1 I'LL BE MISSING YOU (Puff Daddy and Faith Evans)
Nothing, but nothing it seems can shift them. Last week it was Boyzone, this week it was Peter Andre who was expected to dispose of the longest-running Number One hit of the year so far and yet he, like the others before him has failed. Having now amassed six weeks in total at the top the single is almost certain to overtake No Doubt's Don't Speak as the biggest selling single of the year so far and could be set for a million copies by the time its chart run ends. What has cheered many people both in the industry and in the record shops themselves is that this has been achieved without any of the frantic discounting that is often used to hype records up the chart. Most singles are available cheaply during their first couple of weeks on sale to give people an incentive to buy early... no such practice went on for I'll Be Missing You. The single has never been available at anything less than full price yet it still went straight to Number One upon release and but for the minor hiccup of the Oasis single, has been there ever since. In all the fuss surrounding the track it is easy to overlook the history of the record on which it is based. Every Breath You Take was first released in May 1983 as the first single from the album Synchronicity and a few weeks later became the last Number One hit for The Police, spending four weeks at the top. The following month it became an American hit and gave the group their only US chart-topper. An airplay staple ever since, the song became a romantic anthem despite Sting's often pained attempts to point out that the song was about an evil obsession and was probably the nastiest song he had ever written.
2 FREED FROM DESIRE (Gala)
Gala's European hit single looks set to be around for a while. Now four weeks old it suddenly experiences a surge in sales to take it past Peter Andre of all people and up to a peak thus far of Number 2. Don't forget that over the course of the last year this track has topped the charts in many countries on the continent and the summer is still young.
3 ALL ABOUT US (Peter Andre)
It was a year ago that Peter Andre was the sound of the summer. Mysterious Girl was the song, an old Australian hit of his that had flopped first time round in September 1995 but on re-release in June last year shot to Number 2, denied only by the Spice Girls for the top slot and was still on the chart in September when the record company had to delete it for fear he would become burdened by the song. No such worries as the man with the washboard chest proceeded to hit Number One twice before the end of the year with Flava and I Feel You although neither matched the crossover success of the reggae-styled smash. Now after a break the man is back with a new image, a promise not to rely too heavily on his chest and with a single that has surprisingly failed to hit the top. Peter Andre was one artist whose following could be relied upon to send his records straight to the top of the charts but not only has he failed to dislodge Puff Daddy but has seen Gala overtake him towards the end of the week to force him back to Number 3. The song itself is no smash hit, with more of a harder dance sound than his previous singles but its major selling point is still the looks of the singer rather than the sound of the song. You can bet that nobody over 14 will buy this after this week.
5 BLACK EYED BOY (Texas)
1997 is certainly the year of Texas. After years of small but memorable hits, Texas have finally become superstars thanks to the White On Blonde album. First came Say What You Want which made Number 3 in January followed by Halo in April. Now to prove that neither was a fluke comes this third single from the album which has proved an instant hit with radio programmers and now blasts into the chart to become the second biggest hit of their career. Meanwhile its parent album has continued to sell relentlessly, on the back of this single it has climbed to Number 2, only kept from the top by the all-conquering Prodigy.
6 MO MONEY MO PROBLEMS (Notorious B.I.G.)
Whilst the song recorded as a tribute to him by his boss and his ex-wife maintains its stranglehold at the top of the charts, the late rapper himself crashes into the Top 10 with this second single to be released since his murder. Following in the footsteps of Hypnotize it overtakes the Number 10 peak of that last hit to give him his biggest hit so far. Indeed this week is a very good one indeed for rap in the Top 40 with 3 singles inside the Top 10 and a further hit lower down from another sadly deceased master of the genre.
13 WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DAY (Levellers)
A warm welcome back to the Levellers, the original commercial crusty band whose early style of fiddles and mandolins has been polished and refined over the years to turn them into the enormously popular band they are today with live shows second to none and records which are as thought-provoking as they are catchy. Excluding last year's live cut Exodus their last run of chart hits came in 1995 when they made the Top 20 three times, the last being Just The One, a modern day drinking fable featuring Joe Strummer and which lingered around the Christmas charts to become their biggest seller to date. What the Levellers have frustratingly failed to do thus far is score a Top 10 hit, coming closest in 1992 with the classic 15 Years which reached Number 11, the acidic What A Beautiful Day faring little better, their eighth Top 20 hit and 11th chart record in total. They do at least have the consolation of having a long way to go to beat the all-time Top 10 failures, AC/DC who to date have had 26 chart hits, none of which has ever advanced past Number 12.
14 BRUSHED (Paul Weller)
The 'Heavy Soul' album is now six weeks old yet so far has not had a single lifted from it. It says a great deal for Paul Weller's popularity that he could chart a Number One album without anyone sampling any of the tracks first of all. On hearing this single maybe that is just as well. His first hit since last August's Peacock Suit is as accomplished as all his recordings and continues his run of 11 straight Top 20 hits yet if one looks beyond the fact that the singer and writer is a Mr P.Weller it is easy to view the single (and indeed its parent album) as a series of muso noodlings rather than a genuinely memorable song. Quality music but very little to get excited about.
