1 WANNABE (Spice Girls)
Nothing in life is a certainty. Everlasting love, Newcastle winning the league and Gary Barlow staying at Number One for several weeks... all of these things are clearly idle fantasies. Instead this week sees the Spice Girls quite sensationally in many ways charge up from their Number 3 debut last week to score a chart-topping single with their very first hit. The record sounds more bizarre every time you hear it, easily one of the most schizophrenic pop records ever as it swings wildly between rapping, West Coast harmonies and simple in-yer-face bubblegum pop. That alone is probably enough to make it a selling point but it will be interesting to see how much of a career the Spice Girls can make of this. Still, to take a wider view, they are the only pop band around at the moment to wear bobbysox, lycra shorts and cropped tops. More power to them say I. [Wait, was that actually the image of any of them or was I just creating my own perfect Spice in my head?]
3 FOREVER LOVE (Gary Barlow)
So a surprising tumble for Gary Barlow after just a single week at Number One. That the single should fall slightly below expectations is possibly not that much of a shock to some, its weaknesses becoming more apparent with every listen. A very beautiful song it may be but there is little in the way of a hook or anthemic chorus and so there was always every chance the song would never have that great an appeal. Nonetheless by making Number One at all, Gary Barlow has become one of the few members from a chart-topping act to scale the heights as a solo artist, a feat only matched in recent years by Freddie Mercury who has had Number Ones in the 1990s both with Queen and posthumously solo. Other artists to have hit Number One both solo and with their group are stars such as Midge Ure, Donny Osmond, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Lionel Richie and Smokey Robinson but the all time champion group for spawning solo stars of course has to be the Beatles. Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison have all had Number One hits in the past with only Ringo Starr falling short (his biggest solo hit was 'Back Off Boogaloo' which reached Number 2 in May 1972). No other act has ever had more than one of its members make such a success of their solo career but there is every chance that Take That could break that record with Robbie Williams' first solo single just a fortnight away.
6 CRAZY (Mark Morrison)
Few could have predicted just how much of a smash Return Of The Mack was going to be, taking six weeks to climb to Number One, staying there for two and spending a whopping 17 weeks inside the Top 40. In doing so it made a star out of Mark Morrison and proved that British RnB could compete with anything produced on the other side of the Atlantic. As ever with pop music you are only ever as good as your last hit so it is pleasing to see the followup single become the biggest new hit of the week and match the debut position of its predecessor. It is second time around for Crazy having first been released in April 1995 when it made a creditable Number 19.
7 HIGHER STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS (96 REMIXES) (Josh Wink)
It does say something when no less than seven of this weeks new entries are either re-releases, remixes or remakes. The second new entry in the Top Ten this week is also a re-release. Josh Wink's crazed instrumental hit first charted last October on the back of its success on the continent during last summer. One would have thought that clubbers would have had enough of the track then as it reached Number 8 during a five week chart run. Clearly no. Here comes the track again with a new set of remixes that at a stroke beat its chart peak of ten months ago.
9 DON'T STOP MOVIN' (Livin' Joy)
A further slide for Livin' Joy's hit after it made a brief renaissance last week but I suspect this one place slide is due more to circumstance than anything else. Don't Stop Movin this week receives a bullet indicating it has outperformed the rest of the market by over 10%... something which is very unusual for a track that is not only slipping down the charts but is also in its seventh week inside the Top 10.
12 MISSING YOU (Tina Turner)
This week has just seen the climax of a series of concerts from the lady regarded by all as a master entertainer. What else could explain the presence this high up the charts of such an outrageous ruination of such a famous old song. Tina Turner's third hit single of the year is a cover of John Waite's 1984 rock classic but whereas the original was a gorgeously understated piece of balladry Tina sees fit to apply her usual bombast to what has to be said is an extremely sloppy production and in doing so manages to rip the heart out of the tune. Harsh words perhaps but to release this record is to blow a raspberry in the face of a classic record so I feel perfectly justified in returning the compliment.
14 GROOVIN' (Pato Banton/Reggae Revolution)
First impressions are that he pops up everywhere but curiously enough this is only the fifth hit single for Pato Banton since he was discovered by UB40 in 1994 and scored a Number One smash with his cover of Baby Come Back. Since then he has had a Top 20 hit with Sting on This Cowboy Song in early 1995 and another in the summer with Bubbling Hot He charted in collaboration with Sting yet again last January on a remake of Spirits In The Material World and now has his biggest hit single since his debut with this rather strange cover of the Young Rascals 1967 Top 10 hit, about which the less said the better.
16 SUNSHINE (Umboza)
Umboza slide a couple of places with Sunshine but it is worth noting the knock-on effect this hit has had. Thanks to its hefty sampling of Bamboleo it has caused the Gipsy Kings' Greatest Hits to reappear from nowhere and chart at Number 38 on the albums listing. [Or possibly the label spotted an opening and re-promoted it, who knows.]
