This week's Official UK Singles Chart

[Another site exclusive, this piece having been written during the odd interregnum between the closure of Dotmusic and the unveiling of Yahoo! Launch UK. About which I was still very much in the dark. So I wrote it and submitted it but heard nothing else, by now having to respond to people asking if the columns were going to continue with "genuinely no idea"].

1 MAD WORLD (Michael Andrews featuring Gary Jules)

Happy new year and welcome to 2004, a new year which sees the top of the charts in pretty much the same shape as before. Benefitting from a lack of direct connection to the Christmas festivities and a fair amount of crossover appeal, Gary Jules and Michael Andrews hold firm at the top of the charts, Mad World now clocking up a third week at the summit. This is enough to make it the longest running Number One single since the Black Eyed Peas' Where Is The Love managed an epic six week run back in September and October. Mad World can now also be confirmed properly as the final Number One single of 2003, the 22nd in total - making 2003 the slowest year for chart turnover since 1995 when a mere 17 different singles topped the charts.
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2 CHANGES (Ozzy and Kelly Osbourne)

.Meanwhile just below Ozzy and Kelly cling on doggedly to the Number 2 position they reclaimed last week after having been knocked down to Number 3 in Christmas week by both Gary Jules and The Darkness. As you would expect, the appeal of the Darkness track has faded now that Christmas is out of the way, the single sliding to Number 7 this week.
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3 THIS GROOVE/LET YOUR HEAD GO (Victoria Beckham)

What then of the biggest new hit of the week? Interest in Victoria Beckham's singing career is very strong indeed, no so much for the way her records sound but what it represents in her role as one half of the most famous couple in the country. We all know what husband David's role is - that of the most talented footballer of his generation, England captain and OK if we must, fashion icon. In effect there is a solid basis for his own continuing celebrity.

Victoria on the other hand is famous for being a singer, primarily of course as one of the Spice Girls but in later years as a solo performer. Her first solo album appeared in late 2001 and spawned just two chart singles - Not Such An Innocent Girl and A Mind Of Its Own, both of which made a mere Number 6 and its poor performance overall led to the entire project being aborted. Undaunted she is now about to try again, this time with a new record deal and off the back of an increasingly bizarre set of stories about the direction in which her music is going to go. The record label just wanted her to be a straightforward pop artist, Victoria on the other hand wanted to go down a more urban route and to this end recorded a series of sessions with New York based Damian Dash. There then followed moths of wrangling over whether the Dash sessions would ever see the light of day, the record company being less than keen. In effect the release of this one single has been a soap opera of almost epic proportions and the result has been an artistic compromise - a double sided single that is one half Dash and the other half pop.

It follows of course that neither is actually much cop. This Groove is the Dash produced track, not quite the comical rapping single we had been led to expect but a club track based on The System's Don't Disturb This Groove. Let Your Head Go is nothing we have not heard from Victoria Beckham before - and what failed to work in 2001 is hardly going to set the world alight in 2004. Much was made of the decision to release the single this week, this new year period is famous for seeing sales crash to the floor, for low selling singles to land further up the charts than they would normally and for fluke Number One singles to be common. In effect, this was a transparent attempt to finally give Victoria Beckham the one thing she has always lacked - a solo Number One single.

Of course had the single topped the charts it would have actually had very little significance, save for making the Spice Girls the only group ever to see every one of its members top the charts as a solo act. No, what is more significant is that the most talked about, over hyped single for months recorded by a woman who is rarely out of the newspapers has made a mere Number 3 in the slowest sales week of the year, outsold by two singles which have between them sold over half a million copies already. Make no mistake, this is a bad thing. However much she claims that music is "just a hobby" to her, it is still the only grounds for her celebrity away from her husband.


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5 BRING IT ON/MY LOVER'S PRAYER (Alistair Griffin)

Almost forgotten amidst the Victoria Beckham hype has been the release of this single, the second to emerge from the second series of Fame Academy. Ultimate winner Alex Parks has already had her own bite of the cherry of course so now it is the turn of one of the runners up, Alistair Griffin who famously failed the auditions for the first series, returning to compete in the second. Aside from the quality of lead track Bring It On (which actually easily outshines Alex Parks' Maybe That's What It Takes), the single also features Lover's Prayer, a duet between Griffin and show judge Robin Gibb.
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9 I WON'T CHANGE YOU (Sophie Ellis-Bextor)

Just before Christmas, much was being made of the fact that the Victoria Beckham single was being released head to head with this track from Sophie Ellis-Bextor, a repeat of that famous chart battle from 2000 which saw the Truestepper's Out Of Your Mind (featuring Posh Spice) lose out in the battle for Number One to Spiller's Groovejet (vocals by one S. Ellis-Bextor). Of course this time around there was unlikely to be any such contest, particularly as I Won't Change You is the second track from Sophie's second album, following up Messed Up World which made Number 7 back in October. Midweek predictions suggested that the single would miss the Top 10 altogether but a late rally has given the track the boost it needed to become the third biggest new hit of the week.


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11 DON'T TELL ME YOU'RE SORRY (S Club 8)

Following hard on her heels are S Club 8 who shockingly miss out on a place in the Top 10 for the first time in their careers. Not that there is anything wrong with Don't Tell Me Your Sorry of course (in fact it is one of the best tracks on the surprisingly mature Sundown album) but if anything it may have benefitted from being released in a few weeks time when proper attention is being paid to new music, rather than during this odds and sods new year holiday week. [The final roll of the dice of the whole S Club project, the Juniors/8 from this moment on being folded into the short-lived I Dream TV series and with Frankie increasingly pushed to the fore as the breakout star].


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34 GET IT ON THE FLOOR (DMX featuring Swizz Beatz)

It is a large jump down the chart to find the next new entry but here we are finally at Number 34 and the third hit single for DMX, this following up Where The Hood At which hit Number 16 back in October.
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35 PLASTIC DREAMS (Jaydee)

This will disappoint a few people. Jaydee's Plastic Dreams is an acknowledged 1990s club classic. Its first release came back in 1993 when the Dutch single failed to reach the Top 75. A re-release with a new set of mixes in 1997 produced much better results, the single soaring to Number 18 in September of that year. Now it is back for a third attempt, unusually in a remix by the artist himself, Jaydee having happily contributed to the project alongside ATFC and Lee Cabrera. It would have been nice to see this effort paying off with Plastic Dreams becoming the first new club track of the new year, sadly it lands on the chart as an also ran and all but ignored.
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40 GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE (Ocean Colour Scene)

Slipping into the Top 40 by the narrowest of margins this week are Ocean Colour Scene, this with the third single from their current album. Nobody really expected this single to do anything so its presence down here does not come as much of a shock - unlike the next one.
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42 YOU DON'T MISS YOUR WATER (Craig David)

This is a watershed moment for Craig David. OK it is the sixth single from his second album and one final throw of the dice to squeeze some more sales out of it. Nonetheless, in the slowest sales week of the year the man who just four years ago was being hailed one of Britain's brightest new stars for years has missed the Top 40 completely.