This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 HEAVEN (DJ Sammy)

Some may call this a travesty. Others may think it is simply bizarre. Plenty of people love it, enough so to make it the biggest-selling single in the UK this week. It is a modern day musical truism that where there is a rock or pop song there is also room for a cheesy dance remake. Hi-NRG clubs are full of them and occasionally such tracks make it into the charts. None have probably had the impact of this single from DJ Sammy which has not only dominated charts all over Europe but which has improbably become a sizeable US hit as well. Heaven began life as a very early Bryan Adams song, in this country it came out in an era when the Canadian rocker was struggling to have hits, the single peaking at Number 38 in May 1985. In the States it was a different story and at around the same time became his first ever US Number One single. Despite its relative failure over here it remains one of his most famous old songs, guaranteed a reaction second only to Summer Of '69 when he plays it in concert. DJ Sammy's remake does little more than take the original, remove the guitars, add a Eurodisco beat and insert a female vocal when Mr Adams' gravelly tones used to sit. Nothing more, nothing less. For whatever reason it actually works, resulting in a single that sounds far less naff than most other Eurodisco remakes and taking him straight to the top of the charts. DJ Sammy hails from Spain, making him no less than the third Spanish act to top the charts this year, hot on the heels of Las Ketchup and of course Enrique Iglesias at the start of the year. Strange though it may seem, Heaven is far from the first Bryan Adams track to be turned into a popular club remake. Exactly ten years ago this week UK act Rage were in the Top 10 with a new version of Run To You whilst in 1994 Q featuring Tony Jackson took a version of Everything I Do to Number 47. Adams himself has flirted with club culture in the past, releasing a Chicane remix of Cloud #9 as a single in May 1999 (it made Number 6) and then returning the favour the following year by singing vocals on Chicane's own Don't Give Up which actually topped the charts. Rumour has it he is so delighted with the performance of this particular single that DJ Sammy is to be handed a remixing job for the star in the not too distant future.


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3 DIE ANOTHER DAY (Madonna)

It is secret agent time again. James Bond returns this winter for yet another celluloid outing which means the inevitable chart appearance for the theme to the latest film. Having been in the frame a number of times in the past for the job, Madonna finally gets her turn in the spotlight and the chance to follow in the footsteps of artists as diverse as Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Carly Simon, Sheena Easton, Duran Duran, A-Ha, Gladys Knight, Tina Turner and Sheryl Crow. If you have not heard Die Another Day yet then the chances are you are in for a surprise. Some John Barry-esque strings at the back of the mix are the tracks only concession towards the traditional style for this single has the production of Mirwais stamped indelibly all over it, a processed, staccato and edgy dance track that is probably the most hardcore club track Madonna has ever put her name to. Some purists will inevitably hate it of course but as a chart record it works a treat, and who knows, it may even sound perfect when viewed with the opening credits of the film [called it perfectly, you have to admit]. If nothing else it has become the highest charting Bond theme for well over a decade. Garbage's The World Is Not Enough (Number 11 in 1999)? Get out of here. Sheryl Crow's Tomorrow Never Dies (Number 12 in 1997)? A minnow in comparison. In fact it is the first Bond theme to go Top 10 since Tina Turner's Goldeneye (Number 10 in 1995), the first to go Top 5 since A-Ha's The Living Daylights (Number 5 in 1987) and indeed the highest charting Bond theme since Duran Duran's A View To A Kill became the biggest one of all when it made Number 2 in 1985. There was much speculation that Madonna would actually go that final step and top the charts this week, but it was not to be. It therefore remains one of the cuter chart facts that in all this time, no James Bond theme has ever topped the UK charts. Incidentally before anyone starts writing in, I know Louis Armstrong's We Have All The Time In The World (the closing theme to On Her Majesty's Secret Service) went Top 3 in 1994 but it appearance in the charts was due to its use in a TV commercial, the Bond connection largely an irrelevance.


