1 BREATHE (Prodigy)
They had some stiff competition beneath them but the Prodigy cling on for a second week at the top and are now chasing the three week spell of Firestarter at the start of the year. They will do well to do so with both the Fugees and Mark Owen looking strong beneath them and with the Christmas rush well and truly poised to begin. There was a time in the late 1980s when the last week in November was the calculated moment to release your assault on the Christmas market, the four week gap giving just enough time for a single to climb the charts to land at the top nicely for Christmas. These days of course the closer to the date itself the better given the likelihood of going straight in at Number One. Expect a great many new entries very near the top over the next few weeks.
2 NO WOMAN, NO CRY (Fugees)
So near and yet so far, the Fugees this week came very close indeed to rounding off their spectacular year with a third Number One single. Past trends suggest that they might just manage it, their last single Ready Or Not doing something rather unusual and climbing to Number One after entering at Number 2 the week before but the odds still look fairly long. As is typical of the group, their new hit is a modern day spin on a classic single. This one may raise almost as many eyebrows as their version of Killing Me Softly as they join Stevie Wonder and Annie Lennox as one of the few acts to successfully cover a Bob Marley song. Purists will cry in agony at this recording, however. No Woman No Cry is one of the classics of reggae music. Unusually for a song its definitive version is the live recording that became his first ever hit single back in 1975 when it reached Number 22. Upon his death it was reissued, reaching Number 8 in June 1981 and to this stand stands as one of the most beautifully moving reggae tracks ever released. Hence one must always apprach a cover version with a sense of apprehension. True to form the Fugees take their own approach to the song and present us with a stripped-down, acoustically based track that stays true to the lilting flavour of the original but gives it a modern day feel at the same time. Few people seems to have minded as this near-miss at the top of the charts indicates but if you listen very closely you can probably just make out the sound of Bob Marley spinning in his grave.
3 CHILD (Mark Owen)
As virtually anyone will tell you, the most famous pop group ever were the Beatles. Their achievements were plain for all to see and even after their demise in 1970, few had any doubts that the individual members would continue to have success in the music industry. Such predictions proved to be correct as all four had Number One hits in America whilst only Ringo Starr failed to match this achievement at home. Since then there have been many other bands whose members have gone on to have solo Number Ones after having also done so with their groups, people like Eddy Grant, Boy George, Freddie Mercury, George Michael and Michael Jackson spring readily to mind but no other group has ever had more than one member chart with a solo Number One. If any band were going to break that jinx the smart money would have been on Take That. When the pop superstars split up at the start of this year several of them pledged to continue to make music and record deals were issued all round. First off the mark was Gary Barlow who found little difficulty in shooting straight to the top in July with Forever Love. Eyes then turned to maverick Robbie Williams who released his cover of George Michael's Freedom a month later. It peaked at Number 2. Now comes Mark Owen with his first solo release. Mark was always one of the more lower-profile members of the band although he did take lead vocals on a number of occasions, most famously on their 1993 Number One hit Babe. His first solo release is also a ballad, and quite a ballad at that, an epic tune that seems oddly reminiscent of John Lennon at times, despite sounding like no Lennon track ever recorded. The pre-release buzz that surrounded the release of the track caused many to predict an instant Number One for it but to the surprise of many that has not arisen. Instead the track follows the apparent law of diminishing returns for solo Take That singles, landing at Number 3 and with a lot of ground to make up if it is to progress any further. So the Beatles remain the only group ever to top the charts to see more than one solo member repeat the feat in later years. Take That are by no means the only other act to have several members notch up solo hits, the Jacksons and the Rolling Stones are just two of the others. The record is still there for the taking, and with further releases from Barlow and Williams due very soon there is still a chance that one of the few unique crowns still held by the Beatles could be about to be shared.
9 ONE KISS FROM HEAVEN (Louise)
The reinvention of sweet Louise from Eternal into one of the year's hottest sex bombs has to go down as one of the most startling transformations of the year. Ever since last November's release of the seasonal ballad Light Of My Life her costumes have become ever more skimpier, the videos ever raunchier until now she is at a stage where virtually every men's lifestyle magazine going is proud to proclaim her as one of the sexual icons of the year. Such an image is hardly likely to damage her record sales of course and so here she is with her fifth solo hit and third Top 10 smash of the year, following hot on the heels of pop classics such as Naked and Undivided Love. She may not have the most powerful singing voice in the world but the quality of her material speaks for itself. One of the most genuinely successful pop stars of the year.
12 EVERYDAY IS A WINDING ROAD (Sheryl Crow)
The commercial revival of Sheryl Crow continues. The one-hit-wonder tag that she was in danger of being landed with after the all-eclipsing success of All I Wanna Do was dented recently with the Top 10 appearance of If It Makes You Happy and to all intents and purposes it is now destroyed for good with the release of this track. If anything this insistent, driving track is better than her previous single and a strong set of TV promotional appearances have helped to propel the singer-songwriter into the Top 20. It is her sixth Top 40 hit.
13 I AIN'T MAD AT CHA (2 Pac)
Two new entries in the Top 20 this week are posthumous hits. The first of these is this release from the late Tupac Shakur, recent victim of the gangland lifestyle his records so often portrayed. The track becomes his third Top 20 hit of the year, a year in which he had transcended the chart ghetto in which gangsta rap usually lives in this country and was starting to eclipse the likes of Ice Cube and Snoop Doggy Dogg in the race to become a genuine commercial star. [If this had remained 2Pac's one and only posthumous hit record it would have gone down as a classic. Yet the parade of releases would shortly become relentless].
