This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 WHERE IS THE LOVE (Black Eyed Peas)

Elton John 1977 vintage finds himself unceremoniously dumped down to Number 3 this week with two big new releases going head to head for the honour of topping the charts. As it turns out the winner of this particular battle was not the one that many expected. US rap group Black Eyed Peas have had a long long wait for a commercial breakthrough. Their first chart hit came as long ago as 1998 when the single Joints And Jam limped to Number 53 in October that year. They did not make the Top 40 until three years later when a chance collaboration with Macy Gray helped the single Request + Line ease its way to Number 31. Over two years later and the special guest star formula has finally hit paydirt as the group are joined by none other than Justin Timberlake - and it doesn't take too great a leap of logic to work out that his presence and the way the single has shot to the top of the charts are in some way linked. You can therefore mark this out as a triumph for both acts. For Black Eyed Peas it finally marks their chart breakthrough after almost five years of trying. Justin Timberlake will also have cause to celebrate as it is the first time he has ever appeared on a UK Number One single. Not that he hasn't come close in the past as all three of his solo singles in the past 12 months have hit Number 2 (the collaboration with Nelly on Work It being the only exception - that single made Number 7). In five years of trying his former group 'NSync never topped the UK charts either, their best effort being their 2002 swan song Girlfriend which also made an agonising Number 2. [Timberlake's presence on the single went markedly uncredited, at the insistence of his label who were worried about overexposure given his own solo efforts at the time. But it remains pop's most notorious open secret].


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2 WHITE FLAG (Dido)

A runner up in the chart stakes but let nothing be taken away from this single. Two and a half years ago hardly anyone had heard of Dido, save for those who passed their time studying the small print on Faithless albums. Even her debut album No Angel wasn't doing very much in the way of business until Eminem used the track Thank You as the basis for Stan. After that there was no stopping her. No Angel topped the charts and its three singles Here With Me, Thank You and Hunter all went Top 20 (the first 2 going Top 5). The result was making Dido the best selling female act of the year, turning her into a global superstar and to make everyone eager to hear what she was going to do next. It has been a two year wait, punctuated only by her lead vocal on Faithless' One Step Too Far last year (for which she received a co-credit for the first time). Now she is back and by the sounds of it ready to sweep all before her again. The heartbreakingly sentimental White Flag has attracted comment in some quarters for actually not being much of a progression (and musically it is actually little more than Here With Me Redux). However much as I have been a critic in the past of acts lazily recycling the same formula there is much to be said for the devil you know when it comes to follow-ups and when you have sold several million copies of your first album then dishing up more of the same is a perfectly sensible starting point. The public appear convinced, saturation airplay has helped the single chart to Number 2 to give the lady her biggest ever solo hit to date and with the promise of much more to come. The Goddess of melancholy is back and it is about bloody time.


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4 BABY BOY (Big Brovaz)

A glance down the list of Mobo nominations announced this week will have confirmed that although Big Brovaz are firmly grasping the more commercial end of the R&B stick they certainly have their admirers in the industry. Following on from the Sound of Music sampling Favourite Things which gave them their biggest hit to date (Number 2 back in May) the group return to the chart with their fourth single. This one slows down the tempo and ups the romance as the girls sing a sweet song of affection to the boys who rap back in kind. Any overdose on the schmaltz is countered by the fun video which sees the groups star in their own remake of Friends - thus proving that their pop sensibilities remain intact. Chalk this up then as a fourth successive Top 10 hit which is a track record that is hard to argue with.
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6 WILDEST DREAMS (Iron Maiden)

Love them or hate them, you cannot help but admire them. The undisputed kings of heavy metal continue to tread their well worn path of noise and invade the upper reaches of the charts with their customary efficiency. The re-integration of the likes of Bruce Dickinson back into the fold has helped the legendary band recover from their mid-90s hiccup that actually saw their chart positions start to fall back for the first time in almost a decade. This is now their third Top 10 single in the last few years, following on from 2000s Brave New World and 2002s charity re-release of Run To The Hills to make this their best chart run since the early 1990s. As with virtually all Maiden singles, Wildest Dreams has little appeal beyond their tremendously loyal fan-base but their mass buying power has helped turn it into yet another Top 10 hit. What helps as well is that the single is a limited edition, making its purchase even more essential for completists. You cannot help but respect what they have achieved since their first chart hit back in 1980. 14 Top 10 singles (including a Number One!) out of 33 singles without ever stopping to worry about sounding commercial is something to be greatly admired.
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9 SILENCE IS EASY (Starsailor)

A welcome return to the charts and indeed the upper reaches of them for Starsailor, the British group whose sound is best described as Coldplay with added anger. Their debut album Love Is Here came out in 2001 and produced five chart singles, the biggest of which was the memorable Alcoholic which hit Number 10 in September of that same year. Two years on and they are back for more and just like Dido are following the path of least resistance when it comes to songwriting. Hard to fault it really although mention has to be made of the production on this new hit which is the work of no less a legend than Phil Spector. You can make your own jokes about the originator of the Wall Of Sound producing a record called Silence Is Easy because happily the single defies criticism, at least to these ears. Listen to the very first shimmering bars and be instantly hooked. Quite deservedly this is their biggest hit single to date.


