1 THREE LIONS (Baddiel/Skinner/Lightning Seeds)
The first record released to celebrate England's forthcoming appearance in a major football tournament was Back Home, recorded by the 1970 World Cup Squad. The defending champions shot to Number One and the record has remained something of a kitsch classic ever since. Ever since then, alongside the inevitable cup final records, a song has been released for England at the appropriate time. Thus in 1982 the England Squad reached Number 2 with This Time (We'll Get It Right) and more recently and famously in 1990 New Order came up with World In Motion and shot to Number One. This year's European Championships are seen as something a bit special, the first major tournament to be held on English soil since the 1966 World Cup. In a celebration of this a whole album has been released featuring tracks from many currently credible artists entitled The Beautiful Game. The centrepiece of the album is the official song of the tournament - Three Lions. The song was written by Frank Skinner and David Baddiel, two comedians whose love of football is well known, not least because of their 'Fantasy Football League' show. When approached to write the song they leaped at the chance and with the help of Ian Brodie and the Lightning Seeds it immediately and inevitably leaps to the top of the charts. The record benefits from being on a higher level to the usual football anthem, being much more than a group of men singing about how they are going to win and be better than all the other teams, instead concentrating on the eternal optimism and dreams that surround the England team and the belief that because they once won the World Cup at home they can possibly do the same with the European Championship this summer. Overall it is cute, anthemic and only just avoids being ruined by the attempts of Baddiel and Skinner to sing on some of the verses rather than leaving Ian Brodie to do it all. The success of the single will be particularly sweet for Brodie, having first charted with the Lightning Seeds back in 1989 yet never once reached the Top 10 with any of his recordings. This may be a novelty one-off but he has finally produced a Number One hit.
3 MYSTERIOUS GIRL (Peter Andre featuring Bubbler Ranx)
The campaign to turn the Australian pretty boy into a major star over here is apparently reaping rewards. After a curious period at the end of last year when he appeared all over teen magazines, apparently famous for being famous [how curiously prescient], he scored his first chart hit earlier this year with Only One, a pleasant enough pop song which didn't really deserve more than its Number 16 peak. Now with his profile built even higher he releases a second single and scores an instant smash hit. Actually I could do to curb my natural cynicism over this because Mysterious Girl is actually rather wonderful, a summery reggae track featuring the toasting of Bubbler Ranx which would have been a hit single even if it wasn't sang by a long-haired Australian with gleaming pectorals. But for the fact that Three Lions looks to be in a strong position at the top, this track could even be marked as a potential Number One. [Again, called it. Although it would take another 8 years].
5 UNTIL IT SLEEPS (Metallica)
Metallica's first chart hit in this country was Garage Days Revisited which reached Number 27 in August 1987. It was a typical piece of grinding speed metal which was of course utterly uncommercial. Since then the Danish band have proved that they have far greater depth than virtually any other band of the genre, making Number 15 in 1989 with One and then suddenly going global with the 1991 release of their eponymous album. Metallica produced five hit singles and two Top 10 hits - Enter Sandman made Number 5 in August 1991 and the ballad Nothing Else Matters reached Number 6 in May 1992 following their performance at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert. After a long layoff the band return with a new album and a new single. The wait has done little to dent their appeal and so their first single release for three years makes an instant impact, landing at Number 5 to equal their biggest hit ever and still managing to tread the tightrope of being commercial enough to sell to the casual buyer yet hard enough to still be considered serious metal. Which of course they are.
6 THE ONLY THING THAT LOOKS GOOD ON ME IS YOU (Bryan Adams)
Curious fact: Bryan Adams has not released a proper album since 1991's Waking Up The Neighbours set, the album that of course contained Everything I Do plus five other Top 30 hits and finally made him a proper star in this country. Since then a Greatest Hits collection and a couple of soundtrack hits have kept him in the charts but it is only now that this single heralds a new chart onslaught by the Canadian. Following the general law that an appearance on the National Lottery Show leads to a big new entry, this new single crashes straight into the Top 10 hit to become his first hit since Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman at the start of last year. This new track at first hearing represents something of a departure from his usual repertoire of anthemic choruses and slushy ballads, being more of a bluesey rocker but repeated listenings soon prove that it still has a chorus that lodges itself into your brain, giving you an innate desire to buy the single.
9 BECAUSE YOU LOVED ME (Celine Dion)
The second hit of 1996 for Celine Dion, beating by one place the peak of her last hit Falling Into You. This new hit is no less dull that most of her other recordings, yet still gives her a seventh Top 10 hit. I always think it is a shame that her big ballads always lap up the sales when tracks like Misled show that she is capable of so much more.
11 OCEAN DRIVE (Lighthouse Family)
Another re-release for the Lighthouse Family, following on from the success of Lifted which finally and deservedly became a smash hit when it reached Number 4 in February. Ocean Drive was originally the followup to the near-miss of Lifted last year, becoming their first Top 40 hit when it briefly appeared at Number 34 in October last year. Second time around it does far better but they will be disappointed to miss out on a second Top 10 hit.
12 DO U KNOW WHERE YOU'RE COMING FROM (M-Beat featuring Jamiroquai)
One of the more eagerly anticipated dance releases of the week was another of those inspired clash of cultures. M-Beat were one of the first acts to have a crossover hit with a jungle record, reaching Number 8 in September 1994 with Incredible. They have been quiet ever since the end of that year, possibly trying to live down the way they ruined Anita Baker's Sweet Love. Now the pioneers of some of the most frantic dance records around return with a new track, cranked up to several thousand beats per minute but this time featuring the melodic vocals of Jay Kay aka Jamiroquai. As I hinted above, the result is rather magical, Jay Kay having the kind of voice that doesn't need a melody underneath - he is able to carry the song on his own. That is just what he does here, sings the song whilst the drums pound relentlessly away underneath him and it works brilliantly.
15 DOIN' IT (LL Cool J)
Another hit single for LL Cool J who is making something of a comeback of late, having already had a Top 20 hit earlier this year with Hey Lover (albeit with a little help from Boyz II Men). Never in his entire career has he had two successive Top 20 hits and by making Number 15 this track becomes his biggest hit single since I Need Love made Number 8 in 1987.
18 TRIPPIN' ON SUNSHINE (Pizzaman)
Keeping track of Pizzaman hits requires a fairly level head. Norman Cook's new alias charted earlier this year with Sex On The Streets which made Number 23 after having already made Number 24 in June 1995. He now follows that up with Trippin On Sunshine which was first released in August 1994 when it made Number 33 and which now gives him a Top 20 hit. One can only speculate as to whether his next release will be a reissue of Happiness which first made Number 19 in November last year.
20 DOWN TO EARTH (Grace)
The second hit of the year for Grace, the glamorous front end of the creative workings of Oakenfold and Osbourne. This follows on from Skin On Skin which made Number 21 in February.
23 I MUST STAND (Ice-T)
The first hit single in a while for one of the original gangster rappers. He first charted in 1989 with High Rollers which made Number 63 yet did not break the Top 40 until December 1993 with That's How I'm Livin'. That hit made Number 21 and so for now remains his biggest hit to date.
39 FEEL MY BODY (Frank O'Moiraghi featuring Amnesia)
Another busy chart week with a string of big-selling new hits and 14 new entries. What is especially curious about this week is the shape of the market. Virtually all the new hits have charted extremely high up the charts, a record-equalling five in the Top 10 and a further six inside the Top 20. The resultant displacement of existing chart hits means that positions 26-38 are all occupied by hits falling out of the charts making Feel My Body the only upwardly mobile track in the bottom third of the chart.