This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 CHANGES (Ozzy and Kelly Osbourne)

So here we are then, Yuletide -1 as the tension mounts in the race to become Christmas Number One. As far as the bookmakers are concerned the race is between three records - The Idols, The Darkness and Michael Andrews/Gary Jules, all of which are released this week and so as a result are not featured on the chart at the present time. Although highly unlikely, the possibility does exist that one of the songs already in the shops could pull off a shock - a possibility rammed home in dramatic style by one record this week.

The last single released by Ozzy Osbourne was the ballad Dreamer which came out in June 2002 to coincide with his appearance at the Jubilee concert held at Buckingham Palace that month. At the time the Osbournes TV series had been aired on MTV and had yet to be seen on network television - thus the number of people who knew exactly what all the fuss was about was slightly limited. Since then, of course, the TV show has become mainstream entertainment and the elevation of Ozzy Osbourne to national treasure has been rapid. Daughter Kelly has also had a chart career of her own, going Top 3 with a cover of Papa Don't Preach and following it up earlier this year with the lesser starred single Shut Up.

So it was that the duo decided to record a single together in time for Christmas. Changes was originally a Black Sabbath song, recorded for their 1972 album Vol.4. Originally the tale of a failed relationship, the lyrics have now been reworked to turn the track into a tale of father and daughter drifting apart as she grows older - and the perfect material for a duet between the two generations of Osbourne.

Chances are that the single was set to become a sizeable hit in its own right but then of course fate intervened this week in the shape of Ozzy's rather nasty quad bike crash which has left him on a ventilator and with serious doubts over his ability to perform or even sing again. The resultant publicity has almost certainly given the single a dramatic boost, causing it to charge straight to the top of the charts and turn the entire Christmas Number One race on its head. The single is far and away the biggest of Ozzy's long career, his first ever Top 10 hit as a solo artist, only his second Top 10 hit ever (Black Sabbath's legendary Paranoid was the first, hitting Number 4 in August 1970) and of course his first ever Number One single, arriving almost 34 years after he first appeared on a chart record. Changes is also only the second father and daughter duet to top the singles chart, arriving 36 years after Frank and Nancy Sinatra's original version of Somethin' Stupid. The history of pan-generational hits has been covered in the past in this column but it is worth recapping that although we have had father/daughter and mother/son duets top the charts and have also had fathers and sons hit the top independently of each other (Chesney and Chip Hawkes, Julio and Enrique Iglesias) no mother and daughter combination have ever topped the charts whether separately or together.

Will the track hang on to top the charts next week? I have to say it is extremely doubtful and even when Changes became a certainty to top the charts this week it remained a 16/1 outsider at the bookies. Fun though it is to talk up the possibility of an upset, the likelihood is that the bookies dead cert will be the one that makes it after all. Brace yourselves.

[I wouldn't normally embed a fan-made video for a track here, but the original is surprisingly scarce].


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5 SANTA'S LIST (Cliff Richard)

.In the meantime the rest of the chart is filled up with singles from artists who may have harboured faint hopes of being contenders in the race who who in reality are very much among the also rans. Leading the pack however is yet another national treasure. The Cliff Richard Christmas single is less of an institution that his marketing may have you believe but as the years go by this time of year appears to be his best opportunity of having hit singles as the rest of the time he is caught between the two stools of trying to make his music as relevant as possible in the face of the popular view that he is just too old these days to still be playing at being a pop star. Santa's List is Cliff's first chart single since Let Me Be The One made Number 29 in April 2002 and his first attempt at a seasonal release since December 2001 when Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World made Number 11. Significantly though it returns him to the Top 10 for the first time since the chart-topping Millennium Prayer in December 1999. In all it is his 65th Top 10 single (more than any other artist of course) and extends his span of hit singles to 45 years and three months, still agonisingly behind Elvis who extended his span to 47 years when Rubberneckin' charted a few months ago. As to how much of a tradition the Cliff Richard Christmas single really is, consider that since 1980 he has had a Top 40 hit at Christmas on just 14 occasions, leaving nine Christmases that were shockingly Cliff free.
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7 MY IMMORTAL (Evanescence)

Appropriately enough the third pre-Christmas Top 10 hit this week is from a God-rock band gone secular. My Immortal is Evanescence's third hit single of the year and one which actually manages to beat the Number 8 peak of Going Under from back in October. Although there is very little sensation surrounding this track and the attention paid to it has been minimal, it is good to see that they are far from the one hit wonders that speculation had they would be after the hard to top impact of the chart-topping Bring Me To Life.
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9 THE VOICE WITHIN (Christina Aguilera)

50/1 Christmas Number One shot Christina Aguilera similarly makes a strong but still rather understated Top 10 debut this week. The fifth single from the Stripped album sees the star go back to ballad basics with this knee-trembling track that is more than an equal to Beautiful which kicked her 2003 hit-making run off at the start of the year. 5 Top 10 hits out of 5 isn't a bad tally for an album which had a mixed reception when first released - here's looking to what she produces next.


