This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 MY SWEET LORD (George Harrison)

He may have been "the quiet one" in The Beatles and his sad death in November may not have been totally unexpected but the passing of George Harrison was still a moment when the music industry lost one of its greatest icons. Even without the huge public demand, it was almost inevitable that one of his greatest hits should be re-released in Memorium and so it has come to pass, even though EMI elected not to rush the single out in time for Christmas but instead picked mid-January as a suitable time to bring the single out. As a result, we this week have a unique situation as a single by one deceased act replaces another at the top of the charts, Aaliyah's posthumous hit falling four places this week. Although it is the first time one late act has replaced another at the summit it is actually the second time we have had two consecutive posthumous Number One hits. This is thanks to the unprecedented way that Harrison's former bandmate John Lennon dominated the top of the charts in early 1981 following his death a few weeks earlier. Thus on February 7th 1981 John Lennon's Woman climbed to the top of the charts, knocking off his own Imagine which had been at the top for the four weeks previously.

My Sweet Lord was the first and far and away the most famous of George Harrison's solo hits. When first released it sailed quickly to the top of the charts, hitting Number One exactly 31 years ago this week to make him the first Beatle to have a solo Number One hit. As a result, the track is only the second single in the near 50 year history of the UK charts to top the listings on two totally separate occasions. The other one was also as a result of a tragic death, Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody hitting the top in December 1991 following Freddie Mercury's passing. The only other singles to have come close to this feat are Albatross by Fleetwood Mac and Sailing by Rod Stewart which in the 1970s made Number 2 and Number 3 respectively when re-released after having each topped the charts a few years earlier.

In his lifetime George Harrison the solo star only had 10 chart singles. The closest he ever came to topping the charts again was in November 1987 when Got My Mind Set On You hit Number 2. One must also acknowledge the three hit singles he had as a leading member of the Travelling Wilburys plus also note that one of his most famous compositions was only ever a hit single for someone else, Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel taking Here Comes The Sun into the Top 10 in 1976. In a way it is curious that My Sweet Lord (surely the most successful religious track ever) should be held up as one of his greatest musical achievements. In one of the most famous cases of its kind Harrison was found guilty in the mid 1970s of accidentally plagiarising the tune of He's So Fine by the Chiffons and was forced to hand over a huge chunk of the royalties to Ronnie Mack who originally wrote the song. Maybe then it is entirely appropriate that three decades on the song has its reputation restored and is held up as one of the many great masterpieces of one of the most important pop idols ever.


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2 GET THE PARTY STARTED (Pink)

Although at the start of the week it looked as if Pink was in serious contention in the race to top the charts, she eventually finished some way behind George Harrison. Not that this should take anything away from the fact that the introductory single from her forthcoming new album has blasted into the charts to give the fiery singer her biggest solo hit ever. I make the solo hit qualification as of course Pink's last chart appearance was at the very top as one of the singers on the all-star rendition of Lady Marmalade which hit the summit in June last year. In all this is her fifth chart single, every one of which has been a Top 10 smash. Prior to Get The Party Started her biggest hit under her own steam was Most Girls which was a No.5 hit in September 2000.
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3 AM TO PM (Christina Milian)

A fixture on MTV and The Box since well before Christmas, Christina Milian makes her UK chart debut in fine style with this snappy R&B track that stakes her claim nicely to being the new Jennifer Lopez. Although she is a new name in chart terms the 20-year-old can already boast an impressive CV having co-written J-Lo's Play which was a Top 3 hit in May last year. Just like La Lopez she is also an actress although so far she has been restricted to bit-part roles including one of the voices in A Bug's Life and a blink and you'll miss it part in the original American Pie.
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8 STAR GUITAR (Chemical Brothers)

Following on from the dark tones of It Began In Afrika (Number 8 in September last year), the second single from the current Chemical Brothers album takes on a far more relaxed tone. Indeed Star Guitar is possibly one of their most accessible singles ever as this is an intoxicating mix of Balearic guitars and sampled voices as the wildest and often most consistent hitmakers in UK dance prove that they can chill out along with the best of them. This is the sixth Top 10 hit for the Chemical Brothers. Strangely enough all such hits from them have come in pairs, starting with their two chart-toppers from 1996 Setting Sun and Block Rockin' Beats and also taking in Hey Boy Hey Girl and Let Forever Be in 1999. Can their next release give them a hat-trick of Top Ten hits for the first time ever? [This single also boasts one of the most singularly clever videos ever, the train ride which... well, see for yourself].


