1 KILLING ME SOFTLY (Fugees)
This is quite some game of musical chairs that is developing at the top of the charts. Killing Me Softly reverses its decline of the previous week to become the 23rd track in chart history to reclaim the Number One position. As you can imagine, for a record to return to Number One after it has slipped down is extremely rare so for two tracks in succession to manage this feat is rarer still. The last time two records swapped places at the top in this manner came over Christmas 1968 when Lily The Pink by the Scaffold was deposed by Marmalade's Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da only to return to Number One for another week before finally losing out to the Marmalade record which then spent a further two weeks at the top. Sadly the end appears due for this particular little power struggle owing to the appearance on the shelves this week of the first solo single from a certain Mr Gary Barlow which appears to have a long-standing reservation to be Number One next week.
2 BORN SLIPPY (Underworld)
A relatively quiet week for major new releases means that the honour of the biggest new hit of the week goes to a dance hit emerging from the clubs. The current crossover success is Born Slippy, Underworld's second hit of the year and a marked improvement from Pearl's Girl which reached Number 25 back in May. With the release of Gary Barlow's Forever Love this week this track looks unlikely to improve on this debut position and so the jinx continues... it is now three years since a track entered the chart at Number 2 and then climbed to Number One. [For reasons too dull to go into here, I spent the entire summer of 96 in a sleep-deprived state and ending up writing these pieces to meet crazy deadlines. That may account for greeting one of the most famous soundtrack singles of its era in a manner that is entirely devoid of knowledge and understanding of its context].
6 IN TOO DEEP (Belinda Carlisle)
It is career rejuvenation time for Belinda Carlisle having seen her long-running deal with Virgin records end after her commercial appeal appeared to be in decline. Now she is back after a 2.5 year absence from the charts after tirelessly working to promote this new single, even to the extent of touring provincial radio stations, something which is usually beneath your average American superstar. The tactic certainly worked as In Too Deep makes an impressive debut to give her her sixth UK Top 10 hit and her first since (We Want) The Same Thing way back in October 1990. The most famous cheekbones in pop are back.
7 YOU'RE MAKING ME HIGH (Toni Braxton)
Another female star making a return to form after a long absence is Toni Braxton. She first hit the Top 40 in January 1994 with Breathe Again which reached Number 2 and to this day remains something of a radio staple. Three other Top 40 hits followed, none with the impact of the first and since the end of 1994 she has been silent. All of that changes with this new hit single which at a stroke becomes her second biggest to date.
8 KEEP ON JUMPIN' (Todd Terry)
The tune which has easily been the hottest club tune of the year so far is Keep On Jumpin', based around an old 70s track which had hitherto remained a forgotten classic. The Lisa Marie Experience were first with the commercial hit, reaching Number 7 back in April with the track. Not to be outdone, the King of House Todd Terry also made his own version of the track and invited legendary divas such as Martha Wash and Jocelyn Brown to guest on the track. As a result his almost identical version of the song charts this week and does so at exactly the same position as the version by Lisa Marie Experience. It becomes the biggest hit Todd Terry has ever released under his own name. Despite his success as a producer and remixer (he is currently in the Top 40 as producer of Everything But The Girl's Wrong) he has never had a major commercial smash credited to himself, his only other chart hit being last year's remix of his 1988 classic Weekend which reached Number 28.
10 NICE GUY EDDIE (Sleeper)
The second hit of 1996 for Sleeper, Nice Guy Eddie spookily charting at exactly the same position as Sale Of The Century back in May.
14 TO WIN JUST ONCE (Saw Doctors)
Irish folksters the Saw Doctors are experiencing their most successful year ever. January saw them reach the Top 20 for the first time in their career with World Of Good and now this new single becomes their biggest hit to date by entering at Number 14. Depending on your point of view it bodes either well or ill for the prospects of a certain Irish folk novelty hit which is being geared up for release very shortly. Ask an Irish friend, they will tell you the one I mean. [That's a reference to Richie Kavanagh's Aon Focle Eile, one of Ireland's best selling singles of all time and which had grabbed enough attention here to suggest it might become a surprise British hit too. It never came to pass].
