1 TAKE ON ME (A1)
Bit of a shock this week as after an unprecedented (in modern times at least) seven full days at the top of the chart, Madonna's Music is deposed to give the UK another brand new Number One single. Actually there are more than a few lies in that last sentence, particularly as A1's first ever chart-topper is a cover version of one of the classic pop records of the 1980s. Take On Me was the first ever hit single for A-Ha, the Norwegian trio who had a run as teen idols for a few years from 1985 onwards and significantly were the first European act to achieve that kind of long-term star status on these shores. Not that it wasn't a struggle at first as Take On Me had to be recorded twice, released three times and coupled with what was at the time one of the most expensive videos ever before it finally reached Number 2 in autumn 1985. It was actually a bold move for boy band A1 to cover the track as it is by no means an easy song to sing, the melody line of the chorus soaring from baritone to falsetto within the space of a few lines but carry it off they do and in some style. This new version stays respectfully close to the original and even has its own innovative CGI video to match the acclaimed animations of the 1985 version. Take On Me tops the Number 3 peak of Everytime/Ready Or Not back in November last year to give A1 their biggest hit single to date and becomes the second boy band cover version to top the chart within a matter of weeks, hot on the heels of Five's version of We Will Rock You.
2 MUSIC (Madonna)
OK, OK so it continues. Madonna's failure to spend more than a week at the top means that for the 13th week in a row we have a new single at the top of the chart. This is now officially a new record, beating the 12 week run that lasted from December 1998 to February 1999. I am prepared to wager money that this mere fact will be enough to prompt a few media articles this week about the significance of this and what it means for the record industry. To pre-empt all of that let me point out that all this shows is that we have had over three months now of some big new releases, all of which have registered large sales in their first week to justify the attention that has been paid to them. Given that we are now just a fortnight away from the Posh Spice/Groovejet chart battle that saw both singles sell close on 200,000 copies each in the space of a few days I don't think that anyone can forecast the imminent death of the singles chart just because no one single of late has managed to sustain anything approaching long-term mass appeal. That isn't to say people won't try.
4 BIG BROTHER UK TV THEME (Element Four)
Just think, in two weeks time it will all be over. No more Nasty Nick, Flirty Mel, Man-child Darren, Loudmouth Caggy, Sex-Machine Craig and all the rest of them. Big Brother fever has certainly been running wild over the last couple of months so it was always inevitable that the theme tune to the series would wind up on the singles chart. Element Four are actually producers Paul Oakenfold and Andy Gray and together they have crafted an infectious techno theme that works just as well as a dance record as it does as a TV theme. If it is possible for an instrumental dance record to convey an air of intense menace then this track does so to perfection and for this alone it thoroughly deserves the chart placing. Meanwhile we wait with dread for the first record to be released by one of the participants. It is bound to happen.
10 SAY IT ISN'T SO (Bon Jovi)
No Max Martin on writing credits this time so consequently the sensation behind Bon Jovi's second single of the year is a little less. Little more than your average rock track is the order of the day here but if nothing else Say It Isn't So still manages a place in the Top 10, the 13th such hit of their career.
12 FREAK LIKE ME (Tru Faith & Dub Conspiracy)
Another one of those dance singles that has a rather convoluted history to it, the recording having existed for some time in a different form before being swept up in the current garage boom and having the skipping 2-step rhythm and tinkling pianos grafted onto it to turn it into the floor filler than now lands inside the Top 20. Or something. In essence the single is a cover of the Adina Howard song which performed rather poorly over here when first released in 1995, peaking eventually at Number 33 in May that year in stark contrast to its US chart performance where it made Number 2 and was one of the biggest singles of the year. Singer on this new version is none other than Imaani, singer of Britain's 1998 Eurovision entry Where Are You who has not been seen on the chart since that song reached Number 15 in the wake of its second place in the contest.
14 GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN (Lolly)
Why analyse the appeal of a 28 year old woman dressed up as a doll when the hits keep on coming? Following the Number 11 hit Per Sempre Amore the lady known as Lolly releases a cover version for her fifth single. The song in question is Cyndi Lauper's debut single although Lolly's version is a curious hybrid of the original version and Lauper's own 1994 re-recording that added elements of Redbone's Come And Get Your Love. This seems to be a week for 80s revivalism with A1 at the top of the chart, Lolly at Number 14 and a new version of another 1984 classic just three places below...
17 TWO TRIBES (Frankie Goes To Hollywood)
Oh boy, where to begin. Two Tribes can possibly hold its head up as one of the greatest record releases of the 1980s. The second Frankie Goes To Hollywood single to be released, it turned out to be their greatest ever, flying straight to Number One (back in the days when that really meant something) and spending a solid nine weeks at the top of the chart in the summer of 1984. In effect it was the masterpiece creation not just of the band but also producer Trevor Horn. This isn't the first time the single has been the subject of a remix either. In the wake of the 1993 release of a Greatest Hits collection the track was remixed by Fluke and this new version made Number 16 in February 1994. Six years on and Frankie fever has struck again and following his Top 10 revival of The Power Of Love back in July, Rob Searle has taken it upon himself to try to do the same favour for Two Tribes. In fairness, this could actually have been much worse than it is and the new version at least retains an element of the dramatic strings and thundering bassline that made the original such a funk epic. For completeness sake the "original" Fluke remix forms part of the package but sadly Patrick Allen's spoken introduction appears to have been confined to the dustbin of history.
25 AMERICAN BADASS (Kid Rock)
To date Cowboy is Kid Rock's only UK chart appearance, the C&W flavoured rap single having reached Number 36 in October last year and in the process giving the UK its first glimpse of the veteran whose 12 year career finally hit paydirt in the States last year. From the C&W pastiche of his last hit the Kid now moves back into full-blown rap metal mode with this Metallica-inspired track [borrowing the instrumental melody of Sad But True] that shoots him into the Top 30 for the first time. What gives American Badass slightly more significance is the fact that it is currently being used by WWF superstar The Undertaker as his entrance music, something which gave the track a spectacular amount of exposure back in America and which has almost certainly contributed to its (still rather limited) appeal over here. Thus the track becomes the first WWF-related track to hit the UK charts since the two Stock-Aitken-Waterman produced singles Slam Jam and Wrestlemania hit the chart in December 1992 and March 1993 respectively. Of course those singles despite featuring the odd vocal contributions from superstars of the time were little more than cash-in novelties whilst American Badass can count as the first ever WWF entrance theme to chart. Having said that, I cannot help but wonder if Rick Derringer's Real American would have stood a chance of becoming a hit, had the WWF been active in this country during the golden years of Hulkamania. Strange though it may seem Kid Rock's single isn't the only WWF-connected track around at present with The Most Electrifying Man In Sports Entertainment set to make his own Top 40 debut next week.
29 HUDSON STREET (Agnelli & Nelson)
Another big Ibiza anthem makes a somewhat understated chart debut this week, the second Agnelli & Nelson track to chart this year, following Embrace which made Number 35 back in June. Their biggest hit remains Everyday which made Number 17 almost exactly a year ago.
32 COOCHY COO (En-Core featuring Stephen Emmanuel and Eska)
How do we categorise this? Disco-garage? It will do I guess, this single marks the first Top 40 appearance for Stephen Emmanuel and Eska after a long period as underground favourites. Their only other chart appearance came on the Colours single What U Do which made Number 51 in February 1999.