This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 CROSSROADS (Blazin' Squad)

As it turns out this is quite a week for big new debuts. Biggest of all are the act who shoot in almost literally from nowhere to grab a place at the top of the UK charts with their very first release. Blazin' Squad's gimmick is their age, all the members are no more than 16 years old, putting them amongst the youngest groups ever to top the UK charts. The track itself however isn't so new, Crossroads being a pretty faithful remake of the 1996 hit by Bone Thugz-N-Harmony. Based around an old Isley Brothers track called Make Me Say It Again, the original version was a US No.1 hit and a Number 8 hit in this country almost exactly six years ago. Needless to say the success of the single makes for a rather cute double as of course it is the second remake of a mid-90s US hit to top the charts this year - following in the footsteps of Freak Like Me by the Sugababes. Much was made in the press during the week of the fact that the Blazin' Squad released their first single in the same week that they picked up their GCSE results, bringing back memories of the summer of 1995 when the members of Ash received their A-Level results at the same time as the release of their second single and first big hit Girl From Mars.


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3 ADDICTIVE (Truth Hurts featuring Rakim)

Another strong new debut this week comes courtesy of Truth Hurts, a lady rather than a group, better known to her mother as Sheri Watson and the latest "find" of Dr Dre. Her debut single deserves nothing less than this chart position, an Indian flavoured R&B track that just for a change makes sure to emphasise the vocals above any production silliness. The other big, and some would say nostalgic hook is the inclusion of a rap break halfway through by Rakim. The former 1980s rap superstar has been absent from the charts since 1999 when he guested on the Art Of Noise flop single Metaforce. As a cute nod to the past his first lyrics on the track are "Thinking Of A Masterplan" which he first uttered with exactly the same intonation on the classic track Paid In Full back in 1987. Coincidentally it was on that same track that he intoned "Pump up the volume..." and which ensured he would be sampled into house music legend.
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4 WHAT YOU GOT (Abs)

You can go searching TCBBC for other singers named after body parts but I'm not actually sure I dare [CeCe Peniston?]. Abs may be a new name in solo terms but he is something of a chart veteran being one fifth of now departed boy band Five. The last Five hit was of course Closer To Me which charted at the back end of last year, meaning that Abs has actually showed remarkable restraint in comparison to some by waiting nine months to launch a solo career. Inspiration for What You Got actually comes from the 1970s, the track being based heavily on Uptown Top Ranking which was a Number One hit for Jamaican duo Althia and Donna in January 1978. That it makes for such a perfect backing to a 21st century pop hit is as much a tribute to the original as the producers of Abs' single and whilst What You Got isn't really much more than throwaway pop it certainly gets his solo career off to a flying start.
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6 STARRY EYED SURPRISE (Oakenfold)

Well if you want my opinion (hey, there is a first time for everything) releasing Southern Sun and Ready To Go as the first single from Oakey's solo album was a strange move to make. Good though they were, the tracks weren't the best available. That honour goes to this one. Starry Eyed Surprise takes as its inspiration the opening few bars of the Midnight Cowboy theme Everybody's Talking and mixes that with an effortlessly smooth rap from Crazy Town's Shifty. The result is a quite invigorating pop record that for my money is actually one of the singles of the year. People in the London area will already be familiar with the track as for the last three months it has soundtracked a series of TV commercials for radio station Capital FM. Interestingly the adverts actually modified the lyrics slightly as Shifty urged everyone to "Dance all DAY to this DJ" whereas in the single proper the line is "dance all NIGHT" which actually makes more sense in the context of the full lyric. The Number 6 placing for this single easily beats the Number 16 made by Ready To Go back in June and is also coincidentally the peak reached by Grace's Not Over Yet and Reach Up by the Perfecto Allstarz, both of which were creations of both Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osbourne. Oakey's only other foray higher up the charts came as one of the members of Element Four who took the Big Brother UK Theme to Number 4 in 2000.


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8 JUST THE WAY YOU ARE (Milky)

Just for a change then, a Top 10 new entry that isn't directly based on an old hit single. Instead this debut single from Milky is another example of just how good pop music can be if you make the effort, a beats and guitars club hit in the same style as Moony's Dove, cutely sung by Egyptian born singer Milky. The first public exposure of the song came at the climax of this years Big Brother TV show when it was played to serenade winner Kate Lawler out of the house. No, I've no idea why but put that to the back of your mind as you try to work out whether it is this or the Oakenfold single that makes you feel the best about life. Incidentally just what is it about dairy products that has inspired people this year? As well as Milky we have also had hits for Milk & Sugar and Milk Inc.


