This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 BREATHE (Blu Cantrell featuring Sean Paul)

DISCLAIMER: Today is an incredibly hot, the hottest day of the year so far here in the UK by all accounts. I'm sat here in my office with the patio doors open, sun streaming in, lots of women in bikinis sunbathing in the park outside the window - well you get the picture. Suffice it to say that concentrating on musical facts is going to be a job and a half this weekend, but I am nothing if not dedicated. [I've left that paragraph in, if only as an illustration of whatever state of mind I was in writing the piece this week. I've no idea why it felt relevant to share at that moment - although this does contextualise it as the weekend of all-time record temperatures in Britain].

Kicking us off this week is the decidedly non-fact that Blu Cantrell remains Number One for a second week, and of course this means that Sean Paul too gets another seven days in the sun (quite literally). Another relatively sparse week for big new releases means that the outcome was never really in doubt although Breathe takes advantage of this to outperform the rest of the market to such an extent that it earns a chart bullet. What will be more interesting is what happens in seven days time with potentially big new hits from the likes of Busted, R Kelly and the magnificent Jaimeson set to stage a big sunshine battle.
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2 PRETTY GREEN EYES (Ultrabeat)

For the biggest new hit of the week it is to the clubs of northern England we turn and a pop/trance tune that has been around in one form or another for a number of years now. The track was originally written and recorded in a more hardcore form by Force & Styles (whose only chart claim to fame came back in 1998 when they teamed up with Kelly Llorenna on the minor hit Heart Of Gold). This more commercial reworking of the track comes thanks to Mike, Chris and Ian who are three DJs from the Liverpool area. Mike Di Scala also supplies the vocal on the track which perhaps understandably has grown from strong regional support into this big chart hit. I'm a strong believer in the theory that a single can benefit from being released at just the right time of year and if you needed a single that sounds good on the radio with the top down and the sun blazing well then this fits the bill perfectly.


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3 HOORAY HOORAY (IT'S A CHEEKY HOLIDAY) (Cheeky Girls)

Well you do have to hand it to them don't you? More than just Popstars inspired one hit wonders, Monica and Gabriela are racking up the novelty hits at an almost frightening rate. With two Top 3 hits under their tiny shorts already in the shape of the original Cheeky Song and its followup Take Your Shoes Off, the girls return to make an assault on the summer charts. This time however they have gone down a slightly different path, presenting here a slightly reworked version of Boney M's Hooray Hooray It's A Holi-Holiday which was a Number 3 hit in early summer 1979 - before either of the pair were born. The reworking takes the form of a new set of lyrics which allows the girls to say "cheeky" a lot but other than that the track stays faithful to the original. Love it or hate it, you have to admire their cheek(s) and this is nothing less than yet another Top 3 hit. Where will it all end?
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4 FOUR MINUTE WARNING (Mark Owen)

Even in this hot weather it is always good to have a tale to warm your heart, and this comeback should do just the trick. Mark Owen's original claim to fame was being one fifth of a certain boy band by the name of Take That, with his bandmates including the likes of Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams. When the group split in 1996 it was generally accepted that both Gary and Robbie would wind up with solo careers but quite out of the blue Mark Owen found himself with a record deal as well, releasing his debut album Green Man at the end of that year. The music represented a change of direction for him, being as it was more earthy, reflective balladeering and rock but it was startlingly well received. Two Number 3 hits resulted, the ballad Child in November 1996 and the upbeat rocker Clementine in February the following year. His third single I Am What I Am could only reach Number 29 however and sales of the album were disappointing. After that he dropped off the musical radar - until this summer that is. With a new set of songs and a brand new record deal, Mark Owen is decidedly back and his comeback trail hit a peak last weekend when he had an emotional reunion with Robbie Williams at one of his Knebworth concerts. On the back of all of this there was a certain degree of speculation that Mark Owen would wind up with a chart-topping single of his own although in the event he has to content himself with a place in the Top 5. Still, the single is not a bad effort at all and a worthy comeback for the man who, lest we forget was a member of the original 90s boy band and who of course sang a lead vocal on their 1993 chart-topper Babe.
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6 FRONTIN' (Pharrell Williams featuring Jay-Z)

With the N*E*R*D concept having run its course for now it seems, the Neptunes have decided to revert back to their real names for a forthcoming new album that will see the duo make full use of their celebrity contacts book. This single is the first track from that album although curiously it is given a Pharrell Williams credit rather than that of the production duo themselves. Pharrell Williams has been something of a serial collaborator of late thanks to his propensity for making guest appearances on records he has produced. Hence he has in the past appeared alongside acts as diverse as Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes and Britney Spears to name but three. Appropriately enough then his partner in rap on this track is Jay-Z who is himself no stranger to the "featuring" tag. Jay-Z's last chart appearance was in fact just a few short weeks ago when he appeared on Panjabi MC's Jogi and as well as his own hit Excuse Me Miss he has also teamed up with a certain Beyonce Knowles on 03 Bonnie And Clyde in 2003. Back to this single however and the track is yet again one that sounds perfect for a hot steamy day. A slice of laidback funk that sounds by no means out of place inside the Top 10.


