Christmas -2 is the drill this week. [Except it wasn't. This was one of those awkward years when Christmas Day fell on a Saturday. Logic would dictate that the 'Christmas Chart' was the one unveiled on the 26th covering the whole week prior. But although they did that in 1988 it doesn't work for marketing purposes. So it turned out this was the penultimate chart before the holiday]. For the most part the shape of the top end of the charts is well defined - but the No.1 slot could well be wide open. 13 new entries, 6 climbers and 2 non-movers.
No. 40: NEW ENTRY. EYC - Feelin' Alright
As US pop/soul goes this is actually alright, EYC making the most of their current promotional tour of the UK to land a seasonal hit with their debut single. If this hangs around long enough it could rise to the top of the post-seasonal melee to become quite a substantial hit.
No. 37: NEW ENTRY. K7 - Come Baby Come
The same goes for the latest US teen sensations K7, landing a Top 40 place after stalling for a couple of weeks.
No. 35: NEW ENTRY. Michael Jackson - Gone Too Soon
You can look at this two ways. Jacko's third single of the year and the ninth hit from the album debuts at a place far lower than any before it. It could be down to the fact that the album is so old and this dirge of a tribute to his late friend Ryan White is one of the worst tracks from that album. The other factor could be the did he/didn't he scenario regarding Jordy Chandler and whether it has harmed his record sales at all. Only time will tell really....
No. 34: NEW ENTRY. Haddaway - I Miss You
The third hit of the year for Euro star Haddaway, following up the dance smashes of 'Life' and 'What Is Love' - the latter track one of the best selling singles of the year. The new single is, as might be expected, a ballad but in actual fact is far better than the current crop of seasonal hits. It's gone in too slow to be a massive Christmas hit, but a good track nonetheless.
No. 32: NEW ENTRY. Nirvana - All Apologies
Second hit from the latest album for Nirvana but a low peak as well, telling possibly that anyone interested has bought the album already.
No. 29: NEW ENTRY. Diana Ross - Your Love
Currently enjoying her biggest run of success since her solo heyday in the 1970s, Diana Ross has her third hit of the year, to follow the reissued Chain Reaction which made No.20 for three weeks in October. Another seasonal ballad, it's no better and no worse than any of the others. It's always a puzzle to me though as to why Christmas attracts that kind of release. Not all of them become massive hits and many regular record buyers seem to be just a little bored at the monotony of it all. The answer I suppose is simple - at Christmas the demograpy of record sales changes dramatically as record shops are swamped by people who would not buy music at any other time of year - slow ballads are just catering to that audience - the thirtysomethings who are likely to buy albums such as Diana Ross' current Best Of collection.
No. 27: NEW ENTRY. Cliff Richard - Healing Love
It's been said that Christmas would not be Christmas without Cliff and to a certain extent it is true. Ever since Mistletoe and Wine made No.1 for Yule 1988 and became the best seller of the year he's realised that the Granny market is a valuable asset this time of year. For a change though his seasonal hit is more uptempo and but for the lowly point of entry would stand a chance of becoming a large hit. The tactic may not have worked though - last years ballad I Believe In You went straight in at No.9
No. 24: NEW ENTRY. Ice T - That's How I'm Livin'
The first ever Top 40 hit for Ice T - a full 3.5 years since he first started issuing solo singles. His previous best has been his 1990 duet with Curtis Mayfield on Superfly which made No.48 in October 1990.
No. 22: NEW ENTRY. New Order - Spooky
If I seem to be rattling through the lower end at speed without giving them much significance it's because they really have little compared to what is going on at the top end of the charts. New Order clock up the fourth hit from the 'Republic' album and instantly match the peak of their smallest hit of the year Ruined In A Day. Interesting to note though this is the first time they have ever had four hits from one album.
No. 15: NEW ENTRY. Frankie Goes To Hollywood - The Power Of Love
OK here comes the big stuff and first of all a record which has been in the running for Christmas No.1 twice running. Originally released for Christmas 1984, The Power Of Love gave Frankie Goes To Hollywood 3 out of 3 No.1s making them only the second act to achieve this feat after Gerry and the Pacemakers. The third re-release of the year for them, and released a bare 4 weeks after Welcome To The Pleasuredome which made No.18 last month.
No. 13: CLIMBER. Pet Shop Boys - I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind Of Thing
The amount of competition above putting paid to the PSBs despite the pop brilliance of the single. Record sales tend to be more durable this time of year and the number of television specials they are appearing on may help to push this skywards in the next couple of weeks. In common with Cliff Richard they also had a Christmas No.1 - in 1987 with Always On My Mind.
