This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 WORLD OF OUR OWN (Westlife)

Now we know what it must have been like being an American music fan during the start of the 1990s. Back then Mariah Carey was the golden girl of the charts, releasing a string of hits, every single one of which would fly with almost dull predictability to the top of the charts. Exactly the same situation is manifesting itself here with Westlife. For those struggling to keep count, this is Westlife's 11th single release and with just one of those failing to hit the top, World Of Our Own becomes their landmark 10th Number One hit single. With this they become one of an elite group of acts to have reached double figures where chart-topping is concerned, joining The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard and Madonna. Love them or hate them they will be regarded forever more as chart legends. Comparing the time it took them to notch up this total demonstrates still further their chart domination of the last few years. Their debut single (and of course first Number One) Swear It Again hit the top on May 1st 1999. With this week's chart being dated March 2nd it means they have done it in exactly 2 years and 10 months. Just to compare, Madonna took close on 15 years to have 10 Number One hits, Cliff took from July 1959 to July 1979 (20 years!), Elvis had his tenth in February 1962 and his first in June 1957 (just over 4.5 years) whilst The Beatles took from April 1963 to June 1966 to reach double figures, 3 years and two months. Thus by the small matter of five months, Westlife have beaten them all. As for the single itself, World Of Our Own is something of a shocker as the band have dipped into their more uptempo repertoire, resulting in a single that actually plays much better on the radio than some of their past hits but in truth is actually a little less memorable than epic ballads such as My Love or Queen Of My Heart. True to form, however, their reign at the top is almost certain to be short-lived as they face the unusual prospect of being knocked off the top by a cover of one of their own album tracks.


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3 IN YOUR EYES (Kylie Minogue)

To be personal for a moment, I must confess I really do not understand the cult of Kylie. Derided for years as a manufactured pop puppet, albeit with a great deal of camp charm, she re-emerged two years ago with some dizzy techno hits and a new wardrobe that doesn't quite cover up her slender frame enough. That it seems was enough to have the entire world falling at her feet and hailing her as the sex symbol of the decade. I suppose it would make more sense if I even found her in the slightest bit attractive. I've met the woman and without the makeup and with ordinary clothes on she is just a rather plain, ordinary lady who you would not give a second glance to if you got into a lift with her. So shoot me, whatever mystifying spell she has cast on many other men has quite the opposite effect here. Even the Agent Provocateur advert was more ludicrous than arousing. [This paragraph memory caused the Kylie-loving denizens of the dotmusic forums to descend into a frenzy of fury. The resultant thread eventually concluded that my failure to fancy her was not (as initially hypothesised) because I was gay, but because I'd clearly tried to crack onto her and been rejected. She wishes].

Still, you cannot argue with the facts and as big as she was before, the release of Can't Get You Out Of My Head last September was the kind of career move that most acts would kill for. The club hit spent a month at the top, sold 300,000 copies in its first week on sale and is back in the Top 40 today, edging ever closer to being her first single to ever sell a million copies. Five months later the follow-up has arrived and perhaps surprisingly is outsold by not only Westlife but also Enrique Iglesias. Don't say it too loudly but In Your Eyes is possibly a more substantial song than its predecessor even if it is destined to become the far smaller hit. Since the release of Spinning Around in July 2000 she has notched up six successive Top 10 hits to add to the 16 that she managed between 1988 and 1994.
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4 THE WORLD'S GREATEST (R Kelly)

It was with the release of I Believe I Can Fly in 1997 that R Kelly demonstrated that he was far from being a one trick pony. As well as his trademark uptempo R&B hits, he was capable of turning on the smooth and producing sensitive power ballads that could tug at the hardest of heart strings. The aforementioned track gave him his only UK Number One hit and has since been followed by tracks such as If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time and The Storm Is Over Now. Film soundtracks were the perfect outlet for his power ballads, as demonstrated by the use of Gotham City in Batman Returns in 1997. It is a movie soundtrack that this week produces what is possibly one of the best R Kelly ballads to date. From the Will Smith-starring Muhammed Ali biopic comes The World's Greatest, a song that works in the context of the film as well as being open to interpretation as an ode to a man's devotion. The single duly becomes R Kelly's biggest hit single since If I Could Turn... hit Number 2 in November 1999. You know what the best thing is? He can easily go back to releasing some harder edged funk as a follow-up and then surprise us all again in 2004 with another epic. That takes talent.


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5 B WITH ME (Mis-Teeq)

Want to know what the best thing about Mis-Teeq tracks is? It isn't the fact that they all affirm the girls' status as the hottest and most credible British all-girl group of the moment and worthy successors to All Saints' crown as the Queens of female R&B in the UK. It isn't the way they effortlessly hop the dividing line between garage, pop and R&B often in the space of the same song. No, it is simply the way their singles will bump along nicely until about the 3 minute mark when singer Alesha is let off the leash and launches into an infectious machine-gun ragga toast that makes me want to take sandpaper to the back of my throat just to try to imitate it. It was what made All I Want the great record that it was last summer although it was curiously absent from their last hit One Night Stand which was a Top 5 single back in October. Never mind, B With Me has the formula down to perfection and even in a week with some big new releases it effortlessly becomes their fourth Top 10 hit in a row. Grab a mic and away we go.... [The moment in question is 2:16 into this video and is Alesha Dixon's finest moment on record, bar none. Altogether now: MY TIME SHOW TIME HOOK LINE LET'S ROLL LET'S RIDE...]


