This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 WHERE IS THE LOVE (Black Eyed Peas)

Two years ago most chart watchers were scratching their heads in despair and bafflement. It appeared that the top-down marketing philosophy that the record industry had adopted in the early 1990s - promoting new releases at the expense of all else - had reached its ultimate conclusion. Rare was the single that could maintain sales long enough to dwell at the top of the charts for an extended period and thus benefit from the prestige that having a Number One single could bring. Instead turnover was more or less constant. In 2001 no less than 40 different singles topped the charts - twice the normal average. Effectively this meant that for nine months of the year there was a different record at the top of the charts every week. As I've pointed out before however, a slowdown in sales tends to have a similar calming effect on the singles chart, and with sales of singles having fallen off a cliff somewhat after the artificial highs they reached at the turn of the decade, this calming has started to manifest itself. Even during sales lulls, Number One singles tend to sell in similar amounts overall - they simply take longer to get there. As a result, the past year or so has seen an increasing number of records dwell for ever longer periods at the top of the charts. Already this year Tatu, Room 5, R Kelly, Evanescence and Blu Cantrell have had four week runs at the summit. All though have fallen short of entering a second month and the tension has mounted to see which single will break that barrier and spend five weeks or more at the top.

Enter then the Black Eyed Peas who this week sail through with consummate ease. Never mind the fact that this has been a very quiet week for new releases, over the past month they have seen off strong challenges from the likes of Dido, The Darkness, Westlife and Rachel Stevens - all of whom had records which would have been a shoo-in to hit the top under ordinary circumstances. Where Is The Love is thus the longest running Number One single for almost five years. Not since Cher's Believe embarked on a seven week run at the summit in October 1998 has any single had five weeks at the top. All we have to do now is work out which will be the next record to fall. Will Where Is The Love get as far as that seven week total [no spoilers now] - or maybe even further (8 weeks at the top has not been done since 1994) or maybe 2003 will go on to be the slowest chart year for almost ten years - 1995's total of 17 chart-toppers in the calendar year is the nearest target. So far Black Eyed Peas are number 14. Just three more Number One singles before Christmas? It could happen...
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2 SWEET DREAMS MY LA EX (Rachel Stevens)

No new entries inside the Top 3 unusually gives the existing hits a chance to rearrange themselves. Winner in this mini battle is Rachel Stevens who grabs back the runners up slot she first managed when her solo debut first hit the charts three weeks ago. In the meantime the Darkness show that their Top 3 success was no fanbase flash in the pan, maintaining their position near the top and suggesting that the rock single is, ahem, growing on an ever bigger audience.
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4 SUNDOWN (S Club 8)

Honours for the biggest new hit of the week go to the former S Club Juniors, here making their second chart appearance as the official flag-bearers of the S Club name. With their last single Fool No More they have clearly hit on a hitmaking groove and this new single follows a similar theme to its predecessor - a lushly produced Eurodisco hit of the kind they were supposed to have stopped making back in 1984 although Sundown also brings back the disco elements of their debut single One Step Closer - vocodered backing vocals and all. Perhaps frustratingly it continues their singles chart jinx, hitting the same peak that Fool No More scaled back in July and once again failing to give them the Number One single that is clearly their ultimate aim. Maybe next time, and you can bet your life they will have a stab for Christmas.


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7 RE-OFFENDER (Travis)

So this is the story of Travis' career so far. First album Good Feeling comes out in 1997 during which time they are the proverbial next big thing and release some fine but underachieving and frustratingly long lost singles such as U16 Girls and the insanely good Tied To The 90s. 1999 Sees the release of The Man Who which after a slow start becomes the phenomenon of the year, tops the charts for weeks on end and finally sees them crack the Top 10 with singles such as Why Does It Always Rain On Me and Turn. One one-off single Coming Around in 2000 heralds the release of The Invisible Band the following year at which point the boys are officially one of the greatest bands on the planet and break the Top 3 with Sing. Two years on and of course Coldplay are now officially the greatest band on the planet which leaves Travis in serious danger of being simply yesterdays news with their forthcoming new album - unless of course they can do something spectacular with their new material. Hence Re-Offender is a good start, this brand new single returning them to the Top 10 for the first time since the aforementioned Sing. There isn't much wrong with it, just that it is the same old same old Travis. They will sell plenty of albums on the back of this - just maybe not as many as before. Just wait, we'll be saying the same about Coldplay in 12 months time [yeah, tell us about how that panned out].
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10 UNDER THE THUMB (Amy Studt)

