This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 ALL THE THINGS SHE SAID (Tatu)

For the second week running Tatu retain their crown as the best-selling singles act of the week in the fact of some strong competition from a brand new single. This time around they led from the start but with the gap small enough for the possibility to remain that Sinead Quinn would overtake them, particularly towards the end of the week. That it didn't happen speaks volumes for the way the contnuing flood of stories surrounding the pair have helped to raise the profile of the single. Whatever the gaps in the sexual morality of their image, the lesbian schoolgirls gimmick has worked wonders in making Tatu far and away one of the most talked about chart acts for months. When record sales are low and you cannot stimulate interest simply because of the music then getting people talking is the most effective way of raising public curiosity. If after all that you have a good pop record behind it all then you are laughing all the way to the bank - as the three-week reign of Tatu at the top of the singles chart demonstrates. The only minor concern is the way their album hasn't quite caught fire yet (it dips to No.22 this week) but all it will take is a quick burst of How Soon Is Now to solve that problem. [Dude, it is never going to happen, let it go].
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2 I CAN'T BREAK DOWN (Sinead Quinn)

Mark your scorecards ladies and gentlemen, this one is Fame Academy hit number 2. What set the BBC series apart from its ITV rivals of course was the fact that contestants were selected on the basis of their musical abilities as well as their singing prowess. From the outset the aim was to develop singer-songwriters and musicians, people with the actual ability to forge a career for themselves with just a little help from the TV exposure. The only real problem (and one that dogged the early editions of the series) was that the pool of talent from which the contestants were selected wasn't necessarily the best available. By the time the series reached its climax, the nagging doubt remained that we were being asked to choose from the best of a mediocre bunch. Still you cannot fault the hitmaking ability of the final contestants. First came winner David Sneddon with his Number One hit Stop Living The Lie and now here is the vision of Irish loveliness that is Sinead Quinn, with her own chance to bid for 'proper' stardom. Once again you can't knock the single for being manufactured. I Can't Break Down was the self-penned track that Sinead performed in the final and it is without a doubt a very strong song, superbly produced and expertly sung by a lady with the voice to carry it off. Number One would have been no less than it deserved but in the event she has to content herself with the runners-up slot in the charts, just as she did in the TV series itself. [Say what you will about the quality of the series (and plenty did), Fame Academy ensured that the first weeks of 2003 were crammed with some amazing high quality pop records, all of which had been created on the show. It is just a shame that this was the high point of Sinead Quin's career. She was magnificent].


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5 DON'T WORRY (Appleton)

Let us not be shy about this. The debut Appleton single Fantasy was fabulous, far and away one of the best pop records released in 2002 and indeed the only tragedy was that it only hit Number 2 before making an all too rapid exit from the Top 40. Five months on and here is the second chart single from the two sisters, Don't Worry. Opinion amongst reviewers is markedly split this time around, some decrying it as weak and lifeless, others raving about the way the understated production builds to a rousing crescendo and the way it sounds for all the world like Texas performing an Oasis song. Don't Worry isn't an out and out stormer of a pop song like its predecessor but does a fine job of proving that Natalie and Nicole are able to walk the walk after continually complaining that All Saints never allowed them to show the full range of their musical abilities.
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7 IF YOU'RE NOT THE ONE (Daniel Bedingfield)

The most unexpected chart move of the week comes from Daniel Bedingfield whose former Number One single If You're Not The One reverses its chart decline in dramatic style to vault back into the Top Ten and back to the Number 7 position it last occupied four weeks ago. The pop ballad surprised several people when it was first released, given that its style was in marked contrast to his first two singles. Having said that anyone who saw the full version of the video to his debut hit Gotta Get Thru This which began with him performing the song as an acoustic ballad before the beats kicked in will be aware, there is more to the New Zealand-born singer-songwriter than meets the eye.
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8 REMINISCE/WHERE THE STORY ENDS (Blazin' Squad)

Clearly destined to hold on to the more sugary end of the pop-rap stick, the Blazin' Squad make it three Top 10 hits in succession with this latest release. Reminisce sticks largely to the formula of its predecessors with a production and delivery that is straight from the Teddy Riley school of R&B pop production. Their audience surely isn't the male end of the market as the boys have "real" rap stars such as Eminem and Nelly. Is it possible that they are being marketed as sex symbols?
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9 LOSE YOURSELF (Eminem)

Speaking of Mr Mathers, it seems appropriate to make a small acknowledgement of the continuing success of his former Number One single Lose Yourself which remains entrenched in the Top 10 almost three months after it was first released. The single hit the top in December, one week after the Daniel Bedingfield track in fact, and since then has moved 1-3-5-5-3-3-6-6-7-6-9 on the back of the cinema release of Eight Mile from whose soundtrack it is taken.
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11 AUTOMATIC (Sarah Whatmore)

Sooner or later we will have to stop using the "Pop Idol reject" tag to describe acts like Sarah Whatmore but for the moment memories of the show that gave her the leg up are all too easy to evoke. Sarah Whatmore you may remember was the one performer who did not make it into the final 10 but who was offered a record deal anyway thanks to her obvious talents and willingness to wear very little in her videos. Automatic has nothing to do with the old Pointer Sisters song but is actually a rather fine stab of 80s retro dance, even if it still cannot shake off the feeling of being just another piece of disposable pop. The follow-up to the Number 6 hit When I Lost You, it just missed out on becoming her second Top 10 hit. Ladies get up to get down, indeed.
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18 PARADISE (LL Cool J featuring Amerie)

A second hit single in recent months for rap veteran LL Cool J, this the followup to Luv U Better which returned him to the Top 10 back in October when it hit Number 7. Paradise is a wonderfully summery sounding rap hit, singer Amerie featuring on the track almost as much as LL Cool J himself and indeed the track serves to remind you of what Will Smith was like back when he was good. Yes, I just referenced Will Smith whilst talking about an LL Cool J single. Please don't hurt me.


