This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 HEY BABY (DJ Otzi)

Good grief, just where do you begin. A chart tradition that has gone by the wayside in recent years is that of the European smash hit that has been heard by British holidaymakers and which subsequently becomes an autumnal hit on the strength of their memories. Pop history is littered with such tracks - Baltimora's Tarzan Boy, Twenty-Four Seven's I Can't Stand It, Culture Club's Mr Vain to name but a few. In recent years such marketing tricks have not been needed and a European club hit is often a UK smash at the same time or just a few weeks later. Even the musical culture of Ibiza clubs has changed from tracks that are subsequently imported back to the UK to tracks originating from this country which are played by UK DJs guesting in continental resorts.

Hence it is good to welcome the charts a pop hit that has worked its way through Europe the old fashioned way. Austrian DJ Otzi has had some localised European novelty hits in the past under the name of Anton Of Tirol. He hit commercial paydirt earlier this year by ditching partner Antonia and rebranding himself to record this wild, energetic yet incredibly cheesy cover version of a 1960s classic. Hey Baby was first recorded by Bruce Channel in 1962, the single topping the charts in America and making Number 2 over here. 25 years later it became popular all over again thanks to its prominent use on the soundtrack of the film Dirty Dancing although no re-release of the single was forthcoming. DJ Otzi's remake stays faithful to the original save for the inclusion of the "Oooh Ahh" chants after the song's hook which is equivalent to "Who the f*** is Alice" in terms of lyrical vandalism but which helps transform the 40 year old song into an immediate crowd pleaser and dare I say it something approaching a work of genius.

Eagle-eyed chart watchers will have noticed that the single has spent the last month floating around just outside the Top 40 on import sales alone. The single would probably have climbed higher but for the fact copies of the track have been scarce until last week's official release. Ordinarily an import single becomes a brand new entry when officially released but unusually this is not the case here. As the imported and official copies of the single have the same catalogue number the charts consider the single to be the same record - see where I am going with this? The result is that Hey Baby posts a 44 place climb on the chart, breaking a record that has stood since 1982 for the biggest ever leap to the top of the UK charts. The previous record was 33-1 held by Captain Sensible with Happy Talk and in the current climate it looked as if it would never be broken. Well it may have taken a chart technicality but like it or loathe it, DJ Otzi has just written himself into chart history

Hey Baby is almost certainly the most regionally polarised hit single for a long time, all the import sales and a substantial proportion of its sales this week having come from Yorkshire, Lancashire and Northern Ireland (fuelled by the fact that the track was licensed for release in the Republic two months ago and has already topped their charts for several weeks). Radio airplay has been all but non-existent and with a video for the track only having been delivered last week there is a strong chance that the appeal of the single has room to grow to those who probably haven't even heard it yet. I've been waiting for the release of this single ever since a night out in Bradford earlier this summer when it was played to a raucous and joyous response in just about every pub and club I went into [I then came back to London and told everyone I could about this smash hit in waiting. People told me I was talking out of my backside, so the sight of this at the top finally was a quite glorious moment]. Love it or loath it, this single is a classic in the making, one which is guaranteed to be played at every wedding reception, every Christmas party and every cheesy pub disco night for the next 20 years.


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2 MAMBO NO.5 (Bob The Builder)

A word of consolation for Bob The Builder though who actually ran DJ Otzi close all week long, some early sales reports suggesting that in fact he was set for a second week on top before finally being deposed by an act who is an even bigger novelty than he is. Next week of course the focus switches from cheese to the battle of the big guns. It's Kylie vs Posh and this time nobody has any clue how it is all going to pan out.
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4 SET YOU FREE (N-Trance)

So whilst the biggest new hit of the week is a new version of a 40 year old song, the second biggest is a remixed version of one that is slightly newer. Whilst the N-Trance duo of Kevin O'Toole and Dale Longworth are best known in recent years for their ever-worsening string of cheesy pop-rap covers of tracks such as Do Ya Think I'm Sexy, D.I.S.C.O. and even Paradise City, back in the early 1990s they were actually pioneers. At the time drum n' bass and the whole Jungle House movement was as firmly underground as it was possible to get but the pair realised that adding a sweetly sung vocal over the frantic dirty beats worked to terrific effect. Set You Free was the track they produced to prove this, featuring Kelly Llorenna on lead vocals. The single took almost two years from the date of recording to be released but finally hit the streets in 1993. It reached Number 81 and sank without trace. Well it sank for a few months anyway, a re-release arriving in May 1994 once Jungle had exploded into the mainstream. A new mix of the single featuring an added rap from T-1K crawled to Number 39 in May 1994 only for clubbers to decide that the original version was actually better. After continuing demand, much of it emanating from Scotland, the 1993 original was put out again in January 1995 and this time paydirt was struck. The single charged to Number 2 and eventually sold over 600,000 copies, paving the way for N-Trance to become the masters of disco cheese. When the dance scene gets a little dull, jocks dig back through their archives to spice their sets up with a classic and this is just what happened earlier this summer. Hence Set You Free receives its fourth release and becomes a Top 40 hit for a third time, almost two years since the last N-Trance track Tears In The Rain (a No.53 hit), which coincidentally also featured Kelly Llorenna on vocals. Shame their website doesn't appear to have been updated since...
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5 BABY COME ON OVER (Samantha Mumba)