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9 NOTHING (A)

Yes, you may well ask "who?". The enigmatically named A are a five-piece British rock band whose career is now three albums old and who have been plying their trade on the live circuit for a number of years now without anything approaching mainstream success. Strangely enough the same was once true of Ocean Colour Scene and as history proved, all it took was just one incredibly good single to push them over the edge. This then is where A begin their long-awaited rise to stardom with a single that has been championed both by XFM (where their music has a natural home) and also Radio One who seem to treat guitar bands with far too much caution these days. This Top 10 new entry from nowhere proves that the buzz around them is more than just hype. Expect more in the months to come.
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11 BAD BABYSITTER (Princess Supastar)

Calling her the female Eminem is possibly doing the lady's talents a disservice but just one listen to the debut UK hit for Princess Supastar and you can see why such comparisons have been prompted. One of those hip-hop records that is about as un-street as you can get, her account of debauched behaviour whilst babysitting is the kind of tongue in cheek fun pop that you suspect Daphne and Celeste were striving for but never quite managed to achieve. The girl from New York is actually on her fourth album but this is the smash hit that has finally made her a mainstream star. Whether she can be more than a novelty remains to be seen (after all, can you name any other white female rappers aside from Real Roxanne?) but for the moment she seems like a breath of fresh air.


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12 HANDS CLEAN (Alanis Morissette)

Alanis Morissette you may remember was the former teenage bubblegum popstar from Canada who in 1995 became one of the first signings to Madonna's new Maverick label and then caused a storm with the album Jagged Little Pill. It was a set full of raw, brave and as it turns out quite iconic songs, amongst which were hits such as Ironic, Hand In My Pocket and the still awesome to this day You Outta Know. The follow-up came in 1998 in the shape of Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie and although it spawned another massive hit (Thank U which made Number 5 here in October that year) the album was by and large viewed as a disappointment with further singles failing to even reach the Top 20. Backlash was not too strong a word to use. So after almost three years away from the spotlight, can Alanis still live up to her reputation? Quite possibly she can. Ahead of the release of her new album Under Rug Swept comes this new single and one which borrows the lyrical trick of Cat Stevens' Father And Son by having verse and chorus sung as if by different people with different perspectives on the same situation. Reviews of this have been overwhelmingly of the "wow, she is back" nature and as long as the rest of the album lives up to expectations 2002 should indeed be the year of her second (or is it third?) coming. Her biggest hit since Thank U naturally.
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29 THRILL ME (Junior Jack)

Right the way down the chart we go for the final two new hits of the week. First of all comes Junior Jack, last seen in the charts just prior to Christmas 2000 with the Number 31 hit My Feeling. No sign of the Alexander O'Neal-a-like vocals this time around, as a result Thrill Me is little more than a synth-led instrumental which breaks down to a halt about halfway through to relieve the boredom.
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31 BE ANGELED (Jam & Spoon)

By my reckoning this is the first Top 40 single for Jam El Mar and Mark Spoon under their own names since Angel (Ladadi O-Heyo) reached Number 26 in November 1995. Since then they have used a variety of different aliases to reflect whatever style they happen to be working with at the time, most notably as Storm under which name they hit Number 3 with Time To Burn in August 2000. Going back to being Jam & Spoon hasn't meant a return to the flamenco club rhythms of Right In The Night or Find Me either, instead Be Angeled evokes comparisons with Fatboy Slim's Bird Of Prey with its mellow male vocal underpinned by strings and breakbeats. The release of the single has taken a surprising amount of time, Dave Pearce having been spinning the track as part of his sets since July last year and for whatever reason it seems that after all this time not many people are all that interested.
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36 CAN'T GET YOU OUT OF MY HEAD (Kylie Minogue)

It isn't just the release of her new single that has reawakened interest in Kylie's older hit, her performance at the Brit awards during the week almost certainly has something to do with it, even if the version of Can't Get You Out Of My Head done in the style of Blue Monday remains unavailable through official channels for the moment. The surge in sales is enough to carry the single back into the Top 40 for the first time in five weeks and gives it its highest chart placing since January 19th. As I mentioned earlier, the single has shifted close on one million copies since its release and has now been on the chart for 23 continuous weeks, making it far and away her most charted hit ever.

Enough of this week then, next week should see the chart experience not only a huge boost in overall sales but a surge in public interest. Next week is Pop Idol week and the speculation doesn't so much surround whether Will Young's Evergreen will top the charts but how much it will sell in doing so. Hear'Say's 550,000 for a debut single is a record that no longer looks unassailable.