[August 2000, and another of those epic chart battles which attracted huge headlines at the time and which have since become a lazy reference point for writers to tell us when the charts "really mattered". Except that this was one of those weeks when what was going to top the charts did indeed seem like the most important thing in the world].
I think a few words before the main body of the chart are in order this week. As I sit writing this it is 1.30pm on Sunday afternoon and I confess I do not have the first clue what is going to be the Number One record this week. Normally by this stage, it is more or less a given what will be top of the chart but this week the sales have been so close, the gap so small and in certain cases the hype so intense that this can certainly rank as one of the biggest chart battles for many long months.
In the red corner is Posh Spice, or at least so the newspapers would have us believe. In actual fact, she is nothing more than the guest star on the True Steppers/Dane Bowers single, the followup to Buggin' which reached Number 6 back in April. All week long though the focus has been on Mrs Beckham and her whistlestop tour of TV shows, record signings and newspaper interviews. All in an effort to make sure her first single release outside the Spice Girls is a chart-topping hit.
In the blue corner is Italian DJ Christiano Spiller's Groovejet, easily one of the biggest club tunes of the last few weeks and featuring its own glamorous guest star in the shape of singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor whose sole promotional contribution appears to have been a short interview in which she confessed she wasn't much into club music and could not understand the fuss around the record. The contrast between the two could hardly be more marked and yet the two singles have shifted units in such equal quantities that by the weekend there was still hardly anything to choose between them.
Of course in all battles there can only be one winner...
1 GROOVEJET (IF THIS AIN'T LOVE) (Spiller)
Well, who would have thought it? It is the age old-story. Italian DJ/producer visits Miami club, is inspired and returns home to create an instrumental dance record in its honour, based around an old 70s Salsoul groove (in this case Love Is You by Carol Williams. The record becomes a club smash but for commercial release is bolstered by the addition of a vocal track sung by the glamorous lead singer of a failed indie band. I mean how many times have we heard that before? Joking aside, the fact that the single has seen off the almost frantic hype and blatantly desperate marketing surrounding the True Steppers single to rise to the top of the pile indicates that this is something rather special. Spiller himself is the brains behind the single but the attention will still be focussed on the lady who loaned her voice to the reworked track. Sophie Ellis-Bextor is the daughter of former children's TV presenter Janet Ellis and it seemed her shot at stardom had come and gone when she was the rent-a-quote lead singer of Theaudience, the next big thing from the summer of 1998 who never quite happened in the way they should have done, despite two wonderfully titled Top 30 hit singles in the shape of A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed and I Know Enough (I Don't Get Enough). As addictive and catchy a dance single as you could hope to find, I'm delighted it has managed to hit the top. Heck, it outsold a Spice Girl.
Given that virtually all of this has been dragged up by just about every article about the single in the last week, in the true tradition of dotmusic I feel obliged to mention something that hardly anyone else has. One of the credited co-writers of the track is a certain Rob Davies who believe it or not was the guitarist of 1970s pop legends Mud. His lyrical contribution to the track means that he is a credited writer on a Number One dance record for the second time this year - Davies having been one of the original writers of Co-co's I Need A Miracle which was turned in Toca's Miracle just a few months ago.
2 OUT OF YOUR MIND (True Steppers and Dane Bowers featuring Victoria Beckham)
You know rumour has it that Victoria Adams-Beckham wasn't the original 'star' of this single. With Another Level now officially confined to the dustbin of pop history, the True Steppers are Dane Bowers' sole musical outlet and for the followup to Buggin' it was reported that his model girlfriend Katie 'Jordan' Price (star of the last video) was roped in to provide the call and response female vocal on the track [oh wouldn't you have killed to hear that?] For whatever reason [performing talent?], that mouthwatering collaboration never saw the light of day and so the producers drafted in a Spice Girl - and interestingly enough the only Spice Girl to so far not have a hit single outside the band and the one with the biggest question mark over her head as to her actual singing abilities. In actual fact the "can she actually sing?" question is never really answered as the voices of both Beckham and Bowers are vocoded into oblivion in much the style of the last single. With the True Steppers neatly tapping into the still-popular garage groove the track was always going to be a hit and a worthy followup to their first effort.
However, this is a single featuring a Spice Girl so for it just to be "a hit" was not quite enough. It had to be a smash and when it was discovered that the single was going head to head with the heavily pre-ordered Spiller single somebody somewhere pressed the panic button. As a result, the last couple of weeks have been relentless as Victoria Beckham (usually with Dane Bowers sat forgotten in a corner) has been all over the media and attracting swarms of people at that old fashioned promotional tool, the record signing (purchase of single compulsory). For all of this, the single has still ended up as big a failure as it is possible for a Number 2 single to be. The hype and the hard work was all in vain.
