This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 THE WAY TO YOUR LOVE (Hear'Say)

As chance would have it I've been watching the repeats of the Popstars TV series on cable lately. Seeing them all again with the benefit of hindsight reveals that the five hopefuls who eventually made it into the band didn't become the focus of the TV series until almost the very end of the auditions process, many of the real "characters" and Darius having been weeded out much earlier on. Anyway, regardless of the above the Hear'Say bandwagon rolls on and just two weeks after the fast selling Pure And Simple dropped out of the Top 40 the group return with their second chart hit. There is a risk here of damning it with faint praise so let us say for the record that this is another damn fine pop record. Its pedigree is impeccable, having been written and produced by Stargate. The Way To Your Love allows all five members a chance to take a turn in the solo spotlight and in its own cute way is actually the best single Steps never recorded. Inevitably it was going to be a Number One single and so it proves, holding off the still strong challenge of Lady Marmalade to give Hear'Say a 100% strike rate of chart-topping hits.

Now for the cynical bit. Just as the recruitment, creation and development of the group was documented on camera and watched by an audience of millions so too there are a large number of people watching and waiting with an almost morbid fascination waiting for the fallout when the bubble eventually bursts (as of course it has to). There is nothing wrong with this of course and it is no more cynical than the creation of the group was in the first place. Every time the group stress in interviews that they want to move beyond the TV show and prove they can cut it as a viable act, the industry holds its breath for the evidence that they can't. Sadly for everyone this second single proves absolutely nothing either way. Sure it made Number One but a large part of their sales will have come as a result of Hear'Say being "that group from Popstars". The jury is still out on whether that novelty is going to carry them any further in much the same way that another Number One hit does not show any sign that their popularity is going to wane any time soon. Like them or loathe them, everyone will be waiting for the third Hear'Say single with a great deal of anticipation. [There's a curious lack of official video online for this, even Vevo only has a TOTP performance for unexplained reasons].


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3 U REMIND ME (Usher)

OK then, to get this back on a more enthusiastic level here is a single about which it is easy to get excited. With his second release of the year Usher proves that the wave of popularity that carried Pop Ya Collar to Number 2 back in February was no one-off. U Remind Me is pretty much everything you would expect from an Usher single and very welcome it is indeed. Two Top 10 hits in a row is a big improvement on the performance of the two singles lifted from his My Way album in 1998. Whilst You Make Me Wanna topped the charts, the follow-up Nice And Slow could only reach Number 24.
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6 19/2000 (Gorillaz)

The legend of Gorillaz began in March with the single Clint Eastwood which entered the chart at Number 4 and wasted little time in becoming what some in the industry rather cutely call a Real Hit, lingering in the Top 10 for 8 weeks, six of which were spent shuttling back and forth between positions 4,5 and 6. Once you had trained yourself to look beyond the fact that it is Damon Albarn's voice on the vocal track it is very easy to buy into the notion that Gorillaz really are the cartoons with a message that Albarn and Jamie "Tank Girl" Hewlett intend them to be. Of course as with all high-concept projects there is a risk that it becomes a passing fad. The first single serves to attract attention and shift a few albums and with subsequent singles just being an excuse to make another animated video rather than being big hits themselves. Happily Gorillaz have neatly sidestepped this and so 19/2000 uses the same trick as its predecessor, having the single mix transformed from its rather languid tempo into an infectious club hit. Working the magic on this one is Soulchild who makes the track edge almost worryingly close to Norman Cook Big Beat territory. The result is their second Top 10 hit in a row and indeed I suspect there are more to come. I was less than enthusiastic about Clint Eastwood when it was first released and I will hold my hand up and say that was the wrong opinion. With a TV special in the pipeline and with a Smash Hits cover this week, this is a concept that is set to become legendary.

[Gorillaz tracks are awkward because the early videos are set to a soundtrack of the album versions, this single being no different. Embedded here is the audio of the remix which, as the commentary indicates, was the hit version and is far superior].


