1 I BELIEVE I CAN FLY (R Kelly)
Two weeks now at the top for R Kelly, a feat all the more impressive when you consider the rather frantic action going on below him and the fact that the single is now four weeks into its chart life. I Believe I Can Fly is the second single from a film soundtrack to hit the top of the charts this year, following in the wake of LL Cool J's Ain't Nobody. Number One hits from soundtracks are rarer than you might think, only 4 singles from films reached the top between 1992 and 1996, an average of one a year. The average for the whole of the 1990s is somewhat higher than that as in 1991 no less than four different film hits reached the top (singles from Chesney Hawkes, Cher, Color Me Badd and Bryan Adams) along with a TV tie-in (The Simpsons), a jeans commercial (The Clash) and a song from a stage musical (Jason Donovan).
2 SONG 2 (Blur)
A somewhat appropriate place for Blur's second single of the year to land. The first was of course 'Beetlebum' which instantly topped the charts and then vanished as swiftly as it came, spending a mere three weeks inside the Top 40. That really sums up the nature of Blur's appeal these days. No longer the cuddly types that produced albums such as 'Parklife', they are now a much deeper, darker set of musicians. Critically acclaimed but lacking in widespread appeal outside their fiercely loyal fanbase. This single is a case in point, it rockets into the runners up slot in the Top 40 but it will be a surprise to still find it in the Top 10 next week. Still, the fans are happy, they have a new B-side to listen to and the exposure of the single has given the album a boost back into the Top 10. 'Song 2' has therefore served its primary purpose. [And with one 2 minute Nirvana piss-take, Blur write themselves into musical history with a song that transcended even their own levels of fame].
3 THE SAINT (Orbital)
As yet another 1960s TV series gets turned into a Hollywood blockbuster so too its theme music gets a modern day reworking. Just as Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen's take on the 'Mission: Impossible' theme became a Top10 hit last year, Orbital's technofied reworking of the old TV theme hits the chart just in time for the release of the new Val Kilmer film of the same name. It matches the peak of Satan Live back in January to give Orbital one of their biggest (and I suspect most popular) hits ever. This trend of reworking old themes could well continue with an Avengers movie on the way and tales abounding of Moby being asked to rework John Barry's James Bond Theme later this year.
5 READY OR NOT (Course)
The music industry is cursed. Somebody, somewhere in the mists of time must have cheeked a coachload of witches, exterminated a spider colony and dropped a vat full of salt. Nothing else can explain the horrible affliction of the Eurodisco cover. No hit single is safe. Whatever the nature of the international smash, regardless of what tempo it was originally, regardless of how powerful a voice sang the song in the first place, within weeks a tiny continental label will have rushed out a cheesy disco version. Such tracks are beloved of the less-sophisticated continental DJs or those with a highly developed sense of irony and can occasionally be found nestling in the import bins of large enough record chains. Few ever become hits. This one is clearly the exception, picked up and promoted by a major label, the utterly unnecessary reworking of the Fugees' Number One arrangement of the old Delfonics hit charges into the Top 5. I'd rather have the Chemical Brothers.
7 YOU MIGHT NEED SOMEBODY (Shola Ama)
Those who witnessed 3Ts recent series of concert dates will also have been treated to the dulcet tones of this lady. Shola Ama notches up her first hit single with this rather pleasant cover of Randy Crawford's 1981 Number 11 hit.
8 MFEO (Kavana)
I did a radio interview with Kavana a few weeks ago, cool guy that he is. Wearing a pair of green sunglasses, he gossiped about the music business, the Spice Girls and the curious way in which a 19-year-old lad suddenly finds himself thrust headlong into the world of pop stardom. After a few false starts last year his career has taken off, first of all with his cover of Shalamar's I Can Make You Feel Good which made Number 8 in January and now this new single which proves a worthy equal to that single. If all goes well, Peter Andre-style stardom can only just be around the corner. The title, incidentally, stands for Made For Each Other. He and I concluded that my suggestion of "My Flaming Ear 'Ole" probably wouldn't have worked as well.
9 LAZY (Suede)
Hit single number four from Suede's current album, Lazy continuing their 100% record of Top 10 hits from this album. This is their second hit of 1997, following on the heels of Saturday Night which reached Number 6 in January.
10 HALO (Texas)
Texas' second hit single of the year and one which surely confirms their status as one of the bands of the year. Although they have been recording since 1989 it is only now that their critical acclaim has been matched by widespread commercial success. With this single, however, they have also caused some consternation. Say What You Want which made Number 3 in January had already been labelled by most as one of the best singles of the year. Halo is even better, wonderful gem of a single that simply dares you to dislike it. It is also something of a record breaker. Just look at the Top Ten this week... new entries for Blur, Orbital, Course, Shola Ama, Kavana, Suede and now Texas. Seven in total, a new all-time record. New statistics published last week show that the singles market is gradually slowing down with few being released and subsequently charting. What has not changed is the way new releases rocket to the heights so quickly.. how long until the Top 10 consists totally of new entries? [Nope, seven was as good (bad?) as it got].
12 ON AND ON (Eryka Badu)
Around the same time as the Spice Girls were hitting the heights in America, this lady almost unnoticed shot straight to Number 2 on the US album chart with her album. Described as a Billie Holliday with a 90s edge, the former rapper from Dallas is set to become one of the year's biggest stars with her astonishingly popular blend of dance and soul. Even without a hit single the album Baduizm has been steadily climbing the album chart over here since its release in February and now it is set to receive a huge boost as her first UK hit single crashes straight into the Top 20. A great single and there are plenty more to come.
17 SECRET GARDEN (Bruce Springsteen)
Well, it isn't often that a bonus track from a Greatest Hits collection becomes a hit for a totally different reason but this is certainly the case with this single. Secret Garden was first released by The Boss in 1995 to accompany his retrospective compilation. Slow and brooding in a similar style to Streets Of Philadelphia, it failed to catch fire and missed the Top 40 altogether. Although a Bruce Springsteen hits collection probably didn't need a hit single to help it along it was left to a re-release of Hungry Heart to draw the attention of Top 40 watchers (it made Number 28 in November that year). Two years on and the producers of the new Tom Cruise film 'Jerry Maguire' decided that the track was perfect for inclusion on the soundtrack and now with the huge exposure that it entails, the long-lost Bruce hit finally justifies its place on a 'Greatest Hits' collection and gives him his first Top 20 outing since his last soundtrack hit - the Oscar-winning Streets Of Philadelphia in February 1994.
22 18 TIL I DIE (Bryan Adams)
Following his diversion into drippy balladry with Barbara Streisand earlier this year, Bryan Adams dips back into his current album and releases the outstanding title track. Rock music with no pretensions, just a great melody, a killer chorus and a lyric that shouts loud and proud about the joy of being young and alive (however incongruous it may be to have them sung by a man of 37).
27 KEEP ON KEEPIN ON (MC Lyte)
Following her Top 20 success with Cold Rock A Party earlier in the year, MC Lyte now re-releases this track which first made Number 38 in June last year... a move which on the basis of this improved chart position, must be judged a success.
32 I WILL BE RELEASED (Up Yer Ronson featuring Mary Pearce)
You should never judge a book by its cover, least of all assume that all records from club DJs are going to be uncommercial hardcore rhythms. The most famous club franchise in Yorkshire is certainly an exception as the boys from Up Yer Ronson once again engage the services of Mary Pearce to produce this rather brilliant club groove. In terms of chart position it will be a disappointment, especially compared to their last hit Are You Gonna Be There? which made Number 27 just over a year ago.