1 WANNABE (Spice Girls)
Six weeks on top and there really does seem to be no stopping them. Wannabe has now sold in excess of 900,000 copies and is well on course to pass the magical million mark within a couple of weeks. Most impressive of all is their feat this week of holding onto the top of the charts in the face of the most astonishing onslaught from a string of new releases, all of which can do nothing more than line up underneath them.
2 SPINNING THE WHEEL EP (George Michael)
Twice now George Michael has been in a position to notch up a hattrick of solo Number Ones and twice now he has failed by a whisker. At the start of his solo career he had hit the top with Careless Whisper and A Different Corner and was poised for a third when in May 1987 the airplay ban on 'I Want Your Sex' caused it to be peak at Number 3. Nine years down the line the run started by Jesus To A Child and Fastlove is broken by the continuing dominance of the Spice Girls. At least for now. Spinning The Wheel owes its chart position by and large to a clever piece of marketing. The album track appears as one of several tracks on an extended play single, all of which can claim airplay and help the exposure of the single. The album version of the track leads the single but it is the presence of a dance remix of the song which has helped it tremendously, putting George's trance-like vocal into a trip-hop context to create what is possibly one of the most sensual dance tracks of the year.
3 VIRTUAL INSANITY (Jamiroquai)
New album time for Jamiroquai, and this is the first single from that forthcoming release. As was to be expected his enormous popularity amongst a dedicated group of fans causes the demand for this single to be higher than ever and at a stroke Virtual Insanity becomes his biggest ever hit single, sailing past the Number 9 peak of Stillness In Time from just over two years ago. [Complete with what would be seen as a groundbreaking and very famous video].
4 E-BOW THE LETTER (REM)
Clearly a good time for REM. In the wake of their record-breaking contract renewal with Warner Brothers they score their biggest ever UK hit, making the Top 5 for the first time ever. Opinion about the single is sharply divided as it follows the usual REM marketing habit of issuing one of the most uncommercial tracks from the album as the lead single. Just like Drive back in 1992 the track at first sounds like a monotonous, tuneless mess which has caused radio programmers a few headaches, caught between the demand for people to hear the new single from one of the biggest groups in the world and the fact that it sounds so totally weird. In the event this clearly did not matter, E-Bow The Letter making the best of all starts and setting the scene nicely for the forthcoming album. The only thing left to puzzle now is just why one keeps expecting it to turn into 'All The Young Dudes' after every line.
5 UNDIVIDED LOVE (Louise)
The unprecedented quartet of new entries inside the Top 5 is completed by a nice piece of pop from Louise. Her fourth solo hit single, it matches at a stroke the peak of Naked a few months ago and goes another step to burying any suggestions that there is some kind of compeition between her and former colleagues Eternal.
12 ON STANDBY (Shed Seven)
The fourth hit single of 1996 for Shed Seven who can surely lay claim to being one of the bands of the year. More commercial than their last hit Bully Boy, this track surges into the Top 20 to become their second biggest hit ever, just behind the Number 8 peak of their springtime smash Going For Gold.
15 TUFF ACT TO FOLLOW (MN8)
The second hit this year for MN8 who appeared to be struggling to followup their career opening smashes. Hitting Number 2 with your first single is always a tough act to follow (no pun intended) and although the swingbeaters managed another two Top 10 hits in 1995 their career appeared to be on a downward spiral when Pathway To The Moon could only peak at Number 25 in February. A few months away appears to have changed that as this new single makes an instant impact and brings them back into the Top 20 for the first time since Happy hit Number 8 in July 1995.
19 THAT LOOK (De'Lacy)
Remember De'Lacy? They were the act that hit the Top 10 with the annoyingly catchy Hideaway exactly a year ago this week. That Number 9 hit became something of a dance classic and still sells a healthy amount each week on import, the original single release having long since been unavailable. No surprise then that this new hit should have little difficulty charting and just squeezes in to the Top 20.
24 IF MADONNA CALLS (Junior Vasquez)
Yes, its that track, one which has taken its time to get an official release over here but which now finally has the opportunity to chart. Junior Vasquez certainly got himself talked about (more so than usual anyway) by announcing his intention to release a track featuring extracts from a lengthy message Madonna left on his answerphone once expressing her desire to work with him. It has to be said that aside from that initial concept the track is little more than a novelty but does at least give him a second Top 40 hit at long last, following on from Get Your Hands Off My Man which made Number 22 in June 1995.
27 LIKE A WOMAN (Tony Rich Project)
Followup single and crunch time for the Tony Rich Project who will clearly have to work hard to overcome the potential albatross of their monster smash debut. In common with many other countries around the world Nobody Knows was a massive success, reaching Number 4 during an epic four month stay in the Top 40. Where they will suffer is from the fact that the single mix of Nobody Knows is rather atypical of their usual uptempo material and so in comparison with that earlier classic Just Like A Woman appears to fall down slightly. This is a shame as the single is no less impressive but it will find it hard to match the feats of its predecessor.
30 EVERYBODY'S FREE (Rozalla)
This week's award for the most pointless remix goes to this track. One of the first dance classics of the 1990s, Everybody's Free was first released in September 1991 when it hit Number 6 and has remained a dancefloor staple almost ever since. Following that initial smash Rozalla found it hard to keep up the momentum and despite a string of single releases few have come close to matching that glorious Top 40 debut, her last hit being Baby which made Number 26 in March 1995. Still, what better way to set your career back on the rails than to dig up your old classics. Hence here comes a new set of mixes of the song which was remixed to death to begin with and in all honesty needed little tampering with at all. This summer has seen a string of attempts to resurrect dance classics with new mixes. In recent weeks both Snap's The Power and Urban Cookie Collective's The Key: The Secret have been re-released but both missed the Top 40 by a good margin. I only mention this just to make you realise that this has merely been the thin end of the wedge.