1 BEETLEBUM (Blur)
Remember summer 1995? It was the much-hyped "Battle Of The Bands" when both Blur and Oasis released a single on the same day and the media whipped themselves into a frenzy predicting who would come out on top. That particular battle was won by Blur, Country House charging to Number One just ahead of Oasis' Roll With It. Since then things have become a little more clear cut. Whilst each subsequent Oasis release just got bigger and bigger, Blur appeared to slip into a hole with The Great Escape album not quite selling in the hoped-for quantities and with subsequent singles getting smaller and smaller. Meanwhile, Oasis briefly cracked America and in terms of column inches became the biggest band in the country... Blur are, well....
Their first brand new single for nearly 18 months puts paid forever to any comparisons between Blur and Oasis. Whilst the Gallagher brothers (when they get round to releasing new material) perform their own innovative form of guitar-based rock, Damon Albarn has progressed his band even further down the road of innovation. Beetlebum was first released to radio just before Christmas. A good job as well as it is one of those singles that take time to get used to. What is most astonishing about the 5.5 minute opus is that it could have been lifted straight from The Beatles' White Album. The sheer quality of the track and the inevitable anticipation that accompanies any new release by such a major band was enough to propel the record straight to Number One, in the process outselling by 3:1 both the Number Two and Number Three singles put together. It's their second Number One single and proof enough that despite their critics, Blur are a force to be reckoned with.
2 YOUR WOMAN (White Town)
The success of Jyoti Mishra's single last week sparked a mini media feeding frenzy as the press realised they knew little about the man behind the smash hit single. The somewhat shy student suddenly found himself thrust into the limelight although he still avoided actually appearing in person. As it turns out his moment of glory was short-lived as the all-conquering Blur single shoulders Your Woman out of the way. It means of course that we are now four weeks in to 1997 and every single chart has seen a different record at the top. Even Beetlebum can be expected to have a limited appeal and will have been bought this week by most interested parties. By the looks of things it could be some time yet before we have a genuine long-running chart-topper.
3 OLDER/I CAN'T MAKE YOU LOVE ME (George Michael)
Continuing his slow but steady release schedule, George Michael releases the fourth single from the Older album in the shape of the title track. In terms of singles sucess the album is one of the most successful is ever likely to release, four singles, two Number One hits and every single one a Top 3 smash. Not even Faith came close to emulating this feat, of its six singles, only the title track and I Want Your Sex reached the Top 3.
4 NANCY BOY (Placebo)
A sudden surge in chart fortunes for US act Placebo who first appeared in the charts back in September last year with the Top 30 hit Teenage Angst. Their biggest hit to date becomes a genuine smash, a tongue in cheek record with a catchy chorus that has instantly hooked them a large sale for this single. Its sales have been helped not a little by their recent appearance at the concert to celebrate David Bowie's 50th birthday at which this single went down a storm.
7 WALK ON BY (Gabrielle)
Both of Gabrielle's last two hit singles have been thanks to TV shows. Just before Christmas she duetted with East 17 on a cover of If You Ever, that single being inspired by a performance the two acts made on a French TV show. Towards the end of last year Gabrielle made an appearance on the Channel 4 show "TFI Friday" and performed the Dionne Warwick classic Walk On B'. Appreciation was universal, not least from songwriter Burt Bacharach who was in the audience for the show that evening. Spotting a hit a mile off, her record company aranged for her to record the song in the studio and it duly charges into the Top 10 to give Gabrielle her biggest hit single since Give Me A Little More Time exactly 12 months ago. Walk On By is an astonishingly popular song having now charted in no less than six different versions. First came Dionne Warwick's original which made Number 9 in 1964. That was followed in the 1970s by versions from the Stranglers and the Average White Band, a cover by D-Train in 1982 before Sybil took the song to Number 6 in 1990 - to date its highest ever chart position.
9 REMEMBER ME (Blueboy)
A high new entry for one of the most popular dance singles of the year so far. Shrouded in mystery, Blueboy are a set of producers [just one actually, Lex Blackmore] from Scotland who have created this track around the vocals from a long-lost Marlene Shaw b-side [Woman Of The Ghetto]. Whatever its origin, it sounds wonderful and is a deserving Top 10 debut hit.
13 HEDONISM (JUST BECAUSE YOU FEEL GOOD) (Skunk Anansie)
The first single release of 1997 for Skunk Anansie and they celebrate with their biggest ever hit single. Hedonism is probably one of the mellowest singles the band have ever released and Skin shows her voice can handle even the slowest of ballads. A worthy chart position from a band who simply get better and better.
14 CANDY GIRL (Baby Bird)
Funny old thing, life. Baby Bird spend the best part of five years as one of British music's best-kept secrets, they release one single (You're Gorgeous) and now find themselves nominated for a clutch of Brit awards and with leader Steven Jones becoming an unlikely sex symbol. Certainly, the success of You're Gorgeous made up for all the waiting, a Number 3 hit and 14 weeks inside the Top 40, all thanks largely to most people missing the point of the song. As you might expect the followup carries with it less of a sensation, maybe owing largely to it being '...Gorgeous' part two, following the same formula and with the same sort of feel. It does at least establish Babybird as a chart presence, something which most will agree has been long overdue.
17 WE COULD BE KINGS (Gene)
Gene's followup to Fighting Fit charges past the Number 22 peak of its predecessor to land them inside the Top 20 for only the third time ever. It still falls short of their biggest hit ever, that honour falling to For The Dead which made Number 14 in January 1997.
21 TUM BIN JIYA (Bally Sagoo)
The most astonishing crossover story of the year continues with the second hit single for Bally Sagoo. The only artist ever to perform a chart hit entirely in Hindi is rapidly developing into a star thanks to the push from a major label which has brought Asian music into the charts for the first time ever. Tum Bin Jiya is a rather lovely song that is getting a surprising amount of airplay and even merited a performance on the BBCs National Lottery show a few weeks ago. It looks as if it will fall short of his first hit, Dil Cheez made Number 12 in October last year.
27 YOU DON'T KNOW (Cyndi Lauper)
Time for another comeback for Cyndi Lauper who was last seen in the British Top 40 in 1995. Back then she was promoting her Greatest Hits collection, an album which spawned a smash hit in the shape of her reworking of her own Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and two other lesser hits, the last being Come On Home which made Number 39 in August 1995. Her singles always tend to be slightly hit and miss affairs, they either become smashes or they make brief appearances in the lower reaches. Sadly this single looks to be one of the latter but it still does enough to become her seventh UK Top 30 single.
31 ALL I WANT (Offspring)
The first hit single after a long absence for Offspring, their last Top 40 appearance being back in February 1995 with Self Esteem which made Number 37.
32 SO MANY WAYS (Braxtons)
The first ever hit single after a seven year wait for the group of three sisters whose main claim to fame is being the launchpad for sister Toni who left them some years ago to go on to enormous worldwide success.
38 RIDE THE TIGER (Boo Radleys)
The third hit single of the current run for the Boo Radleys, following in the footsteps of C'mon Kids which reached Number 18 in October last year. The low chart position of this acoutically-driven song will come as something of a disappointment as the success of their last hit represented something of a mini-revivial for them as they try to overcome the potential albatross of the all-pervading popularity of Wake Up Boo.
40 YOU CAN'T STOP THE REIGN (Shaquille O'Neal)
What is it about incredibly tall men that makes American record companies want to turn them into soul singers. First of all there was Montell Jordan and now one of the biggest basketball stars of all, Shaquille O'Neal who makes his recording debut with this surprisingly good rap single.