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8 WHAT'S YOUR FLAVA (Craig David)

After becoming THE breakout star of 2000 and clutching armfuls of music awards thanks to his debut album and Number One hits such as Fill Me In and Seven Days, Craig David has taken some time to plan his next move. Although he was introduced to the world as a two-step garage star (thanks to his vocals on Artful Dodger tracks) he knew that the style only had a limited shelf life and indeed his debut album showed him covering more traditional R&B bases. Hence this long-awaited comeback single is very much a statement of a new direction, a harder-edged R&B track with shades of both Teddy Riley and R Kelly coming to the fore. The implication is clear: America is the next target with success in the UK pretty much assured. He is not too wrong about the latter part and What's Your Flava makes an efficient arrival in the Top 10, his fifth solo Top 10 hit in a row but perhaps disappointingly also his joint smallest hit to date, only able to match the peak of Rendezvous, the fourth single from his debut album Born To Do It. Let us hope that this push for a more transatlantic style doesn't result in a reduction of his homegrown appeal. [Unfortunately for him the first episodes of Bo' Selecta had been broadcast a few weeks earlier. His troubles were only just beginning].
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9 IT'S ALL GRAVY (Romeo featuring Christina Milian)

Yes you have read that correctly, that is indeed the title of the single. Since the summer Romeo has had a rather good time of things, stepping out from the shadows of the So Solid Crew to register a debut solo hit with Romeo Dunn (Number 3 in August) and then finding himself being asked for comment by just about every news organisation going being as he was the only famous Romeo anyone could think of when the Beckhams gave the name to their newborn son. His second single is the result of a collaboration with the lady who supplies the bulk of the vocals and indeed co-wrote the track, Christina Milian. She has already had two hits of her own this year, hitting Number 3 with both AM to PM and When You Look At Me. Romeo is the second rapper she has collaborated with on a chart single, thanks to her appearance alongside Ja Rule on Between Me And You in March 2001. On to this single though and there is no disputing its appeal with the chorus providing the perfect hook to Romeo's own rap interludes. Make that two Top 10 singles this year for the star, even if on both occasions he does seem to have been rather overshadowed by the female singers who are responsible for the most memorable moments on the singles.


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10 HEY SEXY LADY (Shaggy)

A welcome return to the singles chart for Shaggy, last seen in the listings back in March when he collaborated with Ali G on Me Julie which hit Number 2. This new single from a brand new album sees him experiment once more with musical styles, opening as it does with some dramatic Mexican guitar and with cajun trumpets wailing away throughout. Other than that this is fairly standard fare with Shaggy declaiming the virtues of the titular sexy lady whilst collaborators Brian and Tony Gold supply the actual singing work. The single actually marks a long overdue reappearance for the Gold brothers, their only credited chart appearance in the past coming back in 1994 when they guested on Red Dragon's Compliments On Your Kiss which hit Number 2. Shaggy himself can celebrate a ninth Top 10 hit single even if you get the feeling that he needs to go away and come back again in a few years time to recapture the kind of impact that It Wasn't Me had almost two years ago.
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13 WHATCHULOOKINAT (Whitney Houston)

When an artist is the subject of much press and TV documentary speculation about their state of health and/or mind, you know they have some work to do. Michael Jackson finds himself in that kind of position at present and coming a close second is Whitney Houston who despite the critical acclaim of her last album My Love Is Your Love in 1999 has seen her reputation take a battering in the intervening period with tales of drug abuse, forgotten lyrics and bizarre behaviour in interviews abounding. Hence this single is clearly designed as a riposte to her critics and an excellent way to state to the musical world "I'm back and still fighting." Maybe not her most commercial release ever and in truth perhaps a little overproduced, it still performs respectably enough given the slight lack of radio and television exposure that has blighted its chances slightly. A Top 10 entry would possibly have befitted an artist of her standing better but in the light of all the negative publicity that has surrounded her of late, a Number 13 entry isn't too much to complain about. It is at the very least her 33rd chart single since 1985 and the 28th to make the Top 20.
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14 BECAUSE THE NIGHT (Jan Wayne)

You will note that whilst the DJ Sammy single is an example of how club remakes of classic hits can actually work quite well on occasion we now have cause to deal with three successive examples of getting it badly wrong. Exhibit A is this debut single from the implausibly named Jan Wayne, a German singer whose modus operandi is to take famous old songs and trance them up (or is that down?) a little. Hence this chart entry for a new version of the song made famous by the Patti Smith Group back in 1978. Co-written by Bruce Springsteen, the original is a rock classic if ever there was one. Oddly enough this is not the first time that a German club act has remade it, Co.Ro featuring Tarlisa having crept into the bottom end of the Top 75 with a version in 1992. Back then record buyers clearly had more taste and needless to say this remake rips the heart and soul out of a very moving and intense song in a way that is almost criminal. This would rank as one of the worst singles ever made but for the fact that (a) Jan Wayne has made other singles and his rendition of Only You (complete with Ba-Da-Da-Das from the Flying Pickets arrangement) actually makes you want to go out and commit an act of violence and b) there is actually a worse single charting just two places below it.
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16 TAKE MY BREATH AWAY (Soda Club featuring Hannah Alethea)

