1 MMMBOP (Hanson)
As expected Hanson's glorious slice of pop notches up another week at the top of the charts, to become only the fifth single this year to manage more than a solitary seven days at the summit. Many have commented on the way trends in turnover at the top of the British and American charts have totally reversed from the position of ten years ago. Whereas previously singles in Britain would on the whole manage runs of at least a 3 or 4 weeks at Number One, the US charts were characterised by an almost continuous turnover of chart-toppers. Compare that to today where in this country we have had 14 singles at the summit already this year whilst in America singles fly to the top and remain there for weeks on end. As for Hanson's immediate prospects, they look fairly good given the competition in the Top 10 at present, as always the major threat comes from new releases and in particular one track which Australian readers will be annoyingly familiar with...
4 MIDNIGHT IN CHELSEA (Jon Bon Jovi)
Whilst most of the other members of Bon Jovi content themselves with making babies with models and TV stars, Jon Bon Jovi carries on with his musical duties and picks up his sporadically pursued solo career. His first project away from the other members of the band was in 1990 with the soundtrack to 'Young Guns II', an album which won him a clutch of Grammys and gave him two UK hit singles with Blaze Of Glory and Miracle. This time around he has teamed up with a rather surprising collaborator - namely David A Stewart, ex of the Eurythmics. Since the last Eurythmics album in 1990, Stewart has remained a potent source of hits although he never appears to be able to work the magic on his own material. Singles such as 1994s Heart Of Stone have attracted critical acclaim but never enormous sales. Fortunately no such jinx applies to this single, written and produced by the man himself and crooned beautifully by Jon Bon Jovi to give him his biggest chart hit since Always reached Number 2 in October 1994. Interestingly enough Jon Bon Jovi was denied a solo credit around the same time thanks to some bizarre labeling. His cover of the Eagles' Please Come Home For Christmas was credited to him alone when it first appeared at the turn of the decade on one of the Very Special Christmas charity compilations but when the track was released as a single and reached the Top 10 here in December 1994 it was credited to the band as a whole.
5 FREE (Ultra Nate)
This can be classified as a triumph over the general public's sheer unremitting unwillingness to buy your records. The Baltimore singer first came to public attention in 1989 when she released one of the all-time club classics. It's Over Now is one of those long-lost dance singles that is remembered with misty-eyed fondness by anyone into the garage scene at the time but which hardly saw a sniff of commercial action, reaching a misery Number 62 in December that year. Despite her lack of mainstream commercial success then, and indeed ever since, her name carries a great deal before her. Hence many people will be delighted to see her finally getting the success she deserves as after a break of 3 years and with a change of record label she finally scores her first ever Top 40 hit, and what a hit. Extensive radio and club support have launched Free into the Top 5 and hopefully persuaded people to blow the dust from copies of It's Over Now to remind themselves of just why this lady deserves to be where she is.
7 LOVE ROLLERCOASTER (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Wahay the Chili's, always loud, always funky and always guaranteed a good chart showing. T'was not always this way of course. Not until 1994 did Britain finally wake up to their brand of manic, grinding funk rock but since then the hits have been guaranteed. Their first hit since Aeroplane in early 1996 owes a little of its success to a film soundtrack.. namely "Beavis and Butt-Head Do America". The soundtrack has of course already produced one hit in the shape of LL Cool J's Number One version of Ain't Nobody but with the film now on general release the less obviously commercial tracks can now gain exposure. At a stroke Love Rollercoaster becomes their biggest ever UK hit, beating the Number 9 peak of their famous breakthrough hit Give It Away which made Number 9 in February 1994.
8 COCO JAMBOO (Mr President)
Those who have been a little further afield than the shores of this island with already be frustratingly familiar with this one. The whole of Europe is in the grip of this German dance track which follows every Eurodisco cliche imagineable and which inevitably could not fail to be massive. Personally I have to confess to being a sucker for certain records of this kind. A looping, bouncing electronic bassline, a female voice singing an unbelievably catchy hook and a male voice intoning ludicrous lyrics in the strangest of accents instantly conjures up memories of chuldhood holidays and long summer nights in continental bars and discos. There was a time when record companies would hold off releasing singles such as this until late in the summer to catch the waves of holidaymakers returning from the continent eager to buy the music that soundtracked their holidays. Nowadays no such timing is needed, the records will sell whatever the time of year. The fact that the track uses so many cliches makes it something of a novelty and I would not be surprised to see it in the Top 5 bext week.
