This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 21 SECONDS (So Solid Crew)

With one fell swoop the So Solid Crew write themselves into chart history as one of the select band of acts (amongst them Whigfield, B*witched, The Teletubbies, Westlife, Billie and Hanson) to shoot straight to the top of the pile with their first chart single ever. In actual fact the single isn't quite the "in from nowhere" phenomenon it appears to be having been hyped to death for the last six weeks or so and as regular viewers of The Box will know, has been one of their most popular videos for most of the last month. So Solid Crew have designs on being the British Wu-Tang Clan and are around 20-strong in number. The concept behind the single is that various members have the chance to rap a verse - each getting no more than 21 seconds to say their piece. I have to confess to being a little underwhelmed by the track the first time I heard it, expecting something rather more entertaining after all the hype but there is no doubting its overwhelming popularity and its deserved place at the top of the charts. Something tells me the stock of British rap music is on the rise, 21 Seconds can count as the second UK-originated rap single this year (alongside Do You Really Like It) to top the charts. [This was before Grime was really a thing, but this track is easily one of the defining moments of the still-resonating genre. And it was a Number One to boot. A quite significant musical moment].


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2 ETERNAL FLAME (Atomic Kitten)

Their run at the top may have come to an end but there is no denying Atomic Kitten are on the rise. After charting miserably low when first released last autumn, the re-recorded and repackaged album Right Now this week charges to the top of the long players listing. I have to confess to being a little bemused at the way Guinness publications (the people behind British Hit Singles) presented them with an award this week for being the best female trio of all time. Such "best" accolades are always very subjective in any case as it all depends on how one defines success. Whilst Atomic Kitten may have had more chart-topping singles than either Bananarama or The Supremes they are surely going to have to wait until they have had a career of hit singles stretching back more than a decade (as both the aforementioned acts have managed) before they can be considered amongst the lists of chart greats. Still, having now moved themselves firmly into pole position in terms of British girl groups all eyes are now on where their competition will come from and most eyes appear to be on the group whose new single sits alongside Eternal Flame on the soundtrack of the film The Parole Officer - Supersister.
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3 AIN'T IT FUNNY (Jennifer Lopez)

Proving once more that she is red hot in every sense of the word(s), Jennifer Lopez clocks up her third Top 3 hit single of the year with what appears to be consummate ease. Ain't It Funny also ranks as her fifth Top 5 hit in six single releases, her only relative "failure" being the No.15 peak of Feelin' So Good in April 2000. This new hit is possibly one of her best to date, a track that simply oozes summer with every stroke of the swirling Latino guitars. If the way it was blasting out of what seemed to be every other West End pub I walked past last night is any indication the single is an essential part of the soundtrack of the summer. It is worth noting that for all the fuss that has surrounded the latest releases from Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey, J-Lo has beaten both superstars in terms of chart consistency. [Yes, this was the "original" version of Ain't It Funny as opposed to the "remixed" version which would become a hit a few months down the line but which was basically an entirely different lyric and melody].


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7 ANTE UP (M.O.P. featuring Busta Rhymes)

Four new entries in the Top 10 this week and three of them are rap singles. This is of course the followup to Cold As Ice which put M.O.P. on the map back in April. If anything Ante Up eclipses that first hit in terms of commercial appeal, being as it is a quite spectacular mix of rock guitars and soul horns - and of course the seal of approval of guest star Busta Rhymes, who here makes his first appearance in the Top 10 since 1999s What's It Gonna Be. Ante Up isn't quite as big a hit as its predecessor, Cold As Ice having twice reached Number 4 during its chart run.
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10 ONE MINUTE MAN (Missy Elliott featuring Ludacris)

Blasted she may have been for her somewhat bizarre live appearances, Missy Elliott still has no problem having hit singles it seems. One Minute Man - surely one of the rudest tracks to make the chart this year - is the followup to Get Ur Freak On which became her most enduring hit single to date when it peaked at Number 4 in April and spent a full 10 weeks on the Top 75. This hot streak continues with this single as she clocks up two successive Top 10 hit singles, although of course technically this is her third chart appearance of the year thanks to her uncredited cameo in the full length version of Lady Marmalade. Guest star on One Minute Man is Ludacris who thus becomes no less than the ninth artist to appear alongside her on a chart single. Ludacris' own chart debut came just two months ago when he reached No.19 with What's Your Fantasy.
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12 THE REAL LIFE (Raven Maize)

Dave Lee has clearly got himself a taste for fame. Over a decade after he invented his Joey Negro persona he is rapidly turning into the new Norman Cook, creating dance singles and releasing them under a variety of different names. Whilst American Dream earlier this year was credited on the label to "Joey Negro presents Jakatta" this new single has kept the true identity of the star well hidden to most casual observers. One of two new hit singles this week that turns the unexpected into a dance single, The Real Life is at once both shocking and quite inspired. The lyrical hook is of course lifted from Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody but here is melded to the melody from an old Simple Minds track called Theme From Great Cities. Guess what, it works and whilst fans of both bands may condemn the track as vandalism of the worst kind you can hardly knock this kind of inspiration. Funnily enough I've spent the last week listening to old dance collections from what us old fogies would regard as the golden age of house music, 1987 and 1988 and it set me wondering how it is that Dave Lee can still be at the forefront of the music scene almost 15 years later yet the likes of Simon Harris, Les Adams and Dakeene are apparently nowhere to be seen.


