This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 HERO (Enrique Iglesias)

Our story this week begins back in the wild, steamy summer of 1999. Yes, this is artistic licence. Bear with me. Latin flavoured hits were all the rage with Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez becoming huge stars for the first time, Lou Bega was teaching us how to Mambo again and even Geri Halliwell was getting in on the act with her song about Italian arses. In the middle of all of this came Enrique Iglesias, a smouldering Latin heartthrob who also just happened to be the son of former housewives favourite Julio Iglesias. His career got off to a fine start as his debut single Bailamos was featured on the Wild Wild West soundtrack and duly charged up to Number 4 in September that year. Then something went wrong. His next single was in all honesty not quite as good. It was also released in mid-December and quite literally nobody cared. Hence Rhythm Divine could only reach Number 45 and Enrique's UK career seemed dead in the water, so much so that his third single (and US No.1) Be With You was never even released here.

So it is time to start over again and he does so in grand style. The epic ballad Hero became an anthem of sorts in the United States at the back end of last year and the song proves it has truly international appeal by soaring straight to the very top of our charts this week, the biggest of no less than 17 new singles to enter the Top 40. Those with a long memory will recall that his father Julio also topped the singles charts once, back in December 1981 to be precise with Begin The Beguine. It is the first time father and son have each topped the charts as solo artists although the father and son team of Chesney and Chip Hawkes have also each hit the summit, Chesney as a solo artist in 1991 and Chip as a member of the Tremeloes in 1967. Over the last 50 years we have also had a father and daughter duet (Frank and Nancy Sinatra) a mother and son combo (Lieutenant Pigeon) but so far no mother and daughter combination has topped the charts, either separately or together. As for Hero it will be interesting to see how the single does from this point on. It is quite possibly the first track released this year to have the potential for genuine crossover appeal and with the release schedules for the next few weeks looking rather sparse in terms of potential new smash hits it is not out of the question that Hero could be the Whole Again of 2002 and have an extended run at the top.


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2 CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE (A1)

Politicians call it "blue sky thinking", across the pond they call it "thinking outside the box". A1 simply call it "what can we do to keep the momentum going?" Since their debut in mid 1999 with Be The First To Believe, A1 haven't done too badly for themselves, becoming a well known if not exactly stellar boy band and along the way topping the charts twice with a cover of Take On Me and the original song Same Old Brand New You. Their last hit came in March last year when No More reached Number 6. Still, it was clear that there was only so much life that could be squeezed out of the pop harmonies boy band formula and if they wanted to make their career at the top last any longer they had to drop the cheese. Hence the pleasantly surprising change of direction that is heralded by Caught In The Middle, a track that has attracted admiring comments since it was first promoed before Christmas. With a slight nod to BBMAK the single achieves everything it sets out to do and in the process manages to totally reinvent A1 as a quite credible guitar led pop act and potentially expose them to a whole new audience. Caught In The Middle duly becomes their fourth Top 3 hit and suggests that they are good for some more hits from the forthcoming new album. After that they hit the magical 3 year watershed for a pop band and the future appears less certain. [Reality: one more smaller hit single and then oblivion. Ah well].


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5 OVERPROTECTED (Britney Spears)

The last week and a half has seen Britain engulfed in Britney fever as the starlet jetted over here for a whirlwind promotional tour, taking in along the way some Top Of The Pops performances, radio interviews and the incredibly funny Frank Skinner interview which was screened last night (Saturday). If the aim of it all was to help the second single from her third album to the top of the chart then it appears to have failed although there is no doubting her personal profile has been raised no end. Those casual Britney fans who were left a little cold by the stripped down sound of her last hit I'm A Slave 4 U will find this new single a little more comfortingly familiar as Overprotected is written by the former Cheiron A-team of Max Martin and Rami. In spite of this the production still lacks a little of the sparkle of some earlier singles and it is far from the strongest song she has ever released. Still, yet another Top 5 hit is nothing to turn your nose up at even if it looks unlikely that she is going to add to her tally of Number One hits any time soon.
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6 ALWAYS ON TIME (Ja Rule featuring Ashanti)

Wow, talk about your chart turnarounds. Ja Rule's first two singles were favourably received but weren't exactly massive smash hits. Between Me And You (which featured none other than Christina Milian on guest vocals) hit Number 26 in March last year whilst the follow up Living It Up landed at Number 27 back in November although it proved to be something of a party favourite over the festive season. With this third single the man who sounds eerily like 2 Pac scores his biggest chart single so far. I'll confess that I can't quite figure out what makes one rap and R&B crossover track more appealing than another but for whatever reason this track has pushed all the right buttons, has picked up plenty of radio airplay and has charged straight into the Top 10.
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7 TRUE LOVE NEVER DIES (Flip & Fill featuring Kelly Llorenna)

