1 PROFESSIONAL WIDOW (IT'S GOT TO BE BIG) (Tori Amos)
A full 168 days since it first appeared on the singles chart, the dramatic reworking of the Tori Amos album track overcomes some stiff opposition to take its place at the top of the singles chart. This week has actually seen the tightest battle for the top for many months, Lisa Stansfield and the Backstreet Boys were neck and neck by midweek and only a late burst over the weekend has given Tori Amos the edge. Professional Widow is the second single in recent months to reach Number One as a result of being reissued, the last being Deep Blue Something's Breakfast At Tiffany's at the end of last year and it is refreshingly the first single to actually climb the chart to reach Number One since Deep Blue Something did so at the start of October. Tori Amos is one of those artists who commands an almost fanatical following amongst her fans who all appear to be rather serious individuals who love to analyse her songs until their glasses mist up and so the irony of her biggest ever hit being a hardcore dance remix featuring just a few distorted samples of her voice is one to be savoured at length.
2 QUIT PLAYING GAMES (WITH MY HEART) (Backstreet Boys)
It was close but in the end they miss out by the smallest of margins and have to be content with the runners-up slot - for now at least. This is the fourth hit single from the boy band and the biggest of the bunch so far, just squeezing out the Number 3 peak of We've Got It Going On back in August last year. The chart position is not undeserved as the song is the strongest they have released so far, even if it does little to elevate them above the multitude of other pretty boy wannabes that fill the pages of Smash Hits every week. With the long-term appeal of the Tori Amos track still in some doubt it is not out of the question that this single can rise to the top next week.
3 HEY CHILD (East 17)
Splitting up? Washed up? Not a bit of it if this single is anything to go by. The rumours about Brian Harvey's commitment to the band finally came to a head shortly before Christmas when he announced his decision to quit the group. Undeterred they have vowed to carry one, songwriter Tony Mortimer stepping into the limelight to handle vocals full time rather than sharing the duties with the departed rapper. If You Ever spent most of Christmas near the top of the charts and is second only to the 1994 Number One Stay Another Day as their biggest selling single ever and so to follow it comes the swift release of this track, also lifted from their current Greatest Hits retrospective. Although not as immediate as some of their singles, Hey Child builds to an epic climax and has proved that the group still have a future as it vaults straight into the Top 3. Being chart contemporaries of the legendary Take That has meant East 17 have always been seen as a poor second to the famous five, but in chart terms have proved to be just as successful. Hey Child is their 11th UK Top 10 hit - just short of Take That's final total of 13. [Watch out for a major Brian Harvey-created shitstorm developing, enveloping this hit single in the middle of it].
4 PEOPLE HOLD ON (THE BOOTLEG MIXES) (Lisa Stansfield versus The Dirty Rotten Scoundrels)
Back in 1989 Jonathan Moore and Matt Black aka Coldcut were searching for a singer to perform on their new single. They found one in the shape of Lisa Stansfield who at the time was the lead singer of pop hopefuls Blue Zone. That single was People Hold On, a Number 11 hit in March 1989 and as it turned out the last big hit for Coldcut but only the beginning for Lisa Stansfield who used it as the springboard for a career which has so far seen her have 11 Top 20 hits and one of the UK's most respected soul singers, even though she has not had a Top 40 hit since Little Bit Of Heaven at the end of 1993. Just before Christmas a white label of remixes of her very first hit single began circulating amongst club DJs amidst much speculation as to their legality. The mystery was solved when Arista records snapped up the rights to the mixes and opted to cash in on their immense popularity in the clubs. As a result, the Bootleg Mixes of People Hold On crash into the chart. The single was originally going to be a limited edition one week only release, but the commercial potential of the track could not be ignored and a good chart run is all but assured. Interestingly remixers Dirty Rotten Scoundrels who created the track are given co-billing on the single, compared to say the Tori Amos track for which she receives sole credit - demonstrating the different attitudes that record companies have to illicit reworkings of their material. The link with the Tori Amos track is further heightened by the fact that the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels have used the same loop as Professional Widow which means the two singles are all but identical save for the vocals. A gift for club remixers but a nightmare for pub quiz addicts in years to come for certain.
