This week's Official UK Singles Chart
1 FIRESTARTER (Prodigy)
No real need for elucidation here, Prodigy preside once more over one of the calmest charts seen for many many months. As I predicted last week, few new releases have the potential to challenge for the Number One slot and those immediately below merely consolidate their sales rather than achieve anything spectacular. Is there anything to stop them notching up week number 4?
5 OOH AAH... JUST A LITTLE BIT (Gina G)
The pure pop of Gina G's Eurovision entry shows it has a great deal of staying power, experiencing a hefty increase in sales and hauling itself up a notch to reach the Top 5. It is worth bearing in mind that there are still a number of weeks until the contest itself is televised and the resultant exposure of the song to a global audience measured in several hundred million always manages to have a beneficial effect on the sales of a Eurovision song. This hit could be around for a while.
6 CALIFORNIA LOVE (2 Pac featuring Dr Dre)
In a sparse week for major new releases the honour for the highest goes to this interesting piece of rap. That California Love is a brilliantly commercial single is in no doubt at all - especially when you consider the names behind the single. As well as 2 Pac himself, notching up his first ever British hit single [and one of only two he managed in his lifetime], is producer Dr Dre. His last Top 40 appearance came in June 1995 when Keep Their Heads Ringing reached Number 25 to become his biggest solo hit ever. He has of course been higher in the charts before now thanks to his production work on Snoop Doggy Dogg's What's My Name? which reached Number 20 in December 1993. This single also features the vocal talents of Roger 'Roger' Troutman. One of the most celebrated figures of Jazz-Funk, Roger has never made much of an impact in this country. The closest he ever came to having a hit with his group Zapp came in 1986 when It Doesn't Really Matter reached Number 57. His only solo entry came in 1987 when the US Top 3 hit I Want To Be Your Man made Number 61. He next appeared on the chart in November 1988, duetting with Scritti Politti on Boom! There She Was which reached Number 55. From all of the above you can gather that this is the first time he has ever been associated with a big hit single in this country.
8 BULLS ON PARADE (Rage Against The Machine)
Few could forget the way Rage Against The Machine burst onto the scene in February 1993 with the instant classic Killing In The Name which reached Number 25 and was famously played unedited by Radio One when it first entered the Top 40. Their biggest hit came with the followup Bullet In The Head which reached Number 16 in May that year. Now after an extended layoff the heavy metal rappers are back once more with a new album which most reviewers seem to be rather cool on. That hasn't stopped the anticipation of their new single being extensive and on release it now crashes straight into the Top 10 to give them the biggest hit of their career.
9 X-FILES (DJ Dado)
A one place slip for DJ Dado's clever fusion of both the X-Files theme and Robert Miles' Children, both of which remain in the Top 5 this week. My comments last week on the last occasion there were two versions of the same instrumental in the Top 10 prompted a flurry of correspondence after I incorrectly suggested Eddie Calvert's 1955 Number One version of Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White was not an instrumental which therefore must indeed make his battle with Perez Prado's version the last occasion there were two versions of the same instrumental in the Top 10. There have been close shaves in the past however. In 1969 the furore over Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg's Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus led the session group Sounds Nice to record their own instrumental version of the rude French hit which made the Top 20 around the time the original was topping the charts. The release of the film The Deer Hunter in 1979 led to a flurry of chart versions of its central theme Cavatina. The Shadows charted first of all with their version in April which made Number 9, a few weeks ahead of the Number 13 peak of guitarist John Williams' version. A few months later Iris Williams also took a vocal version into the Top 20 to round off one of the strangest obsessions with a particular song in recent history.
12 WALKAWAY (Cast)
Much is made these days of the strange shape of the British singles market. The constant stream of records entering the charts at their peak and then sliding straight away causes a great deal of anguish amongst both the record companies who are trying to develop acts and chart historians who hanker for the old days when a single could climb for weeks at a time. When pressed, my contribution to the debate is that such a situation would be unlikely to occur if the market was not saturated with so many new records released each week. This week is a perfect illustration of that argument. Following the 18 new entries of the last few weeks the market calms down to such an extent that only seven discs make their Top 40 debut this week. Without new product to displace them further, hits which appeared to be on their way out show a new lease of life and many tracks make spectacular turnarounds. The first of these is Cast's hit which peaked at Number 9 a fortnight ago yet this week climbs back to Number 12 following its spectacular tumble last week.
15 TAKE ME TO HEAVEN (Baby D)
The same state of affairs works in Baby D's favour. Their new entry from last week improves its position by five places, making it one of an impressive 11 songs to climb the chart - this comparing with a mere one or two in the whole of the Top 75 as has recently been the case.
16 ON AND ON (Longpigs)
The Longpigs follow the path set by many emerging acts and improve with every single release. This new hit immediately sails past the Number 37 of their Top 40 debut Far back in February.
18 EVERY TIME I FALL IN LOVE (Upside Down)
Now is the time for Upside Down to prove themselves. The latest manufactured boy band looked as if their were going to vanish without trace when their debut single Change Your Mind appeared at Number 35 when first released. A week later the track had shot into the Top 20 following a TV documentary on the 'creation' of the band and it went on to peak at Number 11. Now with their second single they have to show that they are more than just a TV-inspired one-off. The new hit is built along similar lines as its predecessor, a cheesy saxophone ushering in a rather breathy piece of white soul harmonies. They will clearly be looking to fill the gap in the teen market left by the departing Take That - expect that Upside Down in all honesty aren't very good.
20 STEPPING STONE (PJ and Duncan)
Another one of this week's astonishing turnarounds as PJ and Duncan's hit climbs back inside the Top 20 a fortnight after it originally peaked at Number 11.
21 I GOT 5 ON IT (Luniz)
23 I WANNA BE A HIPPY (Technohead)
A similar story for both of these tracks. Despite that fact that at 9 and 11 weeks respectively their are the oldest songs in the Top 40, both register sales increases a ease up a notch. Luniz' track actually gets a bullet this week, indicating it has outperformed the market by more than 10% - an incredible feat for a track whose sales peak has long since past. Similarly Technohead's annoying hit refuses to die, played by virtually no radio station anywhere it continues to have a life of its own and climbs back up from last week's low point of Number 27.
33 CECILIA (Suggs featuring Louchie Lou and Michie One)
Suggs' solo career continues to develop as he notches up his fourth hit, following his chart successes last year. Just like his first hit I'm Only Sleeping, this new single is a cover of a 1960s classic as he now delivers a Ska interpretation of the classic Simon and Garfunkel track - well known by all despite the fact that it was never a hit single in this country. The track also features Louchie Lou and Michie One who had a Top 10 hit in May 1993 with their cover of the soul classic Shout.
35 DON'T STOP (Status Quo)
As their faintly bizarre feud with Radio One continues, Status Quo continue the celebration of their 30 years in showbusiness with the title track from their current album. Like many of the tracks it is a cover, this time of the famous Fleetwood Mac song that first reached Number 32 in 1977 for them. This follows on from Status Quo's last hit Fun Fun Fun which made Number 23 at the start of March and which sparked their row with the national pop station when it declined to playlist the track despite what the band claim is their pre-arranged contribution to many Radio One promotions.