18 SOMETHING 4 THE WEEKEND (Super Furry Animals)
The biggest hit to date for Super Furry animals, currently one of the hottest bands around and one of the few to successfully cross over from the Welsh language indie scene. Wales has a plethora of young bands who spend a large part of the time singing in their native language which sadly appear to restrict their commercial potential somewhat. Despite their two hits having been in English so far, Super Furry Animals are very much from that mould yet this has not stopped them building up quite a following. Strangely enough before this month the famous saying Something For The Weekend had never been used as the title of a chart hit yet within the space of a few weeks two different acts have charted with hits of that name. Despite the coincidental title, the record is nothing to do with the Divine Comedy but rather is closer in style to current hits by Kula Shaker and Ocean Colour Scene in the way it is eerily reminiscent of late period Beatles.
21 THEME FROM MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen)
Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen's reworking of the Mission: Impossible theme disappointed somewhat when it quickly tumbled from its Number 7 peak back in June. Now it makes a not unexpected resurgence following the opening last week of the Tom Cruise film whose opening titles it accompanies. This is unlikely to lead to the track rescaling the heights of the Top 20 but this sudden upswing makes it the most upwardly mobile hit on the chart this week.
22 WORK IT OUT (Def Leppard)
Ditching the harmonies and going back to their rock roots may have been the most artistically satisfying thing for Def Leppard to do but it appears to be having a slightly negative effect on their commercial appeal. Work It Out misses the Top 20 completely whilst its predecessor 'Slang' could only reach Number 18. Compare this with the way the lush ballad When Love And Hate Collide shot to Number 2 at the end of last year.
25 GIRL POWER (Shampoo)
[Looking back this is an astounding coincidence. One week before the debut of the group who adopted "girl power" as their personal mission statement, a rather less fondly remembered all female act had a hit with a song using that title]. Shampoo are a curious concept. The hype surrounding them and the attention that is paid to them by so many sections of the media suggest that they should be massive, only of course they aren't. The two South London teenagers first charted in the summer of 1994 with Trouble. It was a curious hybrid of female rap and punk via the bubblegum pop of Transvision Vamp. Conjuring up memories of early Toyah records they ranted and shouted their way through a tale of woe and of missing the last bus home. Two more singles followed, Viva La Megababes and Delicious, the latter suggesting that it was made to be a massive pop hit yet both could only stutter into the Top 30. The pair then disappeared on a tour of the Far East where they were said to be astonishingly popular. The buzz started again a few months ago when a newspaper published a list of the richest women in Britain. Shampoo were at Number 23 as a direct result of their success in Japan where they are quite literally superstars. So now the work begins again their home country. The two girls, both still teenagers, sidestepping as best they can questions about whether they really are multi-millionaires release a new single which follows the same formula as the first, a blistering infectious track that seems made for party success and yet one which you feel guilty for liking. Number 25 is likely to be as good as this one gets but there is still a nagging feeling that a massive hit is only just round the corner at which point Shampoo may well become hip. Until then it appears that only the Japanese will love them.
33 FREE TO DECIDE (Cranberries)
To describe a track as 'Just Another Cranberries Record' is to commit a major crime in the eyes of many of their fans, yet to all intents and purposes this is just what this track is, containing few surprises other than the fact that Dolores' voice sounds as lovely as ever. Free To Decide becomes their second chart single of the year, following on from Salvation which reached Number 13 in April.
34 1NCE AGAIN (A Tribe Called Quest)
The first hit in a long time for A Tribe Called Quest, who despite their apparent lack of commercial success still command a great deal of respect in hip hop circles. This new single is actually only their second ever UK Top 40 hit, the first coming in the shape of 1991s Can I Kick It which reached Number 15.
40 INSENSITIVE (Jann Arden)
Hot on the heels of Alanis Morissette and Joan Osborne comes the latest Canadian female singer-songwriter. At the moment Jann Arden is best flagged as a name for the future as 'Insensitive' is unlikely to register on the Top 40 next week although this is actually quite a shame as the record deserves much better than this. There was a time when entering at Number 40 or lower was by no means a kiss of death but these days of course the market does not take kindly to singles that need time to grow.