This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 THE TIDE IS HIGH (GET THE FEELING) (Atomic Kitten)

This week this particular corner of dotmusic is in fighting mood. All week long it seems it has been the thing to bash the current state of pop music. We have had the Top Of The Pops producer moaning about the charts in general, Louis Walsh and Pete Waterman coming to blows on the telly over who manages the worst acts, and nervous articles in the press pointing out that with both Popstars - The Rivals and Fame Academy invading our TV screens the music industry is fixated on using short-term wannabes to inspire sales rather than true creativity. It is entirely possible that all the above examples are indeed perfectly valid points of view but of course, they do not represent the whole picture. By way of a contrast I present to you this week's chart, a singles countdown characterised by a slew of incredibly strong new singles which in one fell swoop sweep away the current batch of late summer hits, and all of this in the face of the release schedules which contain some mouthwatering pop singles to come. Let's worry about Popstars and Fame Academy when the time comes, shall we?

First off the race for the top of the charts, and goodness what a battle it was. Instead of the usual scenarios of a hot new release storming into a commanding lead or incumbent Number One hit retaining its own commanding lead we have instead been treated to a week-long battle between Atomic Kitten and Liberty X whose sales were such that the gap between the two singles was at times down to just three figures. That the brand new Liberty X single should be mounting a challenge for the top should come as no surprise but the extreme closeness of the race should be proof as well that Atomic Kitten's cover version is actually one of the most popular pop hits of the year. After three weeks it is still outselling most of the competition and indeed the music researchers for the big commercial radio groups are happy to testify that it is far and away the most requested and most positively received hit of the moment by their listeners.

Still, a battle to the wire it was and the closest chart race for over two years sees the female threesome emerge triumphant over the former "flopstars". It takes Atomic Kitten's total number of weeks at Number One to nine - more than any other act in the last five years save for Westlife. The Tide Is High is also the sixth single this year to spend three weeks at Number One, thus matching the total from 2001 and when you bear in mind that the sixth single from last year was the Christmas chart-topper there are still over three months left for that particular total to be beaten. Atomic Kitten's most successful single to date is Whole Again which spent four weeks at the summit in 2001. Anyone fancy betting against The Tide Is High matching that next week?
------------------------------------------------------------------------

2 GOT TO HAVE YOUR LOVE (Liberty X)

So then to the runners up who lost the race by the narrowest of margins. After triumphantly topping the charts back in May with Just A Little it is perhaps slightly disappointing that they have followed it up with a cover version, but my what a choice. Jamaican born Kurtis Kahleel moved to New York as a teenager and changed his name to Curtis Mantronik. He teamed up with MC Tee and together the duo formed Mantronix who in the mid-80s were widely regarded as some of hip-hop's greatest innovators. Hit singles were few and far between in those days, their biggest chart single being Bassline which crept into the Top 40 in May 1986. By 1987 though it was all over and the dup were without a record deal on either side of the Atlantic. DJ Tee and Curtis Mantronik went their separate ways. Not to be beaten, the man who gave the act its name changed the formula and in 1990 branched out as a soul and R&B producer and this time hit real commercial paydirt. The album This Should Move Ya featured a handful of tracks fronted by singer Wondress of which Got To Have Your Love was the standout. The single raced up the charts, hitting Number 4 here in January 1990 and to this day the track with its trademark bassline and brain-burrowing chorus stands out as a masterpiece. Thus it is with a cover of an acknowledged but half-forgotten classic that Liberty X chart this week. Maybe these jaded ears feel that the production on this new version isn't quite up to the majesty of the original but the group sensibly take the respectful route and stay true to the spirit of the 12 year old original. A worthy challenger for the Number One position then and it would have been a worthy chart-topper had the planets aligned themselves correctly. As it stands Number 2 will do nicely but let's hope that this resorting to cover versions is a one-off. As the positive reception in the States for Just A Little proves, the group's original material is actually more than strong enough.


