This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 IF YOU'RE NOT THE ONE (Daniel Bedingfield)

Wasn't this where we came in? Exactly one year since his debut single Gotta Get Thru This hit the top of the chart, Daniel Bedingfield is back in pole position. After all the plaudits that have been showered on him this year and the constant talk of how America is about to embrace him as a big star it is strange to relate that he has not exactly been musically prolific this year. In fact If You're Not The One is only his third chart single, the follow-up to James Dean (I Wanna Know) which hit Number 4 back in August. The song that returns him to the top of the charts marks a musical departure from his first two singles, being as it is a tender and surprisingly mature ballad that nicely sets the tone for the start of December and the countdown to the inevitable speculation as to what will be topping the chart for Christmas day. For all the fuss that is made of Daniel Bedingfield however his appeal still remains frustratingly regional with most of his support concentrated in the garage pop stronghold of the Home Counties. In many other areas you will find people wondering just what his appeal is.


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2 THE LAST GOODBYE/BE WITH YOU (Atomic Kitten)

Strong contenders to the last to be the ones to replace Christina Aguilera at the top of the chart, in the end Atomic Kitten have to content themselves with the runners-up slot. Their third Top 3 hit of the year is, of course, the follow-up to their cover of The Tide Is High which topped the charts for three weeks back in September. No cover version this time but this double-sided single still contains more than its fair share of references to the past. Be With You takes its inspiration both musically and lyrically from the Electric Light Orchestra's 1979 Number 8 hit Last Train To London (itself coincidentally the second track on a double-sided single) although the uptempo club track only serves to demonstrate that, their earliest singles notwithstanding, that Atomic Kitten's strengths lie in the pop ballad arena. That is where Last Goodbye comes in as the Beatle-esque mellotron introduction gives way to a heartbreakingly tender ballad about lost love that actually makes you want to be 14 years old and naive again. OK I'll freely admit bias and state that I *heart* the Kittens to bits but this is easily their best single since the career-making Whole Again and deserves thoroughly to still be hanging around the upper reaches for the holiday period in a few weeks time.
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4 WE'VE GOT TONIGHT (Ronan Keating featuring Lulu)

Well if you hate pop ballads then you are pretty stuck this week, at least as far as the Top 5 is concerned. Ronan Keating rounds off 2002 with a third Top 5 hit of the year and the seventh successive Top 10 hit of his solo career. Except of course, this isn't a solo single as he is joined on a generation-spanning duet by a lady whose first hit single came over a decade before he was even born. Lulu first hit the charts in 1964 with her own immortal version of soul classic Shout (a single that legend has it had the Beatles at first assuming her to be a black American girl) and has remained a popular figure in entertainment ever since with the odd musical comeback to keep her name alive for music fans ever since. Her last chart appearance came in March 2000 when Where The Poor Boys Dance hit Number 24 but this duet with Ronan Keating marks her first Top 10 appearance since 1993. That single was of course also a duet with some modern day pop heroes as she was a guest star on Take That's chart-topping version of Relight My Fire. The links with the past don't end there of course as We've Got Tonight is a well rendered version of the classic ballad by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. Despite its fame, the original version has never actually been a sizeable hit in this country. The original version peaked at Number 41 in 1979 with a live version hitting Number 60 in 1982. It wasn't until January 1995 that the track finally became a Top 40 hit for its writer when it hit Number 22. In the intervening period Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton had taken their own version to Number 28 in 1983 whilst Elkie Brooks made her own stab at the song, hitting Number 69 in 1987.
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5 RUSHES (Darius)

So after all the balladry we finally up the tempo a little as Darius hits the chart with his second single, this, of course, the follow-up to the Number One hit Colourblind. I'm not quite sure why personally I don't find Darius appealing. There is nothing particularly wrong with his music of course as the Pop Idol runner-up can certainly sing and as a strong songwriter he is certainly to be celebrated as more than a manufactured puppet. Maybe it is his vocal style which seems to rely a little too much on the lyrics being hooted rather than sung or maybe it is the way his songs have a tendency to lose themselves in the cleverness of their lyrical concepts (last time it was find different ways to compare a girl to a colour, this time around it is a chorus which uses up every possible rhyme for the word Rushes). Either way Rushes at least to this reviewer is the perfect example of a pop record that fails to be the work of brilliance it is aiming to be. [This was always the problem with Darius' songs, so utterly in love with their own cleverness they were devoid of charm]. 
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10 UNITED STATES OF WHATEVER (Liam Lynch)

This on the other hand is a record that could hardly try less to be a work of brilliance and so in the process succeeds on every level. Liam Lynch is the creator and star of hit MTV show Sifl and Olly and although he is based in Los Angeles has the distinction of being a graduate of Paul McCartney's Liverpool based fame school. United States Of Whatever is the briefest of novelty hits as Lynch rants like a disaffected generation-x teenager, recounting a whole series of ways in which he and his life is criticised but cutting each one off halfway through with a shrug of "whatever". What makes the single so distinctive is that it lasts for roughly one minute and 25 seconds which as you might have guessed makes it one of the shortest chart records ever. In fact it may well be a record breaker, most people regarding the current holder as being Stay by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs which charted in 1961 and which clocked in at one minute 29 seconds.


