This week's Official UK Singles Chart

INTRODUCTION

It is Xmas-1 and goodness how quickly these things come around. In the past of course the charts would now be full of all the contenders for the much-coveted Christmas Number One position but of course this is 2002 which means that the Christmas chart itself will see a flood of new entries, all hoping to debut at the top. As far as the bookmakers are concerned it is very much a two horse race between the two acts created by the TV show Popstars - The Rivals, a show whose very premise was to create two acts, one male, one female, and have them release singles simultaneously to contend for Christmas Number One. Thinking of the teenage girl factor, the bookmakers installed the boy band (now called One True Voice) as clear favourites from the start although at the current time the smart money is actually on the girls (Girls Aloud) who are generally felt to have the better single. Still, there could be room for an outsider - maybe even the track that tops the chart this week.

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1 SORRY SEEMS TO BE THE HARDEST WORD (Blue featuring Elton John)

The 9/4 third favourites in the race to be Christmas Number One stake their claim in no uncertain terms this week, blasting Eminem out of the way to take pole position with just seven days to go. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word was of course an Elton John single to begin with, dating from Christmastime 1976 when it peaked at Number 11, the first single to be released on his own Rocket record label. The musical legend has taken a refreshingly relaxed attitude to his musical back catalogue over the years - even if at times it means taking a pee on the memory of some of his most famous recordings (how else can you explain his 1993 remake of Don't Go Breaking My Heart with RuPaul and the way Candle In The Wind was turned into the biggest selling dirge of all time in 1997?). Happily this year he has got the right idea when it comes to remakes of his own songs and the Moulin Rouge arrangement of Your Song earlier this year is followed into the charts with this collaboration with the leading British boy band of the moment. The single returns Blue to the top of the chart for the first time since If You Come Back hit the summit in November 2001 and is their third Number One single in all. Elton John is of course famously unfamiliar with the top of the charts although his strike rate since the 1990s began has outshone anything else he had achieved prior to that in a career that began in 1971. For years his only Number One single was the original duet with Kiki Dee on Don't Go Breaking My Heart and it was not until 1990 that he finally hit the top solo, leading the list with Sacrifice/Healing Hands. One year later he was back at the top, accompanying George Michael on a live rendition of his own song Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me and of course he topped the charts for five weeks in 1997 with Candle In The Wind 97. It is therefore a fun curiosity that of his five Number One singles to date, three have been new recordings of songs which had peaked lower down the chart in their original versions.


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2 CHEEKY SONG (TOUCH MY BUM) (Cheeky Girls)

No real surprises here, the Cheeky Girls spend a second week at Number 2 to the bafflement of just about everyone with a degree of musical taste. The duo of course were 'discovered' during the auditions for a certain TV talent show which means there is a good chance that the Pop Stars - The Rivals TV show will be indirectly responsible for the whole of the Christmas Top 3 next week.
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5 WHAT MY HEART WANTS TO SAY (Gareth Gates)

Do you get the feeling that the Pop Idols are on the verge of becoming yesterday's news? Those that are still interested in the products of TV reality shows do after all have the Rivals groups to deal with, plus the inevitable flood of singles from the talent unearthed by Fame Academy to come in the new year. Hence just like Will Young a few weeks ago, Gareth Gates finds his fourth single unable to follow the previous three to the top of the charts and has to be content with a berth slightly lower down the chart than he has become accustomed to over the past 12 months. Still, this is hardly a disaster for the man who can boast the second biggest selling single of the year to his name but don't be shocked if both Will and Gareth take time in the new year to go away for a rethink.

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6 PUPPY LOVE/SLEIGH RIDE (S Club Juniors)

Another seasonal cover version, this time in the shape of the S Club Juniors performing what is arguably their most lyrically appropriate song yet. Puppy Love was first recorded by the original child prodigy, Paul Anka who took the song to Number 33 in 1960. The most famous chart version is of course that by Donny Osmond who hit the top with the song back in 1972. On the flip side of the S Club Juniors single is a topical rendition of Sleigh Ride which has become a seasonal airplay staple thanks to the Ronettes version which appears on the classic Phil Spector Christmas album. Strangely enough the S Club Juniors are the first act to ever have a chart hit with the track.
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8 THE KETCHUP SONG (ASSEREJE) (Las Ketchup)

Predictably enough Las Ketchup get a bullet and rise a place on the chart this week, sales of the single having been given a small fillip thanks to the release of an alternative CD which features a Christmas remix of the track. Best we move on.
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11 FAMILY PORTRAIT (Pink)

Something of a chart comedown for Pink following the Number One success of her last single Just Like A Pill. Blame this on the time of year, the fact that it is the 4th single from the album plus the fact that this tale of family disharmony and tortured childhood isn't exactly your average cheery seasonal fare. First it was songs about negative relationships, now it is details of her parents marriage breakup. What is she, Eminem with boobs?


