This week's Official UK Singles Chart
1 I'LL BE MISSING YOU (Puff Daddy and Faith Evans)
If Puff Daddy's reclaiming of the Number One slot over Oasis last week was astonishing then this must surely be little short of sensational. New releases from Boyzone and the Backstreet Boys were widely expected to sweep aside the ageing rap hit, a case of teen appeal triumphing over one of the biggest crossover hits rap has had for many years. Indeed Boyzone had a comfortable lead at the top in midweek but this gradually vanished to nothing to give Puff Daddy his second week at the top in this particular run and the disc's fifth in total. This is where the sensational bit comes in. Several records have yo-yoed back to the top in the 45 year history of the charts but in most cases it is just for a token week before being swept aside for good. Certainly, last year when Killing Me Softly and Three Lions swapped places twice it was for one week each time. In 1993 Mr Blobby returned to the top for two weeks after being knocked from the summit by Take That after his first week, and so too did Marmalade with Ob La Di Ob La Da in January 1969 but neither can compare with Puff Daddy's feat of having a second week at the top after having held the title for three weeks previously. To find a comparable feat one has to go back to 1963 when the Beatles' She Loves You had a two week run at the top after having spent four in the same position with no less than seven weeks having elapsed between the two Number One runs. I'll Be Missing You has now also outstripped the achievements of the song on which it is based, The Police's Every Breath You Take which could only manage four weeks at Number One in 1983.
2 PICTURE OF YOU (Boyzone)
So in the most surprising of circumstances, Boyzone find themselves relegated to the runners up slot at a time when their popularity makes them almost certainties to hit the top with each new release. This was especially the case for Picture Of You, a brand new song not featured on the Different Beat album which has already yielded two Number One hits. Instead it comes from the soundtrack of the forthcoming "Bean" movie starring of course Rowan Atkinson who makes a guest appearance in what has to be one of the funniest videos of the year. For all their ability, Boyzone have a tendency to make some rather dull records and confine themselves to pretty ballads so it is a pleasure to report that Picture Of You instead scales the heights of So Good, a fun uptempo pop song that ranks as one of their best releases to date. With this single they also maintain their 100% record of Top 5 hits - a run that is now 9 records old.
3 EVERYBODY (BACKSTREET'S BACK) (Backstreet Boys)
Everybody, the Backstreet Boys are back. Just in case we hadn't noticed they have pointed it out in the title of their new single - such considerate lads. Not that they had really been away long of course, their last hit being Anywhere For You which reached Number 4 in March. It is their sixth hit single in total.
6 BITCH (Meredith Brooks)
One new entry that requires little in the way of introduction is the debut hit single from Meredith Brooks. A massive American hit, the wonderfully titled song has received saturation play on TV and radio and was always going to be a smash over here. Her only problem will surely now to avoid being labelled as an Alanis Morrissette clone.
9 CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' (Mamas and the Papas)
The power of television works its magic once more as thanks to its use in an advertising campaign this all-time classic hit makes a reappearance. In doing so California Dreamin' becomes a much bigger hit than it was first time around when it could only reach Number 23 in April 1966. The Mamas and the Papas went on to have several hits in this country, the biggest of which was Dedicated To The One I Love which reached Number 2. The song has been covered by many artists since it was first written. Colorado took a flamenco-styled version to Number 45 in 1978 whilst more recently the River City People made Number 13 in the summer of 1990. What is most surprising about the high entry for the song is that it is hardly the most difficult to obtain track. Virtually every "Summer Of Love" or 1960s compilation feels compelled to include it and you would have to go back a long long way to find a time when it was unavailable in one form or another. Still, give people the opportunity and they will grab it as proved earlier this year when Elvis Presley's Always On My Mind made Number 13 after it too was used in a TV ad.
10 LAST NIGHT ON EARTH (U2)
I would never want to pretend that I can comment objectively on a U2 record as they are one of the few superstar bands whose music and general attitude simply leaves me cold. Suffice it to say that they continue to notch up hits, their third Top 10 hit of the year time to coincide nicely with the imminent arrival of their world tour in this country. Their remarkeable run of chart consistency stretches back 14 years - in the whole of that period they only missed the Top 10 twice with official releases.
16 ALMA MATTERS (Morrissey)
Believe it or not it is almost ten years since The Smiths announced their split. It means that the man, feted by many as one of the greats of English music, has now had a solo career longer than the career of his old band. Over that period of time his fortunes have waxed and waned like an erratic mood, showing flashes of genius at times, the rest descending into the realms of self-parody. His first release for 18 months suggests that his fortunes may temporarily be on the rise, a well-received single that becomes his biggest hit since The More You Ignore Me made Number 8 in March 1994. His appeal has never broadened beyond his admittedly loyal and substantial fanbase so do not expect any major commercial smashes over the next few months, but for the moment welcome the continuing presence in the charts of an artist whose semi-legendary status seems destined to remain forever undimmed.