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14 TAKE THE LONG ROAD AND WALK IT (Music)

Funnily enough in the near 50 year history of the UK charts we have had seven different tracks called Music on the charts, two acts called Musique and one called Music And Mystery but never actually a group named simply after the very artform whose shared interest binds every reader of this site. All that changes now with the Top 40 debut of The Music, a four piece act from Leeds fronted by the craggy-faced Robert Harvey and whose reputation was enhanced no end by a recent series of support slots with The Doves. Comparisons with the early work of The Verve abound on this track (which is actually now on its second release having first appeared in the shops in May last year), the wait proving to be worth it with a Top 20 hit as the result. [The best Music track was their first single The People which was released on a four-track EP and so was ineligible for the charts under rules in place at the time. Just for the record].
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15 IN AND OUT (3rd Edge)

Another new name to the charts, this time in the shape of three 22 year olds from Gillingham whose debut single first made waves as a white label earlier this year. Garage pop with a hint of reggae thrown in is the order of the day here and it makes for a not at all unimpressive combination. It is easy enough to see just why this worked so well in the clubs but I'm undecided about mainstream pop potential. Top 20 was as good as this was going to get but it will be worth seeing what they produce next time around.
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17 I'M ALIVE (Celine Dion)

Taking her time over singles releases, Celine Dion finally follows up A New Day Has Come which was released at the end of March. The jury is still out on whether she has retained the superstar status she had before taking an extended break to devote herself to motherhood and whilst I'm Alive doesn't perform too poorly it is still little more than a minor footnote in her musical opus rather than another classic in waiting. Still the fact that such an ashamedly MOR act can still have a Top 20 hit in the summer of 2002 is impressive enough. I'm Alive is her 20th Top 20 hit in all and but for the Number 29 peak of Treat Her Like A Lady in July 1999 would be part of a run that stretches back to the release of Think Twice in late 1994.
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25 CHEEKY (Boniface)

Another debut single, this time in the shape of 19 year old R&B singer Boniface, a Brit no less who cites the likes of Michael Jackson, Babyface and Boyz II Men as influences and who has teamed up with club producer Adam F and rapper Lady Luck for his first hit single. I've no idea why this is languishing in the Top 30 whilst the Blazin' Squad are topping the charts but whoever said life was fair?
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26 LOVIN' IS EASY (Hear'Say)
29 HALF A HEART (H & Claire)

One or two people wrote to me last week asking "could you have sounded any less enthusiastic" as regards the commentary on last week's Top 10 singles. Well the answer was no, there wasn't actually much to be enthusiastic about, especially when it came to the Hear'Say and H & Claire singles which may well have been Top 10 hits but which were still some of the most lifeless and uninspiring pop hits of the year. As it turns out those two singles in particular have now been exposed as a triumph of marketing over substance as both suffer some quite spectacular turnarounds, Hear'Say tumbling 20 places and H & Claire 21. Nobody expects pop hits to do much better than their first week chart placing but for two hits by such high profile acts to charge with indecent haste to the lower end of the charts quite frankly tells its own story. Compare these tracks with the Oakenfold and Milky ones and the difference between good pop music and bad pop music will become immediately apparent. Just remember that solo Spice Girls were axed by their record companies for releasing singles that performed better than these two...
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32 DO YOU REALIZE (Flaming Lips)

Contenders for the title of the most patient band in the world, the Flaming Lips are close to their 20th anniversary in the music business yet remain virtual unknowns in this country. Do You Realise is only their second ever Top 40 hit in this country, the first coming over three years ago when Race For The Prize crept to Number 39. Needless to say the single is incredibly good but as it isn't Nu-Metal nor can you dance to it there is little to stop them from continuing to be the best US act you have never heard of.


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39 EXTREME WAYS (Moby)

Bringing up the rear as the last of the 11 new entries on the chart this week, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly is Moby. The first single from the chart-topping 18 album was We Are All Made Of Stars which made Number 11 back in May, a chart performance that maybe did suggest that Top 10 hits from the new album were going to be hard to come by. Few could have predicted that the second single from the album would do so poorly, but so it proves as Extreme Ways can do little more than creep apologetically into the Top 40, giving the 12 year veteran his smallest hit single since That's When I Reach For My Revolver limped to Number 50 in September 1996. Believe it or not that makes it his second smallest hit ever.


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