1 MMMBop (Hanson)
Three weeks on top of the pile for Hanson, equalling the highest total of the year as also attained by No Doubt, The Spice Girls and R Kelly. Indeed with the rapid turnover at the top that we have witnessed in recent months it is surprising to relate that the last single to remain at Number One for more than three weeks was the Spice Girls' 'Wannabe' which managed seven weeks over the course of last summer. Hanson remain at Number One with a comfortable lead over their rivals and with their album entering at Number One also this week it looks as if Hansonmania will be with us for some time to come.
2 I WANNA BE THE ONLY ONE (Eternal)
In a year which has seen no less than nine different records spend just seven days at the top of the charts, it is refreshing to see that Eternal's brief spell at the top was as a result of unfortunate timing rather than any flash in the pan appeal for their single. Since being deposed by Hanson I Wanna Be The Only One has remained at Number 2 ever since to become far and away their biggest selling single ever.
3 TIME TO SAY GOODBYE (Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli)
We have something of a logjam at the top end of the chart this week as Time To Say Goodbye remains at Number 3 to make this the first time this year that the entire Top 3 has remained the same as the previous week. The consistency of this single has to be marvelled at, a semi-operatic ballad in marked contrast to any other single in the whole chart, it has spent five weeks in the Top 5 and is certain to be one of the year's biggest sellers.
6 HOW HIGH (Charlatans)
The third hit of their current run for the Charlatans, clearly having recovered from the death of Rob Collins and to prove it deliberately releasing How High, one of the most optimistic and cheerful tracks on the album. This year will surely go down as the year they were transformed from perennial chart strugglers into a genuine hitmaking force - this is their third Top 10 hit in a row.
7 HARD TO SAY I'M SORRY (Az Yet)
Just missing out in the race to become the biggest new hit of the week, Az Yet still make an impressive debut with their second hit single. Of course with a song of this pedigree a hit was guaranteed. Hard To Say I'm Sorry was the song responsible for resurrecting the career of Chicago back in 1982, making Number 4 over here and reaching Number One in America. To this day it remains one of the greatest MOR ballads of all time. Az Yet's version quite sensibly stays faithful to the original, although as a song it lends itself perfectly to close barbershop harmonies so it is hard to see where they could have gone wrong. The tribute is completed by the appearance of Peter Cetera himself on backing vocals - indeed the only thing that spoils the track is the fact that is misses out the uptempo optimistic coda that rounded off the original to uplifting effect.
9 I'LL BE (Foxy Brown featuring Jay-Z)
Foxy Brown's American smash hit makes an impressive debut appearance over here. The distinctive song that samples heavily from Blondie's Rapture is far and away her biggest hit to date and given its energy and pure pop brilliance that is hardly a surprise. Following her chart career so far has required something of a degree in cross referencing. Although this is her third Top 40 appearance of the year it the first time she has been top of the bill as it were. She first appeared with Blackstreet on Get Me Home which made Number 11 in March and two months later was the featured singer on Jay-Z's Ain't No Playa which made Number 31. Now Jay-Z returns the favour, guesting on this, one of the best new singles of the week.
10 SUN HITS THE SKY (Supergrass)
The second Top 10 hit of the year for Supergrass following Richard III which made Number 2 back in April and finally laid to rest the ghost of the ultra-commercial unrepresentative Alright from a couple of summers back. Ironically enough Sun Hits The Sky is a far better single than Richard III, more tune and less noise being the elements in its favour to give them their fifth Top 10 hit since 1995.
11 I WANT YOU (Savage Garden)
Charting somewhat lower than had been expected, but doing more than enough to qualify as a sizeable hit is the debut single from Savage Garden. The frantic pop song from the Australian duo was the biggest selling single of 1996 Down Under and has already made a huge impression in America. It is not hard to see why, the song evokes memories of Roxette at their very best and is far and away one of the most brilliant, catchiest, radio-friendly singles around at the moment. If this fails to progress further than Number 11 it will be a massive disappointment to a great many people - although something tells me that with more and more exposure this single has not quite shot its bolt yet. [Sort of correct, but it would take a year for Savage Garden to catch fire properly].
14 I COULD NOT LOVE YOU MORE (Bee Gees)
The current success of the Bee Gees is all the more impressive when you consider that they are selling records without the benefit of mainstream radio play. Aside from Radio Two, few stations have been willing to pick up on either Alone or this new single. Quite clearly it is without detriment as they follow up their earlier Top 5 hit with this new single, the first time the group have had two successive Top 20 hits since Love You Inside Out and Spirits (Having Flown) both made the grade in 1979 and 1980 respectively.
