This week's Official UK Singles Chart

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY

At the risk of side-stepping the whole 50th anniversary of the singles chart issue, on a more personal note, this column celebrates an anniversary of its own this week. Strange though it may seem, it is 10 years ago this week that the first James Masterton Chart Analysis was posted to the rec.music.misc newsgroup in a gratuitous attempt to set myself up as the fount of all knowledge on UK music. Since then I have somehow never stopped, going "legit" in 1995 with the launch of dotmusic and appearing on the web week in, week out, ever since. Along the way I've received thousands of e-mails, responded to far too few of them, been quoted in many strange places, appeared on television and radio and generally had a blast. Be assured that it doesn't end here either and until such time as I grow too old to understand just what is appealing about a pop record, I'm planning to be here to explain why how and what for the records in the Top 40. Plans for the hopefully not too distant future include radio shows and books. Watch this space, and my thanks to everyone who takes the time out to read these words each week. May they continue to inspire and frustrate in equal measure and if nothing else give me a reason to tear myself away from the Sabrina marathon on Nickelodeon every Sunday. [That was pretty much my life at that point. And who doesn't love Sabrina after all?]

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1 UNBREAKABLE (Westlife)

OK let us talk music. After having released two singles this year that upped the tempo a little it seems almost like a breath of fresh air to hear Westlife return to the harmony laden slushy balladry that has become their trademark. A brand new single to herald the release of the obligatory seasonal Greatest Hits collection, it reverses the decline in their chart fortunes that saw their last single Bop Bop Baby hit an all time low of Number 5 and instead follows the lead of 10 of their previous 12 singles to fly straight to the top of the charts. Thus the statistics continue to mount up as with an 11th Number One single the group ease ahead of Madonna in the all-time table to claim fourth place - behind Cliff Richard (14), The Beatles (17) and Elvis (18). All one can do is ask the question that has seemingly been asked in this column for the last two years - just how much longer can they continue with this level of success?


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4 I'M GONNA GETCHA GOOD (Shania Twain)

In 1998 Shania Twain and husband and mentor Mutt Lange set out to drag country music kicking and screaming into the modern age and back into the mainstream. That they most decidedly did with the album Come On Over which spawned five Top 10 hit singles and made tracks such as That Don't Impress Me Much and Man! I Feel Like A Woman into instant pop classics. So where does she go from there? Well for the moment it seems, precisely nowhere as this brand new single avoids messing with the winning formula and is a typically appealing pop and country hybrid that stomps its way energetically across the four minutes in desperate search of a singalong chorus. In truth you can tickle this listener a little underwhelmed by this comeback but it is hard to argue with a Top 5 hit, Number 4 making this the second biggest hit of her career. I'm just hoping subsequent singles don't overdose on the sassiness quite as much as this one [oh well, shit happens].


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6 WORK IT (Missy Elliott)

This seems to be a week for acts that are consistently good, even if they are coming from totally different ends of the musical spectrum. First Westlife, then Shania and now Missy Elliott with her second Top 10 single of the year, this the followup to the Number 5 hit 4 My People which charted back in April. Timbaland is at the controls once more and with appropriate timing samples Run DMCs Peter Piper to use as the basis for the track. This is now her fourth successive Top 10 single and with a brand new album on the way you suspect there are plenty more to come.
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7 PUT THE NEEDLE ON IT (Dannii Minogue)

Almost a full year since her "comeback" as the guest singer on Riva's Who Do You Love Now, the other Minogue sister hits the chart with her first solo hit single proper for over four years. Put The Needle On It follows the same dance diva formula that she was using back in 1997 whilst big sister was going through her less successful alternative music phase. Put The Needle On It is impressively her sixth Top 10 hit in a career that dates back in regularly spaced bursts to March 1991. Perhaps always destined to remain in the shadow of her older sister, with 15 hits to her name she is nonetheless the second most successful Australian act in chart history. Rumour has it that a long wished for Minogue sister duet is on the cards.
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10 ALL OUT OF LOVE/BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (H & Claire)

Are H & Claire still popular? I was told this week a tale of dedicated fans waiting outside dotmusic towers a full two days before they were due to come here for their webchat earlier in the year. Now that takes dedication. The Steps alumni, lately best known for a presenting stint on Saturday morning TV, here notch up a third successive Top 10 hit, albeit the smallest so far following DJ (Number 3) and Half A Heart (Number 8) from earlier in the year. Whilst the a-side has no connection with the Air Supply classic of the same name (instead it bears a strange resemblance to Steps' own After The Love Has Gone) its double-a companion is indeed a cover, a new version of the theme to the early 90s Disney film that was originally performed by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson who took the track to Number 6 in 1992.
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13 I LOVE ROCK N' ROLL (Britney Spears)