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9 ANOTHER LOVER (Dane)

Having documented the fallout from his sex life on Shut Up And Forget About It which made Number 9 in March, Dane Bowers follows it up with a suspiciously titled song that he has been at pains to point out is not actually about any of his life experiences so far. In truth this might actually be the best single that the former Another Level frontman has put his name to so far, thanks largely to the production talents of none other than Wyclef Jean. The result is a cool groove complete with Spanish guitar that makes the single somewhat disturbingly reminiscent of Santana's Maria Maria which of course also had Wyclef Jean at the controls. Chalk this up as Dane's second successive Number 9 hit.
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12 MORE THAN THAT (Backstreet Boys)

Boys I'm sorry it is all my fault. Back in February when their last hit The Call made Number 8 I pointed out that the Backstreet Boys could boast no less than 13 consecutive Top 10 hits, a run which put them up with the likes of Abba and The Rolling Stones in terms of chart consistency. Today that celebrated run comes to a shuddering halt as their decision to plough the ballad furrow turns out to be a disastrous one. True they only fell two places short here but a miss is as good as a mile and unless this single performs a minor miracle in the next seven days it is set to be their lowest charting single since Get Down (You're The One For Me) made Number 14 way back in June 1996.
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15 BADDEST RUFFEST (Backyard Dog)

The latest act to create stir on the Garage scene are Backyard Dog, something of a supergroup of producers thanks to their collective links to the likes of Olive, All Seeing I and even Nightmares On Wax (now that does take me back). This single takes garage into a whole new area as the two-step rhythm is combined with some breakbeat jazz that is accompanied to quite delightful effect by a hoarse reggae toast. It is a dance track that works on whatever level you care to take it even if you have to keep reminding yourself it is not a comeback offering from Zig and Zag. Watch out for them on the summer festival circuit soon.
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16 HARD TO EXPLAIN/NEW YORK CITY COPS (The Strokes)

You may have seen last month's dotmusic interview with The Strokes in which the New York five-piece revealed that no less a figure than Noel Gallagher tried to sign them to his own label before discovering that Rough Trade were the ones in a position to profit. Profit they do as after a well-received set of concerts (at least the ones that didn't get postponed) that had everyone who saw them muttering things about the Velvet Underground being reborn, the group crash neatly into the Top 20 with their second single release. Their first attempt at chart stardom came back in January when they released The Modern Age but it fell short of the Top 75 - at least at the time. In a bizarre twist of fate the still available track finally gets the surge in sales it needed and can be found nestling at Number 74 this week. The Strokes thus join a tiny elite of acts (who include Ladysmith Black Mambazo) whose first ever chart hit arrived in the same week as their second.


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21 MILLION MILES AWAY (Offspring)

No sensation here, just a comfortable third hit from the current Offspring album. This is the followup to Original Prankster which made Number 6 in November last year and also Want You Bad, the Number 15 hit from late March which had something of a mini Top 40 comeback in late May thanks to some heavy supermarket discounting. This is their sixth UK Top 30 hit.
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22 GETTING AWAY WITH IT (ALL MESSED UP) (James)

Was it really only 1999 when the last James album Millionaires came out? It seems so much longer for some reason. The Manchester veterans only managed a couple of mid-table hits from that particular long player, I Know What I'm Here For making Number 22 and Just Like Fred Astaire reaching Number 17. More surprising was the failure of We're Going To Miss You which only reached Number 48, their first single to miss the Top 40 since Seven only hit No.46 in July 1992. Happily they have bounced back with this new single from an eagerly awaited new album. Getting Away With It may not sound like classic James to begin with but gradually builds up to become a storming anthem that more than deserves to be their 15th Top 30 hit.
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23 HAPPY PEOPLE (Static Revenger)

Static Revenger is none other than Dennis White, a DJ from Detroit who was once one of the core members of Inner City. This single marks his first ever appearance as a solo act and is proof that amidst the confusing mix of styles that is dance music, classic house still has a chance to stand out. Happy People is designed to evoke the spirit of one of his favourite experiences - DJing at a weekend long party in Hollywood.
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32 INNOCENTE (FALLING IN LOVE) (Delerium featuring Leigh Nash)

Clearly this is the latest thing in the world of trance and Eurodance. Rather than pick some unknown blonde woman to breathe vocals and look sexy in the video it is much more appropriate to take a well known female singer from a real group and turn them into a dance diva. Thus just as in recent weeks we have had Boris Dlugosch teaming up with Roisin Murphy, this week the Top 40 welcomes Delerium who have enlisted none other than Leigh Nash, better known as the lead singer of Sixpence None The Richer. Whether this adds anything to the track is open to question. It worked first time around for Delerium who hit Number 3 in October last year with Silence that featured a guest vocal from Sarah McLachlan. This time around they can barely creep into the Top 40.


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