This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 GOTTA GET THRU THIS (Daniel Bedingfield)

Christmas -2. Whilst the competition hots up for a place in the all-important Christmas listings (just look at the number of new entries inside the Top 40 alone) Daniel Bedingfield somehow manages to see off all the competition and cling to the top of the chart for a second week. In actual fact this isn't all that surprising. As I detailed last week, Gotta Get Thru this was by no means a mainstream hit record when it debuted at the top, its popularity being confined to certain areas of the country. Once on full release and at the top of the charts to boot, everyone has been given a chance to hear it and the result of this is the appeal of the incredibly good club track spreading across the rest of the nation. This was enough to sustain its sales and ensure that none of this week's biggest new entries really stood a chance of topping the listings. Next week of course his chances don't look so good and it would take a very brave soul indeed to not expect Robbie and Nicole to sweep all before them. Still, the chances are that Daniel Bedingfield will be Top 10 if not Top 5 for Christmas. Let us just hope that when someone pays him to make an album his other tracks are just as good.
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2 MURDER ON THE DANCEFLOOR (Sophie Ellis Bextor)

After making her solo debut proper with a rewritten Cher cover (Take Me Home which reached Number 2 in August), Sophie Ellis Bextor proves that she is no flash in the pan by sweeping all before her at one of the most difficult times of the year. No cover versions needed this time, Murder On The Dancefloor isn't the most immediate pop record you will have heard this year but somehow contains enough hooks to sucker you in, the singers perfectly rounded vocal style the perfect complement to the tale of dancefloor bitchiness related by the song. Nobody is really expecting her second successive Number 2 hit to contend for Christmas Number One, at the time of writing (and bear in mind I'm doing this on Sunday lunchtime before the charts are public knowledge) William Hill are offering 25-1 on her topping the chart in a fortnights time.


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4 HANDBAGS AND GLADRAGS (Stereophonics)

I've spent most of this year complaining that the Stereophonics are half the band they used to be and that their singles are painfully bland and dull in comparison to past glories. This is where those words get eaten. In case you are wondering why so many people are going around saying they always thought Stereophonics lead singer Kelly Jones sounded like Rod Stewart, this track is the reason. Handbags And Gladrags was written by former Manfred Mann singer Mike D'Abo and was originally a minor hit at Christmas 1967 for Chris Farlowe. The man who is forever associated with the song is of course Rod Stewart. Although Rod's version never became a hit single it was a track on his first solo album from 1969, was a memorable part of his 1993 unplugged performance and has appeared on just about every Hits compilation he has ever released. It is Rod's version that is clearly the inspiration for the Stereophonics on this track which does not appear on their current album. Needless to say it is nothing short of magnificent, the perfect choice for a cover version and the kind of song which fits their recent reflective style far better than many of their own songs. At one point the track looked to be challenging for a Top 3 position but instead has to settle for Number 4, just short of becoming their biggest hit ever but coincidentally matching the chart peak of their only other cover version - Mama Told Me Not To Come. As a Christmas special it is near perfect and who knows, their third Top 10 hit of the year may well be the track that pushes the Welshmen to a whole new level in their career.
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5 WORDS ARE NOT ENOUGH/I KNOW HIM SO WELL (Steps)

Hot on the heels of their Number 2 cover version of Diana Ross' Chain Reaction, Steps raid the platinum grooves of their Greatest Hits collection for this Christmas single (currently a 50-1 shot). The disc is a double a-side in every sense of the word as airplay and promotion seems split between the two listed tracks. Words Are Not Enough is a new song in the typical upbeat Steps formula and which comes complete with an innovative and memorable video which sees the group transformed into cartoons. Track 2 is the long-awaited commercial release of their performance of I Know Him So Well which was recorded for the Abbamania TV special earlier this year. The track was written by Benny and Bjorn along with Sir Tim Rice for the stage musical Chess and was originally a Number One hit for Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson in 1985 and was at the time the best-selling single ever by a female act, shifting over 900,000 copies. Steps' version remains faithful to the original even if the boys are given a few lines to sing here and there. Needless to say it is yet another Top 5 hit for the five piece, their fourth of the year. This is also their 14th Top 10 hit in a row, an incredible total for a pop group. In fact the only other groups to have put together longer runs are The Beatles (24), The Rolling Stones (19) and Abba (13). [Yet they were harbouring a secret, splitting a few weeks later at the climax of their Greatest Hits tour and making this the final Steps single until their 2017 comeback].
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7 COUNTRY ROADS (Hermes House Band)