Well now this is an interesting story. This track can be dated back to April 2000 when Dutch duo Rank 1 released their track Airwave. It sold well and peaked at Number 10 upon release. Later that year a white label bootleg began circulating that mixed Airwave with a track called True Love Never Dies by a mysterious singer who may or may not have been Kylie Minogue (I say may or may not as nobody has been able to confirm to me one way or another) [history records that the voice on the bootleg turned out to be a singer called Donna Williams. Not Kylie sadly]. Whoever it was, the chances of the track being cleared for official release were between slim and none. All Around The World records had a better idea and commissioned their own version featuring N-Trance singer Kelly Llorenna. Credited to Flip & Fill, this new version of True Love Never Dies was released in March last year and made an impressive, er Number 34, most of its support coming from Scotland where Hi-NRG trance such as this is still a floor filler. Over the course of the rest of the year the track continued to smoulder, appearing on many end of year lists as the most underrated single of the year. Hence this re-release which proves that those with faith in the track were right all along. True Love Never Dies rockets into the Top 10 to the delight of many, even those who have little idea of how the single came to be in the first place. As anyone with an Audiogalaxy client will tell you, the creation of never to be released bootleg mixes is quite a cottage industry and with the chances of most of them being released being minimal, more and more labels are hitting on the idea of recording their own official versions for artists that are able to promote them properly. Just look out for the Sugababes to revive their career in just this manner soon...


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10 CRAZY RAP (Afroman)

Suddenly Karaoke nights have become much more fun since the release of Because I Got High. This is due in part to the way people are queueing up to perform the track only to be caught off guard when the full lyrics flash up on the screen, including the lines that were edited out of the radio version that everyone is familiar with. Of course if you are going to be a novelty star then the last thing you do is follow the track up. Nothing you ever do will have the same impact as the first magical release. DJ Otzi found this out last year and now Afroman appears to be about to suffer the same fate. Sure, Crazy Rap has at least given him a Top 10 follow-up and sure, the sparkling wit and charm is still intact but in true form the novelty is already starting to wear off and unless Afroman comes up with another piece of magic (not impossible, just look at Shaggy), then any subsequent hits are likely to get smaller and smaller.
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11 I THINK I LOVE YOU (Kaci)

So far the disturbingly young Kaci has had two chart hits, Paradise which made Number 11 in March last year and its follow-up Tu Amor which made Number 24 in July. For this third single she has attempted to hit paydirt with a cover. I Think I Love You (memorably referenced by Hugh Grant in Four Weddings And A Funeral) was first recorded by the TV-created Partridge Family in 1971, originally making Number 18. Despite this rather lowly chart placing, to an entire generation the track has a great many fond memories. Kaci's version attempts to bring the song up to date a little and in truth it seems the perfect song for her to sing given her current image. For whatever reason it seems to lack that certain something that would make it into a sure-fire smash hit single. Not that she will be complaining of course as this chart placing equals her biggest hit to date but I get the feeling that many people were expecting this to give her her first ever Top 10 hit. Maybe I'm biased as everyone of the 90s generation knows that I Think I Love You has already been covered definitively - Voice Of The Beehive reaching Number 25 with their almost as classic version in September 1991.


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15 THE DRILL (Dirt Devils)

New Years anthems ahoy. The Drill actually made a brief appearance at Ibiza last year before finally hitting the mainstream as part of the midnight set of just about every celebrity DJ you care to name. Of course the formula used on this hard house track has been done to death many times over but somehow this track manages to be an amalgamation of everything that is good about the genre. Hence everything is in place, a recognisable synth lead, four on the floor drum track and a sample for the hook which shouts "this is a drill" at regular intervals. Every night at a club needs a little cheese in it and this is just the track to supply it. The Dirt Devils are Jono Grant and Paavo Siljamäki and have remixed acts such as Dario G and Madonna, their remix of What It Feels Like For A Girl actually becoming the version that soundtracked the video for the song.
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19 ALIVE (P.O.D.)

