This week's Official UK Singles Chart

CHRISTMAS TIME

Notice that the charts seem suspiciously quiet this week? The fact that we are just two weeks away from the unveiling of the Christmas chart may have something to do with this, the big guns holding off just a little while longer to ensure they are in prime position to not only capitalise on the big seasonal rush in the shops but also the chance to become the answer to a thousand trivia questions by becoming the Christmas Number One. This year the excitement over the race has been a little subdued, thanks largely to the expectation that the only battle will be between the two groups created by Pop Stars - The Rivals and whose singles are due in the shops this week. Having said that the ratings for the TV series have not been all they could be and the growing public disinterest in the whole concept of TV created acts could possibly mean the outcome is not as clear cut as some would have you think. As I write, One True Voice (the "male harmony group" from Pop Stars) are the favourites, despite the fact that their single is very poor compared to that of Girls Aloud (their female rivals). Nonetheless I'd be tempted to swing for what the bookmakers believe to be outsiders - Blue and Elton John or maybe S Club Juniors. Avril Lavigne at 33/1? It could happen...

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1 LOSE YOURSELF (Eminem)

The 28th new Number One single of the year is also Eminem's second of 2002, coming just over six months after Without Me had a week of glory at the top back in June. The singles from The Eminem Show appeared to be following the same pattern as those from his last album The Marshall Mathers LP. First, we had the cheeky bit of fun which topped the charts (The Real Slim Shady/Without Me) which was followed by the darker, more angry piece that charted lower down the Top 10 (The Way I Am/Cleaning Out My Closet). Of course, the third single from Marshall Mathers was the epic Stan which sent him back to the top of the charts and which more than anything else put him over the top as an artist of some note. Lose Yourself naturally falls a long way short of equalling that previous masterpiece but it does indeed match its chart performance by flying to the very top of the charts. It means that Eminem now has four Number One singles to his name, further cementing his position as the most successful rap act of all time. He is also no less than the third rap star to hit the top of the charts within the space of the last two months thanks to the achievements of Nelly with Dilemma and Redman's brief but co-credited guest starring role on Christina Aguilera's Dirrty.


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2 CHEEKY SONG (TOUCH MY BUM) (Cheeky Girls)

With the singles from the two Pop Stars - The Rivals acts on the starting blocks and ready to invade the charts it is somewhat entertaining to see them beaten to the punch by a spin-off of one of the more entertaining diversions of this latest series. The cheeky girls are Monica and Gabriella, twin sisters from Transylvania who turned up at the auditions in matching outfits and who insisted on being auditioned together performing their own ditty about being cheeky girls. Needless to say, the last thing they were going to do was get in the group but their performance was memorable enough for a few foolhardy record companies to show an interest. Before you could say "novelty single" two new chart stars were born. OK so The Cheeky Song has no designs on being anything more than the worst single ever made, a lively techno version of the ditty the girls sang at the auditions, but it gives them a chance to appear in their tiny hotpants on every TV show going and put the fun back into the charts just in time for Christmas. Indeed the performance of this single was actually responsible for one of the more interesting chart battles of the week. After starting out just a few thousand sales behind, could it be that they managed to outsell none other than Robbie Williams?


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4 FEEL (Robbie Williams)

Let us at this point take a look back at the career of Robbie Williams as it was five years ago. 1997 saw the long-awaited release of his debut solo album Life Thru A Lens. By the time it was released in October that year it had already spawned three hit singles (four if you count the one-off cover of George Michael's Freedom that had charted in the summer of 1996). Although Old Before I Die had done well, hitting Number 2 first week out, subsequent singles seemed to lack a spark and failed to connect with the public to any large extent and when South Of The Border made an all too brief appearance at Number 15 in September it looked as if Robbie Williams' solo career was pretty much dead in the water not long after it had begun. Then came the decision to shelve the self-congratulatory Let Me Entertain You and go instead with the track Angels as a Christmas release. The ballad crashed into the Top 10 exactly five years ago this week, peaked at Number 4 and went on to spent 20 weeks on the chart, win a clutch of awards and turn Robbie Williams into the national treasure we all know and love today.

His last album was, of course, something of a new departure for him. Essentially a vanity project, an album full of old swing covers in the shape of Swing When You're Winning and an indulgence that the record company were happy to permit him just to round off his contract. Quite typically it wound up as the biggest smash hit of his career to date, introducing him to a whole new audience and immediately sending his commercial value skyrocketing. Hence his much publicised multi-million pound new deal with EMI, starting with this brand new single. Feel is actually something of a curious choice for a comeback as it is a world way from the pop immediacy of Rock DJ which was the debut release from his last pop album. Instead Feel follows the standard Williams ballad format, drifting along without much in the way of a hook but with just enough love in the production to ensure that it reaches a spine-tingling climax that shows off his voice to perfect effect. A Number One single was probably out of the question, especially at this time of the year (and especially given that the album has already been in the shops and at the top of the charts for a number of weeks) so he cannot feel too hard done by with this Top 5 entry - even if it did mean losing out at the death to the Cheeky Girls. Expect more hit singles and quite possibly Number One hits to come in 2003, the only cloud on the horizon being his fallout with songwriting partner Guy Chambers whom most people agree is Bernie Taupin to Robbie's Elton John. Together they create genius but can one survive without the other?