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15 THUG LOVIN' (Ja Rule featuring Bobby Brown)

Ja Rule rounds off 2002 with his fourth hit single - or should that be his fifth owing to his performance on Irv Gotti's Down 4 U? As well as the Gotti track, Ja Rule has also appeared alongside Mary J Blige and Ashanti this year and this single adds another notch to his musical bedpost thanks to the presence on the track of Mr Whitney Houston himself, Bobby Brown. It is something of a triumphant chart return for the man who began his career as a member of New Edition almost 20 years ago. The last Bobby Brown single to chart was Feelin' Inside which hit Number 40 in 1997, since when he has been pretty much invisible musically. By hitting Number 15 this is actually Bobby Brown's biggest chart hit since the K-Klass remix of Humpin' Around hit Number 8 in July 1995.
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16 NAUGHTY GIRL (Holly Valance)

A slight change of tempo for Holly Valance's third single as she not only keeps her clothes on but shows off a little more of her vocal range (even if that does result in her sounding not unlike Sharleen Spiteri) on this suitably warm ballad. For some reason never in the running as far as the bookmakers were concerned, she has at least done enough to ensure she will have a Top 20 single for the holidays.


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17 NOTHING SACRED - A SONG FOR KIRSTY (Russell Watson)

Get ready for a burst of culture on the chart this week as we take a small interlude for some classically trained singers. The 25/1 outside for the Christmas Number One creeps into the Top 30 to give Russell Watson his biggest ever chart single. Russell Watson was last in the Top 40 back in October 1999 when he appeared alongside the England Rugby World Cup squad on the traditional rendition of Swing Low Sweet Chariot, peaking at Number 38. His albums are always big holiday sellers but this cheesy Cliff Richard-esque ballad is a world away from his only other chart single, Barcelona (Friends To The End) which was a duet with no less a figure than Shaun Ryder, the single disappointingly only making Number 68 in July 2000 [for some reason I'd overlooked the Faye Tozer duet from a few months prior. It remains a puzzle why his performance of the Star Trek: Enterprise theme Where The Heart Will Take Me was never made into a single, although the song had flopped for Rod Stewart in 1999 when it was still called Faith Of The Heart]..
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21 MISUNDERSTOOD (Bon Jovi)

Officially the 35th Top 40 hit for Bon Jovi, this the followup to Everyday which hit Number 5 back in September. Strange though it may seem the rock act have posted a regular presence in the seasonal listings over the years and assuming that Misunderstood is still a Top 40 single next week it will be the seventh time they have been part of the chart for the season. Their biggest ever Christmastime hit was a cover of the Eagles track Please Come Home For Christmas which had actually appeared as a Jon Bon Jovi solo track on a Very Special Christmas charity compilation in the late 1980s but which was released as a single here in December 1994, hitting Number 7 in the process.
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29 TELL ME WHY (Declan and the Young Voices Choir)

Be very afraid, because this is what the charts do to us at Christmas. Declan Galbraith is essentially the new Charlotte Church, a child prodigy soprano who at the age of just 10 years old has a million pound recording contract with EMI and a debut album that your Grandmother will just love as a Christmas present. This debut single comes at the end of a week when the singer led an attempt to set a world record for the largest choir ever to sing together, schools across the country performing the song in an attempt to get 35,000 voices performing simultaneously.
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35 THE OTHER SIDE (David Gray)

The Top 5 success of Babylon in July 2000 notwithstanding, middle of the road favourite David Gray is very much seen as an albums act, his second album A New Day At Midnight having already topped the charts when first released back in November. Hence it isn't too much of a shock to see its first single The Other Side making a brief appearance at the bottom end of the Top 40 this week. His last chart single came almost exactly a year ago of course, his version of Soft Cell's Say Hello Wave Goodbye hitting Number 26 for the Christmas chart last year.
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So that is it, the pieces are all in place, the time is right. Bring on the Rivals - and may the best song win.