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9 THE LAND OF MAKE BELIEVE (Allstars)

Want to hear one man's honest opinion? I though the Allstars' last single Things That Go Bump In The Night ranked alongside the A*Teen's Upside Down as one of the most underrated pop singles of last year. The stars of the tongue in cheek TV show Star Street clearly have potential in them as a pop act, it seems to be a case of people realising this. So when you are a pop act struggling to have big hits what do you do? Resort to a cover of course and in this case they have gone for what seems on the surface a most bizarre choice but one which in actual fact makes perfect sense. Land Of Make Believe was originally a hit for Bucks Fizz, the early 80s Abba clones who had won the Eurovision Song Contest for Britain in 1981 and who managed to carve out a string of hit singles on the back of that success. Land... was their fourth release and was their attempt to top the charts for Christmas 1981 after their previous two singles had only been minor Top 20 entries. As it turned out the single did not top the charts for the season but instead had a two week run at the summit in January. So it is that exactly 20 years later the Allstars take their own version into the Top 10 to give them their biggest hit ever. The pop lullaby is one of those pop hits that it was never ever cool to admit to liking but which in actual fact will bring a nostalgic tear to the eye of anyone around the age of 30 and this new version makes a point of staying faithful to the original. As a minor curiosity the song was co-written by Pete Sinfield who had previously found fame as a member of King Crimson - just like Gordon Haskell.
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16 THE DARK IS RISING (Mercury Rev)

A welcome return to the Top 40 this week for Mercury Rev. This is actually their second single release in recent months, following on from Nite And Fog which limped to Number 47 in October last year. The Dark Is Rising is the track that opens their current album All Is Dream in grand style and which has taken their exposure into brand new territory with even the middle of the road Radio 2 giving the track the occasional airing. The Dark Is Rising is the first chart hit for Mercury Rev since the re-released Goddess On A Hiway reached Number 26 in August 1999 and better than this is their biggest ever UK hit single, taking the veteran wildmen into the Top 20 for the first time ever. Who says January never produces anything memorable?
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19 DIDDY (P Diddy featuring The Neptunes)

Did he what? Yes, the man changed his name from something that British people had to avoid sniggering at to something the whole world could smirk at, what of it? This is the second hit single for the newly renamed P Diddy, the followup to Bad Boy For Life which peaked at Number 13 in October 2001. In truth despite the contributions of serial collaborators The Neptunes and the d-i-d-d-y spelling of the chorus there is actually very little in the track to make it appeal to the casual fan. Mr Combs will have to wait a little while longer for his next mainstream hit.
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22 WANNABE GANGSTER/LEROY (Wheatus)

Never ones to rush their records into the shops, the third Wheatus single arrives on the chart a full six months after their last hit, the cover of Erasure's A Little Respect gave them their second successive Top 3 hit. This time around there is no cover and even less of the fun loving geekiness of Teenage Dirtbag, instead Wannabe Gangster is a more darker sounding single although still with an emphasis on melody rather than noise. In truth there is very little wrong with the single other than the fact that it doesn't sound enough like their previous pop masterpieces to sit comfortably with people's expectations of what a Wheatus single should sound like. This, I suspect is the reason this rather depressed chart position (although in fairness the double a-side Leroy probably deserves more attention than it is likely to get). They will need to redeem themselves with their next single (which knowing them may not arrive until the summer) to avoid being considered flash in the pans.
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24 THIS TRAIN DON'T STOP THERE ANYMORE (Elton John)

A funny one this. This Train Don't Stop There Anymore was originally scheduled for release in time to be part of the Christmas market but almost at the last minute was put back until mid-January. I must confess I was expecting big things for this single, a stripped to the basics Elton ballad that is accompanied by the inspired video in which Justin Timberlake plays a young Elton John being ferried around backstage with a heavy heart before turning on the style to step out in front of an audience. I'm of the opinion that this is Elton John back on form with one of his best songs since Made In England. Sadly not many people agree and having finally crept into the shops the single can do little more than climb almost apologetically into the Top 30, a far cry from the Top 10 placing of his last hit I Want Love. Still, in every chart placing there is a potential story and indeed if this single progresses no further it will be his first track to peak between 21 and 30 since the duet with Marcella Detroit Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing also reached Number 24 in May 1994. [Another strong contender here for "best pop video of all time"].


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26 BE FREE (Live Element)

Live Element are two DJs from New York who have their first ever UK hit thanks to a clever use of samples. Be Free takes its name from the central sample used to construct the hit, namely Belinda Carlisle's 1991 hit Live Your Life Be Free. Beyond that there is little more to say about the track suffice to say that the buzz that surrounding its championing by a number of big name DJs hasn't translated into major chart success.
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30 IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD (Super Furry Animals)

The third single from the current Super Furries album is once again a masterpiece of production, drowning in emotion and feeling. Overstatement? Not a bit of this. After the harmonies of Drawing Rings Around The World, this is a worthy companion to Juxtaposed With U as a sign that the underrated act are making some magical singles at present. A minor hit in the grand scheme of things but a suitable high point to round off the chart this week. See you in seven.


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