1 DON'T SPEAK (No Doubt)
Well it is a strange state of affairs when a record staying at Number One becomes news, but this is precisely what happens this week. No Doubt's global smash hit becomes the first record since the Spice Girls' 2 Become 1 to spend more than a solitary week at the top of the charts. This can be attributed in part to the strength of the song, a far worthier chart-topper than recent brief sparks from the likes of U2 and Blur, but also due in part to the lack of competition from below. Assuming that at the present time only a new release is likely to reach Number One, the two biggest new entries of the week are dance tracks which lack the radio and media penetration of other more mainstream acts. Even so, Don't Speak will do well to remain at the top next week, the release schedules full of potential from the likes of Kula Shaker, Eternal and Peter Andre... expect another busy chart this coming weekend.
2 ENCORE UNE FOIS (Sash!)
Here's the confusing bit, a French record originally release in France made by a German DJ. Strange but true, the Euro smash hit explodes onto the chart over here, missing by a whisker the chance of topping the listing but still managing to make quite an impact. Encore Une Fois is closely related to records such as BBE's Seven Days And One Week, a catchy piece of instrumental techno, this time sampling heavily from Faithless' Insomnia. [Not quite sampling, but so heavily inspired by it that it led to Rollo Armstrong considering his legal options for a time].
3 YOU GOT THE LOVE (Source featuring Candi Staton)
The disease of the remix strikes once again as this six year old dance classic is reactivated to charge straight to the top end of the charts. Candi Staton's solo hits dried up towards the end of the 1970s following classics such as Young Hearts Run Free and Nights On Broadway, and despite a brief comeback with a cover of Suspicious Minds in 1982 dropped out of sight of the charts to concentrate on gospel music. It was during this period that she first recorded You Got The Love which for years remained an underground classic. Remixer John Truelove thought the track had potential, and under the moniker of The Source made his own mix, losing all the original instrumentation and pitting Candi's vocals against a minimalist bassline. The result was a smash chart hit which reached Number 4 in February 1991. Clearly such a concept was too good to try only once and so six years down the line the track has been reactivated with mixers such as The Rhythm Masters and Heller and Farley trying their hand at making a velvet cushion out of the silk purse of the original. As a result the single crashes straight to the Top 3, one place higher than first time round. If anything the new mixes do little to add to the track, putting too much business and too many beats to at times swamp the beauty of the original. How can you knock a Top 3 hit though?
5 ALONE (Bee Gees)
You have to marvel at the longevity and staying power of the Bee Gees. This year they celebrate 20 years of UK hit singles and tonight (Monday 24th) will be rewarded with an Outstanding Contribution Award at the Brits. Alone is the first release from a forthcoming new album and their first Top 40 hit since How To Fall In Love Part 1 reached Number 30 in April 1994. Since then of course their songs seem to have never been out the charts with N-Trance having reworked Stayin' Alive two years ago and last year both Take That and Boyzone having Number One hits with new versions of their songs. Most significantly it is ten years since they last hit Number One with You Win Again. Twice before in their career they have topped the charts after a gap of more than 8 years and there is always a chance that they could do so again. Certainly to hit the Top 5 first week out is a sign of an act that is far from on the wane and whilst they won't reach the top with Alone, which at times verges on the pedestrian, as long as Barry Gibb's health holds up [ironically he's the only one of the three left alive as of 2017] and his falsetto remains intact they will remain one of the few acts from the 1960s to be still consistently charting in the late 1990s.
7 SWALLOWED (Bush)
It has been one of the more curious quirks of the last couple of years that the most consistently successful British act in America has utterly failed to get a sniff of chart action in their own country. After millions of records sold in the states the Grungers from Shepherds Bush finally redress the imbalance and land straight in the Top 10 with their first ever British hit single. For such a bizarre set of circumstances to occur is extremely unusual, especially in this day and age when British acts have up until recently had problems charting in America. The most recent example of a British single breaking first in America was of course Donna Lewis' I Love You Always Forever last year whilst in 1994, Irish act The Cranberries had to wait until Linger had become a US Top 20 hit before people would buy it over here. The phenomenon can work both ways of course, Tori Amos was promoted in this country before her record company would dare unleash her on America. Curiously the one member of Bush for whom a UK Top 10 single is nothing new is guitarist Dave Parsons who had two Top 10 hits in the late 1980s when a member of Transvision Vamp.