A third single overall from Amy Studt at the followup to the immensely catchy Misfit which finally saw her career off and running when it hit Number 6 back in June. This new single (co-written by former Alisha's Attic star Karen Poole and whose songwriting fingerprints are all over this track) follows a similar formula to her other hits - a quiet almost understated verse that launches into a full blown chant-along chorus. There is no doubting that this is pop genius at its very finest but the fact that she does not fit into any of the usual marketing stereotypes - clean cut girl group member with fellow popstar boyfriend, freshly scrubbed Australian soap star or weird American chick with long hair - means she remains hard to categorise. When was the last time you saw Amy Studt written about in the newspapers? That remains her biggest barrier to true mainstream success, not the quality of her music.

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16 WHERE THE HOOD AT (DMX)

The second hit in 2003 for DMX who by rights should be riding high on the success of X Goin' Give It To Ya which hit Number 6 back in May. Of course that single was helped by its use on the Cradle 2 The Grave soundtrack, a film in which the rapper himself also starred. This new single has not the benefit of this kind of exposure and by sticking rigidly to the same formula actually manages the impressive feat of sounding rather tired and old. The likes of 50 Cent have stormed past to become this years rap sensation and after this single charges to the depths next week you can just about write off DMX's chances of becoming a mainstream star on this side of the Atlantic.
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18 LET THE SUNSHINE IN (Milk & Sugar/Lizzy Pattison)

German duo Milk & Sugar hit the singles chart for the first time since early 2002 when their fun remake of Love Is In The Air became a Top 30 hit. The duo tend to concentrate their efforts on their own record empire and live shows rather than having hits themselves so this single is notable at the very least for being in the charts at all. Beyond that it is the usual trance n' diva combination which sounds perfect on a Saturday night but ultimately is as disposable as milk and indeed sugar.


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25 ENEMIES/FRIENDS (Hope Of The States)

Hailed by a quick Google search as "Chichester's finest 21st century post-rock soon-to-be heroes" Hope Of The States are indeed lined up to take the charts by storm this autumn. Their Top 40 debut arrives in the charts following a week of well received headlining gigs that followed on from their Avril Lavigne support slots earlier in the year. Enemies/Friends is actually their second release of the year following on from Black Dollar Bills which missed the Top 75 (it made an unofficial Number 82 in March), a fact largely blamed on MTVs refusal to show its rather graphic video.
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28 SO DAMN BEAUTIFUL (Poloroid)

Number 28 for one of the most deserving hits of the week? Yeah I don't get it either. Poloroid is the alter-ego of singer songwriter Danielle Rowe. Her debut single has actually been kicking around for well over a year now and has its fans in some very interesting places - as witnessed by its use as a background track for the BBCs World Cup coverage last year. Over the summer the track has become a club smash, the soundtrack to many an Ibiza getaway and has carried with it a hype that suggested it was set to be massive when finally released. Sadly it isn't an So Damn Beautiful may have to join the long list of dead cert club smashes that for one reason or another have underperformed - in this case quite badly. I actually hope this isn't the last we see of Poloroid for the simple reason that a club diva who writes and performs all her own music is actually something to be cherished.


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31 5 MILE (THESE ARE THE DAYS) (Turin Brakes)

A one-off single from the Turin Brakes who had actually penned this song for their new album due out next year but elected to release it now after they premiered it on the festival circuit during the summer. The Number 35 peak of their last single Average Man proved that the Top 5 success of Pain Killer was down to its limited edition marketing rather than true mainstream appeal so the fact that 5 Mile has similarly struggled to make the Top 30 is maybe less of surprise that might otherwise have been the case.
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38 STARS (Morjac featuring Raz Conway)

To bring up the rear this week, a hit from Danish duo Morjac, an impressively produced dance and soul track that pushes all the right buttons musically if not commercially. There's no real reason why this is destined to be a minor hit - but Junior Senior it isn't.