16 SUNDAY SHINING (Finlay Quaye)
The debut single for hot new prospect Finlay Quaye, and what a way to begin your chart career. For his first single he has made a new, bluesey version of an old Bob Marley song. Sunday Shining is certainly not most people's first choice as a classic Marley track so to most it will be a totally new song. Top 20 for him then, we wait to see what his own material sounds like.
17 AMOUR (C'MON) (Porn Kings)
A good Top 20 entry for the Porn Kings with yet another appealing slice of electronica. It comes no less than nine months since their first hit, Up To No Good which made Number 28 at the end of last September.
19 BELLISSIMA (DJ Quicksilver)
A word of respect is due to DJ Quicksilver's hit which has proved to be one of the most enduring dance singles of the year to date. Released at the end of March, it peaked at Number 4 a fortnight later, spent 8 weeks in the Top 10 and now rises back up the chart a notch to remain in the Top 20 for the 12th successive week, more than both Don't Speak and I Believe I Can Fly which could only manage 11 each.
21 NOT WHERE ITS AT (Del Amitri)
Always a welcome presence in the Top 40, Del Amitri return after a break of two years and in the wake of the massive and somewhat unexpected US success of Roll To Me with this first offering from a forthcoming new album. Although never less than extremely well made, records from the Scottish band tend to be a bit hit and miss. Either they will be radio-friendly slices of pop brilliance or they will be mournful strums that are in danger of disappearing up their own worthiness. Happily this new single falls into the latter category with one of those choruses that gets under your skin after just a couple of plays. All it suffers from is the chart jinx that has seen them become one of the most popular and consistent bands of the decade yet never climbing further than Number 11 and with only four Top 20 hits to their name in the whole of their career.
25 NEVER NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP (Lisa Stansfield)
Lisa Stansfield has always had an affinity for Barry White. The opening monologue to her most famous hit All Around The World was directly inspired by many of the Walrus Of Love's recordings and the man himself returned the compliment by duetting with her on a new version of the track which appeared as a B-side in 1992. Now the angel from Rochdale releases a cover version for the first time and turns to Barry White once more for inspiration. His original made Number 14 in 1974 and has always been one of his standards. No version by anyone else, least of all the dulcet tones of Lisa Stansfield could ever come close to the original but this version makes a reasonable fist of a tribute. It is by no means the first time that a female artist has chosen to cover a Barry White track. In 1993 Taylor Dayne reached Number 14 with her version of Can't Get Enough Of Your Love.
29 HOLE IN MY SOUL (Aerosmith)
The second single release of the year for Steve Tyler et al, and another Top 30 hit is the result. Hole In My Soul, despite the mock C&W intro is slightly less of a commercial proposition that its predecessor as reflected by this lower chart position.
37 HELP ME MAKE IT (Huff + Puff)
Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Part of the pleasure of being a music writer is the opportunity to be obnoxiously rude in public about records that quite clearly deserve it. The chance to be obnoxiously rude twice over about the same record is at the same time an enormous pleasure but also quite regrettable. Huff and Puff's track is quite simply one of the most outrageously unnecessary cover versions ever made. What the record does is to take Gladys Knight's famous rendition (complete with opening monologue) of Help Me Make It Through The Night - easily one of the most beautifully moving soul records ever made - and turns it into a piece of electronic dance. Not in a respectful sense, not in an inspired way but in such a manner as to be little more than musical vandalism. First released last October it reached Number 31, on which occasion I expressed a hope that it would be swiftly forgotten within weeks. Second time around it falls seven places short of that original peak and carries with it my personal and fervent hope that nobody makes an attempt to inflict this monstrosity on the public again.
38 WHAT KIND OF MAN WOULD I BE (Mint Condition)
The first ever Top 40 appearance for Mint Condition, the R&B group who first came to attention as the backing singers on Janet Jackson's last worldwide tour. Now with their own recording career they open their chart account with this ballad, no relation to the old Chicago hit. The most curious thing about the record is how retro it sounds - right the way down to the electric guitar solo in the middle to all intents and purposes it could have been made ten years ago. Whether that is a sign of unoriginality or simply a case of using a tried and tested formula is somewhat open to interpretation. [A bit harsh this analysis, Mint Condition despite their low profile were very well respected in their time. This was their one and only UK Top 40 appearance though].