1 WHAT BECOMES OF THE BROKEN HEARTED (Robson and Jerome)
Without too much difficulty Robson and Jerome notch up a second week at Number One. In stark contrast to their two previous releases, the sales of this single are not soaring into the stratosphere with quite the rapidity that everyone has been expecting, suggesting that many people are waiting for the album which is certain to sell bucketloads in the runup to Christmas. The single itself is unique in the sense that it is a triple a-side. All three tracks on the single (which also includes Saturday Night At The Movies and You'll Never Walk Alone) are given equal billing on the chart rundown proper. Although plenty of double a-sides have topped the charts in the past (most notably the pair's previous two hits) this is the first time such a trio of tracks has topped the charts together. Note that this is distinct from the old-fashioned EP billing for a single where the disc has three or four tracks released under a common title, these are three songs on one disc all given equal billing. This means that Robson and Jerome share a link with Gerry and the Pacemakers in that both acts set their record of three career-opening chart toppers with a recording of You'll Never Walk Alone, a song now so firmly ingrained into popular culture that it is easy to forget its origins in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical 'Carousel'. The song also made Number One in 1985 in a charity recording by The Crowd in aid of the Bradford City Fire Disaster, thus making it only the second song to reach Number One in three different versions. The other is of course Unchained Melody, a chart-topper for Jimmy Young, the Righteous Brothers and er... Robson and Jerome.
4 STRANGER IN MOSCOW (Michael Jackson)
Jacko, or "Dad" as we should get used to calling him, notches up his third hit of 1996, following on from They Don't Care About Us and his collaboration with 3T Why. Lifted once more from HIStory, it makes a comfortable Top 5 debut, aided somewhat by the collection of dance remixes that accompany the single. It stretches to six his current run of Top Ten hits that dates back to the release of Scream in June 1995, the best run of his long and distinguished career. In his entire chart career he has now had 35 Top Ten hits, helping him to maintain his fourth place in the all-time list just behind Madonna for whom You Must Love Me was her 37th.
6 ONE AND ONE (Robert Miles featuring Maria Nayler)
A startling change of direction for Robert Miles. Having firmly established himself earlier in the year with the smash instrumentals Children and Fable the master of dream music changes tack and goes pop. One and One, far from being one of his own compositions, started life as a Whitney Houston song, although hearing this version it becomes hard to imagine the diva ever performing this track. To sing he invites along Maria Nayler, already a chart star this year having been the "Maria" in Sasha and Maria who hit Number 17 with Be As One back in March. It becomes his third Top 10 hit and the second biggest behind the Number 2 peak of Children. All that remains is to speculate what we can expect next from him - an Aerosmith cover perhaps?
7 HILLBILLY ROCK HILLBILLY ROLL (Woolpackers)
British tastes in entertainment culture can be very strange at times. Commercial Country and Western in the shape of artists such as Garth Brooks has had a difficult time gaining wide commercial acceptance over here yet believe it or not there is a thriving C&W culture in Britain. That culture surrounds line-dancing, the modern day evolution of the old-fashioned square dance that for some reason has found a home predominantly in the North of England. In recent months the media has picked up on this strange hobby and run features on the growing number of adults and children who pack into village halls to be guided through what seems to outsiders to be a strange ritual of non-contact synchronised knee-slapping. Although appropriate music is freely available, none has ever come close to commercial acceptance - that is until the power of television took over. One of Yorkshire Television's most successful programmes is the long-running soap "Emmerdale". For years the rurally-based tale had a small but dedicated following but recently has reinvented itself as a semi-dynamic hotbed of countryside passions and slowly but surely it has found its way near to the top of the ratings. A recent storyline has featured the old chestnut of some characters forming a band to cash in on the current line-dancing craze and so inevitably the song they perform in the show makes a strong Top 40 debut upon its release. As people like Jimmy Nail have proved, you don't have to be from the American deep south to make C&W music but the sound of a group of Yorkshire actors singing in this hayseed manner is somewhat incongruous so say the least. Line-dancing may be one of the naffest, most absurd popular recreational crazes ever to sweep certain parts of the country but you can in no way knock a Number 7 hit, however much the TV exposure has helped this succeed where others have failed. Incidentally it is not the first 'Emmerdale' sourced record to hit the charts, Malandra Burrows having made the Top 20 in 1990 with Just This Side Of Love which also featured in the soap.
8 I'LL NEVER BREAK YOUR HEART (Backstreet Boys)
The apparently never-ending swarm of pretty-boy bands continues, the Backstreet Boys notching up their third hit of the year, following on from the Top 3 We've Got It Going On. Just one question, if the members of 911, Backstreet and Damage were to swap places, would anyone actually notice?
11 IF YOU'RE THINKING OF ME (Dodgy)
The mainstream breakthrough that had been coming for a long time for Dodgy finally arrived in the summer with the release of Good Enough. The annoyingly catchy pop song shot to Number 4 in August and attached itself firmly to the top of the playlists of most radio stations in the country. The challenge now is how to they follow this. Fortunately for the band they have done so in style, releasing a song which may not have the commercial appeal of its predecessor but which is destined to become an all-time classic. If You're Thinking Of Me is a wonderfully understated track that gradually builds up to an epic climax. It is the kind of track that finds its way onto classic rock compilations as the token 'lost gem'. When the end of year reviews come to be written in a few weeks time you can guarantee that many critics will point towards the startling number of classic rock singles from the likes of Dodgy, Manic Street Preachers, Kula Shaker and Ocean Colour Scene which have charted over the course of the last twelve months.