17 YOU DON'T FOOL ME - THE REMIXES (Queen)
It can have escaped the attention of few people that last week marked the fifth anniversary of the untimely demise of Freddie Mercury. Many events were held to mark the occasion in aid of the Mercury Phoenix Aids Trust and to coincide with this is the release of this single. It is the fifth single lifted from Made In Heaven and matches all the others in making the Top 20. In actual fact even without the reminiscing, You Don't Fool Me would have been a smash anyway. Far and away one of the best tracks on the album the insidious, insistent tone of the record ranks it among some of the classic Queen tracks. It's popularity is helped by the remixes that accompany the single, and whilst the concept of a set of dance mixes of a Queen record may seem anathema to some, the effect is at times quite magical - this is one track that it would be impossible to ruin. The word is that it is more than likely that this will be the last ever official Queen single. The album has been milked of hits and so subject to some 'long-lost' recordings resurfacing in the future the curtain has finally been drawn on the career of one of the great rock bands of chart history. The first Queen single was Seven Seas Of Rhye which made Number 10 in March 1974 and paved the way for an astonishingly consistent string of hits. In all the band have had 47 chart hits, 24 Top Tenners and five Number Ones.
20 LOVE IN THE KEY OF C (Belinda Carlisle)
The loveliest cheekbones in pop makes her third Top 40 appearance of the year, following hot on the heels of In Too Deep and Always Breaking My Heart, both of which gave her her first Top 10 hits for six years. It is something of a shame that this new single should chart slightly lower, had it been ten places higher it would have marked the first time she had had three consecutive Top 10 hits since her first three releases back in 1988.
21 WATERFALL (Atlantic Ocean)
It is an astonishing week for dance music. Once again what is supposedly the most progressive and forward-looking of musical genres shows it can at times become a bit lazy as no less than four different tracks are reissued to make the Top 40 this week. The first of these lands at Number 21, Atlantic Ocean's trancey instrumental classic Waterfall. The Dutch-made instrumental was first released in February 1994 when it made Number 22. Since then the track has become something of a producers dream, popping up as a backing track on countess TV shows and adverts. As a result it is a tune that most people are familiar with but which few could actually name, hence this timely re-release (complete with a couple of new mixes of course) which leads to the track beating by one place its original peak of just over two years ago.
26 TWISTED (EVERYDAY HURTS) (Skunk Anansie)
A good consistent year for Skunk Anansie with three straight Top 20 hits and now they round it off with this new single to give them their fifth Top 40 hit.
28 YEKE YEKE - 96 REMIXES (Mory Kante)
Some hits are destined never to die. They simply go on, and on, and on. Mory Kante was the singer from Guinea who had a huge Euro smash in the summer of 1988 with Yeke Yeke. Topping the charts all over the continent, it surprisingly struggled to find an audience in this country and could only stagger to Number 29 a month or so after the holiday season ended. The distinctive sound of the record was revived briefly by Clubhouse the following summer when they merged it with a remake of Chicago's I'm A Man and had a Number 69 hit for their pains. Fast forward then to the spring of 1995 when the track was resurrected with a new set of remixes. Like all little projects of that nature it gained enough exposure to chart, the song reaching Number 25 in March last year to eclipse its original chart peak. For some bizarre reason this still was not enough, so here comes another re-release with yet another set of mixes, the track by now bearing only a scant resemblance to the original Euro classic. For the third time it makes the Top 40 although clearly destined never to break into the Top 20 - until next years remixes maybe.
35 NITE LIFE (Kim English)
In a curious chart coincidence, two long-lost club classics make new Top 40 appearances at consecutive chart positions. The first of these is Kim English who first released Nite Life in July 1994. Although a sizeable club hit it never set the charts on fire the way it should have done and could only peak at Number 35. Now this reissue, complete with new mixes returns the disc to the chart, spookily landing it at exactly the same chart position.
36 BROTHER AND SISTERS (2 Funky 2 featuring Kathryn Dion)
Hot on the heels of Kim English's hit comes another lost club classic. This time the track is three years old, the UK made Brothers And Sisters was first released commercially in November 1993 but it could only peak at Number 56. Continuing demand for the track has led to this inevitable reissue and with a 20 place improvement on its original peak the track makes its first Top 40 appearance.
40 WHEN CHILDREN RULE THE WORLD (Red Hill Children)
Last weekend saw the broadcast of BBC Television's annual Children In Need Telethon. The event, something of a national institution, always inspires a frenzy of fundraising activity across the country and from time to time various ancillary projects designed to help raise more money. Occasionally this takes the form of hit singles, the first of which was O My Father Had A Rabbit, a nonsense rhyme recorded by the late Radio Two presenter Ray Moore. This year the telethon adopted When Children Rule The World as a theme and the song featured heavily in programme trails and the marathon broadcast on the Friday night itself. Consequently the record lands a place in the charts this week, all proceeds going to the appeal. That is not quite the end of the story as the song itself was written for a totally different purpose. The combination of Jim Steinman and Andrew Lloyd-Webber may seem a curious one but incredibly enough the two have been collaborating - working on a new musical of the famous film 'Whistle Down The Wind'. The film is one of the timeless classics of British Cinema, all about a group of children who find an escaped convict in a barn and mistake him for Jesus. A perennial Christmas favourite, it is notable for starring the then child star Hayley Mills, mother of Kula Shaker's lead singer Crispin. When Children Rule The World is the first single to be released from the new musical version with I suspect many more to come [well yes, but oddly enough not for another two years, such was the time it took to actually get the musical in production. During which time many people forgot this single ever existed]. Interestingly enough both authors have been behind a recent chart hit apiece. Lloyd-Webber of course wrote Madonna's You Must Love Me from 'Evita' which made Number 10 whilst Steinman wrote and produced Celine Dion's recent hit single which is still on the chart, 11 places above this hit.