This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 CRASHED THE WEDDING (Busted)

Believe it or not it is second album time for Busted, barely 12 months after the release of their first. It has been a 12 months in which the trio have grown from almost low key beginnings to become one of the biggest pop bands in the country. What has made their success all the more welcome is that they represent a step away from the manufactured harmony group cliche and are instead a group of longstanding friends who play their guitars, write their songs (with tweaks from the professionals of course) and play rock rather than synthesised ballads. Crashed The Wedding duly flies into the top slot with a full head of steam to give the boys their second Number One hit of the year. Better than that though it is in all fairness a far better example of their abilities than their other Number One hit You Said No which was in truth one of the weaker songs from their debut album and which also has an unfortunate place in history as one of the lowest selling Number One hits of all time, barely clearing 100,000 copies all told. Crashed The Wedding is hopefully somewhat better starred although it says a great deal when the biggest 'pop' band of the year is consistently being outsold by acts from other less traditional genres.


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2 ME AGAINST THE MUSIC (Britney Spears)

.Has Britney Spears got a new album out? I must have missed all the promotion for this amongst the barely dressed photo shoots, curious interviews, controversial performances and visits to transvestite clubs. Of course there was also THAT video awards performance which in truth may go down as the sexiest moment of her career and which also has prompted the release of this Britney/Madonna collaboration as the first single from the album - complete of course with video where the two women tease a repeat of the Sapphic moment they shared with the watching millions. All of this probably diverts attention from the fact that Me Against The Music is another attempt by Britney to go down the more intense, funk driven route that somehow never seems to quite gel for her, in spite of the hits it consistently gives her. Indeed her chart fortunes on these shores appear to be much better than they are at home, Me Against The Music having bombed quite spectacularly in the States. The UK however has a good track record of staying loyal to American starlets and their changes of direction (hello Xtina) and hence Me Against The Music and its Madonna factor lands nicely in the runners up slot to give Britney her biggest hit single since I'm Not A Girl Not Yet A Woman also made Number 2 in April 2002. For Madonna it completes a hat-trick of Number 2 hits this year, following hot on the heels of American Life and Hollywood. Most notably it is Madonna's first ever chart collaboration with another artist, her entire catalogue of hits prior to now having featured no credit other than Madonna herself. The closest she has come to a proper duet in the past has been 1994s Take A Bow which featured prominent but still uncredited backing vocals by Babyface.


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4 SLOW (Kylie Minogue)

Most of the headlines surrounding Kylie's chart performance last week appeared to centre around one interesting chart fact. Namely that with Slow she could now claim Number One hits over a span of 15 and a half years - beating by a few months that of Madonna. Quite what that proved I was not completely sure. Of course having had Number One hits over a 15 year period is nothing short of spectacular, particularly given the usual 3 years+ lifespan of an ordinary pop act. Nonetheless it isn't exactly a sound criteria on which to measure chart performance. If the greatest acts are those which have Number One hits over a long period then The Beatles are actually way down the list (just seven years) whilst Cher can be argued to be one of the greatest of all having first hit the top in 1965 and last in 1998 - a span of 23 years. Let us not forget also that Kylie's 15 year span of hits has only resulted in her topping the charts in five of them, there was a ten year gap between Tears On My Pillow in 1990 and Spinning Around in 2000 - Madonna's longest barren period by contrast was a mere 8, between Vogue in 1990 and Frozen in 1998. Forgive me then if I pass on this desperate need to attach nonsensical superlatives to Kylie's chart performances, it is actually enough to appreciate that there are people buying her records today that were not even born when I Should Be So Lucky was first released.
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6 HEY YA (Outkast)