Most of the coverage of Samantha Mumba's career tends to focus on the way the Dublin teenager has shot to superstardom in America. Rightly so in a way as whilst the British record industry wrings its hands over the way even Robbie Williams can't get a stateside hit record the charismatic Ms Mumba has won everyone over with all of her charm and some damn good pop records to boot. Still, we must not overlook her UK chart career which began with Gotta Tell You just over a year ago and which has shown no signs of slowing down since. Baby Come On Over is her second hit of the year and the fourth in total. It also maintains her 100% strike rate of Top 5 hits, matching the peak of her second single Body II Body from October last year.

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8 IT BEGAN IN AFRIKA (Chemical Brothers)

Just one week after featuring on the lead mix of Fatboy Slim's Song For Shelter, the Chemical Brothers return to the chart in their own right. This single has arrived thanks to a typically clever bit of promotion which first saw it hit the streets in a limited edition White Label entitled Electronic Battle Weapon 5. Those who snapped up a copy now have a collectors item on their hands as the properly named and officially released track storms into the Top 10, the first hit single for the Chemical Brothers since Out Of Control made Number 21 in October 1999 and their biggest since Hey Boy Hey Girl was a Top 3 hit earlier that year. In all it is their fifth Top 10 hit.


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12 THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT (Allstars)

Back down to earth we go with the second single from the stars of Star Street. The Allstars first charted in June with the Number 20 hit Best Friends and whilst this single (backed incidentally with their semi-legendary rendition of Duran Duran's Is There Something I Should Know) performs a little better in terms of chart position they are clearly stuck with the tag of being a second rate S Club 7. Actually that is a shame as in truth Things That Go Bump In The Night is an incredibly good pop record but you cannot see them selling out arenas any time in the near future sadly. [Although it has since turned into a nice little earner for those behind the record, trotted out as a suitably spooky Halloween themed track on an annual basis. Although the way it found its way onto the soundtrack of the Scooby-Doo movie a year later helped too].


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17 HUNTER (Dido)

Dido's third hit single struggles a little to match the impact of the first two, possibly because it isn't either the theme to a US TV series (Here With Me) nor has it been sampled by Eminem (Thank You). Still the song is as lovely as all the ones on the album are and is also one of a number of tracks from the No Angel long player that is co-written by brother Rollo.
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18 ON THE MOVE (Barthezz)

No connection with the Manchester United goalkeeper we are told, instead Barthezz is in fact 21 year old Dutch art student Bart Claessen. He shot to fame last year as the winner of a competition run by the Vengaboys (stop laughing) to find a new talent to remix their single Cheeka Bow Wow.
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19 LET ROBESON SING (Manic Street Preachers)

After missing the Top 10 for the first time in years with Ocean Spray earlier this summer the pressure is clearly off for the Manic Street Preachers and the need to promote each of their singles into the upper reaches each time seems to have vanished. How else to explain Let Robeson Sing taking over as their smallest hit single since She Is Suffering only made Number 25 in 1994. The song itself returns to the Spanish Civil War theme the band last explored in the much misunderstood If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next, the song referencing American footballer, actor, social rights campaigner and singer Paul Robeson who once famously performed on the front line of the war with fighters from both sides stopping to listen.
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26 IN THE AIR TONITE (Lil' Kim featuring Phil Collins)

Following Brandy's rather nice take on Another Day In Paradise comes the second track from Urban Renewal, US R&Bs tribute to Phil Collins. Lil' Kim's approach is to add a moody new rap to the original version with Phil's own vocals featuring heavily - hence the joint credit. I must confess the single is by no means half a bad as it is painted. The intense minimalism of Phil's original (originally a No.2 hit in 1981 and then No.4 in a 1988 remix) remains intact whilst the rap adds a whole new dimension. It is a taste thing I guess.
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30 SOULJACKER PART ONE (Eels)

Hit Number 6 for the Eels and their first chart single since Flyswatter reached Number 55 on the back of the Number 11 success of Mr E's Beautiful Blues. Whilst this single doesn't have the benefit of featuring in a hit comedy movie it does at least boast a video directed by Wim Wenders and set in the former headquarters of the East German secret police...


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