This week's Official UK Singles Chart


RUNNING TOTALS OF THE WEEK:

Emails from people saying "Thank you so much for putting into words what I have been thinking all this time": 20

Emails from people who are oddly threatened by the notion that someone doesn't like the same music they do: 25

Badly spelled punctuation free abuse from people with email addresses along the lines of 'ThomFan' and 'KidALover': Far too many to mention. [OK that last bit was exaggerating for comic effect, but it sure as hell had been a fun week in the aftermath of my brief bit of Radiohead skewering from a week before].

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1 ANGEL (Shaggy featuring Rayvon)

Thus far in his career, Shaggy has not had a very good strike rate when it comes to following up Number One singles. His first smash hit Oh Carolina in 1993 was followed by the release of Soon Be Done, a massive Number 46 smash hit. Two years later he was back at the top with Mr Boombastic, a single that spawned the follow-up Why You Treat Me So Bad, a Number 11 hit in early 1996. Not bad, but could be better. Third time around and there is clearly no stopping his momentum. Whilst the million-selling It Wasn't Me clings on to a place in the Top 30 (this week at Number 24) the follow-up goes a long way towards duplicating its success by charging straight it at the top to make Shaggy the first person this year to have two Number One hit singles. As you may have gathered it is the fourth of his career, enough to push him past UB40 in one sense as the most successful reggae act in chart history.

Of all the reggae acts to have topped the UK charts (of which there are a surprising number) only UB40 and Shaggy have done so more than once, something which makes Shaggy's achievements all the more impressive. Having said that one can argue for hours as to just who counts as a reggae act and who doesn't. Culture Club's Do You Really Want To Hurt Me was a reggae song, but they were hardly a reggae act. Similarly, what was the first reggae track to top the UK charts? Was it, as most would tell you, Desmond Dekker and The Aces with The Israelites in 1969 or should the honour really go to Marmalade with their rendition of Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da earlier that same year? The Equals had hit the top before then in 1968 but for whatever reason they are considered a ska act, just like The Specials and Madness.

Back then to facts that are more or less indisputable. Just as Angel flies in at the top, so too the album Hot Shot tops the albums chart to make Shaggy the first reggae act ever to top both charts simultaneously. UB40 missed out by just one week in 1983 with Red Red Wine and Labour Of Love and whilst Madness' Complete Madness album was indeed at the top in the same week that House Of Fun topped the singles chart in 1982, once again they fall victim to being categorised as ska rather than "proper" reggae. The song Angel itself is something of a cover version, being based heavily around the song Angel Of The Morning which was first a hit for PP Arnold in 1968 and subsequently for Juice Newton in 1980. Funnily enough this isn't the first hit in recent years to have used the track as inspiration, the Fugees having used the melody extensively on their 1997 hit Rumble In The Jungle. Less widely noted has been the samples from Steve Miller's The Joker (itself a chart topper here in 1990) which are also credited on the sleeve of the single. Oh yes, and of course this is the 899th Number One single which means that the speculation as to what will become the milestone 900th chart-topping single can reach fever pitch.


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3 SING (Travis)

Cue the return of the group who clearly just get better and better. Their only single release in the last year was Coming Around which hit Number 5 exactly 51 weeks ago. At the time it was their biggest hit to date and was supposed to herald great things for their brand new album (the follow-up to 1999s The Man Who) but which has wound up being delayed until this summer. Happily the wait hasn't done the band any harm at all and this anthemic new single charges straight into the Top 3 to take over the mantle of being their biggest chart hit ever. Apparently based on the hook to a swingbeat track that Fran Healey heard on MTV [wikipedia at the time of posting yields no clues as to what that could have been], the track knows better than to mess with a winning formula. All hail the band who know the value of a tune. The new album should be fantastic.
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5 ELECTRIC AVENUE (Eddy Grant)

In one of those bizarre coincidences that spring up from time to time, the charts of January 1983 contained two soon-to-be classic hit singles that would ultimately go on to generate excitement all over again some 18 years later at the Miami Dance Conference. One of these was New Years Day by U2, the subject of last week's Number 15 hit from Musique. The other was Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant. DJ Peter Black had only expected his "ringbang" remix of the track to be of passing interest when he first unveiled it at the conference. By the time the event had finished it was the hottest track of the event and had inspired not just a single release but also a Greatest Hits package for the original performer himself. Back in 1983 when the single was first released, Eddy Grant was in the middle of the hottest period of his career. Having already topped the chart with The Equals in 1968 he had launched a solo career in the late 1970s. 1982 saw him back at the top with I Don't Wanna Dance and Electric Avenue was the follow-up, eventually peaking at Number 2. It is actually a real place, a street just around the corner from Brixton tube station and one of the central points of the 1981 riots that are described in the song. Arguably the song could have become a hit all over again without the benefit of a remix, but in fairness Peter Black hasn't done too bad a job of beefing up the beats to just the right extent to make it work on a modern dancefloor. This is Eddy Grant's first Top 40 appearance in over 13 years, his first big chart hit since Gimmie Hope Jo'Anna hit Number 7 in February 1988 and his biggest hit single since well, the original release of Electric Avenue.


