1 DON'T LOOK BACK IN ANGER (Oasis)
The phrase 'foregone conclusion' is one I am in serious danger of overusing in relation to Number One singles but there does not seem any other way to describe it. In the week that they won no less than 3 Brit awards, Oasis release what is quite possibly one of the greatest singles of their career and so somewhat inevitably gatecrash the charts for the second Number One hit of their career, following on from Some Might Say in almost a year ago. Like that track, Don't Look Back In Anger is lifted from the current Number One album What's The Story (Morning Glory) and allows Noel Gallagher to give full vent to his current John Lennon fixation [actually it was Liam who had at this point started dressing in kaftans and wearing tinted shades, but of course Noel was singing this none more Lennon-esque single]. The track opens with a piano riff oddly reminiscent of Imagine before launching into a genuinely moving anthemic ballad. Although Noel Gallagher takes writers credit for the track, the words themselves may well be those of John Lennon. The track is based on a famous bootleg tape that has been in circulation for many years. Popular myth has it that it is a recording of John Lennon starting to record his memoirs and that the original cassette was burgled from the Dakota building not long after he was assassinated in December 1980. Hence the presence in the song of lines such as 'Gonna start a revolution in my bed'. Whatever the truth of the matter it does not take away the fact that you would be hard pressed to find a more deserving Number One single than this. The track also continues the astonishing and unprecedented run of instant chart-toppers, this being no less than the seventh straight single to enter the chart at Number One, the last record to actually climb into pole position being Michael Jackson's You Are Not Alone way back in September last year [there will soon become a point when this stops being notable]. Whilst some commentators worry that the Number One slot is in danger of becoming the domain of the big releases with there being little point in charting a hit lower down the chart at all this is probably too fatalistic a view. What the trend does is reinforce yet again that we are witnessing a golden age of record buying where time and time again the release of a new single by a particular artist is a genuine event - one which can penetrate the whole of popular culture and persuade people to rush to the shops and buy singles in quantities that were only dreamed of a few years ago. The trend may not stop with this release either, to hold on for another week Oasis will have to see off the challenge of the last ever Take That single which is released this week.
2 CHILDREN (Robert Miles)
Robert Miles's beautiful track is now in danger of becoming a classic as it charges to Number 2 with a vast increase in sales to be denied the top slot only by the insurmountable challenge of Oasis. It is now the biggest selling instrumental track since Doop reached Number One in March 1994.
4 SPACEMAN (Babylon Zoo)
The reign of Babylon Zoo finally comes to an end. It had been well signposted with sales of the track dropping off dramatically from its original peak over the last few weeks. This tailoff as the novelty value of the track has worn off means that the single takes an impressive tumble from Number One to Number 4. That equals the biggest fall from Number One set in recent years and follows the example of four other records; Take That's Never Forget and Sure, Erasure's Abba-esque EP and Bryan Adams' Everything I Do. The record fall from the top in the 1990s is the 1-9 plummet of Iron Maiden's Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter in early 1991 but even that falls short of the all-time record of falling from 1-12 set by Harry Belafonte's Mary's Boy Child in 1958.
5 PERSEVERANCE (Terrorvision)
Oh fantastic. I confess to a small affinity for Terrorvision as they come from Bradford where I work on the radio and so their records tend to attract a fair bit of attention from us. Part of their appeal is their refusal to make rock tracks that conform to the usual mould, using instead plenty of brass in the background and writing catchy hook choruses that owe more to 1950s doo-wop than the spirit of heavy metal. It is a formula that has served them well over the last few years with a string of hit singles in 1993 and 1994. Their biggest before now came in April 1994 when the catchy Oblivion peaked at Number 21. Their first single since October 1994 now sees them consolidate that success as they crash the Top 10 with the second biggest new hit of the week and of course the highest charting single of their career.
9 DISCO'S REVENGE (Gusto)
Lest we should think that control of the charts is in the hands of people like Terrorvision and Oasis up pop Gusto from nowhere to prove that dance records can still have a say in things and still become instant Top Ten hits.
10 FALLING INTO YOU (Celine Dion)
One year ago this week the chart was dominated by the all-conquering success of Celine Dion and Think Twice, the record which had taken almost four months to reach Number One and which subsequently stayed there for seven weeks. In the 12 months since her star has continued to grow with a series of hit singles and also a flood of album releases as Britain catches up on the fact that the lady has been a superstar in America and on the continent for a number of years already. Hence the continuing presence in the albums chart of her 1994 album The Colour Of My Love plus last years French language release Deux from which came the Top Ten hit Pour Que Tu M'Aimes Encore. Added to that is the recent re-release of an older French album of hers which has been promoted as a new release by some record stores, plus her forthcoming new English set from which this track is the first single. It just scrapes a Top Ten placing this week to give her the sixth such hit of her career.
12 HALLO SPACEBOY (David Bowie)
The tale goes that it was Neil Tennant's idea for the Pet Shop Boys to collaborate with David Bowie on a special performance for the Brit awards. Bowie was in agreement and this is the result. Released on Monday, the track received its live debut at last week's ceremony with Bowie's outfit only just failing to steal the show from another more celebrated live incident. The single itself is pretty much as you would expect - David Bowie singing his song over the Pet Shop Boys' usual electronic noodlings. Aside from anything else it is a great pop record and gives Bowie what is only his second Top 20 hit of the 1990s. Whatever the performance of his records you have to give the man credit. In the third decade of his recording career he is still capable of surprising having in recent years gone from the heavy rock of Tin Machine to his first electronic pop record, stopping only along the way to regain commercial appeal with a reunion with Bernard Edwards and renewed critical acclaim by collaborating once again with Brian Eno.