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13 I JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF (White Stripes)

Following on from their first ever Top 10 hit single in the shape of May's 7 Nation Army, the White Stripes are back to make another uncompromising assault on the singles chart. For this hit though they have gone down an unusual route, choosing to release as as single one of their trademark eclectic choice of covers. Strange though it may sound I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself began life as a Bacharach and David song and was taken into the charts by no less a legend that Dusty Springfield, her version reaching Number 3 in 1964. As you may expect the White Stripes manage to turn the song on its head whilst at the same time retaining the simple beauty of the original. A work of genius in any language and a most satisfactory Top 20 hit.
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14 SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL (Rolling Stones)

Rolling Stones mania has been hitting the country of late. The legendary 60s (and indeed 70s, 80s and 90s) stars have been playing a series of homecoming concerts and have a greatest hits collection in the shops to boot. So what better way to celebrate than with the re-release of just one of those greatest hits? Well actually they could have done better than this for this is actually no straight re-release of their classic hit but a rather ill-advised remix version courtesy of the Neptunes that frankly does the track no favours. Although it is one of their most famous songs this is actually the first time that Sympathy For The Devil has been a chart hit, the song having hitherto been confined to their 1968 album Beggars Banquet. At the very least it propels them into the Top 20 for the first time since November 1995 when their appropriate cover of Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone hit Number 12. To find their last Top 10 appearance you have to go back to August 1981 when Start Me Up hit Number 7. This actually isn't the first time Mick and Keith et al have looked to the dance floor for inspiration. Back in 1998 Deep Dish remixed their track Saint Of Me to quite wonderful effect although the single release could only reach Number 26.
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19 PROMISES PROMISES (Cooper Temple Clause)

Also making a welcome chart return this week are the Cooper Temple Clause. This track is taken from a forthcoming new album and neatly becomes their own biggest hit to date, just easing above the Number 20 peak attained by the double sided Film Maker/Been Training Dogs which charted in February 2002.
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23 GOOD TIME (A)

Do you spot a theme developing here? Autumn is upon us which means all record release schedules are pointing towards the lucrative Christmas market. September is therefore a very good time to launch promotion for a new album, particularly by an already established act, so that anticipation for a new release can reach fever pitch just at the right time. Hence we have already seen brand new singles from the likes of Dido, Starsailor and the Cooper Temple Clause and now also from A whose commercial breakthrough came in 2002 when the singles Nothing and Starbucks both went Top 20. Sadly they don't seem to have built on that momentum and have to content themselves with a Top 30 hit for the moment, but at the very least you can guarantee that they will forever more be the first act listed in both GBBHS [Guinness Book Of British Hit Singles] and CBBC [The Complete Book Of The British Charts].
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29 THIS IS THE NEW SHIT (Marilyn Manson)

The followup to Mobscene sees Marilyn Manson slipping back down the charts, a genuine case of This Is The New Shit (Chart Position). I'm sorry, it has been a long day.
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32 YIPPIE I OH (Barndance Boys)

Brace yourselves my friends for this may be a rocky ride. Time for a novelty hit in the shape of three people in paper mache heads performing a techno and barndance fusion track of the kind that you generally see performed just before the headline act on a radio summer roadshow. I've never quite got my head around just what the motivation for making these singles is, given the slim chances of turning them into major hit singles. Having said that, every novelty track in history has sounded an unlikely hit at first but the man who agreed to release the Birdie Song is probably still counting his millions to this day. Funnily enough Yippie-I-Oh actually sounds like a second bite of the cherry as it bears more than a passing resemblance to the techno rendition of traditional Irish folk song Tell Me Ma which charted under the name of Sham Rock and which hit Number 12 in November 1998 (although the production credits for the two tracks are completely different). [In retrospect it was obvious who was behind this monstrosity. Ricardo Autobahn and Daz Sampson attempting to mine a Europe-wide commercial seam and adding to their mutual list of some of the most cheerfully bad records ever made]. Country techno has actually found its way into the upper reaches of the charts in the past, most notably in 1994 when the Grid's Swamp Thing became a massive Top 3 hit, swiftly followed by Two Cowboys with, yes, a novelty hit entitled Everbody Gonfi Gon which somehow made it to Number 9.


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35 WE WANT YOUR SOUL (Freeland)

A chart debut for DJ Adam Freeland who has decided to eschew the traditional route into the charts as used by his contemporaries. Rather than just producing a club hit with machines he has formed a real live band with guitars, drums and singers and in the process has become one of clubland's hottest live draws over the past few months. We Want Your Soul actually isn't the most mainstream of hit singles but for its sheer novelty value alone deserves more than a second glance.
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38 SHE KISSED ME (IT FELT LIKE A HIT) (Spiritualized)

Bringing up the rear this week are 1990s survivors Spiritualized, here with their first chart hit since Do It All Over Again hit Number 31 in February 2002. The one remaining untold chart story is that of a record that should be here but isn't. Even if nobody south of Carlisle will bat an eyelid, most of Scotland will be puzzling just what happened to Lemonescent's Unconditional Love which was set for a Top 20 placing this week but over the course of the weekend has magically vanished from sale returns. I'll leave it to your imagination as to why. [As noted in the write-up for their last single, it was disqualified for chart hyping after multiple mass purchases were found to be being made in the Glasgow area. One of the last high-profile examples of this in the physical era].


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