This week's Official UK Singles Chart
1 FOREVER LOVE (Gary Barlow)
Well in the end this wasn't too hard to predict, the first solo single from a former Take That member making a stunning chart debut and landing at Number One. Gary Barlow was always the one for whom solo success was predicted, the group's leading songwriter and cynics would say the one with all the talent. The talk now is of course of him becoming the new George Michael, breaking free from being a teen heartthrob and gaining respect as a musician in his own right. Forever Love is if nothing else a step in the right direction, a pretty piano ballad that is reminiscent of Air Supply's All Out Of Love but one which in all fairness errs on the side of blandness at times. This is reflected in the sales of the single, although it sold enough to outsell everyone else it was a close run thing for most of the week and its performance is impressive rather than spectacular. All eyes are now upon Robbie Williams, the first band member to quit Take That and whose first solo single (irony of ironies a cover of a George Michael track) is released three weeks hence. Will he knock his former colleague off the top?
3 WANNABE (Spice Girls)
[Superstar debut klaxon! Only this one is a bigger deal than most as the manufactured group who changed the face of pop music as we knew it crash into view.] It is easily to be cynical about hype but let's face it if it didn't work then nobody would try it. The Spice Girls are possibly one of the most talked about new acts of recent months. A creation of Virgin Records, they are a group of not totally unattractive girls in their late teens and early twenties with a spiky single and an attitude to go with it. Both the band and the single have been floating around radio stations for several weeks in an attempt to kick start their career and it obviously has worked as this Top 3 debut indicates. The Spice Girls are quite blatantly being sold on the sex angle [orly?] and it is one they are more than happy to play along with. I met them a few weeks ago on a steaming hot day when they were all dressed accordingly for the climate and watched as one of them attempted to chat up one of my colleagues and asked to see him again. We've spent the last few weeks speculating as to whether they do that to every DJ who interviews them just so they could get the record played. [A well worn anecdote but totally true. Geri was the Spice in question and Stephanie Hirst was the DJ. Go ask her yourself if you don't believe me.]
10 BAD ACTRESS (Terrorvision)
Bradford's most famous sons continue to go from strength to strength with their third hit of the year and the second to make the Top 10. Bad Actress clearly has some crossover appeal as it easily sails past the Number 20 peak of their last hit Celebrity Hit List and so winds up second only to Perseverence which made Number 5 in March as their biggest hit to date.
11 MACARENA (Los Del Rio)
Clearly the summertime starts here. Despite leading the world in many fields, the British music scene can at times be a little slow to pick up on trends and fads that have originated overseas. The European success story of the year has been the Macarena, the dance created by Spanish band Los Del Rio which has held Europe to ransom and has even become a hit in certain parts of America too. The track was released here earlier in the year and charted at the bottom end of the chart for a few weeks without ever once threatening to reach the Top 40. Now that summer has arrived and people are gradually drifting off on holiday they are of course in a position to be exposed to the track in continental discos and thus creating a demand for the track. Hence this re-release which sends the track shooting into the Top 20. At a stroke the Macarena has already made chart history, regardless of what it achieves now. Although a re-release and a new entry there were still plenty of copies in the shops from the earlier release of the track. RCA's decision to push the single again now was prompted by the fact that interest in the dance was picking up and those shops that still held copies from the spring were starting to sell them. Consequently the record gained a chart placing last week at Number 74. As a result this new official release means that this track is not a new entry but a climber, a climber to the tune of no less than 63 places. That is enough to make it the biggest climb by any record ever in the history of the Top 75. The previous record holder was Nick Berry with Every Loser Wins which leapt from Number 66 to Number 4 in October 1986 whilst the last track to make such a leap was Star Trekkin by The Firm which shot from Number 74 to Number 13 (61 places) in June 1987. Significantly both those tracks went to Number One the following week which sets an interesting precedent for the Macarena. [You'll note the whole backstory of the Bayside Boys remix of the track, which was what turned it into a hit, escaped my attention here.]