5 DON'T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA (Madonna)
After falling to Number 10 last week Madonna makes a dramatic comeback and marches back into the Top 5. The reasons for this are twofold, firstly the nationwide release of 'Evita' which has also pushed the soundtrack album to near the top of the albums listing. The second reason is the release of a second CD single - Don't Cry For Me Argentia - The Remixes. Said CD contains the Miami Street Mix of the song, a remix which transforms the showbiz ballad into one of the most astonishing dance records you will ever here. The vocals and melody are preserved but are shoehorned into a frantic flamenco-styled masterpiece which brings the 20 year old song kicking and screaming into the modern era. Quite what Lord Lloyd-Webber makes of it is anyone's guess but at a stroke it has expanded the potential audience for the single and has given it this lift up the charts.
6 2 BECOME 1 (Spice Girls)
Well after all the records they have set over the past few months who could have guessed that the Spice Girls would set another one, albeit one which most singles would rather avoid. Around 98% of Number One hits maintain their sales long enough to fall just a couple of places one they have been deposed but a select few make even more spectacular falls. Only 24 records have ever fallen from Number One out of the Top 5 - and 2 Become 1 has just become the 25th. It is only the second single in the 1990s to make such an ignominious exit from the top, the last being Iron Maiden's Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter which fell from 1 to 9 in January 1991. What is interesting to note is that many of these 25 singles were Christmas Number Ones, hits from Al Martino, Harry Belafonte, Flying Pickets, Dickie Valentine, The Beatles, Mud and the St Winifred's School Choir all having made their spectacular tumbles after having ruled the roost over Christmas. As for the biggest ever fall from Number 1, that honour goes to Harry Belafonte whose rendition of Mary's Boy Child fell to Number 12 in early 1958.
7 SAY WHAT YOU WANT (Texas)
A welcome return to the UK charts for Texas, the Glasgow band fronted by the lovely Sharleen Spiteri. They made their debut in 1989 with the classic I Don't Need A Lover but have had sporadic singles success since then, their biggest hit since their debut being their 1992 cover of Al Green's Tired Of Being Alone which reached Number 12. Having not released a single for almost three years, anticipation was high for their new single and it has not disappointed, an impressive sounding track which proves its credentials by crashing in to Number 7 to become their biggest ever hit single, beating by one place the peak of their debut. [The single which kickstarted Phase II of Texas' career and for a few years turned them into the biggest adult contemporary acts in Europe].
10 WHERE DO YOU GO (No Mercy)
The three Latino Boys who owe their discovery to The Artist who helped them with songwriting and let them develop their act at his club. Anticipation for this, their first single in this country, was built up thanks to a performance on the National Lottery show on TV just before Christmas. The result of all this buildup? An instant Top 10 hit on their debut.
12 SUGAR COATED ICEBERG (Lightning Seeds)
Once more we must repeat the mantra... when oh when are the Lightning Seeds going to have a smash hit. Whilst virtually every one of their singles has become a radio staple only the Euro 96 association with Three Lions has ever lifted Ian Broudie into the Top 10. This single, the followup to November's What If... may just be the one to break that duck. Co-written with Stephen Jones of Baby Bird, Sugar Coated Iceberg has all the usual ingredients, a cracking melody, wonderful uplifting vocals and a chorus to die for - and somehow this time has an extra magic that makes me tempted to suggest that this is one of their best single releases ever. Frustratingly it still falls short of the prize of a Top 10 hit, but a Number 12 entry means it edges past Change as their biggest ever hit single. Given that virtually ever single they have ever released deserves to be a Number One smash it is surely only a matter of time that one not associated with a football tournament does so for real.
