This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD/SUSPICIOUS MINDS (Will Young & Gareth Gates)

Let us start this week with a quick quiz. Just say you owned a record label and had two male solo acts, one of whom had a few months earlier recorded one of the fastest-selling singles ever, one of the top ten biggest sellers of all time and had topped the charts twice already this year, and another who had also had a rapidly million selling single and who had also had two Number One hits. What would your next move be with both of them? If your answer was "get them to release a duet together" then please pick up your degree in the blindingly obvious on the way out. Thanks for playing.

The two Pop Idol stars had duetted as the climax to the grand final of the contest earlier this year but this single is the first chance anyone has had to buy a track with both the stars featured together. The curse of the bland cover version strikes again here although the song is actually quite an interesting choice. The Long And Winding Road originally appeared on the final Beatles album Let It Be, a release that marked the final schism in the legendary group when the master tapes were handed to Phil Spector to produce for final release. He took the original arrangements and overdubbed them with vast sweeping orchestral parts and female choirs, much to the disgust of Paul McCartney. The track was never released as a single in this country but topped the US charts in June 1970. Will and Gareth's version is, as you might expect, a fairly faithful rendition of the original and whilst it only makes sense to treat with respect a rather famous song you cannot ultimately shake the feeling that in terms of artistry the track is largely without purpose. At the very least though the single is the first cover version of a Beatles track to top the charts for over 14 years. To find the last occasion you have to go back to May 1988 when Wet Wet Wet topped the charts with With A Little Help From My Friends (back with Billy Bragg performing She's Leaving Home on the b-side), a single taken from the charity album Sgt Pepper Knew My Father which saw a variety of contemporary acts all recreating tracks from the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

This single is also a double-a side as it happens, the flip featured Gareth Gates solo on a rendition of Suspicious Minds. He thus becomes the fourth act to chart with the song, following in the footsteps of the Fine Young Cannibals, Candi Staton and of course the man he apes in the video, Elvis Presley. Elvis' original version was hitherto the highest charting, hitting Number 2 in 1969 and he was actually in the charts with the song as recently as last year, a live recording hitting Number 15. This too breaks a long streak as the last cover version of an old Elvis song to top the charts was UB40s version of Can't Help Falling In Love back in 1993.

Will and Gareth's single was of course an easy Number One single, outselling the rest of the pack by a considerable margin but you get the feeling that its only contribution to musical culture will be to make more people than before welcome the arrival of three Spanish women waving their hands and wiggling their legs.


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2 LITTLE BY LITTLE (Oasis)

What do you mean that last sentence made no sense at all? In time it will, trust me. In the meantime second place on the chart is taken by another single that has had people moaning about the pointlessness of it all despite the fact that there is very little actually wrong with it. It is of course the third single release of the year from Oasis, following up the chart-topping Hindu Times and the Number 2 hit Stop Crying Your Heart Out. The same arguments seem to have applied for this single - namely that it is the band going through the motions using a tired old formula and contributing very little new and innovative unlike in the past. In response the record buying public have said "bite us" and appreciated the extensive airplay being given to the anthemic track whilst driving to the shops to make it the second biggest hit of the week. Little By Little is also notable as one of those rare Oasis releases that features Noel rather than Liam on lead vocals. Whatever their critical reception you cannot help but admire Oasis' consistency when it comes to having hits, this being their 16th consecutive Top 10 single in a run that stretches back to the release of Live Forever in August 1994. Their last single to miss the Top 5 was the followup Cigarettes and Alcohol which made Number 7. Believe it.
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3 COMPLICATED (Avril Lavigne)

The most welcome chart debut of the week almost certainly has to be the one of this young lady. Avril Lavigne is a 17 year old Canuck who took the Americas by storm with this single earlier this year. Comparisons with the likes of Alanis, Sheryl Crow and Michelle Branch are inevitable as she is after all a feisty female who can play the guitar but there is no denying the mature beyond its years appeal of this debut single, a plaintive cry to a partner who seems keen to muddy some unspecified emotional waters - all of this counterpointed by a fun video that sees her and her friends causing mayhem in a shopping centre. Debut singles don't actually come much better than this.


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6 GANGSTA LOVIN' (Eve featuring Alicia Keys)

With a superstar male coupling dominating things at the top, what better counterpoint could we have than a not quite so steller but perhaps slightly more interesting female combination also in the Top 10. The quite scary Gangsta Lovin' returns Eve to the Top 10 under her own name for the first time since her two hit singles of 2001 - Who's That Girl and Let Me Blow Ya Mind which made Numbers 6 and 4 respectively. The latter single featured No Doubt's Gwen Stefani to handle those tricky singing bits and for this single Eve is joined by Alicia Keys, last seen on the chart back in July with How Come You Don't Call Me. This is of course by no means the first time the two women have appeared on record together, both having guested on Angie Stone's Brotha Part II which hit Number 37 back in March. Eve's last chart appearance was actually more recent even than that as she also contributed vocals to City High's Caramel, a Number 9 hit also in March.
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20 SHUT YOUR MOUTH (Garbage)