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10 HAVE A CHEEKY CHRISTMAS (Cheeky Girls)

Was it really just a year ago that the Cheeky Girls first wiggled their way into the charts? We all thought The Cheeky Song was a one-off novelty hit on the back of their show-stealing performances on the original Pop Stars - The Rivals auditions. In complete defiance of musical taste the twins have somehow managed a string of hit singles, of which this new seasonal offering is the fourth. Although it brings to an end their run of Top 3 hits, Have A Cheeky Christmas still lands itself a place inside the Top 10 and brings with it the very real possibility that there could be as many as four Christmas themed singles in the Top 10 next week.
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11 NOTHING FAILS/LOVE PROFUSION (Madonna)

Did you know that one of the few chart feats Madonna has never managed is a Christmas Number One? 14 times in the last 20 years she has had a single out in time for the seasonal rush (a favourite at the bookies on many occasions during the 1980s) but never once has she managed to come close. It is almost a decade since she has been as far away as this as well, Nothing Fails/Love Profusion unusually (for her) missing out on a place in the Top 10. Although this isn't quite the shock it once would have been it is certainly a first for the superstar since her late 90s comeback, her last single to miss the Top 10 being way back in 1996 when the seven year old track Oh Father could only reach Number 16. Although the songs on the single feature on the American Life album the single has actually been released to promote her current Remixed And Revisited mini-album which is priced too low to feature in the main albums chart and which has arrived in the shops more or less unnoticed - a bit like this single really.
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13 POWERLESS (SAY WHAT YOU WANT) (Nelly Furtado)

A bold move from Nelly Furtado as she launches her second album at the most difficult time of year. Two years on from the Top 10 hits I'm Like A Bird and Turn Off The Light (during which time she gave birth to a daughter) the Canadian singer returns with a typically challenging single that defies all attempts to pigeonhole her - bluegrass banjo lines in a pop record? You have them here...
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15 AIN'T WHAT YOU DO (Big Brovaz)

Never afraid to grab hold of the more novelty flavoured end of the pop-urban stick, Big Brovaz hit the chart with their fifth single release. Sadly it winds up the smallest of the lot so far, their first to miss the Top 10 but actually that should not put you off as you will struggle to find a single release this week with the same innate sense of fun (and yes that does include the Cheeky Girls). As the title suggests, Ain't What You Do is based on the old jazz song T'Aint What You Do It's The Way That You Do It, recorded and popularised by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Jimmy Lunceford but which is probably best known to modern generations thanks to the version performed by Fun Boy Three and Bananarama back in 1982. The Big Brovaz version swings like a mother but also plants its feet firmly in the 21st century thanks to the new rapped lyrics added by the group. Not their biggest hit ever then and you would not even get odds on them being Christmas Number One but in actual fact this one of the most entertaining releases of the week.


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17 SWING LOW (UB40/United Colours Of Sound)

As was to be expected, Swing Low experiences another surge up the charts, a lift doubtless given by the victory parade for the players from the big girls rugby team which ground central London to a halt on Monday. The single is now just short of the Number 16 peak of the original world cup rendition of Swing Low as performed by Union prior to the 1991 World Cup finals and that version too experienced a chart turnaround as the England side reached (but subsequently lost) the final. Swing Low is easily UB40s biggest hit single for many a long year, their first Top 20 hit in fact since Come Back Darling hit Number 10 in October 1998.
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19 YOU DON'T KNOW MY NAME (Alicia Keys)

A year and two weeks since her last chart single Girlfriend, Alicia Keys makes a very welcome return to the singles chart, even if this single is pretty much relegated to the also-rans in the middle of the Christmas rush. It is her first solo Top 20 hit since A Woman's Worth made Number 18 in March 2002 although she has had a Top 10 hit since in the shape of Eve's Gangsta Lovin' which made Number 6 in October that same year. Her biggest hit remains her debut Fallin' which was a Top 3 smash in November 2001 and a single which she has frustratingly failed to live up to since.
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21 CRY LITTLE SISTER (I NEED YOU NOW) (Lost Brothers featuring G Tom Mac)

