This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 ETERNAL FLAME (Atomic Kitten)

Word has it that just before Christmas Atomic Kitten were on the verge of being dropped. Despite four Top 20 hit singles their album Right Now had failed to take off and there seemed to be little point continuing. Whole Again was scheduled to be their final single after which everyone would consider their options. Fate, of course, had other ideas. Not only did the girls promote the single at every opportunity but the group suddenly became headline news thanks to the pregnancy of Kerry Katona, their most photogenic member. The rest is history, a four-week run at Number One and an 11 week run inside the Top 10 that ensures it will remain one of the biggest singles of the year with sales nudging a million copies. The problem now was what to do next. Clearly, the chance was now there to reawaken the album (remade with new vocals thanks to their personnel changes after Kerry left) but most of the best tracks had already been singles and none had flopped badly enough to make it worth the risk of re-releasing them.

New material was, of course, the answer and for whatever reason, it has been decided that a cover version was the way to go. Eternal Flame was first recorded by The Bangles and was released by them as a single in early 1989. Appropriately enough the romantic ballad was a classic slow burner, taking almost two months to reach the Top 40 but once it did there was little stopping it and the track topped the charts in April for a four-week run, duplicating its American success. Over twelve years later the song clearly still has the power to enchant and almost with ease it becomes Atomic Kitten's second successive Number One single, beating no less an act as Destiny's Child into second place. The song was written by Bangles lead singer Susannah Hoffs along with 1980s songwriting superstars Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly. The pair were also responsible for (amongst others) Madonna's Like A Virgin, Cyndi Lauper's True Colours, Heart's Alone and Whitney Houston's So Emotional but Eternal Flame remains the only UK Number One hit they have ever penned. They may well take a small amount of satisfaction from the way it has done so twice.

2001 seems to be a 1970s and 1980s revival year as far as the top of the charts are concerned. Already we have had Number One remakes of Lady Marmalade and Angel Of The Morning from the 70s whilst both Uptown Girl and It's Raining Men were smash hits in the 80s. Roger Sanchez' Another Chance also has its roots in the 1980s thanks to the Toto track which supplied its vocals.


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2 BOOTYLICIOUS (Destiny's Child)

Funny thing this pop music isn't it? Last year we made much of the fact that Destiny's Child were the first female American group to top the UK charts since The Bangles and just look at what the song is that has stopped them claiming their third successive Number One hit. Chalk that one up to a scary coincidence. There is, of course, no shame in Destiny's Child landing in second place with this single. The album Survivor is still firmly lodged at the top of the long players listing and many will point out that the Atomic Kitten single was on sale for a pound less than their rivals. It is at the very least their seventh Top 10 hit single in a row. Bootylicious also continues the 80s connection as it is based heavily on an old Stevie Nicks track called Edge Of Seventeen. The single never charted in this country but was a Number 11 hit in the States in 1982. Incidentally, is that really the lady herself making a cameo appearance in the video? [Yes, three seconds in].


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4 ALL OR NOTHING (O-Town)

Just as the Popstars programme continues to be the reference point for Hear'Say's hits so too it is impossible to mention O-Town without referring back to the MTV series Making The Band which followed them from auditions to recording studio. Still, with both the Backstreet Boys and 'NSync appearing to be fading the market is open for a new US boy band with widespread international appeal. Their first single Liquid Dreams hit Number 3 in April and this second hit single does almost as well to give them a brace of Top 5 hits out of the blocks.
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9 FIRE WIRE (Cosmic Gate)

Back to clubland we go for the week's fourth-biggest new hit, a mental as you like trance freak out that has enough energy to give it a better than average chance of crossing over to mainstream record buyers. For those wondering, the track is indeed named after the high-speed data port that you use for transferring digital video onto your PC [and which would shortly become the interface of choice for the first models of this weird new gadget called an iPod]. My new record 10/100 NIC backed with USB Heaven (the ATI video driver mix) should be in the shops soon.
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17 DO THE LOLLIPOP (Tweenies)

