This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 THE HINDU TIMES (Oasis)

Those who were praying for some kind of shakeup at the top end of the charts this week get their wish. For the first time in two months, there is no Pop Idol starlet in the Top 3. Instead, the Top 3 singles consist of some long-awaited and quite exciting new entries.

Top of the pile are Oasis who claim their sixth UK Number hit single, topping the charts for the first time since Go Let It Out headed the pile in February 2000. Of course, it would not be Oasis without some form of debate and on this occasion, it is the matter of just how good a single this is. After the hugely hyped yet somehow slightly underwhelming albums of Be Here Now and Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants, The Hindu Times appears to be a storming return to form. A return to the singalong bar-room rock of old it is a wonderfully catchy single with a devastatingly simple lyric that you find yourself mouthing along to after just two minutes. Of course being Oasis it is wonderfully derivative with various reviewers putting forward theories of just what has inspired the melody and whether or not they are imagining that the opening guitar riff sounds just like Abba's Does Your Mother Know. In short, it sounds like the music they were making at the start of their career, back when most would argue they were truly great and the herald of an exciting new British musical revolution.

Of course, herein lies the problem. The Hindu Times is a superb single from the 1995 Oasis and if nostalgia is your bag then this is the kind of music you should be going for. A great deal has changed in the last seven years and the worry is that Oasis are about to shoot themselves in the foot by regressing back to the old days rather than searching for genuinely new inspiration. In reality, they cannot actually win. After two albums worth of material where the Gallagher brothers attempted to develop their sound and create something a bit different they are doing nothing more than giving the public what they were crying out for when they came to the conclusion that the last two albums weren't actually all that good. In doing so they are pilloried for standing still and failing to innovate. I'd suggest that the sensible thing to do is to take this track at face value, as the storming, singalong, intoxicating slice of fun that it is and something that fully deserves to take them back to the top of the charts. If their next single doesn't do any more than this, then that will be the time to worry.


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2 GIRLFRIEND ('NSync)

Well now, this is actually quite interesting. To all intents and purposes, 'NSync appeared to be past their commercial peak in the UK. After being slow to catch on to their Cheiron-produced sound, British music buyers only had a year or so to appreciate it properly before the group moved on to a more mature sound with last year's Celebrity album. This appeared to turn them into a mid-table act. Pop briefly grazed the Top 10 but the admittedly rather awesome Gone could do little more than make an apologetic Top 30 appearance just before Christmas. So what has changed to send them charging back into the Top 3? Well, what almost certainly helps is that the single version of Girlfriend is a different version to the one on the album. Although uncredited on chart listings, rapper Nelly makes a prominent guest appearance on the track and in the process drags the boy band across the line into popular hip-hop. To a pop fan it is probably far from the best thing they have ever done but more than any other 'NSync track, this has some mainstream credibility. Girlfriend is only their second Top 3 hit and by charting one place higher than 2000s Bye Bye Bye it ranks as their highest charting single ever. Not bad for an act that we presumed were on their way out. [The irony? They were indeed on their way out, this their final chart single before solo stardom beckoned for pubehead].
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3 THERE GOES THE FEAR (Doves)

Cast your mind back two years. Back then the music press had found the next big thing and were hyping them for all they were worth. The big thing in question were Doves, a rock band that had quite unusually been formed out of the ashes of a club act, namely early 90s hitmakers Sub Sub. Doves produced a well-received debut album Lost Souls and managed three Top 40 hits during the course of the year: The Cedar Room, Catch The Sun and The Man Who Told Everything. None climbed higher than Number 32. Whilst writing about the second hit I speculated that their time would indeed come. Clearly, that time is now. To herald their long-awaited second album comes this brand new single and it demonstrates clearly that there is a huge audience waiting for them. There Goes The Fear is a strong contender for single of the year so far, a lushly layered production with a sweet melody that echoes the best moments of Babybird. The 1995 Oasis may be on top of the charts but just a few places below are the 2002 Doves and if you need a reason to be cheerful this week, just focus on that point.


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13 CHAMPAGNE DANCE (Pay As U Go)

A first appearance overground for Pay As U Go (otherwise known as the Pay As U Go Kartel), the nu-skool garage crew who this time last year were being mentioned in the same breath as the So Solid Crew as being on the verge of being the next big thing. Champagne Dance first appeared as a white label at the back end of last year before being picked up for a full commercial release (and interestingly one that was actually due out two months ago but was delayed until now). Beyond that it is hard to comment further, there is little here that we have not heard before and whilst fans of the genre will appreciate this for the quality track that it is, there is still little sign of hardcore garage like this breaking out of the geographical boundaries that appear to confine it.
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15 HERE TO STAY (New Order)