14 SUNSHINE (Umboza)
Back in 1989 somebody somewhere decided that they were going to sell French folk-rock to the British. Two bands were to spearhead this cross-channel invasion, Les Negresses Vertes and the Gipsy Kings. Both toured extensively over here that summer and both released numerous singles. Whilst their concerts were extremely popular, both acts failed commercially. Les Negresses Vertes' Zobi La Mouche remains to this day something of a hidden classic whilst the Gipsy Kings' anthem Bamboleo whilst frequently being used by TV producers when they want a latin-sounding feel to an item has only ever charted once as part of a Hits Medley which the band took to Number 53 in 1994. Until now. Umboza you may remember charted in September last year with Cry India, a track which used their trademark of combining a new track with the flavour of a classic hit, in that instance Lionel Richie's All Night Long. Now with Sunshine they use that concept again, combining their own song with extensive samples of the aforementioned Gispy Kings track, bringing it to a far wider audience than it has ever received in the past.
15 DUNE BUGGY (Presidents Of The USA)
The third hit this year for the Presidents of the USA whose popularity is clearly on a roll. This follows up the enormously popular Peaches which reached Number 8 in April but which had an extremely long burnout, spending six weeks inside the Top 40, an impressive figure for an act whose popularity is geared up only for quick in-and-out appearances.
16 THEME FROM MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen)
As the Tom Cruise film becomes the movie of the summer so far ('Independence Day' does not reach here until the end of August) it continues to have a positive effect on its theme, the track having peaked at Number 7 six weeks ago yet which now returns to the Top 20 after falling as far as Number 27 two weeks previously.
18 CHANGE THE WORLD (Eric Clapton)
It may be a hit from a film soundtrack but it is still a delight to see Eric Clapton charting once more and to do so this high up. Despite being a fairly adult-orientated albums artist old Slowhand has had his fair share of pop hits in recent years. 1992 was his best year of the decade, having his biggest ('Layla' excluded) solo hit with Tears In Heaven which reached Number 5 and then charting inside the Top 40 in collaboration with Elton John and Sting respectively on Runaway Train and It's Probably Me - interestingly enough all three hits being lifted from film soundtracks. Subsequent releases from his award-winning Unplugged session missed the Top 40 and so Change The World is his first Top 40 appearance of any kind since he was the featured guitarist on Love Can Build A Bridge, the charity single which reached Number One last year for Cher, Chrissie Hynde and Neneh Cherry.
22 HOW BIZARRE (OMC)
Last week I shared a radio studio with Rugby League player Robbie Paul who leaped up in delight when he heard us play this track from fellow New Zealanders OMC. Having become stars down under they have now been exported over here and chart with ease with this rather brilliant acoustically driven track. One hopes that this will climb higher because it deserves to.
23 LE VOIE LE SOLEIL (Subliminal Cuts)
This Dutch dance track has the same kind of pedigree as Baby D's Let Me Be Your Fantasy a couple of years ago. It was first released in October 1994 when it could only reach Number 69. Since then it has become something of a lost classic and on several occasions topped polls of favourite dance tracks of the decade. Clearly the time was ripe for it to finally become a hit and now with this re-release the track charts inside the Top 40 for the first time. I suspect that the only thing that made it such a cult classic was the fact that it had never been a hit, Le Voie Le Soleil being little more than an average trance hit to these ears and the Number 23 entry of the record is probably as good as it is going to get.
24 EXODUS - LIVE (Levellers)
As a live act the Levellers have always been second to none. Even if you are not a fan of their music you cannot fail to be impressed at the immaculate nature of their performances. Consequently it is about time they released a proper live EP and so here it is, lead off by Exodus which gives them their first hit since Just The One became one of their most commercially successful singles ever when it made Number 12 around Christmastime. Whilst on the subject of live performances it is just a shame that the band have never released their unique take on Charlie Daniels' The Devil Went Down To Georgia which has become a concert staple for them over the years.
32 SITTING AT HOME (Honeycrack)
Slowly but surely Honeycrack are creeping up the charts, this new single edging past the Number 32 peak of their Top 40 debut King Of Misery earlier in the year.
38 HAPPY SHOPPER (60ft Dolls)
A further minor hit for the current next big thing 60ft Dolls but they are clearly struggling to gain a proper commercial toehold, this the followup to Talk To Me which made Number 37 back in May.