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5 HOLDING ON FOR YOU (Liberty X)

The third single release of the year for Liberty X, a year which saw them rise above the legal battles over their name and effectively transcend their origins as the runners-up in the original Popstars TV series. Instead, they are regarded as true talents and a pop act who are rarely if ever tainted with the "manufactured" tag. Following on from their cover of Got To Have Your Love comes this new single which duly becomes their fourth Top 5 hit, matching the Number 5 peak of their debut Thinking It Over which charted in October 2001. Their only single to miss the Top 10 was their second, Doin' It which hit Number 14 exactly a year ago this week.
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9 THE KETCHUP SONG (ASEREJE) (Las Ketchup)

There were doubters aplenty when it was predicted that Las Ketchup had the potential to tread the same path as DJ Otzi a year ago and linger at the top end of the chart for weeks on end as the popularity of the novelty holiday hit continued to spread. Nonetheless, this is exactly what they have done, The Ketchup Song now celebrating a ninth week inside the Top 10, six of those having been as a Top 5 hit single. Still, talk about milking the concept dry, their placing in the betting table for Christmas Number One is thanks to the imminent release of a seasonal remix of the track.
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15 IT'S A RAINBOW (Rainbow (George And Zippy))

Two novelty hits in the space of a week? It must be almost Christmas. This single must surely be the oddest one of all, inspired by a TV series that has not been shown for ten years. Ask anyone who was a child in the 70s and 80s and they will tell you that Rainbow was an integral part of it. The antics of puppets Zippy and George, Bungle The Bear and their human keeper Geoffrey Hayes captivated several generations of children. The series ended in 1992 when makers Thames TV lost their franchise and the rights had been in cold storage ever since. Then this year the puppets were dug out of whatever box they had been living in and put to use again, Geoffrey Hayes taking a stage show to the Edinburgh Festival and inspiring many fond memories of lunchtimes in front of the television to some very large audiences. A DVD release of the best moments of the series followed and now finally this novelty single which takes elements of the familiar TV theme, adds a techno beat and a few comments from Zippy who was of course always the true star of the show. As a fun curiosity, the single is actually credited to Rainbow (George & Zippy) to distinguish this record from those of the 1970s rock legends of the same name - as if there was ever likely to be any confusion. The only other curiosity is why it has taken so long for a rainbow inspired single to make the charts. Back in 1992 at the height of the "Kids TV themes as rave singles" craze, one or two enterprising souls did indeed make Rainbow singles but none were ever granted a full commercial release. The TV shows featured their own fair share of songs, performed by Rod, Jane and Roger (later replaced by Freddy) but none were ever made into hit singles although my collection does boast a single that was released through the Music For Pleasure label in the 1970s that features the trio (billed as Telltale [actually no, Telltale were the original series performers who were replaced after a couple of series by the more famous trio]) performing The Panto Horse and Autumn's Really Here.
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19 PUT HIM OUT (Ms Dynamite)

A somewhat lowly entry for Ms Dynamite's third single of the year although the number of awards that have been lavished on her this year almost certainly means that mainstream demand for her music has been pretty much exhausted. Hence you suspect it is only die-hards and remix freaks that are keen to snap up this single which is of no less quality than It Takes More and Dyna-na-mi-tee, even though the Top 10 chart placings of those singles is some way beyond it.
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30 GIRL TALK (TLC)

If the performance of the Ms Dynamite single was a surprise, this surely has to rank as the biggest shock of the week. Girl Talk is TLC's first single for three years but sees the R&B superstars reduced to a duo following the tragic death of Lisa Left-Eye Lopes in a car crash earlier this year. The combination of their long-awaited return and the natural sympathy for their bereavement would ordinarily be enough to send the single charging up the chart but instead, it does little more than, ahem, creep into the Top 30 by the narrowest of margins. It means that Girl Talk only just manages to beat the peak of their last single Dear Lie which hit Number 31 in December 1999. Sad to say it, but even if the girls do want to carry on beyond this already recorded album following the death of their friend, their audience may not be around to see them do it.
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34 U SHINE ON (Matt Darey & Marcella Woods)

Time to mop up the tail end of the chart, starting with the second hit single of the year for Matt Darey, this the follow-up to Beautiful which hit Number 10 back in April, two years after it first peaked at Number 21. For this new single Marcella Woods finally gets an equal chart credit after having in the past just been the "featured" voice.
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39 LONESOME DAY (Bruce Springsteen)

An all too rare chart appearance for The Boss this week, his first UK Top 40 appearance in fact for over five years. His last hit came in April 1997 when Secret Garden was re-released on the back of its use on the soundtrack to the film Jerry Maguire, a fact that helped it to Number 17 two years after it first peaked at Number 44. Had it made the Top 30, Lonesome Day would have been his fifth Top 30 hit in a row but in the event, it will wind up as his smallest hit single since the MTV Live recording of Lucky Town made Number 48 in April 1993.


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