Welcome to two places below. This is where Soda Club have taken the love theme to the film Top Gun, as memorably performed back in 1986 by Berlin. The lush ballad topped the charts when first released alongside the film and indeed became a Top 3 hit all over again in 1990 when re-released to coincide with the film being aired on television for the first time. It is that famous and that fondly remembered. Hence this club remake is surely little more than an act of mindless cultural vandalism. Even if it didn't have the original to contend with it would stand up as a weak-kneed mindless piece of trance drivel of the very worst kind. This is the kind of record that makes you appreciate the creativity of an Ian Van Dahl track. Yet there is still more to come...
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24 HOLIDAY (Madhouse)

Now this is actually an interesting one. Madonna remake specialists Madhouse have of course already had one hit single already this year in the shape of Like A Prayer which hit Number 3 back in August. That single seemed to fit into the DJ Sammy mould of getting it right, giving the song a new lease of life and letting it fly as the club track it probably always wanted to be. This time around of course there is less to work with as Holiday was always a pretty neat dance single to begin with. OK it is a perfect example of the cheesy pop on which Madonna built her career but an insanely popular slice of cheese it is as well. Madonna's original version of Holiday has actually been a hit single three times over in this country. It was her first ever chart single in this country, reaching Number 6 in early 1984. One year later with Madonna fever really taking hold it was back again, peaking this time at Number 2 in the same week that Into The Groove was topping the charts, making Madonna one of a select few acts to have held the top two places in the singles chart simultaneously. Finally in 1991 it was re-released again to help promote the Immaculate Collection singles compilation and once again it went Top 10, hitting Number 5. As I mentioned back in August, Holiday was also the subject of the first ever Madonna cover/remake when MC Miker G and Deejay Sven turned it into a throwaway rap hit in the summer of 1986. Hence this new Madhouse remake smacks rather of pointlessness, it adds little to the original and whilst it isn't offensively bad you will be hard pressed to find any reason to buy it rather than a copy of the original version.
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26 I AM MINE (Pearl Jam)

A first Top 40 hit in over two years for Pearl Jam whose career longevity apparently has no limit. Their first hit single came back in February 1992 with the still awesome alive and has continued at regular intervals ever since, even though true mainstream success and major hit singles has never really been on the agenda. I Am Mine is their first Top 40 single since Nothing As It Seems hit Number 22 in May 2000 and is their 12th Top 30 hit in all. They have reached the dizzy heights of the Top 10 just once, that moment coming back in November 1994 when Spin The Black Circle crept to Number 10.
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31 TOM JONES INTERNATIONAL (Tom Jones)

Presenting the welcome return of Jones The Voice who is now approaching an impressive 38 years as a chart star. His commercial stock has perhaps never been higher thanks to the release of 1999's Reload album which saw him duetting with a variety of contemporary stars such as The Cardigans, The Stereophonics and Heather Small. One single from the album - Sex Bomb - was a collaboration with Mousse T and arguably gave him a brand new personal anthem when it hit Number 3 to become his biggest hit for over a decade. It is therefore something of a curiosity to see this new single creep almost apologetically into the lower end of the Top 40 although the quality of the single may have something to do with this. Tom Jones International is a Wyclef Jean production that cannot hold a candle to some of the contemporary tracks he has recorded in the past. No, this is Tom Jones emasculated for the sake of being cool and a large hit single was never really on the cards.
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36 BRING IT BACK (McAlmont & Butler)

Yes that is right, we live in a world where Jan Wayne is in the Top 20 yet McAlmont & Butler are almost chart afterthoughts. Is that too much to bear? Following up the Number 23 hit falling is this second single from their reunion album. This moves away from the impassioned balladry of previous releases and instead is a mid-tempo Philly aping pop song that in truth actually sounds rather fine, even it it is ultimately a rather tiny hit single.
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40 WHY DON'T WE FALL IN LOVE (Amerie featuring Ludacris)

A rapid chart return for Ludacris, just a few short weeks since his last Top 40 appearance on his own track Saturday (Ooh Ooh) which hit Number 31. This time around he is the guest star on the debut chart hit for Amerie, a hot new Sony prospect who for the moment doesn't really have anything distinctive enough about her to stand out from the crowd in this market. Pleasant to hear but of no consequence in the long run.