15 LET YOUR SOUL BE YOUR PILOT (Sting)
It is only the beginning of March and already Sting has notched up two hit singles. Alright, so the first was merely his vocal presence on Pato Banton's remake of Spirits In The Material World but it still counts as a hit in his name. This new track is the first single from a forthcoming new album and so as a result has a great deal of commercial clout as the ballad lands at Number 15 to equal the peak of his last Top 20 hit This Cowboy Song just over a year ago.
16 EARTH SONG (Michael Jackson)
News reports of the Brit awards ceremony on Tuesday last week were dominated not by the details of who had won what awards, but by the extraordinary accounts of Michael Jackson's performance although probably not in the way he would have wished. Getting Michael Jackson to perform live was a major coup for the organisers and Michael Jackson had personally contributed to the cost of staging his spectacular rendition of Earth Song. So Michael Jackson appeared on stage in a mist of dry ice and proceeded to play out what many regarded as his current Messianic fantasies as he surrounded himself with weeping children and allowed them to embrace him as he stood dressed in a pair of brilliantine white pyjamas. One person in the audience who thought the whole thing was odious in the extreme was Pulp's Jarvis Cocker who proceeded to invade the stage whilst Jackson was suspended from a crane several feet above the auditorium. Cocker's antics lasted for a mere thirty seconds before MJs security people bundled him off the stage but it was in this ensuing fracas that some of the children were allegedly hurt which led to Cocker spending part of the night in a police station and for him to spend the following day issuing legal threats towards Michael Jackson's entourage who were alleging that he had deliberately assaulted the children. It was a bizarre incident that helped the hype of the awards no end but also led to Cocker being curiously feted for attempting to disrupt what many secretly regarded as Michael Jackson's pretty nauseous stage act. Whatever your opinion the exposure gives Earth Song a surprising boost. The former Number One was virtually on its way out and had slipped to Number 38 last week. This week it receives a sudden surge in sales to catapult it back for a short-lived stay inside the Top 20 and to reinforce its claim as one of Michael Jackson's biggest hit singles ever.
20 DARK THERAPY (Echobelly)
Echobelly's third hit single from the current On album sees them back in the Top 20, ahead of the Number 25 peak of King Of The Kerb but just behind the Number 13 reached by Great Things, their biggest hit to date.
23 DOWN LOW (NOBODY HAS TO KNOW) THE MOVIE (R Kelly)
The current king of swing beat notches up his second Top 30 hit single of recent months, following on from You Remind Me Of Something which peaked at Number 25 back in November. I suspect he will always struggle over here to score consistent big hits but as past history has proved, when the circumstances are right he can have smashes over here as well - witness the Top 3 success of She's Got That Vibe in late 1994 and the Number One success of You Are Not Alone, the song that he wrote for Michael Jackson.
24 FUN FUN FUN (Status Quo with the Beach Boys)
As I have said many times before it will never be hip to like Status Quo. Their entire career has been dogged by derision over the fact that they have for the most part stuck to the same 12 bar RnB formula for virtually everything they have recorded. Intelligent evaluation suggests that this is a little unfair as within that formula they have created a string of timeless rock classics that their ever-present fan base still laps up with appreciation every time they tour. Earlier this year they performed a concert to celebrate 30 years in the music business, a concert which gave them an unexpected boost when their latest album Don't Stop defied all expectations to crash straight into the Top 3 and become their highest charting long player of new material for over ten years. One of the highlights of the concert came when they were joined on stage by the Beach Boys for a rousing duet on Fun Fun Fun and so of course that track becomes an ideal candidate for a single. Status Quo probably did not need the Beach Boys to make this a hit but their presence on the track makes for an interesting novelty and gives the Quo their first Top 30 hit for almost two years. It is also the first Top 40 appearance for the legendary surf-rockers since Kokomo reached Number 25 in November 1988. [This was also the release which led to their ill-advised legal campaign against the BBC and Radio One in particular, the band claiming their refusal to playlist this single was a breach of contract].
25 BE MY LOVER (La Bouche)
So far 1996 has been fairly quiet on the reissue front in comparison to 1995. Things could be about to change, however, as La Bouche's hit becomes the first previously minor chart entry to hit the Top 40 for a second time this year. The rather brilliant and catchy Be My Lover was first released here in July 1995 when it reached Number 27. Since then it has of course been a smash hit all over Europe and is currently Top 10 in America. The time is clearly right for the track to be re-released but even now it looks as if it will struggle to become the pop hit it quite clearly deserves to be. Whilst Number 25 is by no means a bad position, a two place improvement on the original can hardly be what was expected of the track and it looks as if it will stay a minor hit for good.
30 WONDERWALL (Oasis)
The release of Don't Look Back In Anger was delayed for a number of weeks, partly due to the continuing success of Wonderwall which was taking its time to slide down the charts. Having itself received an award for Best Video at last week's Brit awards, the older single also receives a slight boost this week and hoists itself up the charts a couple of notches in its 17th week inside the Top 40. Oasis' singles are becoming quite notorious for their longevity. Creation have deliberately continued to make all their previous releases easily available which has resulted in tracks such as Cigarettes And Alcohol and Whatever sitting almost continuously near the bottom end of the Top 75. Just before Christmas Oasis were at times charting anything up to four singles at once, a chart domination not seen since early 1983 when Polydor records commemorated the demise of the Jam by re-releasing all their old singles and seeing all 13 of them on the chart simultaneously.
31 CRUISIN' (D'Angelo)
40 COLD WORLD (Genius/GZA featuring D'Angelo)
Just to prove that even in a week like this week the bottom end of the Top 40 can still contain a few surprises. D'Angelo reached the Top 40 for the first time in October last year when Brown Sugar reached Number 24. Now he returns to the chart not once but twice in one week, first of all at Number 31 with Cruisin' and also as a featured guest on Genius' hit at Number 40.