A small history lesson now for the younger generation. Back in 1987, there was a cult horror film called The Lost Boys which starred many Brat Pack members including Jason Patric, Corey Feldman and 24 star Keifer Sutherland. OK so it wasn't actually much good but it did boast a rather appealing soundtrack which went on to spawn some chart hits - Echo and The Bunnymen's cover of the Doors' People Are Strange and INXS and Jimmy Barnes with Good Times, both of which were chart singles. One track from it that wasn't a hit, despite copious airplay at the time was the title track - an epic gothic ballad called Cry Little Sister performed by Gerard McMahon (although he was credited as Gerald McCann on the original album for some reason). 16 years on and Cry Little Sister finally becomes a chart hit, albeit not in the form many fans of the film would have wanted. The track has been turned into a dance single by producers Harry Diamond, Sergei Hall and Kieron McTernan and although some of the more haunting gothic elements of the original have been retained it is actually one of those dance remakes which somehow manages to make a travesty of the nearly perfect original (compare and contrast Angel City's Love Me Right which managed to remake an 80s classic perfectly). One thing the track does have in its favour is the presence of McMahon himself who agreed to re-record his original vocals for this new club version. I guess if the writer of the original has given it his blessing we cannot complain too much.
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26 FUNKY DORY (Rachel Stevens)

Talk that Sweet Dreams My LA Ex was originally intended for Britney Spears cannot diminish the fact that Rachel Stevens' debut solo single stands out as one of the best pop records of the year, the most percussive pop production since OMDs Sailing On The Seven Seas 12 years ago stormed the Top 3 and proved that not everyone saw the future of pop music as being pre-processed squeaky clean ballads. More worryingly though the single didn't exactly inspire huge sales of the debut album from the former S Club star and the fact that its title track has now bombed out quite spectacularly will cause some serious questions to be asked. Make no mistake Rachel Stevens was a major priority for the record company. Some blame will be put on the time of year and the fact that the single has come out in a very busy week indeed but there is now a worrying air of "oh shit what do we do now" hanging over the whole project.


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29 MAKE WAY FOR NODDY (Noddy)

Yes, that Noddy - the Enid Blyton created children's character who has somehow survived politically correct editing (my generation saw him attacked by evil gollywogs, none of this goblins rubbish) to retain his status as a valuable children's commodity. So much so that here is the spin off single with Big Ears and all the gang putting in an appearance. Bob The Builder this isn't, which is actually a small mercy for which we should all be thankful. Be warned though - Basil Brush is on his way next week.
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32 CHANGE CLOTHES (Jay-Z)

We are almost there, but first, there are a number of singles charting at the very bottom end of the 40 this week. First up is Jay-Z, relegated to a chart afterthought after four hit singles already this year, the last of which came back in August when Frontin' made Number 6. Don't read too much into the failure of this one, it is just the wrong time for a single of this nature.
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33 HAPPY XMAS (WAR IS OVER) (John & Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band)

On the other hand, this one is an interesting release. The appearance of John Lennon's Christmas classic this week is almost certainly an attempt to spoil the version of the song to be released by the 12 Pop Idol finalists and which as far as most people are concerned is a shoo-in to be Christmas Number One next week. Those who will regard the new version as an utter travesty can be cheered by the fact that the original version is in the charts as well to remind everyone just why it was such a classic in the first place. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) was first released in December 1972, hitting Number 4 first time out. Like so many 70s Christmas hits (the time when every pop act worth its salt had at least one seasonal themed single in the catalogue) it has returned to the chart on many occasions since. A brief appearance at the bottom end in 1974 was followed by the single leaping to Number 2 in December 1980 following Lennon's tragic death. A year later it was back in the Top 30 and again was at Number 56 in December 1982. The last chart appearance for the single came in 1988 when it was part of a Lennon triple-pack that included Imagine and Jealous Guy although even this potent combination could only reach Number 45. So it is that the single now makes the Top 40 for the fourth time and gives John Lennon his first hit since the re-release of Imagine made Number 3 in December 1999. More bizarrely it is actually Yoko Ono's second chart hit of the year, following on from her dance remake of Walking On Thin Ice which made Number 35 back in June.
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34 THE YOUNG AND THE HOPELESS/HOLD ON (Good Charlotte)

New entry Number 15 this week is the fourth single from Good Charlotte, this the follow-up to The Anthem which made Number 10 back in August..
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40 I'LL SEE IT THROUGH (Texas)

...and finally, the 16th is a rather lowly new entry from Texas who, Christmas rush notwithstanding, are clearly in danger of seeing their latest album flop badly if this single is anything to go by. Compare and contrast with the Number 9 peak of Carnival Girl which was released back in October. As things stand this will be Texas' smallest hit single since 1991!

Anyway enough of the flops, time to look forward to the big one. Next week is the Christmas chart with three big new releases battling to become the answer to trivia questions for years to come. Every year there is a single that seems a dead cert and every year we try to talk up the possibility of a geniune tussle for the top. Sadly the reverse often seems to be true with the dead cert sweeping all aside with consummate ease. Don't be too suprised if the same happens this year. Bring on the Idols...[I was trolling there, they weren't the dead cert at all].


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