Blame DJ Otzi. Without him I doubt that anyone would ever have contemplated releasing this single over here. The Hermes House Band hail from Holland and on the continent are famous for their 1995 remake of I Will Survive. France in particular took to the track and it was a hit twice over there, once in 1997 and then once again in 1998 when crowds during the World Cup sang it repeatedly. The Hermes House formula is simple - take an established classic and record it as if it is a beer hall singalong, complete with crowd noises and cheering. Added to that they also use the trick that worked so well for Come On Eileen - towards the end slow the song down to a stop and then repeat the chorus ad nauseum getting faster with every line. It is this formula that is applied to the old John Denver song Country Roads (also recorded by Olivia Newton-John) to, dare I say it, quite wonderful effect. Just as Hey Baby was the perfect antidote to the end of summer, so the most blatant party record of the year makes for the perfect chart hit at Christmas. Many in the industry were screaming that this was a sure-fire Number One hit and indeed they are currently third favourites at 7-1 at the bookmakers. The fact that the single has slipped into the chart at Number 7 may well cause a bit of a rethink but if you attend any party over the next month and do not hear this track I will be shocked. If nothing else this is the first ever chart version of one of country music's most famous standards...


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9 I BELIEVE IN CHRISTMAS (Tweenies)

Believe it or not the Tweenies, right from the start, have been second favourites to be Christmas Number One. Something tells me that the bookmakers have been suckered a little by the past successes of Bob The Builder, Mr Blobby and the Teletubbies and have assumed that a pre-teen novelty hit is bound to sell well at Christmas. This may well have been an assumption too far where the Tweenies are concerned. Not that there is any doubt over the popularity of the stars of the BBC TV series. During the course of the year they have rivalled S Club 7 in terms of the number of sellout arena dates and have had three chart singles already. They are by no means mainstream hit makers though, their last two singles Best Friends Forever and Do The Lollipop only going Top 20 and really having little appeal to anyone over the age of 6 (a problem that Bob The Builder does not suffer from). So although I Believe In Christmas returns them to the Top 10 for the first time since their debut release Number 1, the fact that it has only slipped in at Number 9 should not be too much of a shock. They will almost certainly be the highest charting act with a single that is actually about Christmas this year but their current 3-1 price is not a fair reflection of their chance of topping the chart in two weeks time. Thank goodness.
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11 SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW/WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD (Cliff Richard)

Believe it or not this is Cliff's first single release since the nation-dividing Millennium Prayer which came within an ace of being Christmas Number One in 1999. Never mind that it is a cliche, somehow it just isn't Christmas without the grand old man of British pop making an attempt to silence his critics. This year if you will pardon the pun nobody seems to have given him a prayer (he is way out at 25-1) which is actually a bit of a shame. Cliff Richard is at his best when he stops preaching and just gets down to singing a fabulous song really well - as is the case with this medley of two familiar tracks. The main body of the single is Somewhere Over The Rainbow and you can bet that his decision to record it is in some way inspired by the popularity of the version recorded by the late Eva Cassidy. Although never formally re-released, copies of her version drifted into the shops at various points during the year on the back of the phenomenal posthumous success of the Songbird album. The closest she came to making the Top 40 was in May when the track hit Number 42 and so it is Sir Cliff that has the honour of having the first ever hit version of the famous movie song. The second half of the single is also an old song, a cover of Louis Armstrong's What A Wonderful World which topped the charts for the veteran jazzman in 1968. Funnily enough it is only because of Louis Armstrong that Cliff does not hold the record for being the oldest man ever to have a Number One hit single. As this Number 11 entry proves, Cliff is simply not in the running this year but he has at least done better than in 1995 when his Christmastime duet with Olivia Newton-John on Had To Be could only reach Number 22.
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13 IN TOO DEEP (Sum 41)

Well even with the big new singles of the week out of the way, the also-rans also take up a fair part of the Top 40 chart this week. Top of this weeks second division are Sum 41 with the followup to the enormously appealing Fat Lip which hit Number 8 back in October. In Too Deep is more of the same, another roaringly good rock track with an infectious chorus. Admittedly there is little to distinguish them from the likes of Green Day, Blink 182 or Alien Ant Farm but if you are a rock fan then this current embarassment of riches is hardly likely to give you sleepless nights.
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14 DOIN' IT (Liberty)

