1 OOH AAH... JUST A LITTLE BIT (Gina G)
With a sense of inevitability, Gina G overcomes the tiny gap between her and George Michael to power her way to the top of the British charts. It would have been a double triumph but for the fact that many countries across Europe forgot to vote for her on Saturday night, resulting in a paltry seventh place for Great Britain and yet another Eurovision win for Ireland. [Jonathan King blames it on the fact that Gina G wasn't necessarily a singer, just the then girlfriend of the songwriter and so couldn't quite live up to expectations live on the night]. All of that is now in the past, 'Ooh Aah... Just A Little Bit' thus becomes the first Number One single from the contest since Nicole's 1982 German winner A Little Peace. It is the 9th Number One single to be produced as a winner of Eurovision, dating back from Sandie Shaw's 1967 winner Puppet On A String. Of those chart-toppers, 5 have been from British entries with the other 4 coming from the winning entries from other countries; Sweden (Abba, 1974), Ireland (Dana, 1970 and Johnny Logan, 1987) and Germany (Nicole, 1982). Only one other unsuccessful British entry has ever reached the top, namely Cliff Richard's 1968 entry Congratulations which lost out at the death, yet sold more copies worldwide than the eventual winner, the notorious La La La by Massiel. Gina G's own climb to Number One comes five weeks after the single appeared to have peaked, dropping to Number 3 after a week in the runners-up slot. The track thus becomes the first chart-topper to climb to the summit after having previously fallen since Celine Dion's Think Twice in early 1995.
2 FASTLOVE (George Michael)
His sales were slipping fast but the release of the Older album finally puts paid to the single. As the Long Player makes a commanding debut at the top of the album charts, Fastlove slides from the top, denying the comeback kid the chance to top both charts simultaneously.
5 NOBODY KNOWS (Tony Rich Project)
I am not going to give the single the kiss of death by tipping it still further, but the American smash continues to defy its slow start and edges ever closer towards the top of the British charts.
7 TONIGHT TONIGHT (Smashing Pumpkins)
A week of mixed fortunes for the Smashing Pumpkins. As the band and record company discretely mourn the death of a fan at an Irish concert at the start of the week their single does the unexpected and registers a sharp increase in sales and climbs a place inside the Top 10.
9 BLUE MOON/ONLY YOU (John Alford)
This guy is no one-off. TV actor John Alford continues his campaign to become this year's Robson and Jerome and releases a second hit single. Like his last Top 20 hit, Blue Moon/Only You is a reggaefied version of a doo-wop classic. His last hit cover Smoke Gets In Your Eyes suited the style well and it made for a refreshing 90s take on a classic song. I remain unconvinced about the updating of Blue Moon in this way although history shows that the song has taken many many different forms. It was written in 1934 by the legendary musical composers Rogers and Hart as a slow ballad and first charted in this country in a fairly straightforward version by Elvis Presley in 1956. The song took on a new lease of life as a Rock N Roll song with the Marcels' version which reached Number 1 in 1961 and whose arrangement was copied by Showaddywaddy when they reached Number 32 in 1980. John Alford matches the original peak of Elvis Presley's version and looks set to take the song to its second highest position ever.
10 FAT NECK (Black Grape)
I'm tempted to make lots of laboured jokes about how the departure of Bez will affect the sound of Black Grape, how their performances on record will be affected by the departure of such a key member. Suffice it to say they have all been made many times over and by far more creative people than me. Notwithstanding all of this, Black Grape return to the fray with a new single and their fourth hit single, another Top Tenner to rank alongside Reverend Black Grape and In The Name Of The Father. Their only relative failure was of course Kelly's Heroes which reached Number 17 in early December last year and which I am tempted to suggest makes this new single seem poor by comparison.
12 GOOD DAY (Sean Maguire)
More Tv stars, this time in the shape of former child actor and soap performer Sean Maguire. His recent run of hits continues with this new track, following on from his rather soulless cover of You To Me Are Everything which made Number 16 in November last year. An entry at Number 12 means this becomes at a stroke his biggest hit to date, eclipsing the Number 14 peak of his debut Someone To Love.
13 YOU'RE THE ONE (SWV)
This week see a curiously high ratio of new entries from the world of R&B as the genre experiences something of an upsurge in popularity following successive Number Ones from Mark Morrison and George Michael both with singles heavily influenced by US swingbeat. The highest comes from the long-dormant SWV with their first chart hit since Anything which made Number 24 in June 1994. They are best known in this country for Right Here, the album track that was transformed by Teddy Riley who mixed it with the rhythm track of Michael Jackson's Human Nature and which charged to Number 3 in the summer of 1993. The Number 13 entry of You're The One means it has become their second biggest hit ever.