17 HOW DO U WANT IT (2 Pac featuring KC and Jojo)
Death Row records chart again with the second hit of the year for 2 Pac, following on from the smash hit of California Love which gave the famous rap label its biggest ever hit in this country when it reached Number 4 last April. [He was still alive at this point, for those keeping score. Also notice a failure to acknowledge the vocals of the pair from Jodeci who were on the verge of conquering the globe with All My Life.]
18 PRETTY VACANT LIVE (Sex Pistols)
For most people the Sex Pistols reunion will be the concert event of the year. The ageing foursome finally reunited and touring their greatest hits with just the right amount of irony and self-mocking. The resultant interest in their work has already seen the Never Mind The Bollocks album charge the Top 20 again and now they score a hit single with this recording of one of their most famous hits taken from their recent Finsbury Park concert. This is by no means the first time the group have charted in the 1990s, reissues of Anarchy In The UK and the original studio version of this track crept into the charts at the end of 1992. Pretty Vacant originally made Number 6 in July 1977 and this new version is their biggest hit single since C'Mon Everybody reached Number 3 in October 1979.
21 500 (SHAKE BABY SHAKE) (Lush)
It has been quite a year for Lush so far, making the Top 30 for the first time ever with Single Girl in January before following it up with the track that is surely going to become an enduring classic - Ladykillers which reached Number 22 in March. They were due to follow that single with Ciao!, the astonishing duet with Jarvis Cocker that appears on their album. Copies were pressed and promoed to radio stations but wranglings between the two record labels meant that the Pulp star's performance could not be licensed for release and so the guaranteed Top 10 smash has had to be shelved for now. [The reasons for the non-appearance of the Ciao! single have varied over the years, the official line now is that the band "didn't want to look as if they were jumping on the Britpop bandwagon" which is as lame a reason as you can get. There were more politics than that which got in the way]. As a consolation here comes 500, easily the most straightforward pop song the group have in their repertoire and so maybe a Number 21 entry is slightly disappointing, matching only the peak of Single Girl to ensure that after 6 years they are still waiting for a Top 20 hit.
22 RUSH HOUR (Joyrider)
Irish band Joyrider enjoy their first Top 40 hit with a rather curious cover version. Rush Hour was of course originally a hit in 1988 for former Go-Gos bassist Jane Wiedlin. It reached Number 12 and has remained a pop classic and a radio staple ever since. In a similar manner to Gun's famous remake of Cameo's Word Up, Joyrider have taken the song and turned it into a galloping rock record. As a novelty it works quite well but from the point of view of someone who still remembers the original as a glorious moment from that summer eight years ago it feels rather empty and lifeless.
23 KRUPA (Apollo Four Forty)
More frantic instrumental dance noodlings from Apollo Four Forty who first hit the Top 40 in March 1995 with their astonishing dance remake of Don't Fear The Reaper. [1996 James had never heard of Gene Krupa or understood why Apollo Four Forty would be making a record inspired by him.]
30 KEEP ON PUSHING OUR LOVE (Nightcrawlers)
More from what is rapidly becoming a mini hit factory for John Reid and the Nightcrawlers. After three hits in 1995 they score their third hit this year with another track following a similar formula to its predecessors Let's Push It and Should I Ever. It beats the Number 34 peak of Should I Ever but charting at Number 30 is still a disappointment compared to their three successive Top 20 hits last year.
31 MY GENERATION (The Who)
It is a record that to this day sends shivers down the spine. The Who's original mod anthem made Number 2 in 1965 and is still the defining point for a whole section of the culture of that time... the line "Hope I Die Before I Get Old" still echoing through the decades and into the minds of everyone who aspires to the hedonistic rock star lifestyle. That is of course why the track is currently being used in a TV ad for Ice Pops. Still, 'tis of no matter, it has already performed better than the last time it was re-released in 1988 to promote a Greatest Hits collection when it only made Number 68. My Generation brings one of the great British rock bands back into the Top 40 for the first time since Athena in October 1982 and is their biggest hit since You Better You Bet reached Number 9 in March 1981.
33 CANDLES (Alex Reece)
A second Top 40 hit this year for Alex Reece, the first being Feel The Sunshine which reached Number 26 in May.
34 I COME FROM ANOTHER PLANET, BABY (Julian Cope)
A suitably understated title for the first single to herald a new album from the former Teardrop Explodes frontman. Julian Cope never really falls out of fashion amongst his ever-present fanbase but his singles performances have always been a little erratic. This is his first Top 40 hit since Beautiful Love made Number 32 in February 1991 and over the course of the last 13 years he has only ever had one Top 20 hit - that of course being World Shut Your Mouth which made Number 19 in September 1986.