Those who don't follow hip-hop too closely can be forgiven for wondering just why people jump up and down with excitement about Outkast so much. Those who do can point to their current album as a perfect example of why. Speakerboxx/The Love Below is a double CD with Anwan and Andre having handled the production of each separately. The result is an album of such disparity it leaves you marvelling at how the pair manage to collaborate so effectively when they clearly have such wildly differing musical tastes. The single Hey Ya is taken from Andre's side of the project and has his Prince obsession pushed firmly to the foreground on this astoundingly funky track with its soon to be classic hook line about Polaroids. The result is a long overdue return to the Top 10 for Outkast, this hit coming a full two and half years since the celebrated Ms Jackson pushed them into the mainstream when it hit Number 2. Since then two Top 20 hits and a further single Land Of A Million Drums which missed the Top 40 altogether is all they have mustered, to Hey Ya can be counted as a spectacular and very welcome return to form.


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9 LOST FOR WORDS (Ronan Keating)

Serious question. Aside from you mum, and the handful of devotees that spend time writing erotic fiction about him on his website, does anyone actually get excited about Ronan Keating any more? He has long moved on from being a straightforward pop star and now appears content to count the cash that rolls in from his increasingly middle of the road offerings. Not that this has stopped him having hits of course, far from it in fact. Lost For Words is the Irishman's second Top 10 hit of the year, following on from The Long Goodbye which was a Number 3 hit back in May. It is his ninth solo hit single and maintains his 100% strike rate of Top 10 hits - albeit only just and in fact Lost For Words may well end up with the dubious honour of becoming his lowest charting single of any kind ever - even back in his Boyzone days he was never once out of the Top 5. Still, I suspect there are many other artists that would kill for their all time chart nadir to still be a Top 10 hit.
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10 PASS THAT DUTCH (Missy Elliot)

You know you can't fail to love Missy can you? Loud, proud, in your face and loving every minute of it, every one of her singles comes at you like a hip hop express train, jumping genres with every release but retaining an innate sense of fun at the same time. Her last single was the spectacular Gossip Folks which saw Fatboy Slim take what was in truth a rather profane and plodding album track and turn it into a mainstream smash, rearranging the song so it actually had a chorus, turning Ludacris' intervention in the middle into a highlight rather than an afterthought and making it one of my favourite singles of the year. Pass That Dutch this time sees the lady hop aboard the Diwali bandwagon a little late, but don't let that put you off for this is another frantic three minutes that virtually commands you to get up and dance. Chart wise she is on a roll as this track extends her unbroken string of Top 10 hits to six - dating back to the release of Get Ur Freak On back in April 2001.
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11 FORTUNE FADED (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Speaking of bands on a roll, here are the Red Hot Chili Peppers with a brand new single, their first new material since the By The Way album which finally turned them mainstream for real. Fortune Faded just fails to return them to the Top 10 for the first time since By The Way itself but still heralds what should be a good seasonal period for the band, their new Greatest Hits collection due for release in time for the holidays. It will actually be their second retrospective compilation, their first having appeared way back in 1992 and carrying the beautifully self aware title What Hits?
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14 STAND UP (Ludacris)

Have we mentioned him already? I think we have. Ludacris was of course the guest star on Missy Elliot's Gossip Folks earlier in the year and now hits the chart in his own right with this first single from his third album Chicken N Beer. It dutifully becomes his biggest solo single to date, eclipsing the Number 19 peak of his debut What's Your Fantasy which charted back in 2001. His biggest hits have both been contributions to Missy Elliot tracks, with both Gossip Folks and One Minute Man going Top 10.
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15 SURRENDER (YOUR LOVE) (Javine)

Oh dear, this isn't so good. Big things were expected of Javine, the girl who was shockingly voted out of Girls Aloud last December despite being the most talented singer on Pop Stars but who was immediately earmarked as a big solo star of the future. She got off to a good start in July with the single Real Things which hit Number 4 but now finds herself languishing down in the Top 20 with the follow-up - something that will not inspire confidence in the ability of her album to shift the numbers required. For all that Surrender (Your Love) is actually a rather fine single which affectionately lifts the chorus of Diana Ross' 1971 classic Surrender and structures a brand new song around it. In all honesty it deserves far more than to be the first premature coffin nail in Javine's career.
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16 SINCE I TOLD YOU IT'S OVER (Stereophonics)