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12 MAYBE (Enrique Iglesias)

So what of Enrique Iglesias' end of term report? Well at the start of the year he was largely a chart also-ran with just one solo hit single and a forgettable duet with Whitney Houston to his name. Then of course came Hero which charted in February at the top and spent a hugely impressive four weeks at the summit. It was duly followed by Escape (Number 3) and Love To See You Cry (Number 12), a chart position that is today equalled by his fourth Top 20 hit of the year. Chalk him up as one of the success stories of the year but let us hope that the UK doesn't tire of the formula and send him back to oblivion when his next album is released.
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15 POSSE (I NEED YOU ON THE FLOOR) (Scooter)

A third hit single in 2002 for Scooter who are of course the comeback kings of the year, their Number 2 rendition of The Logical Song from June waking the UK and indeed most of Europe up to the fact that they are and probably always will be the masters of Happy Hardcore. In truth they are only good in small doses and the failure of Posse to hit the Top 10 heights of both The Logical Song and Nessaja shows that maybe the juggernaut has run out of steam a little. Nonetheless Posse (I Need You On The Floor) is actually one of the cleverest singles on the chart this year, containing as it does references to countless other club records of the past. Of course I'd be the last person to claim an encyclopaedic knowledge of the last 15 years of dance music but many of the tributes and samples are easy to spot. The now obligatory KLF reference comes in the shape of the bassline which is a facsimile of What Time Is Love whilst elsewhere the track uses bits of Poing by Rotterdam Termination Source and Humanoid's Stakker Humanoid. The reference in the lyrics to "Tyree Cooper the producer" are taken directly from Tyree's 1989 hip house anthem Turn Up The Bass and there are almost certainly other snatches of old rap hits in the rest of the lyrics ["Bigger and bolder and rougher and tougher in other words sucker there is no other" was a lift of Human Resource's Dominator and "we want some pussy" is a back reference a 2 Live Crew track]. The piano riff has been annoying me for the last three weeks though - anyone wish to venture which club track it is borrowed from?


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24 GIRLFRIEND (Alicia Keys)

Thanks to collaborations with both Angie Stone and Eve, Alicia Keys can claim to be the first act this year to have had five Top 40 hit singles. In solo terms it is her third release, the followup to How Come You Don't Call Me which hit Number 26 back in July although of course she has since been in the Top 10, the duet with Eve on Gangsta Lovin' having made Number 6 back in October. Her other hits this year have been Brotha (duetting with Angie Stone, Number 37) and A Womans' Worth (Number 18 in March).
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30 NEVER AGAIN (Nickelback)

Working our way through the last few new Top 40 hits this week and first up are Nickelback with their third chart hit of the year albeit one which falls some way short of the Top 10 entries of both Too Bad (Number 9) and of course How You Remind Me whose 11 week run inside the Top 10 back in the spring will at least ensure they have their place when the biggest hits of the year are remembered.
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31 YOU'LL NEVER BE ALONE (Anastacia)

Still plugging away is Anastacia with the fourth single from the Freak Of Nature album. This ballad (which makes her sound disturbingly like Tina Turner in places) is her 8th chart single but sadly her first to miss the Top 30 altogether.
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37 IT'S IN OUR HANDS (Bjork)

It is Greatest Hits time for Bjork, even though it seems like her big hitmaking days are well beyond her. Still at least it means she gets to make another Top 40 appearance, this single being her first chart single since Cocoon hit Number 35 back in March. That single was of course notable for the video which saw her appear stark naked with red ribbons issuing from her nipples although I've never been able to get any of my girlfriends to do the same. Maybe it is an Icelandic thing.
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38 GOODBYE'S (THE SADDEST WORD) (Celine Dion)

Funny. There was a time when a big ballad from Celine Dion would be more or less guaranteed a berth near the top end of the chart. Despite being another immaculate production and dealing with saying farewell to her dying mother, Goodbye (The Saddest Word) makes a rather apologetic Top 40 appearance to become her smallest chart single since the original release of Mislead hit Number 40 back in 1994 - and even that does not count as the single subsequently made Number 15 when re-released a year later. No, the last Celine Dion single to fail to make the Top 30 at all was in fact Where Does My Heart Beat Now which could only reach Number 72 in April 1993 - a testament both to the string of hits she has clocked up since and the way as a singles artist she now seems to be little more than an afterthought.