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11 FREE (Mya)

Ignoring for the moment her appearance on Beenie Man's Girls Dem Sugar in March, this is Mya's second solo hit single of the year, the follow-up to Case Of The Ex which hit Number 3 in February. For whatever reason she has a habit of releasing tracks that are featured on film soundtracks. Her chart debut on Pras Michel's Ghetto Supastar was lifted from Bulworth whilst this single can be heard on the soundtrack of the new film Bait starring Jamie Foxx. Watch out too for her contribution to the all-star rendition of Lady Marmalade from Moulin Rouge which is set to be a smash hit in just a few weeks time.
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16 SO FRESH SO CLEAN (Outkast)

Following up the Number 2 hit Ms Jackson with a track that even approached the same level of appeal was always going to be a tricky task for Outkast. So it proves as the follow-up can only make a disappointing but still respectable Number 16. Nothing to do with toothpaste (oh but how we wish it was) the track is apparently and ode to Big Boi and Andre 3000s own sense of style and coolness. In a way that is actually the most disappointing part, the fact that they have gone from a record of some considerable depth about a man's guilt over hurting a woman to the kind of track that is rap's equivalent of playing with your genitals in public.
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18 NO FLOW (Lisa Roxanne)

The debut hit single for 15 year old Lisa Roxanne, hailed as the next big thing in British R&B and who has a great deal of record company hopes riding on her [this was her only hit, alas]. Comparisons with the likes of Aaliyah and Lisa 'Left-Eye' Lopes are rife and on the strength of this debut release, aren't actually all that far off the mark. Soul talent is clearly something that runs in the family as she is the daughter of Trish Naraine, singer with 80s legends Loose Ends.
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19 WHAT'S YOUR FANTASY (Ludacris)

Good grief, why do record companies insist on making artist websites that drown you in fancy flash animations when all you want to do is read about them and their music. Hence Ludacris is a rapper, signed to the legendary Def Jam label and here with a Top 20 entry with his first ever chart entry. Just avoid his website. [The dial-up era of the internet could be hell at times, kids don't know they are born these days].
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33 LAPDANCE (N*E*R*D featuring Lee Harvey and Vita)

[A superstar debut of a kind here, Pharrell's first mention in these pages] Currently the biggest buzzmakers in US R&B are N*E*R*D, better known to their mothers as Pharell Williams and Chad Hugo. The name apparently stands for No-one Ever Really Dies although their real fame comes as production team The Neptunes, under which moniker they have been responsible for tracks from the likes of Kelis, ODB, Mystikal and Jay-Z. A taster from their forthcoming album, this single only hints at the kind of psychedelic soul that the long player is reported to contain. Should be worth keeping an eye out if nothing else. [Check out the fresh-faced (and hatless) Williams in the video].


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36 JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH (NO NO NO NO) (Eye To Eye featuring Taka Boom)

Bootleg remix time and the official release of a track that has been around for getting on for a year now. Essentially the single is a reworking of Soulsearcher's 1999 Number 8 hit Can't Get Enough. Vocals on the original were handled by Thea Austin, but as the billing for this track suggests, she has been replaced here by Taka Boom, sister of Chaka Khan who made her chart debut just over a year ago, singing on Joey Negro's Number 8 hit Must Be The Music.
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40 I HOPE YOU DANCE (Lee Ann Womack)

More techno country as an American country hit is remixed for the European (and specifically British) markets. Reportedly Oprah Winfrey's favourite singer, Lee Ann Womack is something of a country superstar across the pond and here makes her UK chart debut with this actually rather wonderful pop-dance rendition of one of her stateside hits. Purists will gnash their teeth in fury over what has been done to the song, I'll revel in the sheer joy of it whilst everyone else will largely ignore the record as it is destined to just be a minor hit. Until next week I'm James, and I'm thanking my lucky stars I turned down the Missy Elliott tickets [a reference to a rather infamous one-off London gig she performed, where she did three numbers in 20 minutes and then vanished].


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