This is quite possibly the track that will make headlines this week, and indeed most of the midweek speculation centred around the performance of this single. I Love Rock N' Roll has more of a history than most people realise. It was first written and recorded in the early 1970s by US rock band The Arrows as a counter to the Rolling Stones track It's Only Rock And Roll. The track is probably best known for the version recorded by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts which hit Number 4 over here in 1982 and to this day is still something of a classic. The basic riff from the song was also used by Five for their track Everybody Get Up which peaked at Number 2 in September 1998. Britney's rather anaemic version has the distinction of being her smallest ever hit single (hence the headlines) but in truth it is a rather halfhearted release, designed to give one last push for the album before she takes her much hyped musical hiatus. It is not that it is a bad cover version, just a rather pointless one. She'll be back.
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14 MUSIC GETS THE BEST OF ME (Sophie Ellis Bextor)

Small bias admission here: I met the double-barrelled one the other week and will happily testify that she is actually shockingly gorgeous in the flesh, a view with which most of my colleagues who were around at the time will concur. Hence it is impossible for me to say any kind of negative word against such a Goddess. We therefore have to search for an alternative source of blame for the fact that Music Gets The Best Of Me has performed quite badly when compared to her first three solo singles, all of which hit the Top 3. A less obviously biased writer would probably chalk it off to this being the fourth single from an album that has already sold respectably enough and in truth maybe is her weakest single choice yet but of course I am biased so the blame has to lie with Gregg Alexander who penned the track and who seems to become more formulaic with every passing track he creates.


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15 NO ONE KNOWS (Queens Of The Stone Age)

The greatest rock band in the world (or at least one of them) round off a year that has seen their album Songs For The Deaf hailed as one of the best of its genre this year and the resultant tour play to packed houses with their second Top 40 hit single. Their only previous brush with the singles charts came back in August 2000 when The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret hit Number 31. About time they followed it up.
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20 I MISS YOU (Darren Hayes)

A third Top 20 hit (just) for the former Savage Garden frontman. I Miss You becomes his smallest of the trio so far following Insatiable (Number 8) and Strange Relationship (Number 15). Apologies to all the Hayes and Savage Garden acolytes out there, but nobody really cares. [Cue hate mail from roughly half the gay men in Europe].
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28 CAN'T STOP LOVING YOU (Phil Collins)

Well, at least he is honest. In recent interviews, Phil Collins has confessed he is not totally sure where he fits in with the current music scene, his megastar days both with Genesis and solo apparently well behind him. Despite his recent decision to give up touring owing to hearing problems he still has a new album out of which this is the first single. Only the most die-hard of fans will have been motivated to pick this up and as a result, it creeps into the bottom end of the Top 30 as his first solo single since the Tarzan theme You'll Be In My Heart hit Number 17 in November 1999. His last chart appearance of any kind was of course only last year when he helped out on Lil' Kim's recording of In The Air Tonight as part of the Urban Renewal covers album that has clearly failed to resurrect his career in the manner that some speculated it would. His last Top 10 single came back in October 1996 when Dance Into The Light hit Number 9 but something tells me he needs a Tom Jones-esque miracle to ever stand a chance of hitting those kinds of heights again.
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35 IN THIS WORLD (Moby)

A third single hit of the year for Moby who needed a shot in the arm for his chart performances after his last single Extreme Ways only peaked at Number 39. Maybe as a result In This World is a nod back towards the formula that made the Play album so successful, taking an old blues vocal and turning it into a mellow club hit. An old Jennifer Price track supplies the inspiration here for a track that has all the beauty of past classics such as Porcelain. For whatever reason, it fails to become the hit you would expect it to be. Could the Moby fad have passed at last?
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36 OUT OF MY HEART (BBMAK)

Now BBMAK are a curious case. A boy band who are actually quite good, so to speak, they have musicianship in abundance and make some rather wonderful sounding records. For whatever reason, they are far more popular in America than in this country which has lead to them concentrating most of their promotional efforts over there. They managed to use this pedigree to chalk up two Top 10 hits here in 2001 in the shape of Back Here and Still On Your Side but then after that vanished to work on a second album - of which this is the first single. Any teen appeal that they had 18 months ago appears to have totally vanished as this third hit single limps into the Top 40 and unless someone can pull off a miracle in the new year, may well kiss goodbye to their chances of ever hitting the heights of the Top 10 again.
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37 MACHINE (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)

Slotting nicely into that whole White Stripes and Strokes niche of "bands that music journalists get excited about but who still remain decidedly outside the mainstream" are the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Their novelty is the charismatic lead singer Karen O who screams and yelps in a not totally unappealing fashion on a single that nicely captures the energy of their live shows. As chart debuts go this is quite respectable but as always don't hold your breath for much bigger hits to come.
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39 MULTIPLY (Xzibit)

Did you know that Xzibit holds a chart record all of his own? True enough, his March 2001 hit X jointly holds the record for the shortest title of any chart single, ever alongside Loni Clark who had a hit entitled U in 1994. Multiply is his second chart single, albeit one with a longer title but sadly not one that takes him any closer to nailing down another chart record - that of becoming the only act whose name begins with X to have a Number One hit. To date, the biggest hit single by such an act was Lazy by X-Press 2 which hit Number 2 earlier this year.


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