15 REACH (Gloria Estefan)
It is par for the course these days for every sporting event in America to have an 'anthem', a phrase which normally equates to a nauseous ballad, usually involving some stateside chart star in an attempt by a record company to milk some sales of the back of an event that would otherwise have little to do with them. That may seem a little harsh but it at least conveys the sheer pointlessness of the exercise and one must wonder at the mentality of any athlete who requires a millionaire pop star crooning at them to go for glory in order to be motivated to win medals. Reach is of course the official anthem of the Atlanta Olympics, Gloria Estefan plodding her way through a track that is on the dull side of turgid. Nonetheless a Top 20 hit it is, her first chart hit since her cover of Everlasting Love made Number 19 in February 1995. The most successful official Olympic anthem of all was Whitney Houston's One Moment In Time which topped the charts in October 1988. The 1992 Barcelona Olympics were commemorated by Jose Carreras and Sarah Brightman who duetted on Amigos Para Siempre which staggered its way to Number 11 whilst on a lengthy chart run over the course of that summer.
16 CHILDREN (Robert Miles)
An old hit, but it still refuses to die as 'Children' this week reverses its decline and climbs three places in what is no less than its 14th week in the Top 40.
20 GET ON UP (Jodeci)
More R&B and the first Top 40 hit of 1996 for Jodeci. Last year was when they finally crossed over in this country, notching up no less than 3 Top 30 hits, the biggest of these being the Number 17 hit Freek N' You
22 THE LOVER THAT YOU ARE (Pulse featuring Anionette Robinson)
In a week dominated by TV stars, Eurovision and Jack Swing there is only room for one dance record to appear from out of the clubs and into the charts. So here it is.
28 HEAVEN (Sarah Washington)
Gosh, here is a blast from the past. Sarah Washington makes the Top 40 for the first time in 3 years with a new record label and a new desire to become a serious soul artist. She first charted back in 1993, singing on a series of bandwaggoning dance versions of recent chart hits. Only one of these became a smash, her version of I Will Always Love You which made Number 12 in August that year.
30 REBEL YELL (Scooter)
European funsters Scooter charted over here earlier this year with the frantic Back In The UK which is already on my list as one of the more enjoyable novelties [not so much a novelty though as an example of what they made an entire career of doing] of the year. Now they follow that hit up with an interesting new twist on a theme, the theme being Billy Idol. Much of Billy Idol's mid-80s work was characterised by his fusion of commercial rock sounds and a thumping dance beat and there was no better example of this than Rebel Yell which became one of his biggest hit singles ever when it reached Number 6 in September 1985. Scooter's version is of course no patch on the original and at times verges towards the door marked 'uninspired'. If nothing else it inspires memories of the original, complete with the most exciting guitar solo of all time and serves as a gentle reminder of how average much of Idol's musical output is these days.
31 DESIRE (Nu Colours)
Having spent many years as backing musicians on a number of hits, gospel troupe Nu Colours have in recent years attempted to chart hits of their own. Thus far they have struggled, their only Top 40 hit before now being Power which made Number 40 in November 1993. This new hit does slightly better to give them their biggest hit to date.
35 MISS PARKER (Benz)
The second hit of the year for Benz, following on from Urban City Girl which reached Number 31 in March. The new hit follows a long tradition of soul records using the formal address for a woman in the title... others springing to mind being the Tymes Ms Grace and Billy Paul's Me And Mrs Jones.
36 FUN FOR ME (Moloko)
Moloko have built up a slight reputation for themselves recently owing to their stroppiness at being compared to Portishead and other trip-hop acts. Sad really because that is the best yardstick to judge them against, this single being the kind of gorgeous yet mournful track that you would expect to be produced by bands such as the aforementioned Bristolians. [A low key debut for an act whose greatest moments would actually come the other side of the millennium].
38 DO YOU UNDERSTAND (Almighty)
To bring up the rear this week comes a new hit for the Almighty, their second of the year following All Sussed Out which made Number 28 back in March. I often get mail from people complaining that I slight their favourite bands by suggesting that their singles have no chance of progressing past their initial peak. To say so is not to pour cold water on the achievement of charting a Top 40 single but bands like The Almighty will never become commercial enough to have major chart smashes and the fact that they chart at all can be seen as a glowing testament to their popularity amongst their fans. Even if nobody else likes them.