This week's Official UK Singles Chart

I remember 11 years ago when the 700th Number One single rolled around. It happened at the very start of January 2004 and everyone was so wrapped up in the 1993 Christmas Number One battle that the occasion went by almost without anyone noticing. Chart milestones should be spectacular and headline grabbing after all and you can bet your life that the occasion of Twist And Shout by Chaka Demus and Pliers hitting the top generated relatively few.

It is therefore entirely appropriate that the occasion of the 1000th Number One hit single in the UK charts (as recognised by the Official Charts Company and the two chart books that use the same sources) should be one that attracts acres of coverage as a result of being by one of the charts' greatest ever stars and because in the process it shatters records left right and centre.

One Night (coupled with its original double a-side of I Got Stung) marks week 2 in the great Elvis Presley reissue program and with consummate ease it sidles its way to the very top of the charts, repeating its chart placing from January 1959. Like many Elvis tracks of this period the song was far from original and began life as a blues song first recorded by Smiley Lewis. It's 2005 reappearance thus gives Elvis the 1000th Number One hit single and his 20th overall. This does, of course, come just one week after Jailhouse Rock topped the charts which means Elvis has replaced himself at the top of the singles chart. Such an astounding feat has only ever been done twice before, with one man featuring both times. First up were the Beatles in 1963 when She Loves You returned to the top of the charts for a second time during its chart run in November of that year, keeping the slot warm for I Want To Hold Your Hand to move into pole position on December 12th. 28 years later the assassination of John Lennon led to the chart being flooded both with his older recordings and brand new material. This led in January 1981 to Imagine being replaced at the top of the charts by Woman.

You can therefore argue that One Night is possibly the most decorated song in chart history, being as it is the 20th chart-topper for the artist in question, the 1000th Number One single, the fourth track ever to be Number One twice and marking only the third time in chart history that an artist has replaced themselves at the top of the charts. It is truly astounding stuff.

The 1000th Number One single has arrived just shy of three years and six months since number 900 which interestingly shows that in the last few years the singles chart has slowed down slightly from the rather frantic turnover being experienced at the turn of the decade. The gap between 800 and 900, for example, was a rather scary 2 years and 8 months. Effectively we are now back to the same rate of turnover we saw in the mid-1990s when 700 to 800 chart-toppers took 3 years and 8 months. As is now traditional in this column it seems appropriate to list all the Centennial Number One hits, and they are as follows:

100: Do You Mind - Anthony Newley (28 April 1960)
200: Help! - The Beatles (5 August 1965)
300: Knock Three Times - Dawn (15 May 1971)
400: Don't Cry For Me Argentina - Julie Covington (12 February 1977)
500: A Little Peace - Nicole (15 May 1982)
600: China In Your Hand - T'Pau (14 November 1987)
700: Twist And Shout - Chaka Demus and Pliers (8 January 1994)
800: Booty Call - All Saints (12 September 1998)
900: Lady Marmalade - Christina Aguilera/Lil' Kim/Mya/Pink (30 June 2001)
1000: One Night - Elvis Presley (22 January 2005)

Moving on then, and it is best that we do because this week is also the week that the new year release program kicks in in spectacular style with a veritable flood of brand new singles. Biggest of these is Empty Souls from the Manic Street Preachers which duly becomes their second Top 3 hit in a row as the follow-up to The Love Of Richard Nixon which hit Number 2 in October last year. Commercially speaking this new single is eminently superior to its predecessor and this is reflected in the way it marks the first time in the band's long career that they have managed back to back Top 3 hits.

One Night isn't the only gloriously welcome re-release to hit the Top 10 this week. The Killers may not have generated many headlines in 2004 but for my money they made some of the singles of the year with their three Top 30 hits, going Top 10 with the second one Mr Brightside back in June. Their smallest hit last year was their debut Somebody Told Me which made a comparatively lowly Number 28 when released in March but this week it storms back into the chart to quite deservedly become the massive smash hit single it always had the potential to be. The current strength of UK music means there is a danger that a good US act can be lost in the shuffle at the moment so really it is nothing short of a joy to see Brandon Flowers' men up in the heights where they belong.

New entry Number 4 is from Rooster, Staring At The Sun charting as the follow-up to Come Get Some which gave the Londoners a spectacular debut when it charted at Number 7 in October last year. Incidentally, the way release schedules work is nicely exposed by the chart this week - just watch the number of acts who released their first single from a new album in September and October last year and who this week are following it up with a second.
 

There is nothing like a cover of a club classic to polarise opinion and that is precisely what Soul Central's Strings Of Life (a new entry at Number 6) has done. One of the very first house classics, Strings Of Life began life as a symphonic instrumental by Detroit producer Derick May back in 1985. Instantly familiar to anyone who was a clubber in the late 80s and early 90s, samples from the track can be heard on countless other dance singles from the period, it really was that influential. A handful of attempts have been made in the past to turn the track into a hit single, the first version to chart being a 1989 remake by Rhythim is Rhythim (sic) which limped to Number 74. Plank 15 tried again in 2002 when they added a Keith Thompson vocal track to the single but they too could only limp to Number 60. Now it is the turn of Soul Central to succeed where so many others have failed and at long last take 'Strings Of Life' into the Top 10. What has caused so many furrowed brows is the manner in which they have done it for the single release as a totally new vocal track has been added in the shape of Stronger On My Own sung by Kathy Brown. It is at this point you have to take a stance and either judge the single as a majestic club track that works just as well as a pop single (which it assuredly is) or as a something which stomps on the legacy of one of the most famous dance records ever made. Search a few message boards and you will find both arguments in equal measure.