15 TOSS IT UP (Makaveli)
They may have worked on opposite sides of the United States but the tales of Biggy Smalls and Tupac Shakur will forever be intertwined as the tale of two brilliant artists who were gunned down in their prime. As the Notorious B.I.G. makes a debut in the Top 10 this week the second single from 2-Pac's alter-ego release lands in the Top 40, five places below the peak of To Live And Die In LA back in April. 2-Pac will probably turn out to be one of the most prolific stars of the year having charted in his own right with Ain't Mad Atcha, with the two Makaveli singles and also in collaboration with LL Cool J on Wanted Dead Or Alive back in April.
17 GET UP! GO INSANE! (Stretch and Vern)
One of the most memorable dance singles of last year was I'm Alive, the debut hit from Stretch and Vern which turned the introduction to Boogie Wonderland into a frantically rapped piece of dance that was accessible enough for it to become a massive pop hit. Since then the pair have bided their time, waiting for the moment to release a followup. Pity it wasn't worth the wait really. Get Up! Go Insane! this time is supposedly based on House of Pain's Jump Around although you would be hard-pressed to spot where. Indeed the most memorable sample from the original is the brass riff from the start which itself was sampled from Harlem Shuffle in the first place. In short, apart from the title, there is very little memorable about this single. I'm Alive was a Top 10 smash. This won't be and it will probably fall to Chumbawumba to provide us with the most left-field dance smash of this summer.
18 TARANTINO'S NEW STAR (North and South)
Following a lengthly series of PAs around Europe the "world famous" North and South release their second hit single over here. The band remember are a kind of Monkees for the 1990s, created for a TV series about a young teenage group although not totally devoid of talent. [There's a fascinating S Club 7 parallel here isn't there. Almost as if this lot were the template]. Nonetheless, despite the success of the TV series (which has now finished airing) they have still yet to establish themselves as a major chart success. Their first single I'm A Man Not A Boy, the song that appeared to be one long chorus, made Number 7 back in May whilst this new song fares slightly worse. It's a very clever record, implying that the subject imagines themselves as something very important, including the person mentioned in the title but this is mainly spoiled by the bizarre production which has resulted in the rhythm track making a grinding, churning noise throughout and totally ruining any pop atmosphere the single may have had. They may be making a genuine attempt to break the mould of boy bands and develop the genre into something new. For the moment it may be that people remain unconvinced. [Funny story here, this was the kind of record the radio station I worked for at the time would not have normally touched with a bargepole. But North and South had been long booked as one of the star names for our first annual "Party In The Park" summer event and so it was playlisted and put in heavy rotation accordingly. The kicker being that event was due to take place on August 31st 1997 only to be cancelled in the wake of an unfortunate car accident].
30 SPEAK TO ME SOMEONE (Gene)
Gene appear for the moment to be consigned to the second division of indie acts, despite clearly having the talent and musicianship to be one of the best. Their third hit of the year and the eighth Top 40 succes of their career follows the law of diminishing returns compared to peaks of Nos. 17 and 22 for Where Are They Now and Speak To Me Someone. Their biggest hit dates back to January 1996 when For The Dead made Number 14 but if The Verve can have a smash hit single after apparently splitting up then it should be Gene's turn pretty soon.
32 ELECTRICITY (Spirtualized)
Now this is a welcome surprise. Perennial chart-also rans Spiritualized have been around in one form or another since the start of the decade, their first single Anyway You Want Me scraping in at Number 75 in 1990. Since then they have released three albums yet only ever once made the Top 40, back in February 1995 with Let It Flow. Things may well be changing as their third album recently made the Top 10 and now this single pitches them into the upper reaches for only the second time.
33 LOVE LADY (Damage)
A startling chart turnaround for Damage. After a run of four successive Top 10 hits which climaxed recently with their cover of Eric Clapton's Wonderful Tonight their fortunes suddenly take a dip with this new single charting well down the listings. It may be the fifth Top 40 hit from the album but this still comes as something of a shock.
34 IS THERE SOMEONE OUT THERE? (Code Red)
The title could almost be prophetic given the way Code Red's career appears to be falling off the rails even before it has begun. After two near misses last year they first hit the Top 40 in June with can we talk after failing to become Britain's entry at Eurovision. That single made Number 29 with this one faring even worse despite falling firmly into the category of "not half bad". Maybe North and South have the right idea after all.
40 LOOK AT YOURSELF (David McAlmont)
Remember this chap? David McAlmont was the man with a voice like an angel who teamed up so memorably with Bernard Butler in 1995 to release Yes and You Do, easily two of the finest records of the decade and in the case of the former the most passionate and uplifting soul record of all time. After the pair split it was always likely that David McAlmont would release his own records and although it has taken time, here comes his first solo hit proper. What is strange is that he should have chosen to release a Motown-styled rock stomper. Look At Yourself is the kind of record Robert Palmer was making in the late 1980s, big, bold and hideously inappropriate for his voice. This man sings like a choirboy with the weight of the world on his shoulders, so why drown his voice in a mass of guitars and brass stings? It makes no sense at all.