1 FIRESTARTER (Prodigy)
As the Prodigy firmly entrench themselves as part of pop culture, Firestarter clings on for a second week at Number One. These days measuring the future prospects of a chart-topping single is a little tricky. In the past it would be a case of considering which of the singles immediately below it posessed the sales potential to climb to the top, but these days of course consideration is more likely to be given to which new releases are likely to charge in to grap the top slot. With a lack of many major new releases next week, it seems fairly safe to assume that the Prodigy are still due to hang on for a bit.
3 CHILDREN (Robert Miles)
It has been mentioned in these pages before, but Robert Miles' single continues to show remarkeable tenacity. Now into its seventh week on the chart, it has yet to dip below Number 3.
4 RETURN OF THE MACK (Mark Morrison)
A similar level of consistency is shown by Mark Morrison's slice of UK R&B. After three straight weeks stuck at Number 6, Return Of The Mack leapfrogs over the opposition to land a place in the Top 5.
6 OOH AAH... JUST A LITTLE BIT (Gina G)
Spring carries with it a number of perennial certainties. Newborn lambs, easter eggs and Eurovision. The Eurovision Song Contest ploughs on, guaranteed its annual place in the schedules of countless European countries as television stations across the continent unite in a celebration of the technology that enables them to do so to choose the 'best' song from a European country. Anachronistic to the point of absurdity yet tense enough to be indispensible viewing, like it or not the contest is a part of chart culture. Over the past few years under the guidance of Jonathan King, Britain has attempted to drag the contest kicking and screaming into the 1990s, steering clear of sickly ballads and meaningless la la la choruses to enter credible sounding pop records. Hence last year's rapped entry from Love City Groove which caused a stir and yet failed to finish in the Top 10. This year's entry, as chosen by a national phone poll, comes from the flame-haired Australian Gina G who aims to sell Eurobeat back to the Europeans. ...Just A Little Bit is, it has to be said, a fabulous pop record. One of those tracks that seeks to do no more than to shout to the world to be in love with life and to have a life filled with love. Pop music as it was always meant to be. It crashes in to becomes the highest new entry of the week and to overtake the Number 7 peak of Love City Groove's eponymous hit last year to become the highest charting British Eurovision entry since Bardo's One Step Further made Number 2 in 1982. All eyes now turn to the contest next month which will no doubt go to form and end up with Britain having the best song in the contest and end up finishing second by one point. Lest anyone start to get too cynical may I repeat my annual reminder of the fact that Lulu, Sandie Shaw, Abba and Celine Dion all sang winning entries in the past.
7 YOU'VE GOT IT BAD (Ocean Colour Scene)
They can do no wrong at the moment it seems, Ocean Colour scene follow up their Number 15 hit 'Riverboat Song' from February with another slice of grinding, melodic rock to score the biggest hit of their career.
8 X-FILES (DJ Dado)
Mark Snow's TV soundtrack recording of the X-Files theme currently sits tight at Number 2 this week. Part of the motivation for Warner Brothers to release the track as a single was the way clubland had taken it to its heart, using the track not only as an ambient climbdown but also as the basis for many different remixes. The release of the single officially was an attempt to kill off the many unofficial cover versions that were pouring out of the continent. By far the most popular was the version by DJ Dado and now, despite the success of Snow's original, his cover version crash lands in the Top 10. It is a remarkable state of affairs. For there to be two versions of the same song in the charts and in the Top 10 is by no means unusual and just recently both Oasis and Mike Flowers had versions of Wonderwall in the upper reaches of the charts. For those two tracks to be instrumental hits is very rare indeed. Certainly I have been unable to turn up any previous occurrence of this, the closest I can come is in 1955 when Eddie Calvert's vocal version of Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White competed for the Number One slot with Perez Prado's instrumental version. [Actually the Calvert track was an instrumental too, but I return to this topic in the following week's column].
10 SOMETHING CHANGED (Pulp)
It is funny to think that this time last year Jarvis Cocker was a tall bloke in funny glasses who fronted a band called Pulp and who once appeared on TV in an 'I Hate Wet Wet Wet' t-shirt at the height of Love Is All Around mania. Fast forward to today and he is megastar thanks to Common People, Sorted For E's And Whizz ... and oh yes, Jacksongate. There can be few music fans across the world unaware of the way Cocker transformed himself into a national hero by invading the stage during Michael Jackson's odious performance at February's Brit awards and the subsequent controversy over his arrest. The resultant publicity has done the band no harm at all of course and so they chart with ease the one track from the Different Class album that you would least expect to see as a single. Something Changed is a sweeping string-laden epic that sounds as if it could be lifted straight from a film soundtrack - which is an odd coincidence given that the CD also features Mile End, Pulp's contribution to the current cinema sensation 'Trainspotting' [of which much, much more later]. The single becomes their fourth Top 10 hit in a row.