Darius Danesh gets the sixth new entry of the week at Number 7 and lands himself a Top 10 follow-up to Kinda Love with the title track from his second album. This new single eschews the bubbly ba-ba-ba-ba chorus of its predecessor and instead is a rather tender and soulful ballad that in truth shows off the range of his voice far better than anything he has released before. It is to his credit that of the Pop Idol class of 2002 he is up there with Will and Gareth in terms of chart longevity and the more you listen to his second album the easier it becomes to put aside memories of him being an arrogant arse on television and appreciate him for the fine singer songwriter that he is. I still hope the Geri thing is a publicity stunt though.

Elvis' former Number One single makes another new set of headlines this week with a spectacular tumble from the top of the charts right the way down to Number 10, equalling the record for the second biggest ever fall from the top of the charts by matching the tumble experienced by the Flying Pickets' Only You in January 1984. Only one single has ever dropped from Number One straight out the Top 10 - Mary's Boy Child by Harry Belafonte which fell 1-12 January 1958.

Dropping down into the Top 20 now and Serious becomes the third hit single for Pop!, following on from Heaven and Earth and Can't Say Goodbye which both charted in 2004. A Top 20 placing for this rather pedestrian pop song is at the very least a better showing than the Number 26 of their last hit but all the chirpiness in the world can't disguise the fact that the Steps formula cannot be repeated, no matter how hard Pete Waterman tries.

Next to play and at a rather lowly Number 18 given predictions early in the week that they would be challenging for a place in the Top 10 are Cornwall's Thirteen Senses who will have good cause to celebrate this week. Thru The Glass will rank as their long awaited breakthrough hit and comes after they managed two Top 40 hits in 2004, Do No Wrong and Into The Fire making 38 and 35 in June and September respectively. Thru The Glass is nicely anthemic in an Embrace kind of way - which of course should be taken as high praise.

The Music grab themselves a second Top 20 single from their current album Welcome To The North, Breakin' landing nicely as the follow-up to Freedom Fighters which hit Number 15 in September last year. The new single actually sounds more comfortingly familiar than the last, the looping guitars all present and correct. The Music are still looking for that really big hit but for me, they remain a nice guilty pleasure.

A very welcome surprise comes now at Number 22 in the shape of the debut Top 40 single for electro-pop duo Client who finally turn their column inches into record sales. Sarah Blackwood and Katie Holmes both have a fine musical pedigree behind them, Blackwood the former lead singer of Dubstar whilst Katie Holmes is not only a former keyboardist with Frazier Chorus but also just happens to be the wife of Alan McGee. Four years in the making, their debut album had most people giddy with joy when they first heard it last autumn and whilst first single City didn't trouble the charts back in October they storm into the Top 40 today with Pornography, a track which conjures up delightful memories of the Human League thanks in no small part to a guest vocal from Libertines frontman Carl Barat. OK so Client are decidedly retro but with both Robbie Williams and Gwen Stefani having scored big lately with early 80s pastiches, Client could well be about to strike gold at just the right time.

Just below we go back to the States and the blues sound of Kings Of Leon who managed a Top 20 breakthrough back in October with The Bucket which made a solid Number 16. Their second bite of the Top 20 cherry comes in the sound of For Kicks, an efficient track which is over and done with in a little over two minutes. Groundbreaking it isn't but I'm suddenly reminded of an email I received this week from Andrew Fison from Texas who was praising the diversity of the UK charts. Heck, he's not wrong with even the middle order of the chart this week featuring new entries from a cheesy pop act, an electronica duo, an exciting British act and a bunch of redneck bluesmen. To heck with low sales and Radio One fatally messing around with the chart show, how can you fail to love this singles chart?

Other new entries at the bottom end include new hits for Roni Size at Number 26 and at Number 28 When The Dawn Breaks from Narcotic Thrust, this the duo's long overdue follow-up to Number 9 hit I Like It from April last year and whose cheerleaders and knickers video was set to rank as the best soft porn clip of the year before Eric Prydz came along. Jamie Scott gets himself a Number 33 new entry with Searching, his career appearing to be stumbling after acclaimed debut Just only made Number 29 back in September.

Finally just to demonstrate how far away Christmas now seems, pay homage now to Do They Know It's Christmas which has now tumbled 1-2-6-31 in the last few weeks. Not that its illustrious predecessors fared any better once the season was over. The 1984 original travelled 1-2-9-17-30-38 once January arrived, which isn't so shabby - but the 1989 remake took a 1-4-32 tumble in quite spectacular style.