The Tweenies have been on tour for what seems like most of the year and in terms of ticket sales have been almost as hot a commodity as S Club 7. So whilst the children's TV phenomenon continues so do the record sales, hence this third Tweenies single. It follows the worryingly popular Number 1 and Best Friends Forever into the Top 20 and leaves me wondering what the world has come to when the charts are full of records that I am clearly 20 years too old to appreciate properly.
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19 STONE BY STONE (Catatonia)

They are back. The Welsh rockers (or however you want to pigeonhole them), led by the ever-lovely Cerys Matthews. Having released their first album in 1996 they made it big 1998 with the singles Mulder And Scully and Road Rage. They have since had two albums worth of hit records, the last of these coming in November 1999 when Karaoke Queen reached Number 36. A few months later Cerys duetted with Tom Jones on Baby It's Cold Outside but aside from that, the band have been silent ever since. Now it is time for the comeback but as can often be the case, the two years away have not been kind to their fanbase or appeal. Hence what should have been a triumphant return to the charts turns out to be an anticlimax despite the wonderful anthemic nature of the record they have released. Stone By Stone may be the first single from their forthcoming new album but it can only land just inside the Top 20, by no means their smallest hit ever but not one with bodes well for their chances of having any more Top 10 hits. That is even without reference to Cerys Matthews' well-reported personal problems of late.
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24 ALL THE WAY TO RENO (REM)

Speaking of singles that do worse than you might expect, REM's followup to the memorable Imitation Of Life doesn't exactly set the charts alight either. Not that they will worry too much as REM have always been rather erratic when it comes to having hit singles. Even at the height of their commercial appeal in the early 90's they were quite capable of placing singles in the Top 10 and then in the lower reaches of the Top 75 within a few months of each other. So no real need to panic here and it is quite possible that if they release one of the more appealing tracks from the album they will be back in the Top 20 before Christmas.
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35 REVOLUTION (IN THE SUMMERTIME) (Cosmic Rough Riders)

Presenting to you the stars of the future in the shape of the Cosmic Rough Riders. Signed to Alan McGee's Poptones label they have a sound that is best described as Ash crossed with The Byrds, combining a delightfully retro harmonic sound with just the right about of Britpop (there, I used the dirty word) beef. Listen to this and you will quite possibly love it forever. More please.


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36 PURE AND SIMPLE (Hear'Say)

So even after selling a million copies, the single keeps selling. Hear'Say's debut single was first released in March and unless you have an incredibly short memory you will know that it shattered records with one of the largest first-week sales ever. Three weeks at Number One and a slow tumble down the chart was enough to send the record into seven-figure territory and to ensure that the sales of the follow-up The Way To Your Love would always be an anticlimax. Now, as their second Number One hit slides down the chart (it is at Number 23 this week) sales of its predecessor have picked up as the remaining copies find their way into bargain bins. As a result, the single has been on the climb for the past couple of weeks. Having hit a low of No.53 four weeks ago the single has moved 53-50-52-42 and now makes an eight place leap to reappear inside the Top 40 for the first time in eight weeks.
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37 SOMEBODY (Shortie vs Black Legend)

Well doesn't this show you that in music, and club music especially, it isn't always the act that sells the records. Just the track they perform. Just over a year ago Black Legend were topping the charts with their reworked version of Barry White's You See The Trouble With Me. For this long-delayed release by the Italian outfit the same formula is reworked, except this time the base track is the rather more obscure Dr Love by First Choice (first released in 1977 fact fans) and once more with Spoonface providing the vocals. All in all it isn't bad but for whatever reason this time around nobody seems interested and the single can do little more than creep into the Top 40 almost with a whimper. Anyway, that's me for this week. Ever the slave to fashion, I'm repositioning and going outside to enjoy what is left of the sunshine... [That last comment was I think a sideways reference to an editorial shift the main dotmusic site was planning, part of a strategy which had seen the site unofficially put up for sale and which would result in it becoming part of the mighty BT empire early the following year].


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