Apparently the name stands for Payable On Death and if from that you had not guessed that this is an American rock band then you need to go stand in the corner for a bit. Alive must be good as it is up for a Grammy award on the back of its success back home last year and in truth you can hardly knock the way it has given the band a Top 20 hit first time out. Still, there is little here to appeal to the mainstream.
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22 CHERRY LIPS (Garbage)

After a short gap, here comes the second single from the latest Garbage album, this the followup to Androgyny which made Number 24 in October last year. Cherry Lips is actually a rather underrated single, admittedly not a patch on past classics such as Stupid Girl and even The World Is Not Enough but in truth if this was the debut single from a brand new chart act it would be hailed as an inspiring debut. Cherry Lips even manages to be wonderfully retro, coming across like a late 80s female-led indie hit, right down to the synths on the outro. It is a bigger hit than its predecessor but Garbage are still searching for another Top 20 hit.
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24 SAY SOMETHING (Haven)

Dismissed in some quarters as just another set of Coldplay or Travis clones, Manchester lads Haven have one big thing going for them. This is namely the patronage of guitar legend Johnny Marr who has encouraged them every step of the way, producing all their demos and their debut album as well. In truth this track (their third official single) is damn good (and sounds even better when you check out the acoustic version that they performed at Dotmusic towers recently). Their only problem is likely to be overcoming the perception that they are just another British act with jangling guitars and heartbroken vocals. I'd hate to think their time was actually two years ago.
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27 WISH YOU WERE HERE (Incubus)

At last a second Top 40 single for Incubus, this track doing somewhat better than Drive which crept in at Number 40 in June last year. The US rock band have still yet to prove themselves as anything other than an act with a small but highly vocal fan base but they are getting there. Slowly.
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30 GOT UR SELF A (Nas)

The man responsible for some of the scariest rap hits ever returns to the chart with his first solo hit since Nastradamus made Number 24 in January 2000. Got UR Self A won't exactly win him any new fans but those who snapped up his debut Illmatic won't be too disappointed by this return. Nas did of course make an appearance on one single last year, the QB Finest single Oochie Wally which made Number 30.
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31 ARMS OF LOREN (E'voke)

Time to set the wayback machine to late 1995. E'voke were Kerry Potter and Marlaine Gordon and were actually actresses by trade, the pair having starred together in a sitcom called Us Girls in the early 1990s with Gordon going on to have a minor role in Eastenders in the mid-90s. A great many people were excited with the records they made together, especially given that both Pete Tong and Judge Jules were backing them. Both Arms Of Loren and Runaway were dance records on an epic scale, almost to the extent of being overproduced. Both tracks were high concept, making an effort to tell a story with the lyrics. Strangely enough despite the hype, E'voke never appeared to take off. Their debut single Runaway made Number 30 in November 1995 and the follow-up Arms Of Loren did little better, limping to Number 25 the following August. After that the duo went their separate ways, Marlaine Gordon attempting a solo career which also failed to get off the ground. Enter Pat Travers of Inferno records who remained a fan of Arms Of Loren and wondered if there was any potential in a remix. He duly persuaded Ferry Corsten to make a reworked version of the track , the result of which is what you can hear here. Once again many people have become very excited at the prospect of turning E'voke into stars at long last and indeed the duo have willingly come out of "retirement" to help re-promote the single. After all of that, would you believe it hasn't worked? The remixed Arms Of Loren cannot even match the chart peak of the original. Ah well, I always thought Runaway was the better track. Sorry.
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36 ANGEL (Sarah McLachlan)

Nothing it seems is going to stand in the way of repeated attempts to turn the Canadian songstress into a star over here and nothing it seems is going to persuade her appeal to become anything more than selective. Having said that her distinctive voice was last heard high up the charts as the featured vocalist on Delerium's Silence which gave her a smash Number 3 hit in October 2000. Logic would have dictated that the single was followed up quickly but instead it is over a year later that she makes another chart appearance, albeit in a rather fun set of circumstances. A smash US hit back in 1998 (at the same time as she was making her UK chart debut with Adia), Angel was never a hit over here. One man who was a fan of the track was Louis Walsh, so much so he has given it to Westlife to sing on the World Of Our Own album. Had there been a Westlife Christmas single this year then Angel would have been it. As it so happens after her work with Delerium it was decided that a Sarah McLachlan remix album was the way forward - hence the release of this rather wonderfully remixed version of one of her most famous tracks. Purists may hate it and in truth it hasn't exactly become the massive hit that many had expected. Something tells me Westlife would have had better luck.
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37 LOVE BURNS (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club)

The debut chart single from this San Francisco trio whose name actually suggests that this is going to be a very exciting single. To be honest, it isn't.
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40 CRY BABY (Spiller)

Yeah, you know this guy. Christiano Spiller was the chap who made Groovejet, the track that launched his guest singer Sophie Ellis Bextor to stardom when the track topped the charts in summer 2000. Believe it or not this is his first single under his own name since and what little momentum his name had after that smash hit has clearly all but vanished. Admittedly Cry Baby is nothing special and is a single that makes even the established Daft Punk formula sound stale. The 17th biggest new hit of the week and probably deservedly so.


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