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13 KNIVES OUT (Radiohead)

This is surprising. Radiohead's second single release of the year (the followup to June's Pyramid Song) was planted nicely inside the Top 10 according to midweek predictions but its sales fell off quite sharply towards the end of the week with the net result that the single can only rank as the 13th biggest seller of the week. This is enough to make it the first Radiohead single to miss the Top 10 since Just reached Number 19 back in September 1995. Of course you cannot read anything into this at all, especially not with an act such as Radiohead who command a dedicated audience of fans who will have snapped the album up the moment it came out. Nonetheless if even in this slightly depressed market they cannot sell enough singles to chart in the Top 10 you could be forgiven for wondering if all this weird experimentalism hasn't turned off all but the most dedicated.
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14 PRECIOUS HEART (Tall Paul vs INXS)

The rise of Tall Paul as a recording artist rather than a club superstar continues. This is his second chart hit of the year following June's Number 29 re-release of his 1997 single Rock Da House. Like the Raven Maize single above it, this track also takes a somewhat unlikely source as its inspiration. Tall Paul originally mixed this track together for use on an Australian tour, taking the vocal from INXSs 1988 classic Never Tear Us Apart and turning it into a dancefloor anthem. The track went down so well that it would have been foolish not to attempt to release it and to their credit the surviving members of INXS agreed. It is interesting to note that this is the second dance hit of the year to bear a co-credit for the original act in a similar manner to the way New Years' Dub was listed on the chart as Musique vs U2. Insisting on this kind of credit not only means the track carries an almost "official" seal of approval from the sampled artist but also means they cannily share in the performers royalties as well as picking up their cut of songwriting and publishing.


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18 SCREAM IF YOU WANNA GO FASTER (Geri Halliwell)

First of all to correct last week's daft typo [typo my arse, you f**ked up, don't hide from it], Geri Halliwell has of course had four Number One singles from her six solo single releases to date rather than the five I credited her with at first. It is also worth expanding further after a great many people wondered out loud just why everyone was screaming about why this single was a "flop" for peaking at Number 8 when earlier this year Robbie Williams placed a single at Number 10 without anyone batting an eyelid. The truth is of course that Robbie Williams probably doesn't need to sell records to remain a star. For whatever reason he has that indefinable quality that suggests that whatever he does, whether it is acting, presenting or just window cleaning he will remain the loveable national treasure we are all told that he is. Geri is different. It isn't unfair to say that nobody actually "likes" her in the same way everyone does Mr Williams. We may like the odd record of hers but beyond that she struggles for superstar charisma. Hence her chart positions are possibly more important. If people stop buying her music then quite simply she is shafted. Hence the furrowed brows when what is arguably her best song from a heavily promoted but poor-selling album becomes her smallest hit single ever and then starts dropping like a stone.
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21 HIDDEN PLACE (Bjork)

So to the bottom end of the Top 40 and couple of acts who were once Top 10 stars but who now seem to be struggling. This is Bjork's first single release for over two years during which time the Icelandic star has been concentrating on her acting career. It may be she may need it as her singing career has been treading water for some time. Far from building on the success of It's Oh So Quiet and Hyperballad in 1995 and 1996, Bjork's chart positions have slipped ever since. Her last single was All Is Full Of Love in June 1999 which made Number 24 and although this brand new single is a slight improvement she has still not had a Top 20 hit since since Possibly Maybe made Number 13 in November 1996 and you cannot see her breaking that streak any time soon.
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28 I DON'T KNOW (Honeyz)

If Bjork seems to be merely ticking over then the Honeyz on the other hand are indeed in trouble. When the threesome first emerged in 1998 they appeared to be major stars in waiting. Singles such as Finally Found, End Of The Line and Never Let You Down were all shining jewels of pop-soul. Each one had that indefinable magic that turned an average record into something quite sensational. Despite a string of hit singles they never quite seemed to be able to turn their appeal into album sales, despite their debut Wonder No.8 being released twice in two different versions thanks to a temporary personnel change. This is their first single release since Not Even Gonna Trip made No.24 in October last year and marks a move away from the more hard edged R&B sound of later singles and back to the sweet harmonies of their earlier work. I confess to still being a fan and I Don't Know is up there as one of their best releases to date with a harmonised chorus that all but commands you to spoil it by singing along. Whilst the magic of their sound may still be there, the popular appeal appears not to be and the track winds up as their smallest hit to date. Not the best of signs for a new album.
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30 DESTINY (Zero 7)

You may not have heard of Zero 7 (aka Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker) but they have something of a reputation already thanks largely to their dub remix of Radiohead's Climbing Up The Walls which took the miserable rockers to a whole new audience and made the pair an act to watch. This is their first ever chart single and whilst it may not be the smash hit the buzz around them (which includes a Mercury Music Prize nomination)predicted it is certainly something to build on for the future. They are names to watch if nothing else. Incidentally one of the singers on the track is Sia Furler who had Number 10 hit in her own right with Taken For Granted in June last year.


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33 SUPERSTRING (Cygnus X)

Rounding off the Top 40 this week is the debut single for Cygnus X, a German trance producer with a body of work that stretches back more than a decade. Sadly there isn't anything in this track to make it stand out from the crowd and it can go down as just another single by one bloke and a bank of keyboards. Anyway isn't Superstring the stuff you get in cans?


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