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9 I'M IN HEAVEN (Jason Nevins/UKNY featuring Holly James)

You may not know what this single is from the title but I can guarantee that you will have heard it on the radio at some point over the last few weeks. Some ideas are so good that they can bear repeating and one such idea is the sampling of the melodic riff from Michael Jackson's Human Nature (a track from the Thriller album). The idea was first used by SWV who incorporated it into their single Right Here and who were rewarded with a Number 3 hit in the summer of 1993. Now it is the turn of Jason Nevins to take on exactly the same concept, mixing the melody with an original song to produce an uplifting and startlingly fresh sounding hit single. Nevins of course is no stranger to turning old material into new hits, his biggest claim to fame being his 1998 remix of Run DMC's It's Like That which topped the charts for six weeks and which to this day remains the biggest selling rap single of all time in this country. The singer on I'm In Heaven is Holly James who began her musical career as a singer with girl group Tymes4 who had a Number 23 hit with Bodyrock in August 2001.
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14 CAN'T LET YOU GO (Fabolous)

An unexpected (in the sense that it was at first expected to chart much lower down) Top 20 debut for US rapper Fabolous. An unknown over here, he has been making waves in the States for a couple of years now. Singer on this laidback hit single is Lil' Mo who gave him his first US chart breakthrough when he guest starred on her single Superwoman Part II.
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19 FALLEN ANGEL (Elbow)

Dropping out of the Top 10 now to greet the welcome return of Elbow. The group released their first album back in 2001 and spent most of that year narrowly missing the Top 40. Their breakthrough came in February 2002 when Asleep In The Back hit Number 19 and the speculation was that they would simply get bigger from that point on. Well until now we have not had the chance to discover if this was the case, the group having gone away to prepare some new material ready for a fresh assault on fame. Some groups would have been damaged by a near 18 month absence of course, running the risk of their following melting away when the next Next Big Thing (tm) appeared. Not so Elbow it seems and they are rewarded with a second Top 20 hit, one which matches its predecessor as their biggest chart hit to date.
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20 TRAIN ON A TRACK (Kelly Rowland)

A third chart single of 2003 for Kelly Rowland but after the Top 5 successes of Stole and Can't Nobody (plus of course her 2002 chart-topper Dilemma) this single appears to have badly underperformed. Some are speculating that it is because the hype around her bandmate Beyonce has somehow eclipsed the success of the first Destiny's Child singer to forge a solo career for herself. I'm tempted more to suggest that as the fourth single from her album it was probably never destined to be a huge smash in the first place. But that could be just me of course.
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25 IT'S UP TO YOU (SHINING THROUGH) (Layo & Bushwacka)

A second chart hit of the year for Layo & Bushwacka, this single following up the Top 10 smash Love Story which hit Number 8 back in January. The lack of any kind of fun backstory to this single makes widespread public interest a little harder to come by.
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30 OVERLOAD (Voodoo & Serrano)

Arriving on these shores via All Around The World records, this the second Top 40 hit single for German duo Voodoo and Serrano. Their only other hit to date was the 2001 club hit Blood Is Pumpin' which had a brief chart run, peaking at Number 19.
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32 WHEN THIS RIVER ROLLS OVER YOU (The Stands)

A chart debut this week for Liverpool four-piece The Stands, formed apparently after leader Howie Payne tired of being a one-man band. They cite the likes of Hank Williams and Miles Davis as influences and indeed their debut single has a pleasant laid-back feel to it with enough West Coast harmonies to give it a pleasantly nostalgic feel. Not a smash hit by any means but they are certainly ones to watch.
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35 JULIET (KEEP THAT IN MIND) (Thea Gilmore)

To bring up the rear this week, another chart debut. Thea Gilmore's single arrives in the charts on the back of some strong support from Radio 2 who have found much to like in the music of the British singer-songwriter. She sees herself as a folk balladeer in the Joni Mitchell mould and so like The Stands above her, is set for much critical acclaim but maybe only minor chart hits.


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