Also sneaking into the Top 20 is the sophomore hit for the flopstars, Liberty of course being the five members of the final 10 from the Popstars show who didn't get chosen to be in Hear'Say. Something tells me they may be thanking their lucky stars now, Hear'Say's hurried second album having all but flopped this week whilst Liberty are regarded as an exciting group to watch out for next year. Compared to the Top 5 entry of their first hit Thinking It Over this single might be regarded as a disappointment but in truth I think Doin' It has simply become lost in the mix at the busiest time of year. We shall see what happens to their third single in the new year...
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20 IT AIN'T ENOUGH (Dreem Team vs Artful Dodger)

Now here is a combination and a half. The Dreem Team may not be garage music's biggest hitmakers (in fact they have only ever had one hit single of their own plus a Neneh Cherry remix which was credited to them) but they are still much in demand as remixers and with more influence than just about anyone thanks to their Sunday morning show on Radio One which has helped to break an impressively large number of dance hits over the past 18 months. Their return to hitmaking ways comes as a result of their transforming one of the long-lost classics of garage. It Ain't Enough was recorded by the Artful Dodger back in 1999 when they were amongst the leading lights of what was then a decidedly niche underground scene. Two of the tracks they made back in those days went on to become mainstream hits - Re-Rewind (with Craig David on lead vocals) and Movin' Too Fast (sung by Romina Johnson). The original version of It Ain't Enough also featured a vocal contribution from Craig David along with Coco but for this new 'official' version they have been replaced by MC Allister and Shernette. Still, the elements of the track that made it one of garage's long-lost classics are still in place and there won't be too many people complaining that it has finally become the hit it always deserved to be. The track can also be heard on the soundtrack of the film Mike Bassett England Manager, the second time this year that an Artful Dodger track ended up in a promiment place on the soundtrack of a British film - check out Woman Trouble in the middle of Bridget Jones' Diary.
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25 YOU CAN'T CHANGE ME (Roger Sanchez)

Perhaps setting an unwanted record for the least successful followup to a Number One hit of the year, Roger Sanchez finds that the chart-topping days of Another Chance (July in case you had forgotten) are for the moment well behind him. Once again it is possible to blame the time of year, there are just so many singles released at the moment that even the latest release from a Number One hitmaker runs the risk of slipping through the cracks. Anyway onto this track which features former Brand New Heavies singer N'Dea Davenport on lead vocals and which also boasts a contribution from Armand Van Helden. Better than its chart placing would suggest.
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34 WHO WE BE (DMX)

Although a massive star in the States, DMX has yet to find his niche over here, despite the fact that his witty, self deprecating and often x-rated rapping style predated Eminem by a couple of years. To date his only other chart single came in May 1999 when Slippin' made Number 30. He does have his fans though, the current album The Great Depression has already made the Top 20 and this single has managed a limited amount of Radio One airplay. This still isn't enough to have turned it into a major hit (I'm fed up of blaming Christmas already) but with his records flying off the shelves on the other side of the Atlantic it is surely only a matter of time before DMX becomes a household name over here. Mind you, two years ago we were saying the same thing about Kid Rock.
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37 EP THREE (Hundred Reasons)

As you may well have gathered this is the third single release from the Surrey-based noise merchants whose popularity has received a huge boost thanks to a well received support slot with Muse. It may shock you to learn that their last single was titled EP Two and it crept into the chart at Number 47 back in August. EP One did not reach the Top 75. This cute way of naming your singles in numerical order has actually been done before. Stand up Mansun whose singles are all promoted as EPs and all are named in strict numberical order, even though most chart listings and reference books use the title of the first track to distinguish each one.
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38 LIGHT A RAINBOW (Tukan)

A club hit from Denmark this one, two producer blokes team up with a model with a breathless voice. You know the rest.
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40 SHE GOT GAME (Tymes 4)

An honourable mention is due for Tymes 4 who have the honour of being the 15th new entry inside the Top 40 this week. This is their second chart single, the followup to Bodyrock which made Number 23 in August. Hailed alongside Mis-Teeq as the new dawn of British all-girl R&B it may well be that the sun has already set on this foursome. Unless you want to blame Christmas for ruining their chances of having a bigger hit of course... See you in seven.


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