1 CHOCOLATE SALTY BALLS (PS I LOVE YOU) (Chef)
Last week's battle to be Christmas Number One was one of the closest there has been for many a long year. Although the Spice Girls were the ultimate victors with a colossal sale of almost 400,000 copies they were run very close indeed by Chef's Chocolate Salty Balls who by the end of the week was within a few thousand copies of the total notched up by Goodbye. Indeed this sale was the highest managed by any single not to reach Number One since Wham!'s Last Christmas posted half a million copies upon release in 1984 only to be stuck at Number 2 behind the Band Aid single. Therefore this week's reversal is a surprise but not totally unexpected as Chef deposes the Spice Girls after a solitary week on top. This will naturally provoke a short lived debate as to which record was genuinely the Christmas Number One. Officially the Spice Girls had the honour, being on top of the last chart rundown before Christmas. Yet this week's chart is based on sales of singles between Sunday 20th December and Thursday 24th plus the few that registered from the shops that elected to open on both Friday 25th and Saturday 26th - effectively a sales rundown of the bestsellers from the final week before Christmas Day itself. History will record that it was the South Park record which sold the most.
As for Chocolate Salty Balls by reaching Number One it sets a number of landmarks, depending that is on to whon you credit the record. Isaac Hayes can justifiably claim the biggest hit of his career with this track. As I documented last week until now he had only ever had two previous chart singles in this country, the first of these being Theme From Shaft which hit the chart in the week of December 4th 1971. Thus he has now ascended to the top of the charts after a wait of 27 years and one month (give or take a few days), the second longest such delay ever, beating the 25 year wait of Ben E King and just behind the 29 year 42 day gap between Jackie Wilson first hitting the UK charts and Reet Petite becoming the Christmas Number One in 1986. It should be noted that both King and Wilson achieved their long overdue Number One singles with re-releases of tracks that had previously charted and so Hayes' achievement ranks alongside that of Cher who also hit Number One in 1991 with a newly-recorded track, in her case almost 26 years after her first solo hit.
OK, I hear you cry, but Chocolate Salty Balls does not contain a chart credit for Isaac Hayes even though his voice is the one on the track. Generations to come will look at the records and see that the cartoon character Chef was the artist on this Number One single. In that case, Chef has become the third act from a TV cartoon to have a Number One single in the UK. First up were the Archies who took Sugar Sugar to the top in 1969 whilst The Simpsons repeated the achievement with Do The Bartman in 1991. Other non-human acts have hit Number One in the past of course - the latex puppets of Spitting Image did so in 1986 whilst Mr Blobby also managed the Christmas Number One in 1993. Not to forget the Teletubbies either...
2 GOODBYE (Spice Girls)
You can see the headlines now can't you? "Spice Girls in crisis as single spends one week at Number One". Actually this is something of a shock for the girls to be dumped so unceremoniously but it is by no means the first time this has happened and curiously enough it was their last brand new single to be released in advance of any album - Spice Up Your Life had just seven days at the top of the chart in October 1997 before being put firmly in its place by Aqua's Barbie Girl. Don't rule out the possibility of them bouncing back in the next week or two either. We are about to enter silly season as after an artificial high over the past few weeks singles sales will now slump to their annual nadir until the first big singles of 1999 are released. Last year this resulted in Perfect Day returning to Number One five weeks after it was knocked off the summit to be followed by All Saints' Never Ever topping the chart after selling over 900,000 copies lower down the chart over the Christmas period.
As far as the rest of the chart goes there is very little else to comment upon. Any singles released this week would have been too late to qualify for the Christmas chart so quite simply there were hardly any of any significance and certainly, no new releases sold enough to breach the Top 40. We therefore have a becalmed chart, featuring the same 40 records as last week all in slightly different places. Here's to 1999. Say, that sounds like a song Prince once wrote.