------------------------------------------------------------------------

3 PAPA DON'T PREACH (Kelly Osbourne)

Well who could have seen this coming? Pink-haired and slightly chubby teenage daughter of craggy rock legend becomes one of the focal points of cult fly on the wall documentary about her family and gets a record deal as a result. The Ozzy Osbourne single Dreamer charted earlier in the summer just prior to the UK airing of The OSbournes on MTV and as such could only creep into the Top 20. With the show now in almost constant rotation on the digital channel and with a terrestrial premiere imminent, the UK is now in a better position to understand the phenomenon. So it is that Ozzy's daughter makes her chart debut in grand style and finds herself with a bigger hit single than her father has ever managed in his entire career. Papa Don't Preach is of course a cover version of Madonna's 1986 chart-topper but as befits Miss Osbourne's musical background it is a thundering rock remake with Kelly giving her best Cyndi Lauper impressive as she struts vocally across the record. Even if the performance wasn't any good the sheer novelty of it would have been enough to sell a few records but as it turns out this isn't actually half bad. Such was the demand for the track that "import" copies have already turned up in the shops and indeed the single climbed as high as Number 65 as recently as last week, although some have suggested that these copies may actually have been released to shops deliberately to attempt to stimulate demand. I have no idea if that is genuinely the case though. It should be noted that Papa Don't Preach is the second Top 3 cover of an old Madonna single in as many months, Mad'House's version of Like A Prayer also hitting Number 3 just five weeks ago. Finally, even though this is supposed to be a week for positivity about pop music it would be remiss not to mourn the fact that every one of this weeks Top 3 singles is a cover version of an old and well known hit...
------------------------------------------------------------------------

4 NESSAJA (Scooter)

The formula for a Scooter single is a fairly simple one. a) Take lyrics from an old song and record them as a high pitched sample. b) Get a bloke to shout over the top occasionally. c) Add crowd noises and a killer riff. d) Repeat until the world ends [if the world ever does end, I hope it finds me listening to a Scooter track. What a way to go out]. Brutal but brilliant. Scooter's unashamedly commercial approach also serves to annoy the more snobbish areas of the dance community who believe that Jurgen Vries and Underworld are the kinds of thing people should be pouring onto the dancefloor to. That is why the success of The Logical Song earlier in the summer was such a joy to behold. It shot to Number 2, hung around the charts for a couple of months, filled the floor every time it was spun in a club and put every dance music snob I knew into a bad mood. Needless to say I loved it. Just to prove that the second coming of Scooter was not just a one-off, here is the followup which to all intents and purposes is the same record as The Logical Song, just with different lyrics. For all that it is no less intoxicating, no less appealing and comes close to achieving dance music utopia by being almost impossible to listen to whilst remaining seated. Stir in the fact that that their insistence on making reference to the KLF on every track remains intact (last time it was "The K, the L, the F and the ology" in the lyrics, this time it is stealing chants from Last Train To Trancentral) and you have compelling evidence to suggest that Scooter may be the best act on the planet. The forthcoming album is a career retrospective that will allow the UK to remind themselves what they were missing for the five years that Scooter were absent from the charts before this year but the true haters can take comfort from the fact that the Scooter formula actually works best in small doses. Chances are the novelty will wear off fairly quickly.


------------------------------------------------------------------------

5 I LOVE IT WHEN WE DO (Ronan Keating)

The second single release of the year for Ronan Keating, and the followup to If Tomorrow Never Comes which topped the charts for a week back in May. He has actually timed the release of this single rather well as the hugely competitive market this week ensures that nobody will be pointing fingers and predicting the imminent demise of his career, despite the fact that this single has charted at a "lowly" Number 5. Anyway, Keating formula (a) applies here, the uptempo Gregg Alexander-penned track complete with chirpy video and the most radio-friendly production money can buy. Nothing to hate but surprisingly very little to love (especially as this single is actually pretty much a carbon copy of Lovin' Each Day) and whilst there is little sign of his appeal amongst Radio 2 and commercial radio listeners waning you cannot help but wonder how many other people have stopped caring.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

6 WHEN I LOST YOU (Sarah Whatmore)

The all-pervading hand of Pop Idol strikes again as the show produces yet another Top 10 hitmaking star. Sarah Whatmore is actually quite unusual though as she was not one of the final 10 who became household names over the course of the series, being eliminated at an earlier stage. Her talent was such and her looks so appealing that Simon Cowell jokingly proposed marriage to her after watching a performance. If any of the losers was going to be signed to a deal it was probably going to be Sarah Whatmore although her debut single doesn't exactly make the most of her vocal talents, being a sub-Kylie pop-house track that is once again inoffensive but largely forgettable. Still if nothing else her willingness to be dressed in skimpy outfits and to roll around semi-clad on a beach has helped the single into the Top 10 (nudity was good enough for Holly Valance after all) but as ever the ultimate proof of her abilities will be subsequent releases [spoiler: she was precisely half way through her chart career].