Following their Number 29 hit 60 Miles An Hour from just before Christmas, New Order this week make a return to the Top 20. Those hunting for Here To Stay on the Get Ready album will search in vain for this is a new track, produced especially for the soundtrack of the film 24 Hour Party People which details the rise and fall of the Factory records empire in the 80s and 90s, a series of events with which both New Order and Joy Division were heavily involved. Here To Stay is pretty much New Order by numbers but as a song that is intended to soundtrack the period of their greatest notoriety, it does the job perfectly. Plenty has been made of the fact that the Chemical Brothers have had a hands-on role in the production of this track but in truth, you would be hard pressed to work out exactly what they have contributed to the single. Personally, I'm just waiting for the imminent chart arrival of a newly remixed version of the seminal Happy Mondays track that gives the film its name. [Never happened, alas].
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24 EVERY OTHER TIME (LFO)

A pleasing return to the charts for LFO, better known as the Lyte Funkie Ones. They made their Top 40 debut in 1999 with their second single - the still fresh sounding Summer Girls (Number 16) and followed it up in early 2000 with Girl On TV (Number 6). The long break has done little to alter their sound and Every Other Time has never sounded better than on the bright sunny afternoon when I'm writing this. It's a shame the same cannot be said for its chart placing. Chalk this one up as a disappointing underachiever.
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27 BAD COVER VERSION (Pulp)

Maybe a curious choice as the second single from the We Love Life album but the release of Bad Cover Version has given Pulp a chance to have some fun with the video. At the risk of slaughtering some sacred cows, the band staged their own mock recreation of the recording of the Band Aid single complete with cameo performances from a host of celebrity lookalikes. The track itself is one of the much heralded Scott Walker collaborations with the sixties superstar on production duties and whilst it might have the same level of fun as many of their earlier classics, it still cannot raise Pulp above their current level of chart also-rans and unable to beat the Number 23 peak of their last single Sunrise/The Trees. Still, if you fancy a novelty check out the bonus tracks on one of the CD singles which features a Nick Cave cover of Disco 2000 and Roisin Murphy performing Sorted...
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30 LET'S PUSH THINGS FORWARD (Streets)

Funnily enough, it was the video for Craig David's Fill Me In that was the first mainstream reference to inner city pirate radio culture, radio stations that don't just play the records but actually feature rapping and singing from the "ordinary people" who are mates of the chap with the transmitter. This is essentially the premise of the Streets' Original Pirate Material, an entire album made to sound like the output of a pirate radio station and featuring Mike Skinner reciting his stream of consciousness poetry over a variety of musical backings. Make of it what you will but this dance music agnostic thinks it is a work of utter genius. The first Streets single was Has It Come To This which made Number 18 in October 2001 and now with the album having been on the shelves for several weeks, this second single scrapes into the Top 30. Let's Push Things Forward was an obvious choice for a single with a dub-reggae backing and a message detailing Mr Streets' frustrations at music buyers who only go for the safe and the familiar. Not a smash hit single by any stretch of the imagination but still incredibly good.
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34 BODIES (Drowning Pool)

The latest potential superstars of US rock are Texans Drowning Pool. Their debut single, the frankly damn exciting Bodies was first promoted in the States in the summer of last year. It picked up plenty of airplay and was used extensively by my other obsession, the World Wrestling Federation as the theme to their Summerslam 2001 show. Then came September 11th and suddenly the lyric of "Let the bodies hit the floor" took on a whole new meaning. Alphabetically speaking it came near the top of the infamous Clear Channel list of songs that should not be played at all costs. Through no fault of their own, the band had to ditch the single totally and move on to the follow-up Sinner. Hence you suspect the way it has taken until now for the single to be granted a release on these shores. Even so, you could be forgiven for raising an eyebrow at just how low down the track has charted. I suspect this also stems from the way it was promoted back home. Drowning Pool you see are one of those acts who are keen to embrace the internet for the promotion of their music. As a result, Bodies was never intended to be a commercial single but was instead given away for free on the net by way of promotion. To this day the track is hosted officially on Audiogalaxy and the mp3 copy I have on my hard drive is legal, sanctioned and downloaded with the full support of the band and their American record company. Hence the only potential market for the British single are the casual fans who have never heard of them before, those who are not switched on to the world of downloadable music and the die-hards who want a copy of the video and the live performance that is a bonus track. Maybe it would not have charted higher even without the net but I'm tempted to chalk this one up as a promotional strategy for the States (where the market for purchased singles is vanishing fast) undermining sales in the UK where the CD single is still as important as ever.


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38 YOU (S Club 7)

Spookily enough just as the last S Club 7 single Have You Ever made a reappearance inside the Top 40 three weeks after dropping out for the first time, so its successor also goes on the rebound, climbing from 50-38 three weeks after the single was last inside the Top 40. As always the discounting of the remaining stocks of the single are the cause here, but there seems to be a nice symmetry to the way it happens to S Club 7. Just as the reappearance of Have You Ever prepped us nicely for the release of You, so too this re-entry prepares the ground nicely for the debut of the S Club Juniors. Don't know what that means? Oh, you will. You will.


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