Notwithstanding the four new entries in the Top 10 this week, the singles chart has a refreshingly old fashioned feel to it with no less than seven new singles all sliding nicely into place at the bottom end. Unlike the old days of course these are unlikely to be potential Top 10 hits but a series of singles that are destined to do little more than this in chart terms, although the selection is not without its gems. First up is Garbage's third hit of the year and one which maintains the quality of Cherry Lips and Breaking Up The Girl. Unlike those two Shut Your Mouth actually manages to penetrate the Top 20 to give the group their biggest hit since the James Bond theme The World Is Not Enough made Number 11 in late 1999. Their last Top 10 hit came earlier that same year When I Grow Up reaching Number 9.
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25 IN LOVE (Datsuns)

A debut chart single for V2 signings the Datsuns, this weeks recipient of the "future of rock and roll" title. The New Zealand group actually do make the required level of appealing noise and indeed this wild sounding single is not without its charms, inspiring memories of AC/DC back in the days when they were really, really good. Not a big hit of course but nothing to argue against.
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27 SOMEDAY (Strokes)

But what of last month's future of rock and roll. Or were they last year's? I forget. This is actually the first chart appearance of the year for the Strokes, but rather than capitalising on the Top 20 placings of Hard To Explain and Last Nite they appear to have taken a step backwards, creeping into the Top 30 almost apologetically. It is time to face the truth? Yes they are good, yes they are actually quite exciting but they are destined to be just another much talked about alternative act. As it stands at the moment, Avril Lavigne has more chance of being the future of rock and roll. Should we worry?
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31 SATURDAY (OOOH OOOH) (Ludacris)

Hit single Number 2 this year for Ludacris, this following up Rollout (My Business) which made a quite respectable Number 20 back in June. This single is yet another in the seemingly endless list of songs that have made reference or paid tribute to everyone's favourite day of the week. In the past 50 years there have been two chart songs called simply Saturday, at least seven about Saturday Night (with various spellings) plus others describing it as being Alright For Fighting, At The Movies, Beneath The Plastic Palm Trees or At The Duckpond and other songs that deal with Saturday Love or a Saturday Gig. De La Soul once sang of a Rollerskating Jam Named Saturdays. In all that time the only people to have topped the charts with a song that makes reference to Saturday in the title are Whigfield (Saturday Night) and Robson and Jerome who performed a rendition of Saturday Night At The Movies. Small wonder that in 1993 Kingmaker complained Saturday's Not What It Used To Be.
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32 TAKE ME WITH YOU (Cosmos)

Hey, have you noticed we have now gone two weeks without anything in the way of a large new club hit gone mainstream? Biggest "faceless" club hit of the week is this one, a first Top 40 hit for Tom Middleton aka Cosmos. Take Me With You is actually something of a delight, the most deliciously retro single you are likely to hear all year sounding for all the world like an American eletro-pop hit from circa 1985. For all that it isn't a huge hit but still an improvement on the only Cosmos single to chart to date - Summer In Space which made Number 49 in 1999.
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35 IT'S JUST PORN MUM (Trucks)

Now if you want my honest opinion this is actually a shame. Trucks may sound for all the world like an American rock band but in actual fact, they are half Norwegian and half British but with a cheeky high school take on life. Their debut single takes that cheekiness to another level, telling the story of mother changing the channel when being confronted with some naked bodies in a film and attempting to make a case for there being nothing wrong with the odd naked woman here and there. Amen to that and coupled with a fun video which sees mother watch the contraband video herself and discover that her husband is the star you could be forgiven for wondering just why all the MTV airplay this single has been receiving has not helped it higher up the chart. Ah well, maybe the appeal isn't that so great but Trucks can take their place alongside the Bloodhound Gang as an act who have paid musical tribute to the stars and media of erotica. Or something.
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39 SILVER SCREEN SHOWER SCENE (Felix Da Housecat)

Apparently, electroclash fans are now desperately attempting to claim that the genre doesn't exist, perhaps in an attempt to stop the mainstream gatecrashing their party [this was actually a thing]. This despite the fact of course that the man who made this record actually fronted a 60 minute radio documentary on the subject earlier in the summer. Radio One support for this female-spoken minimalistic track has helped Felix Da Housecat have a Top 40 hit with this track which was actually first released over a year ago, hitting Number 55 in July last year. His first chart appearance of any kind actually came five years ago in the shape of the Number 66 hit Dirty Motha which he performed alongside Qwilo and singer Lynn Crouch.
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40 WALKING DEAD (Puressence)

A chart return after a break of no less than four years for Puressence whose last run of hits came in 1998, a time when they were seens as the latest hot new prospect despite the fact that their first album release had come two years earlier. Walking Dead actually compares quite favourably with the likes of This Feeling and All I Want (their only other two Top 40 hits to date) but it appears that they are set to struggle for hit singles just as much in 2002 as they did back then.