FLESH (Jan Johnston)

A Perfecto Techno debut single for a new diva of dance. Well, I say "new" as she has featured on plenty of dance singles over the last few years. Her biggest chart hit before now was as a result of her appearance on BT's Mercury And Solace which made Number 38 in October 1999. Her past chart credits also include Freefall's Skydive (Number 75 in 1998) and Sub.Merge's Take Me By The Hand (Number 28 in February 1997).
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