10 THE END IS THE BEGINNING IS THE END (Smashing Pumpkins)
Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting this year's "Batman" soundtrack single. The film franchise has always proved a rich source of hits for artists lucky enough to be associated with the soundtrack. For the first one in 1989 Prince had total artistic control and he ended up with a string of hits, the biggest of course being Batdance which reached Number 2. Three years later came 'Batman Returns' and the honours fell to Siouxsie and the Banshees who made Number 21 with Face To Face in July 1992. 1995 saw U2 contribute to the soundtrack of 'Batman Forever' with the memorable Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me which made Number 3 and ended up one of the biggest selling singles of their career. Now with the release of 'Batman And Robin' just a few weeks away in this country the Smashing Pumpkins land with a bang inside the Top 10. The single with the longest title in the Top 40 this week is one of the biggest of their career. Only one single has charted higher for the band, Tonight Tonight which made Number 8 just over a year ago.
11 BRAZEN 'WEEP' (Skunk Anansie)
...and they just get better and better. The fourth single from 'Stoosh' instantly becomes the biggest, sailing past the peak of every single they have ever released to land tantalisingly short of a Top 10 placing. Like all the best Skunk Ananise singles it begins softly and discreetly before rising to a emotionally charged climax. Quite quite brilliant with the only mystery being why it took so long for this to become a single.
13 STRANGE (Wet Wet Wet)
The second hit single of the year for the Wets, this being the follow-up to the Top 3 hit If I Never See You Again. The achievements and ups and downs of the Glasgow band have been well documented in the past but it is worth considering that their first single Wishing I Was Lucky was released just over 10 years ago at a time when the band were considered pop icons and were the subjects of heated debates in teen magazines as to whether they were better than the pop darlings of the time, Bros. History has provided us with the answer.
14 WHATEVER (En Vogue)
Now a threesome but still as harmonious as ever, En Vogue notch up their sophomore hit for this calendar year. Whatever lacks a little of the appeal of Don't Let Go (Love) but still manages to land inside the Top 20, their sixth single to ascend to these heights.
16 DON'T WANNA BE A PLAYER (Joe)
The first solo hit single in a long long time for Joe, the first in fact since 1994 when he charted two singles in the Top 30, the biggest being I'm In Luv which reached Number 22. He has by no means been quiet since then of course, his vast musical talents have led to him being much in demand as a producer and performer, his work being heard on albums by acts such as TLC and Toni Braxton and with many East West acts having him to thank for prodcution duties on their recordings.
18 HEAD OVER HEELS (Allure featuring Nas)
The latest superstar be given the rope to hang herself, or to use the record industry term "her own record label" is Mariah Carey from whose svengali-like influence has come Allure. As with all celebrity bosses she has overseen as much as possible the nurturing of her new proteges, writing and producing this debut single [yeah, right]. To its credit the single isn't half bad and a Top 20 entry is a very good way for Allure to kick off their chart career but there is always the danger that this will be seen as a Mariah Carey track in all but name but possible detriment to the artists involved. Let's face it the list of acts who have failed with their own labels is far longer than those who have succeeded.. something George Michael may wish to bear in mind as Waltz Away Dreaming, the debut single from his own label takes a dramatic tumble down the chart this week.
21 SUNSTROKE (Chicane)
The second hit single from Chicane, following the same formula as its predecessor Offshore which reached Number 14 just before Christmas.
29 CAN WE TALK (Code Red)
Hmm... four above-average looking lads, bouncy pop harmonies and interviews in the media about how they are not just another boy band. Yes, it's just another boy band with their debut hit single, albeit one that has had more attention paid to it than most thanks to the fact that the song is written by Babyface and thus carries with it a certain degree of credibility. Credibility is all well and good of course but when you are hoping to build a career, sales to give you more than a Number 28 hit are preferable.
30 NEXT LIFETIME (Erykah Badu)
The second hit single for Erykah Badu, this the followup to On And On which reached Number 12. The rapid decline in chart position suggests that for all her critical acclaim and US success she still has some work to do to establish herself as a star in this country.
35 IT'S ALRIGHT (Deni Hines)
Here's a first, a genuine Australian soul star. Deni Hine's debut hit single is to all intents and purposes a piece of mid-Atlantic soul except that she, and indeed the record, is from Down Under and it is released on famous Aussie label Mushroom Records.
37 SHARE THE FALL (Roni Size/Reprazent)
A kind of jungle supergroup if you like, DJ and sometime radio presenter Roni Size heads up this combination of DJs Crust, Die and Sub, all of them well-known names on the jungle scene. Share The Fall is possibly the closest the Top 40 has come to having a genuine hardcore jungle track in the listings for a long, long while. Genuine, that is, as opposed to the toned-down commercial singles released by some artists that have no more in common with genuine jungle than borrowing its frantic beats.
40 SHE CRIES YOUR NAME (Beth Orton)
After three near-misses Beth Orton finally gets her head above water and charts a single inside the Top 40. Despite the critical acclaim for her debut album massive commercial success has so far not been forthcoming. Hopefully this profile-raising chart appearance and her forthcoming bookings on most of the summer festivals will change all this.