------------------------------------------------------------------------

10 WALK ON WATER (Milk Inc.)

Top 10 entry Number 6 possibly holds the honour of being the most "legitimate" club track of the week. Walk On Water is the second hit single of the year for Milk Inc, this following up In My Eyes which hit Number 9 back in May. Walk On Water is actually older than most people realise, the track first becoming a hit in Belgium way back in 1999 with success in other European countries following a year later and its release here is almost certainly down to the fact that the success of In My Eyes has cleared the way for the repromotion of some of their older material. I would dance to it but the Scooter track has sapped the energy of this old raver, sorry.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

11 NOTHIN' (Nore)

Missing out (just) on a place in the Top 10 but making a strong debut nonetheless is the first ever chart single for Nore. The American rapper who is sometimes billed as Noreaga is actually on his third long player release but he has lately become a star in the States on the back of the surge in interest in mainstream rap which has also led to the likes of Nelly becoming platinum artists. here in the UK the processed pop backlash doesn't quite have the same momentum but in the broad church of UK music buying US rap acts have been more than able to hold their own - as Nothin' ably demonstrates.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

18 A THOUSAND MILES (Vanessa Carlton)

Last week she was just a mild curiosity but this week Vanessa Carlton manages to become something of a chart phenomenon. The reason for this is the consistent performance of her debut single A Thousand Miles which charted at Number 6 at the start of August. This week it holds firm at Number 18, nothing particularly unusual about that of course but for the fact that this is the third week running that the single has done just that. Yes, A Thousand Miles has now spent four consecutive weeks as the 18th best selling single in the country. Needless to say such a feat is rare to say the least. Over the past decade or so a handful of singles have spent three weeks at the same position lower down the chart but four weeks has always been beyond them. In fact the last single to spend four weeks at the same position outside the Top 10 was Looking For Clues by Robert Palmer which spent a full month at Number 33 in December 1980. The record books actually credit him with a fifth week in that position but this is due to the fact that the fifth week was the New Year chart which at the time was not compiled, the record books filling in the gap by assuming that the entire chart remained static. Nonetheless, he is the record holder at least until Miss Carlton charts at Number 18 next week - which of course she won't now we have called attention to it.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

25 WHY'D YOU LIE TO ME (Anastacia)

A disappointing week for Anastacia as her third single release of the year falls some way short of a place in the Top 20. Being down this low is actually nothing new to her, last year both Cowboys and Kisses and Made For Lovin' You charted at 28 and 27 respectively. She'll be back.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

30 DUCK TOY (Hampenberg)

And so to the tail enders of the Top 40 this week. Heading that particular pack is this curiosity of a trance single that is based around, of all things, the noise made by a squeaking duck toy. Hence the title as you will have gathered. For some reason I'm reminded of Snap's Mary Had A Little Boy which was a hit in December 1990 and which featured as part of the mix a strange squeaking sound. This was explained away when the group mimed on TV by Turbo B holding a squeaky toy up to the microphone and pressing it with great aplomb at the appropriate moment.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

32 GIMMIE THE LIGHT (Sean Paul)

[Superstar debut klaxon!] Sean Paul Henriques to give him his full name, a man who has been touted for some time as the next breakout commercial dancehall star. For all the hype this is his first chart single although he has had pockets of local support in the States for a number of years, popularity that led to his track Hot Gal Today featuring on the soundtrack to the Shaft movie and becoming a minor US hit as a result.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

36 HANDS AROUND MY THROAT (Death In Vegas)

A minor chart entry this week for Death In Vegas, this their first chart appearance since their brace of hits in 2000. Those singles were of course Aisha which returned Iggy Pop to the charts and the advertising soundtrack Dirge that also came with a controversial video featuring shots of American murder victims. Both those singles stand out as memorable classics in their own right. The same is unlikely to be the case with this track.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

37 THOUGHTLESS (Korn)

Finally at the end of an exeptionally comment-worthy week comes this new hit single for Korn. Thoughtless is the rather lowly followup to the ironically titled Here To Stay which hit Number 12 back in June.