1 EARTH SONG (Michael Jackson)
Christmas -1. No real surprises here as Michael Jackson hangs onto the lead he had as of last week and spends a third week at the top of the charts. He is still very much the odds-on favourite to notch up a fourth week next week and thus become the Christmas Number One, especially now that the Beatles single appears to have peaked and is sliding down this week. His main challenge could come from a rather unexpected source. I rarely speculate about hitherto unreleased records but this one in particular is causing such a stir that it deserves consideration here. The record in question is Mike Flowers Pops' version of Wonderwall which has reportedly notched up over 200,000 advance orders, enough for the bookmakers to make it second favourite to top the chart next week. It should be pointed out here that advance orders mean very little as they still do not guarantee people will actually hand over their money for those copies. Nevertheless it does mean that the race for the title is far from over and the eyes of the world will be on the computer terminals at Millward Brown come Christmas Eve. It is too close to call.
2 FATHER AND SON (Boyzone)
This one does come as something of a surprise. Having apparently peaked at Number 4 three weeks ago, Boyzone have been experiencing something of a turnaround, climbing steadily these last two weeks to re-establish themselves back in the Top 3. The track had been all but written off in the running for Christmas Number One but does now appear to stand an outside chance, its sales this week you will note outstripping even the Beatles. It is the first ever hit version of the famous Cat Stevens song, the artists original failing to chart here. By climbing to Number 2 it matches the best chart position achieved by the now Mr Yusuf Islam, equalling the peak of Matthew And Son back in 1967.
3 FREE AS A BIRD (Beatles)
For all the hype, for all their reputation, The Beatles in the end just could not overcome the challenge of Michael Jackson and now to add insult to injury slide a place behind Boyzone. In doing so they all but ensure 1995 will end with the continuation of a remarkable jinx on the Number 2 slot that has lasted for over 2.5 years. For a record to enter the charts at Number 2 used to be an achievement which pointed towards an almost certain Number One hit. Recent trends have, however, gone against this. As you probably well know by now, for a record to enter the charts at Number One is not uncommon and the charts of the past two years are littered with chart-toppers that began their chart life at Number 3 or below. Strange to recount then that the last record to enter the chart at Number 2 and subsequently climb to Number One was Gabrielle's Dreams back in the middle of 1993. Ever since to enter at Number 2 has been a virtual kiss of death for any record as they have all fallen a week or so later.
4 IT'S OH SO QUIET (Bjork)
The huge upsurge in record sales is having a knock-on effect on the shape of the singles market as it invariably does, causing a succession of bizarre yo-yo's as records outlast their expected sales potential. Hence this sudden turnaround for Bjork who has ricocheted between Number 9 and Number 8 for the past four weeks and now surges into the Top 5 making this remarkable track far and away her biggest hit single ever.
6 A WINTERS TALE (Queen)
As was to be expected the biggest new hit of the week comes from Queen, the continuing presence near the back end of the chart of 'Heaven For Everyone' giving them simultaneous Top 40 hits for the second time in the 1990s, the first of course being in 1991 when the death of Freddie Mercury meant that Bohemian Rhapsody arrived on the chart whilst their previous single The Show Must Go On was still hanging around the lower reaches. Back to the present day then and this new single. Unlike 'Heaven For Everyone' this is genuinely new, being one of the last vocals Freddie recorded before his death. Sadly enough it isn't one of the most brilliant Queen tracks ever, being a laboured anthem in the same style as The Miracle. One consolation though, it has no connection with the David Essex Christmas track of the same title.
10 WONDERWALL (Oasis)
The dramatic series of yo-yo's continues as Oasis turn around, climb a place and find themselves back in the Top 10. If they stay there next week they will almost certainly be joined by the extraordinary version of the song recorded by Mike Flowers Pops.
12 JUST THE ONE (Levellers)
Here's to a good year lads. The Levellers have always been on the verge of major success and whilst this year hasn't seen them completely cross over into a wider pop market they have certainly had one of their most successful chart runs. Just The One crashes in at Number 12, equalling the peak of the first of their three hits this year Hope Street and just one place behind the peak of 15 Years which is their biggest hit ever. Having said that, 15 Years was not released at Christmas when the market is at its most competitive. For Just The One to chart so high must surely mean it is selling beyond their usual loyal band of followers. Listening to the single it is easy to see why, the track being a perfect modern take on an old-fashioned drinking song, describing the gradual (and not so gradual) process of getting pleasantly but totally sozzled. As Christmastime classics go they don't come much better than this.
19 COME TOGETHER (The Smokin' Mojo Filters)
Undoubtedly the charity recording of the year has been the 'Help!' album. An all-star gathering of some of the biggest names in British music who came together on one day in October to record an entire album which was then pressed, distributed and purchased within the week, ending up the best selling album in the country after only one day on sale. Attempts have been made to release tracks from the album as singles, one of which was the Help! EP featuring Radiohead's Lucky but this failed to make the Top 40. The balance is redressed now with the release of one of the standout tracks from the album. The Smokin' Mojo Filters are no less than Paul McCartney dueting with Paul Weller with help from the Gallagher brothers in a remarkably raw take on the classic Beatles song. It's success here gives Paul McCartney two appearances on the Top 40 this week. The most lyrically bizarre of Beatles songs first made Number 4 in 1969 as a double a-side with Something. The only previous chart version was that recorded by Michael Jackson for his 'Moonwalker' film in 1988. The recording was made available too as a double a-side with Remember The Time in 1993 when it reached Number 10. Believe it or not this isn't the only Beatles cover on the chart this week either.