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22 CAN'T STOP (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Well you do have to take your hat off to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Fast approaching 20 years of performing together, the band have still managed to maintain a level of creativity that means that their current album By The Way has for most fans ranked as one of their best piece of work ever. As if to hammer the point home here is its third single, another majestic four and half minutes of raw yet appealing and melodious rock music. Its failure to penetrate the Top 20 can be put down more to the success of its parent album rather than the appeal of the track, given that the song appears to be on the radio just about every five minutes. It is their 12th Top 30 hit since 1990.


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24 THUGZ MANSION (2Pac)

The world's most prolific deceased rapper returns to the chart once more, just when we were starting to wonder if the stash of unreleased material that he had stockpiled before his death had started to run dry. Thugz Mansion is his first chart hit since Letter 2 My Unborn hit Number 21 in November 2001 and by my reckoning is his 14th posthumous chart hit since he was murdered in 1996. Beat that, Elvis. As with all such hits, you are torn between marvelling at the shameless way that the record company can keep milking the name of their top star seven years after his death and wondering just how his career would have turned out had he lived, given the continuing quality of his unreleased material.
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28 A MODERN WAY OF LETTING GO (Idlewild)

There is an oddly displaced look to the singles chart this week. Plenty of new entries near the top of course but a veritable flood of them at the bottom end, the final 12 Top 40 places bearing witness to no less than seven new entries. Time to mop these up then and first up are Idlewild, here with their fourth chart hit in the last 12 months, this single being the follow-up to Live In A Hiding Place which made Number 26 in October last year.
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29 TIME AFTER TIME (Novaspace)

Hello to everyone at Ministry Of Sound Records, and many thanks for inflicting this one on us. As the title suggests, this is another cheesy Eurodisco reworking of an old 80s pop hit, in this case the song that Cyndi Lauper made famous, taking it to Number 3 in June 1984. In truth this single could actually have been far far worse than it is and no amount of synthesisers and breakbeats can suppress the fact that this is actually one of the finest pop songs of its generation. Novaspace are the new brainchild of German producer Felix Gauder whose previous claim to fame was being the brains behind one of my all time favourite European club acts E-Rotic. For anyone who doesn't know, they were utterly fabulous, making some of the rudest dance records you have ever heard with titles such as Do It All Night, Fritz Love My Tits and Max Don't Have Sex With Your Ex. The fact that Gauder has gone from that to massacring classic pop songs is perhaps some cause for regret but I'm reliably informed that their version of Mike Oldfield's To France has to be heard to be believed. [2003 James was on the money here. Novaspace's cover of To France is just as magificent as anything E-Rotic ever produced. But they were just too quirky and weird to ever become British hits].
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33 HARMONIC GENERATOR (Datsuns)

A second hit single for the Datsuns this week although one that may come as a slight disappointment. Their last single In Love charted at Number 25 and you could be forgiven for expecting them to have edged closer to the Top 20 this time around, or at the very least consolidated their hitmaking form.
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34 SHOWDOWN (Jody Lei)

Latest new kid on the block is South African born Jody Lei. Her debut album features contributions from the likes of Wyclef Jean, the So Solid Crew and even 80s relic Howard Jones but despite a couple of puff pieces in the press about her potential for hitmaking, this debut turns out to be something of a chart disappointment.
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35 THE HELL SONG (Sum 41)

Maybe not their biggest, but still a sixth successive Top 40 hit for Sum 41. They have been this low down the charts before of course, It's What We're All About having landed at a rather lowly Number 32 in June last year before they bounced back with the Top 20 hit Still Waiting just before Christmas. Nonetheless they sound as if they need a little more inspiration and the energy of Fat Lip and Motivation seem a long way away.
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38 THE HARDER THEY COME (Oakenfold)

Following on from the magnificent Starry Eyed Surprise which hit Number 6 last summer, Paul Oakenfold's album Bunkka spawns a third chart single in the shape of this remixed single that features a vocal performance from trip-hop legend Tricky alongside his latest discovery, 16 year old Keisha White [three years before she'd step to the fore for a brief and unremarkable solo career of her own]. A long way removed from the conventional chart pop of Starry Eyed Surprise, this probably wasn't ever going to be a massive chart hit but you will struggle to find a Number 38 hit this year that exudes more quality than this.
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40 LIGHT AND DAY (Polyphonic Spree)

Finally then to bring up the rear, here are Polyphonic Spree, failing by just one place to match the Number 39 peak of their debut single Hanging Around which charted back in November. This is of course still nothing short of a tragedy, the 24 piece choir making for one of the most impressive performing acts you are likely to see this year. The charts don't always have to be about pop music and more than any other act of the moment I would love to see them do better.


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