13 STATE OF INDEPENDENCE (Donna Summer)
After all the thrills above, time for a nice gentle remix. Back in 1982 State Of Independence was one of the tracks directly responsible for lifting Donna Summer's career out of the doldrums it had been since the start of the decade. Quincy Jones' production was immaculate and the track reached Number 14 in November that year and has been a hardy perennial ever since. A reissue released in 1991 reached Number 45 and in 1990 the group Moodswings asked Chrissie Hynde to help them record a new version of the track which reached Number 66 at first and then Number 47 when re-released itself in January 1993. Now for the first time since the original charges back into the Top 20 to beat at a stroke its first chart peak. The new remix probably wasn't needed but it does at least avoid ripping the heart out of the song. It becomes the first Top 20 hit for the Queen of Disco since Love's About To Change My Heart reached Number 20 in August 1989.
14 1,2,3,4 (SUMPIN' NEW) (Coolio)
Respect to Coolio. He may have made one of the best selling rap singles of all time and had the UKs first Gangsta Rap Number One in the shape of Gangsta's Paradise but he is not ashamed of being as utterly commercial as possible. His third hit single is clearly primed for the dancefloor, starting off with a curious sample from the Evasions' 1981 tribute to TV personality Alan Whicker Wikka Wrap before the bassline from Chic's Good Times kicks in and we are riding on one serious rap groove. The competition above means that the track falls short of initial expectations and may struggle to match the Top 10 placings not only of Gangsta's Paradise but Too Hot also.
15 THE NIGHTTRAIN (Kadoc)
Another dance track that was expected to chart much higher was this one. Kadoc's James Brown-sampled Nighttrain has been wowing club audiences for months, often eclipsing Firestarter for popularity. A hit was assured upon commercial release but Top 10 was expected - not a (relatively) minor Top 20 entry.
17 DON'T WANNA LOSE YOU (Lionel Richie)
All hail the return of the superstar. Lionel Richie's pedigree really needs no explanation here, with hits spanning three decades and Number Ones both with the Commodores and solo. He has been quiet for a number of years, his last chart appearance coming in 1992 when My Destiny from a Greatest Hits collection reached Number 7. His forthcoming new album is incredibly his first full studio set since 1986s Dancing On The Ceiling. He has a lot to prove. Fortunately the omens are good. Don't Wanna Lose You is a typically epic ballad of the kind he has been writing since his days with the Commodores. With extensive radio support it could hardly miss and so lands an easy Top 20 place. Comparing Lionel Richie's biggest successes is an interesting exercise. Since his split from the Commodores in 1981 he has had no less than 8 Top 10 hits - equally split between classic ballads and his uptempo pop material. What is most curious is that three singles were released from Greatest Hits. The ballads Do It To Me and Love Oh Love underperformed whereas the dancy My Destiny became one of his biggest hits for a number of years.
19 BIG ME (Foo Fighters)
Predictably enough, the Foo Fighters' fourth hit single makes an immediate chart impact and actually improves on the Number 28 peak of their last single For All The Cows. Their biggest remains their debut This Is A Call which reached Number 5 in July 1994.
20 TAKE ME TO HEAVEN (Baby D)
A fairly perfunctory Top 20 entry too for the latest junglefied offering from Baby D. This new hit comes on the back of the Top 3 hit So Pure from earlier this year.
22 TWENTY FOURPLAY (Janet Jackson)
Releases from Janet Jackson have come at such a frantic pace over the past few years that it is hard to keep track of which album her singles are from. For the record, she had four hit singles in 1995. Whoops Now and Runaway were from her Greatest Hits album Design Of A Decade; Scream was a duet with brother Michael; The Best Things In Life Are Free was a remix of a 1992 soundtrack hit. Now she is back again with yet another track from Design.... Twenty Fourplay thus lands her yet another hit, yet falls short of becoming her 11th Top 20 hit in succession. This statistic is all the more surprising when you consider what the single could have been. Most of the dancefloor attention to Janet Jackson recently has been as a result of a set of remixes of her 1987 hit The Pleasure Principle. The interest in the mixes meant that they were almost certain to be released commercially but have surprisingly not ended up as a single in their own right but are instead tucked away on 12-inch and CD copies of the single.
30 GIVE ME STRENGTH (Jon Of The Pleased Wimmin)
Ask anyone in the know to reel you off a list of hottest mixers currently in action and Jon Of The Pleased Wimmin will almost certainly be amongst them. This is his second Top 40 single, following almost a year since his last hit Passion which reached Number 27 in February 1995.
32 AMERICA (I LOVE AMERICA) (Full Intention)
More gratuitous dance remakes, this time in the shape of Full Intention's unique version of Patrick Juvet's Number 12 hit from 1978.
34 HOW LONG? (Paul Carrack)
As well as his solo hits Paul Carrack has been singer for a number of different bands. As well as Mike and the Mechanics and Squeeze, he started his musical career as the lead singer of Ace. They only ever had one hit, but it turned out to be an enduring classic How Long which reached Number 20 in November 1974. Since then the song has had a pedigree all of its own, being covered by Rod Stewart in 1982 and by Yazz and Aswad in 1993. Now the original singer returns with his own re-recording of his most famous hit and scores his second solo hit this year - following on from Eyes Of Blue back in January.
38 IN WALKED LOVE (Louise)
Another barking mad week for new entries - no less than 18 tracks make their chart debut inside the Top 40 to equal last week's record. The clearout is such that only 3 records from the bottom end of last week's Top 40 remain on the chart this week. Thus Louise's feat of slipping a mere seven places to Number 38 deserves a certain degree of congratulation.