20 ARE YOU OUT THERE (Crescendo)
As you can probably imagine, to even have just the title of this track as a refrain on a dance record guarantees a floor filler and that is just what this is. The latest club sensation explodes into the Top 20 on commercial release albeit slightly lower than one might have expected. A testament really to the number of units being shifted by records higher up the chart.
22 I DON'T WANNA BE A STAR (Corona)
All hail the return of the synth drum. Ever since Corona first hit the dizzy heights of Number 2 with Rhythm Of The Night at the end of 1994 they have proved that they are far from one-hit wonders but instead are one of the finest pop acts around. They round things off with their third hit of 1995 and possibly their best single yet. In a year which has seen dance music at times almost stagnate with remixed versions of old hits and dance remakes of classic songs, it is good to see a dance hit that can look to the past without being regressive. I Don't Wanna Be A Star is such a perfect pastiche of a 1970s disco track that it could almost be a reissue. It isn't, instead being a completely up to date track but sounding every inch a classic already - right down to the cheesy synth drum which has surely not been heard since the days of Kelly Marie and Feels Like I'm In Love. I am in two minds as to what to predict for this one. This has charted too late and too low down to be a massive Christmas smash, but after the hype over Christmas Number One has passed us by attention will focus on what will be the first chart-topper of 1996. Traditionally a track comes up from the ranks as it were to keep the slot warm for one of the new year's new hits. Last year Rednex's Cotton Eye Joe did just this, as predicted by myself. Dare I suggest this could be the track to do the same this year?
24 THROW YOUR HANDS UP/GANGSTA'S PARADISE (L.V.)
The number of artists making two appearances on the chart this week is getting too big to count. Here comes LV with a curious achievement. He is of course the featured artist on Coolio's single which is still riding high in the Top 10. All he does on that single is contribute the vocal refrain in the chorus but he now appears on the chart in his own right with his own complete version of Gangsta's Paradise. The fact that Throw Your Hands Up is the double a-side is, I suspect, of no real consequence here as radio has leaped on the chance to play the alternative version of Coolio's chart topper. For there to be two different recordings of the same track by one artist charting simultaneously is, as you might imagine, fairly unusual. The most famous occasion came in early 1990 when FPI project's version of Odyssey's Going Back To My Roots was available in an instrumental and two different vocal version - all of which were bracketed together on the chart.
31 EYE OF THE TIGER (Frank Bruno)
Frank Bruno is quite possibly one of Britain's biggest sporting personalities. The gentle giant boxer reinforced his national celebrity back in September when he beat Oliver McCall to become WBC World Heavyweight Champion on his fourth attempt. Here now is the inevitable record paying homage to that sporting triumph. Despite being credited to 'Frank Bruno' he actually has little to do with the record. It is in fact a fairly faithful re-recording of Survivor's 1982 Number One hit which will be forever synonymous with boxing. The novelty is the way the vocals are interspersed with commentary from the world heavyweight bout in the kind of montage that sports shows all over the globe are so fond of. The effect is actually not as bad as you might think and Mike Stock and Matt Aitken's production remains true to the classic original. Not a massive hit, but good on yer anyway Frank...
33 LOVE (Jimmy Nail)
It's Beatles time yet again folks. Jimmy Nail follows up the Number 18 peak of Big River back in October with his own homage to the band of yesterday that are somehow also the band of the moment. Love is of course the old John Lennon track which originally reached Number 41 when released in November 1982. It joins Free As A Bird and Come Together in the Top 40 to make Lennon the most prolific writer on the chart at the moment.
35 I GIVE IT ALL TO YOU (Mary Kiani)
A second hit of the year for Mary Kiani, following on from When I Call Your Name which reached Number 18 in August.
37 LOVE HANGOVER (Pauline Henry)
It has been a while since we heard from this lady. Pauline Henry first shot to prominence in 1990 as lead singer of the Chimes on their cover of I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. Since the group split she has carved out her own niche as the singer of some rather brilliant soul-rock singles. Her biggest solo hit came in November 1993 when she took Bad Company's Feel Like Making Love to Number 12. Her last Top 40 hit was the underrated Can't Take Your Love which reached Number 30 in January 1994.
40 SEARCHING FOR THE GOLDENEYE (Motiv8 featuring Kym Mazelle)
There is a strange smell of bandwagon about this one. Motiv8 can possibly lay claim to being the remixing team of the year having been behind some of the most successful remixes of many chart hits, most notably all of Pulp's singles this year which have gone down a storm on the dancefloors following the work of their magic fingers. They also found time to have a hit single of their own back in October when Break The Chain made Number 31. Now the team blast into the chart with their most commercial release yet, a rolling Hi-NRG pop tune that has nothing to do with the new James Bond film but uses it as its inspiration anyway. Featured on vocals is Kym Mazelle who has spent most of the 1990s as a guest artist of note after first coming to mass attention in 1989 when duetting with Dr Robert on Wait. Since then she has had some small solo chart hits, made the Top 20 early in 1993 with Love Me The Right Way as a guest of Rapination and then in the summer of 1993 teamed up with that other legendary dance diva Jocelyn Brown on covers of No More Tears and Gimmie All Your Lovin'.