19 ROCK ME GOOD (Universal)
Universal are three brothers from Australia who, like the Bee Gees thirty years before them, have come to Britain to make their bid for world stardom. By the looks of things they are well on the way. A series of appearances as support to a number of pop acts has helped establish their name and this rather endearing single with shades of Eddy Grant resounding from every note is as good a start as they could wish for. In fact this may turn out to be a long-running sleeper, released at just the right time to become the soundtrack to many a long summer holiday and like many summertime Number 19 may not be the pinnacle of its chart run.
21 YER OLD (Reef)
Reef's third hit single of the year, following the law of diminishing returns after a succession of Top 20 hits. If this new single fails to progress further it will become their smallest chart record since their debut Good Feeling made Number 24 in April 1995.
23 MOMENT OF MY LIFE (Bobby D'Ambrosio)
DJ and Producer Bobby D'Ambrosio may not be the most familiar of names but he is yet another in a long line of backroom wizards to step into the breach under his own name. Work on records by artists as diverse as kd lang, Tom Jones and Toni Childs has helped to establish his reputation, one that is certainly to be enhanced by this debut hit single, a 70s-inspired piece of dance soul that continues the retro trend pioneered this year by Masters At Work on the Nuyorican Soul project.
24 MAGIC CARPET RIDE (Mighty Dub Katz)
The Norman Cook story continues. The former Housemartins bassist-turned innovative dance producer extraordinaire continually keeps his fans guessing by apparantly adopting a new guise for each successive project he works on. After a couple of small hits in his own name at the turn of the decade he went on to massive success with Beats International. When that project faded a few years later he formed Freak Power who never really fulfilled their potential and whose only big hit was the famous Turn On Tune In Cop Out. Over the last couple of years he has moved even further into the world of dance music and recently became the hidden brains behind Pizzaman who had a number of minor hit singles, the biggest being Trippin' On Sunshine which made Number 18 last summer. Now Norman Cook transforms himself once more and becomes the Mighty Dub Katz. Their first single was Just Another Groove which just missed the Top 40 just before Christmas - the second release from the project, a curious collection of bleeps, samples and salsa rhythms, fares ever so slightly better.
28 LET THE BEAT HIT EM (Shena)
For such a simple piece of music Let The Beat Hit Em is a remarkably persistent track. First a hit for Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam in 1991 it has always been one of the club favourites of the 1990s. Few people actually know the track in its original form, the version that charted had been remixed into oblivion with Lisa Lisa's original vocals reduced to a mere supporting role a la Tori Amos on Professional Widow. Now Shena makes her UK chart debut with a new recording of the song, except this time the original melody and vocals have been left intact. Technically then a cover version but you would be hard pressed to find anyone able to identify it next to the 'original'.
29 SAY NOTHIN' (Omar)
The story of Omar is one of great unfulfilled potential. Hailed as a bright new talent of British soul in 1991 his career has so far failed to live up to expectations. Just five hit singles to his name in that period of which only one, There's Nothing Like This made the Top 40 (it was a Number 14 hit in June 1991). Now after a two year layoff the man is back and now finds himself in the Top 40 for the first time since with a single that although of high quality is hardly likely to set the world on fire. It serves at least to remind people of just what he can deliver.
32 THE MAGIC PIPER (OF LOVE) (Edwyn Collins)
Following up a hit like 'A Girl Like You' was always going to be a daunting task. Despite needing two releases to become a hit the retro-styled track became one of the smash hits of the decade two years ago, now seemingly elevated to the ranks of a pop classic and a hardy perennial of radio playlists ever since. This new single is his first release since the Gorgeous George album and maintains his reputation for making innovative but at times quite bizarre music. The Magic Piper is perhaps a little too strange to become a massive hit so for the moment A Girl Like You will continue to be this massive albatross, a hit for which he will forever be associated and for the moment it seems unable to equal.
37 AIN'T GONNA CRY AGAIN (Peter Cox)
By rights Go West should have been massive. The pairing of Peter Cox and Richard Drummie first burst into the charts in 1985 with the classic We Close Our Eyes and its follow-up Don't Look Down. By 1987 the hits had dried up and the band decamped to America where they reappeared on the "Pretty Woman" soundtrack with The King Of Wishful Thinking. Something of a second wind then struck with a string of Top 20 hits throughout the early 90s, the biggest being 1992's Faithful. After a Greatest Hits retrospective in 1993 Peter Cox split the band for good, promising to be back with a solo career. It may have taken four years but here he finally is with his distinctive voice sounding as good as ever. Ain't Gonna Cry Again might as well have been a Go West single for all the musical similarity it bears. Certainly it deserves better than this lowly chart peak but something tells me bigger hits are around the corner.