9 REMEMBER ME (Blue Boy)
Whilst record companies, pluggers and radio stations wring their hands in despair at the spiralling speed of the singles chart, it is worth paying attention to the few discs that genuinely do buck the trend and sustain their sales over a long period of time. Recent hits from Whitney Houston, En Vogue and No Mercy have outsold more than a couple of this year's parade of chart toppers and Remember Me can now be added to that list as the dance hit, in a series of moves that have astonished even their record company. moves back up the chart for the third time, having now progressed 9-13-8-10-9 and shows no sign of tailing off just yet.
11 WATERLOO SUNSET (Cathy Dennis)
With her early 90s dance kitten image far behind her, Cathy Dennis releases one of the more surprising singles of her career. In a classic case of "let's do this one for fun now we've finished the album" (which is such a cliche it's a wonder record companies still insist on using it) this cover of the Kinks' 1967 Number 2 hit becomes her biggest hit single since Touch Me (All Night Long) made Number 5 in May 1991. It's a fairly straightforward cover of a classic pop song, the picture completed by a cameo appearance from Ray Davies himself as a Taxi driver in the video.
13 READY TO GO (Republica)
The debut hit single for Republica, the British act to whom America has woken up first. The insistent appeal of Ready To Go that led to it becoming the anthem for the New Rangers Ice Hockey team also now leads to it becoming an instant Top 20 hit. Not since the days of Billy Idol has anyone fused the sounds of rock and dance so brilliantly and with lead singer Saffron in serious danger of becoming a fashion icon in her own right this is clearly merely the start of something big. [Not long term big anyway, but this remains a genuine and enduring classic of its time].
21 LAST NIGHT (Az Yet)
A UK chart debut for Az Yet with this piece of harmonised soul. Not unpleasant but with very little to set it apart from others of its ilk.
25 BEFORE TODAY (Everything But The Girl)
Keeping track of Everything But The Girl releases can get very confusing. Following the Top 49 success of the remix of Driving which was lifted from their Greatest Hits collection, attention now switches back to the Walking Wounded album for this fourth single. The law of diminishing returns means that this is destined to be the smallest but it still fails to spoil the most spectacular chart run of their 13 year career. A new album from the pair will be awaited with interest.
26 BATTLE OF WHO COULD CARE LESS (Ben Folds Five)
Far and away the coolest name to drop since they appeared in the charts last summer the Ben Folds Five build on their cult following with this second Top 40 hit from a forthcoming new album. They are clearly one act that will steadily grow in stature, this wonderful new single having already surpassed the peak of Underground which reached Number 37 last September.
27 SUMTHIN' SUMTHIN' THE MANTRA (Maxwell)
The second Top 40 hit single for wannabe lurve God Maxwell, this following on from the stylishly retro Ascension Don't Ever Wonder which made Number 39 in August last year.
30 CAN'T KNOCK THE HUSTLE (Jay-Z featuring Mary J Blige)
[Superstar debut klaxon!] Although something of an unknown quantity in this country, Brooklyn rapper Jay-Z has a name for himself in America having worked with many artists, among them SWV. His first ever UK hit features the vocals of Mary J Blige, here with her first Top 40 appearance since Not Goin' Cry in March 1996.
31 CALIFORNIA (Belinda Carlisle)
The law of diminishing returns rings true for Belinda Carlisle with the fourth hit single from the current album and set to be the first to miss the Top 20 altogether.
35 THE KING OF KISSINGDOM (My Life Story)
Someday soon My Life Story will be massive stars. Until then the 11-piece band cum orchestra will continue to be one of pop's best kept secrets. I recently interviewed singer Jake Shillingford and can confirm that he can talk for England and his clear in his desire to bring a little style and excitement to the charts by way of epic singles such as this which call to mind the grand visions of Jaques Brel combined with the offbeat quirkiness of acts such as Space and the Divine Comedy. This their third Top 40 but none yet have breached the Top 30. That surely is just a matter of time.
36 I MISS YOU (Bjork)
Remixed from Post, this is sadly set to become one of Bjork's smallest hit singles for a while. Indeed, if it fails to progress any further it will be her first to miss the Top 30 since Human Behaviour in June 1993.
38 COME ON EVERYBODY (GET DOWN) (US3)
Who can forget the way US3 burst onto the scene in 1993 like a breath of fresh air? Their rather inspired combination of samples from classic jazz records together with Hip Hop beats made them a worldwide sensation and gave legendary Jazz label Blue Note records one of its best selling albums ever. Britain was one of the few countries not to give them a massive hit single, their biggest being Cantaloop which made Number 23 in September 1993. Similarly this first single from a new album looks set to underachieve, even if this is one of the most refreshingly different tracks to have ever propped up the Top 40.