No. 11: NEW ENTRY. Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell
CBS records may have let the big man slip out of their hands years ago but that has not stopped them exploiting his current run of success. The title track from the most charted album ever in Britain makes a dramatic return to the charts to make Meat Loaf the first man to have simultaneous Top 20 hits since Bryan Adams in September 1991. The only single from the original album to chart big, Bat Out Of Hell first peaked at No.15 after several false starts in March 1979 and has thus beaten its original peak. Despite the brilliance of the new album there is still little to top one of the most famous rock tracks ever - issued here in a different single edit to the original. The current release omits the piano prelude but keeps the coda - both were edited out of the original single release. It just shows really how much public perceptions can change things. In June 1992 the ever durable Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad was reissued due to 'public demand'. It peaked at No.69.
No. 10: CLIMBER. Dina Carroll - The Perfect Year
Dina Carroll matching Whitney Houston's January feat of simultaneous Top 10 hits as the song from the Andrew Lloyd-Webber music 'Sunset Boulevard' makes a climb.
No. 8: NON-MOVER. Dina Carroll - Don't Be A Stranger
The single that few expected to be so massive spends its ninth week inside the Top 10 despite never making No.1. That compares well with other non-chart toppers this year such as Tease Me by Chaka Demus and Pliers (10 weeks in the Top 10), Informer by Snow (9 weeks) and What Is Love by Haddaway (9 weeks). This could well be it's last in the upper regions though. Irritated that it is still out selling the current single, her label have arranged for Don't Be A Stranger to now be deleted on all formats and it will consequently plummet next week.
No. 5: CLIMBER. Bee Gees - For Whom The Bell Tolls
You can always find a record to be broken whatever the circumstances and some are more arbitrary than others. The climb of this single makes the Bee Gees holders of the dubious honour of the most successful family act ever. Their total of 13 Top 5 hits is one more than the Everly Brothers.
No. 4: NEW ENTRY. Chaka Demus and Pliers - Twist And Shout
It's hard to believe really that the combination of two reggae underground stars making cheesy versions of old songs could be some of the biggest stars of the year but here they are, following up Tease Me and She Don't Let Nobody with what is coincidentally the second ragga remake of Twist And Shout this year. Back in June Louchie Lou and Michie One made No.7 with their version - Chaka Demus and Pliers have outdone them at a stroke.
No. 2: FALLER. Mr Blobby - Mr Blobby
Now this really goes to show what the top of the charts are up against. Mr Blobby is already in the Top 10 bestsellers of the year with over half a million copies sold in just 3 weeks. This week he sold 2.5 times as many records as last week yet is still only in second place in sales terms. Figure that if you will. The unfortunate dethronement of the novelty track puts an end to the longest spell of long-lived No.1 hits in chart history. Mr Blobby is the first track to spend only a week at the summit since U2s The Fly in November 1991 - a wait of over 2 years when no track spent less than 2 weeks on top. To find the previous gap one has to go back 20 years to when there was a gap of 1.5 years between Jimi Hendrix's Voodoo Chile in November 1970 and Take Me Bak Ome by Slade in July 1972.
No. 1: NEW ENTRY/FIRST WEEK - Take That - Babe
You can whisper it in awed tones or shout it from the rooftops but the achievement is so great you cannot underplay it. 'Babe' is the third Take That single in a row to go straight in to No.1. No other act in history has managed that feat - only Slade come close with two in a row in the shape of Cum On Feel The Noize and Sqweeze Me Pleeze Me in 1973. That really sums it up for the band of year who surely can next year either crack America or fall from grace dramatically. There is literally nowhere else for them to go. Babe is another slowly with a familiar lyrical theme of the prodigal lover returning to find his ex with a child bearing his eyes etc. etc. It grows on you as well - not that that bothered their legion of fans who ensured the single ran up over 600,000 advance orders. The only question remaining is can they hold on. There are two chart weeks left to Christmas and it all hangs on whether the single can sell beyond the fan base of the band. Bear in mind that their last single Relight My Fire went straight to the top, stayed for 2 weeks before plummeting dramatically to spend a mere 7 weeks in the charts overall - one of the shortest lived No.1 hits ever. It makes for an interesting life I suppose and certainly more exciting than last year and the ubiquitous I Will Always Love You - about to take on the form of a recurring nightmare...
[And then a midweek update leaked out which showed Mr Blobby outselling Take That, and all hell broke loose. The 1993 Christmas Number One race suddenly got interesting].