Except of course it isn't as just by featuring in this chart, Posh Spice has helped her bandmates to carve out a new chapter for themselves in chart history. All five original members of the group have now had their own chart singles, either solo or directly credited in collaborations with others. The only other group in chart history to spin off more than 3 solo stars was of course The Beatles: John, Paul, George and Ringo all having had their own hit singles. Sadly the failure of Out Of Your Mind to reach the top means that the Beatles and the Spice Girls remain locked together in terms of Number One hits as thus far only Geri Halliwell, Mel B and Mel C have topped the chart with both Victoria and Emma Bunton stalling at Number 2. Similarly of The Beatles, Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison have all had solo Number One hits, the best Ringo Starr could do was the Number 2 peak of Back Off Boogaloo in 1972.
4 I TURN TO YOU (Melanie C)
Speaking of the Spice Girls, Melanie C avoids by a narrow squeak the honour of being the first act ever to be knocked off the top of the chart by a bandmate. Her departure from the top does however mean that Groovejet is the 10th new Number One single in as many weeks, which means we are just one step away from equalling the record set at the end of 1998 and start of 1999. Finally just so we know where we stand, Mel C's I Turn To You had the honour of being the 870th Number One single.
5 LUCKY (Britney Spears)
So tell me Britney, how does it feel to be reduced to little more than a footnote in the discussion of the week's new releases. Overshadowed by the titanic tussle above, the second single from the Oops... album makes something of an understated debut in the Top 5 which in actual fact is something of a shame. Despite being another Cheiron production (Max Martin and Rami are the main writers credited) this single deviates from the formula just a little and is more in the manner of Sometimes as a slow grower. Indeed the opening bars make you wonder if the tune is a direct copy of the Rock N' Roll classic Duke Of Earl and there is certainly a subtle doo-wop influence in the production of the single. Lucky is the tale of the Hollywood superstar who has the world at her feet but still cries herself to sleep a night through loneliness. If it catches you in the right mood it is actually one of Britney's most moving singles ever and certainly one of the more distinctive of her small but perfectly formed chart career to date. Six Top 5 singles out of six isn't bad by anyone's standards, even if this was the Britney Spears single that nobody noticed.
12 I CAN HEAR VOICES/CANED AND UNABLE (Hi-Gate)
The all-star pairing of Paul Masterson and Judge 'husband of Angelic' Jules return to the chart for the first time since they scaled the dizzy heights of Number 6 back in January with Pitchin'. The inspiration for I Can Hear Voices is stranger than most people realise, the single being based on a never released bootleg dance mix of Pearls, a track from Sade's 1992 album Love Deluxe, or at least so I am reliably informed. I can't help but thing I heard this tune on an Amiga demo back in 1987.
22 MAKE IT RIGHT (Christian Falk)
Onto the also-rans although this single itself presents some interesting questions, such as what do you call a UK Garage single that doesn't actually come from the UK? This I guess is Swedish garage as the familiar two-step beats accompany the UK chart debut of Christian Falk. Falk is better known back in his native Sweden not so much as a mainstream pop star but as one of the members of acid-jazzers Blacknuss. Acid-Jazz Garage. Now _that_ would be something I'd listen to.
23 OXYGEN (JJ72)
Speaking of debuts... Dublin indie three piece JJ72 hit the Top 40 with their second single, this chart placing an improvement on the Number 68 peak of Long Way South from back in June. On the strength of their first two singles they promise a great deal for the future and better still I haven't seen a single person fall into the trap of calling them "The new U2."
30 LANDSLIDE (Spin City)
The debut single release from Spin City, the latest set of pop hopefuls attempting to adorn the walls of teenagers the nation over. Funnily enough Spin City have been on the back burner for longer than you would think, having been signed around the same time as B*witched - just do a search for them on dotmusic for the evidence. For a change the wait was worth it as Landslide is a memorable three minutes of mid-tempo pop in a style that is reminiscent of never-quite-mad-its Ultra. The chart career of Spin City could possibly have done with a more impressive start, but let us wait and see what develops from here.
31 THE LOST ART OF KEEPING A SECRET (Queens Of The Stone Age)
Chuff me, rock isn't dead is it? This entry marks the UK chart debut of US rockers Queens Of The Stone Age, a band formed out of the ashes of those giants of metal Kyuss, and lead by singer and guitarist Josh Homme. The band have won critical respect for the way they have managed to mesh the more artistic pretensions of 'alternative' rock with good old fashioned heads down metal and this single sums that up perfectly, a bassline and keyboard driven verse which just makes you ache for the guitars to explode into the chorus... and trust me it doesn't disappoint. I'm off to the Leeds festival next week and can't wait to see them...
37 REVELATION (Electrique Boutique)
Well this French single isn't exactly trance as it is far too fast for a start but at the same time it is hard to categorise the frantic electronic track that stops dead at times for some mysterious sampled dialogue from a preacher. Too inoffensive to get worked up about. If you like it you've probably already bought it. See you next week.