13 IN MY ARMS (Erasure)
The return after a long absence for Vince Clarke and Andy Bell, whose career seemed to be stuttering along last time they were in the charts, their singles hitting the Top 20 and then vanishing fairly rapidly. To reassure themselves they still have an audience the duo took to the road for a mini-tour to preview their new album. The first single from that forthcoming release lands safely at Number 13, their biggest hit single since Run To The Sun in July 1994. It will be interesting to see what happens next. Competent though the track is there is no escaping the fact that compared to some of their earlier classics it sounds dull and pedestrian and should it fail to progress any further it will be the first brand new Erasure track to miss the Top 10 since the very start of their chart career.
15 COLD ROCK A PARTY (MC Lyte)
MC Lyte at one time appeared destined to be one of rap's wannabes. She has been recording for the best part of ten years without ever having a major commercial smash, despite a string of well-received albums. Her first taste of exposure over here came in1988 when she appeared on Sinead O'Connors flop single I Want Your Hands On Me. Her first ever chart appearance came in January 1994 when Ruffneck reached Number 67 and last June she made Number 38 with Keep On, Keepin' On. Finally, the lean years appear to be over as she charges into the Top 20 with this party rap hit which samples heavily from Diana Ross' Upside Down. One great pop song merges into another and the chart placing is deserved.
20 OVER AND OVER (Puff Johnson)
Lifted from the soundtrack of "The First Wives Club", the smash American hit makes a chart debut over here and gives Puff Johnson her first ever British hit. She has been around for a while, having performed backing vocals for artists as diverse as Wendy Moten and Tupac Shakur. The name 'Puff' comes from her parents who thought her so cuddly as a baby and has stuck ever since. Whilst this may be fine in America, over here it proves that the idiomatic clash of colloquialisms that gave the British such a giggle with the title of the film 'Free Willy' was by no means unique.
21 FREEDOM 2 (QFX)
A third hit for QFX and their biggest so far following on from Every Time You Touch Me and You Got The Power which were both Top 40 hits in 1996.
22 NUCLEAR HOLIDAY (3 Colours Red)
New band time yet again, 3 Colours Red having spent the back end of last year supporting several acts to build up a following of their own. To coincide with their current appearances on a showcase tour of new acts comes their first ever chart hit which crashes in at an extremely healthy Number 22. Expect bigger things from them during the course of 1997.
23 100% (Mary Kiani)
The first Top 40 hit in a long while for Mary Kiani, her last chart appearance being Let The Music Play which reached Number 19 in April last year. Her fourth UK hit is one of her best yet, a frantic Hi-NRG club hit which is a great pop song as well. She has yet to have a massive hit single but that will surely come, her biggest hit to date is the Number 18 peak of her chart debut When I Call Your Name in August 1995.
24 I AM (Chakra)
A club hit which has been floating around for the best part of a year, I Am was first released last summer. That release was a limited edition of 500 copies which all sold out within a day, making copies of it rarer than gold dust. Due to this any subsequent release was always going to be a hit and so it proves, freely available for the first time the single shoots into the Top 30.
35 THE DAYS EP (Kinks)
For reasons that are known only to the marketing men, it is time for a Kinks revival. That in itself is no bad thing, Ray Davies' band are to this day regarded as one of the quintessential English bands of their era, tracks such as You Really Got Me, Sunny Afternoon and Lola are all but untouchable classics. Their run of hits stretched from 1964 right up until 1983 when their last Top 40 hit was the Number 12 hit 'Come Dancing' which in itself ranks as one of their best ever recordings. Ray Davies has kept the band going and they still tour and record the occasional album for the benefit of a continental market that somehow still finds them appealing. Days was first released in 1968 when it reached Number 12 but is probably more familiar to a modern audience through Kirsty MacColl's version which also reached Number 12 in 1989. Recently the original has experienced something of a revival, being used in a successful TV advertising campaign for Yellow Pages, hence its presence as the lead track on this EP of Kinks classics.
38 I BELIEVE (Absolute featuring Suzanne Palmer)
Propping up the bottom end of a frantic chart comes this track, a fairly popular club tune from just before Christmas but whose commercial release has failed to quite catch fire this time around. As has often been said before it is always worth making a mental note of tracks such as this as they are obvious candidates for reissue in a few months time - and as the top of the chart has proved sometimes those reissues can prove spectacularly successful.