15 THE FROG PRINCESS (Divine Comedy)
A third single for the Divine Comedy and an improvement on the chart placing of Becoming More Like Alfie which could only reach Number 27 back in August. Another wonderfully eloquent piece of snob-rock, it becomes Neil Hannon's second biggest hit to date.
17 THE FLAME (Fine Young Cannibals)
It is shame that the long silence from the Fine Young Cannibals should only broken by the release of this new track from a forthcoming Greatest Hits collection and an announcement from the band that their future together is in some doubt. The combination of Messrs Cox, Steele and Gift has produced some fine pop moments since the mid 1980s, their biggest hit being 1989s She Drives Me Crazy but they have not been seen on the chart since I'm Not Satisfied reached Number 46 in February 1990. This new single is by no means a classic release from the band but the mid-tempo ballad serves its purpose as a swansong from the trio and is their seventh Top 20 hit.
20 ATOM BOMB (Fluke)
The first hit single in almost a year from producers and remixers Fluke. Their most commercial release yet also becomes their biggest, beating the Number 23 peak of Bullet from July 1995.
22 DEVIL'S HAIRCUT (Beck)
The second hit this year from the king of dysfunctionalism Beck, following on from Where It's At which made Number 35 in June. The increased popularity of this single can be put down to one factor - the presence of one Mr N.Gallagher behind the desk on remixing duties. It is the Oasis' star's first foray into the world of remixing and given the success of this single may well not be his last, especially given his recent collaboration with the Chemical Brothers. Incidentally this won't be the last time Oasis are mentioned in this column this week. Just so you are warned...
26 THE FUN LOVIN' CRIMINAL (Fun Lovin' Criminals)
Along with Alisha's Attic this is one of two semi-eponymous singles on the chart this week, the Fun Lovin' Criminals following up the Number 22 hit Scooby Snacks from earlier in the summer.
30 COUNTRY BOY (Jimmy Nail)
Geordie actor Jimmy Nail's new-found status as a C&W icon began in late 1994 with the release of Crocodile Shoes. The single and its accompanying album were released to tie in with the TV series of the same name which he wrote and starred in, playing Ged the northern club singer who becomes a country star. Both album and series were a roaring success, hence this new project just in time for Christmas - Crocodile Shoes II. The new series again has a soundtrack album released alongside and this new single is released to herald the screening of the first episode this week. Maybe a slight disappointment in chart terms, given the Number 4 peak of the original title track but Jimmy Nail can hardly be concerned. With the TV series giving unprecedented exposure to the album that has no other link to the BBC who are screening the series he is surely laughing all the way to the commission for a third.
34 WHATEVER (Oasis)
36 WONDERWALL (Oasis)
38 CIGARETTES AND ALCOHOL (Oasis)
40 SOME MIGHT SAY (Oasis)
Last week saw the release of two special boxed sets of Oasis singles, one for each of their two albums so far. Both sold well and chart this week at Numbers 23 and 24 on the album chart this week. At the same time the separate singles themselves were repromoted with discounts available for multiple purposes. Withdrawn a few weeks ago in preparation for this promotion, the singles have more or less always been freely available and many spent much of the start of the year meandering around the lower reaches of the Top 75. Despite this, and despite the phenomenal sales of Definitely Maybe and What's The Story... there clearly were people who did not own the tracks and the mass buying of the band's back catalogue has led to this almost unprecedented occurrence as no less than four old singles dramatically re-enter the Top 40. They are:
- Whatever, perhaps understandably the biggest seller as it is current unavailable on either of the two albums. First released as a Christmas special in 1994 it reached Number 3 and has been a steady seller ever since. Intended as a Beatles pastiche the song ironically ended up being credited to one of the most famous Beatles tributes ever as Neil Innes successfully argued that the song had unintentionally plagiarised the Rutles song How Sweet It Is To Be An Idiot and make Noel Gallagher hand over some of the royalties. During the chart run of Don't Look Back In Anger earlier this year it was at times on the verge of making the Top 40 once more but this is its highest appearance since that initial chart run at the start of 1995.
- Wonderwall, their Number 2 hit from exactly a year ago. The track gained immortality when covered in easy listening style by the Mike Flowers Pops in a version which made Number 2 not long after the original.
- Cigarettes And Alcohol, the track lifted from Definitely Maybe who made Number 7 in October 1994.
- Some Might Say, their first Number One hit single from May 1995.
Their other singles also chart strongly, lining up just outside the Top 40. It is thirteen years since any act managed this level of domination of the Top 40. Curiously enough the last occasion was also prompted by a mass reissuing of a group's output. Upon their split in 1983, all of the Jam's singles were re-released an in the chart for January 29th 1983 they occupied Numbers 36-39 consecutively. Before them it was the turn of John Lennon to occupy 10% of the Top 40 when in the aftermath of his assassination in January 1981 he had Imagine, Woman, (Just Like) Staring Over and Happy Xmas (War Is Over) all inside the Top 20. Many claims have been made in the past about Oasis, some fantastic, some simply fanciful. What is undeniable is that a chart feat such as this marks them down as one of the great acts in chart history and it will be a long time before any act is in a position to do something similar. [13 years since you ask].
35 MY LOVE IS FOR REAL (Strike)
To round things off this week come Strike with their second hit this year following on from Inspiration which reached Number 27 in June. This single follows their lead of their first hit, being based on a forgotten pop classic. The track was first released by Paula Abdul in June 1995, reaching Number 28. This new version stays fairly faithful to the original but clearly is unlikely to surpass its chart peak.