A slight come down for the Stereophonics for their third hit single of the year as whilst Madame Helga and Maybe Tomorrow were big Top 10 hits, this new offering can only land in the Top 20. Chalk it up to most fans already having the album and move on.
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23 LUCKY STAR (Basement Jaxx featuring Dizzee Rascal)

They have been silent for far too long but the Basement Jaxx return with this first single from their new album Kish Kash. The single features a guest appearance from none other than Mercury Music Prize winner Dizzee Rascal but any hopes that this superstar collaboration would help the single to reach the dizzee (sorry) heights of the Top 10 appear to have been cruelly dashed.
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27 MELT/YEH YEH YEH (Melanie C)

Oh now, this is just barmy. Former Sporty Spice Melanie C launched her solo career with a bang back in 1999. She was keen to distance herself from her pop past as much as possible and so at first was pushed as a reborn rock chick, giving some gritty live performances that included punk versions of Spice Girls hits, promoting the track Ga Ga to radio stations before finally releasing Goin' Down as the first single from her debut album Northern Star. The single hit Number 4 but the album quickly sank, prompting a rapid rethink and a focus instead on the more mellow title track and then subsequent dance hits such as I Turn To You. Hence promotion for her second album this year again concentrated on ballads and dance, the soaring Here It Comes Again hitting Number 7. Expected summertime smash On The Horizon was a different story though and when it only reached Number 14 I suspect a few alarm bells went off. So what to make of the fact that Melanie C's solo career has now turned full circle with the release of Yeh Yeh Yeh as its third single - an immediate throwback to Goin' Down and her attempts to hang with the greasers. You suspect that there is actually an experiment going on here as the track is coupled with the more mainstream Melt and although Yeh Yeh Yeh is the lead track on the single itself, the charts have reversed the billing so that Melt is pushed to the fore. Either way the single has bombed spectacularly and is honoured by being the lowest charting single by any Spice Girl ever. So long Mel, hope the knee heals soon and maybe one day you will be back to entertain us. In the meantime, we can all focus on the almost farcical wranglings over Victoria Beckham's new single, currently slated for release on December 29th. That's the lowest sales week of the year, take note.
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29 PON DE RIVER PON DE BANK (Elephant Man)

The man (real name Bryan O'Neil but that spoils the image somewhat doesn't it) whose official biography hails him as the "Punk Rock Of Dancehall" makes his UK chart debut this week, slipping nicely into the Top 30 with this typically energetic track which gives you some indication of just how much fun his live dates can be. Apparently the name comes from his large ears.
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31 STAND BACK (Linus Loves featuring Sam Obernik)

History lesson time, I love these. Stand Back began life as a Stevie Nicks track, the product of an otherwise fruitless collaboration between Prince and the Fleetwood Mac singer. The track's purple connections made it something of a cult favourite in certain clubs and was a staple of the set of legendary DJ Larry Levan. Linus Loves decided to pay tribute to this and remake the track in 21st-century style, but having no ready access to a singer at first just turned the track in to an instrumental entitled The Terrace. The football connotation of the title made it a perfect choice as the music bed for the BBCs Football Focus, an exposure which further helped the track gain mainstream attention. With a label clamouring to sign it for a full blown commercial release, it meant Loves now had the resources to bring the track back to its roots and so the lyrics have now been restored, turning The Terrace back into a fully fledged cover version of Stand Back. The vocals in question come thanks to Sam Obernick whose voice should sound very familiar as she famously featured on Tim Deluxe's 2002 radio staple It Just Won't Do.


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37 BLIND PILOTS (Cooper Temple Clause)

Bringing up the rear this week are the Cooper Temple Clause, here with their second hit single of the year. Hailed as one of their most commercial offerings to date, it cannot quite hit the chart heights and leaves September's Promises Promises as their best performing release to date.


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