1 LOVE WON'T WAIT (Gary Barlow)
Those with more than a passing interest in numerology will have realised that this was inevitable. Consider the facts: Gary Barlow was the first ex-member of Take That to release a solo single with Forever Love which shot to Number One in June last year. Robbie Williams then followed with Freedom which peaked at Number 2. Mark Owen was next with Child - a Number 3 hit. Mark Owen's second single Clementine also peaked at 3, Robbie Williams' Old Before I Die made Number 2 a few weeks ago... therefore a second Number One for Gary Barlow was a foregone conclusion. Such mysticism aside the long wait between his two singles has been well worthwhile, Love Won't Wait is a move away from the slushy balladry of Forever Love and is the kind of sophisticated pop record that makes the inevitable talk of 'The New George Michael' seem more than fair comment. [Originally written and recorded by Madonna in 1994 but never released at the time. Oddly not on his Vevo channel nor indeed in any quality form on YouTube which suggests there are some weird rights issues going on here].
2 STAR PEOPLE '97 (George Michael)
Ironically enough denied by the very main who some say he is trying to emulate, George Michael nonetheless makes an impressive Top 3 entry with this single. The Older album has now proved itself to be far and away his most commercially successful recording ever. Five singles now lifted and every single one has been a Top 3 hit. Compare this with the two Top 3 hits produced by Faith and Listen Without Prejudice's scant total of one Top Tenner and one single which missed the Top 40 altogether. This sustained single success has of course be achieved with a little help from marketing tricks such as remixes - or in this case a new recording of the album track which gives it a much-needed transformation into a deserved commercial smash.
3 LOVE IS THE LAW (Seahorses)
A Top 3 entry by a totally new band needs a convincing story behind it and fortunately the Seahorses provide one. Leading light behind it is John Squire, former guitarist with the late lamented Stone Roses. Together with singer Chris Helm he has now recorded a whole album full of material and to herald its release comes this single. Perhaps understandably the reputation of Squire goes before it and a massive sale was guaranteed from the start. That is not to take anything away from the record itself which is certain to be the first of many hits for the Seahorses.
6 ALRIGHT (Jamiroquai)
Funkier and funkier with every turn, Jay Kay releases his first single since the Christmas smash of Cosmic Girl and steps even further back into the golden age of 70s disco. Unstoppable really and never less than brilliant, this is now his third Top 10 hit in a row.
8 BLOOD ON THE DANCEFLOOR (Michael Jackson)
Well of all the people you would expect to take a dramatic tumble from the top, Michael Jackson would surely be very low down the list. Still, all the superstardom in the world cannot save you from reality and Blood On The Dancefloor becomes the fifth single this year to fall out of the Top 5 from the Number One position. It has been said for ages that the phenomenon of a record entering the charts at the very top is so commonplace these days that it is no longer a sensation. Pretty soon dramatic tumbles could well be the norm, this seven place drop matches that of the Chemical Brothers last month as the second biggest fall of the decade.
11 I LOVE YOU... STOP! (Red 5)
The highest charting piece of dance this week is this entry from Red 5. Faithless-style pizzicato strings, thumping beats and no vocals other than the title line. Yep, it is rather ace.
12 MONKEY WRENCH (Foo Fighters)
Shock horror probe! Dave Grohl has finally come clean and admitted that the first Foo Fighters album was in reality a solo one, the band he formed around the name only came into being when the time came to promote the records. For their second outing they now are genuinely a recording unit and charge back into the charts with this brand new single which won't win them any new converts but certainly keeps the flag of intelligent grunge rock flying. For all their limited commercial appeal, the Foo Fighters have commanded a great deal of support, three of the four singles released from their first album made the Top 20, the biggest of course being their debut This Is A Call which made Number 5 in July 1995.
14 FALLING (Ant and Dec)
Ant and Dec's second hit of the year and their fourth Top 20 hit from their current run of hits. Following the sub-Lou Reed meanderings of Shout they herald the release of their new album with another change of mood, a weepy ballad that is tailor-made for 14 year olds to fall in love to. What is more worrying is that I rather like it. [Their last hit single as full-time pop stars].
15 TAXLOSS (Mansun)
At some stage they will run out of singles to release, but in the meantime here comes another gem from Mansun, easily one of the standout tracks from their album and benefiting from its mould-breaking dance treatment. Their fourth consecutive Top 20 hit.
16 IN MY BED (Dru Hill)
The second hit single from Dru Hill, following on from Tell Me which reached Number 30 back in February. Their promotion to Top 20 status is via this wonderfully cheesy piece of angst-ridden soul telling the classic tale of a man discovering his girl cheating on him. Soul music should really have progressed further than this, but it is still a winning formula.
19 YOUNG BOY (Paul McCartney)
Could he be the first Knight of the Realm to reach the Top 20? (Cliff hasn't since he was ennobled). Sir Paul, as we must now call him, returns to the Top 40 for the first time since he released the rather disappointing Off The Ground album in 1993 which only spawned a single Top 40 hit. Fortunately, especially for those of us who get nervous at the prospect of criticising such a legend, this new single is easily the best thing he has released since This One. No more lyrical naffness, no more straining for the high notes that these days are beyond him, this is pure class at work and launches him into the Top 20 for the first time since Hope Of Deliverance made Number 18 in February 1993. As well as the forthcoming new album, the single is also on the soundtrack of the new Robin Williams film 'Father's Day' but as the film is still several weeks away from release over here this is unlikely to have contributed to its success so far. Next on the agenda for Sir Paul must surely be a Top 10 hit - his last single to climb that high was Once Upon A Long Ago almost ten years ago.
22 WHERE ARE THEY NOW (Gene)
Gene's second hit single this year is far and away one of the best things they have ever released, nothing too raucous, just a fabulous piece of guitar-based pop. They are also the latest to add themselves to the list of "strange cover versions on the CD singles" as purchasers of this track are also treated to their rendition of REM's Nightswimming.
26 IT'S ALRIGHT, I FEEL IT! (Nuyorican Soul featuring Jocelyn Brown)
Nuyorican Soul is the name given to the latest project of Kenny 'Dope' Gonzalez and 'Little' Louie Vega aka Masters at Work. The first single from the album was Runaway, a galloping remake of a Salsoul Orchestra classic from the 70s. Now they team up with the greatest disco diva of them all, Jocelyn Brown for this single that perhaps lacks a little of the brilliant exuberance of its predecessor, but with two giants of American dance at the controls the quality is assured.
28 PURE (3 Colours Red)
The third Top 30 hit for 3 Colours Red, not a cover of the Lightning Seeds, although somehow you feel it would be so much better if it was. A perfunctory thrash workout that heralds the release of their debut album in a few weeks time.
29 STEP INTO MY WORLD (Hurricane #1)
Andy Bell is behind this, not the Erasure singer but the singer and guitarist of early 90s indie superstars Ride who broke up in 1995 amid recriminations and falling record sales. Starting from the bottom all over again is never easy so full credit to his new band for this start, an excellent record that bodes extremely well for the future. Hell, it worked for Cast and the Seahorses.
30 A PRISONER OF THE PAST (Prefab Sprout)
Go on, who doesn't like Prefab Sprout? Virtually the only criticism that can be levelled at Paddy McAloon is that he takes such an interminably long time to make records these days. Aside from 1992's Greatest Hits collection they are about to release their first album since 1990s Jordan: The Comeback which was arguably one of their best ever. Happily this new single looks as if they are continuing where they left off, a unique slice of their own sophisticated pop. Massive sales are never on the agenda for Prefab Sprout singles, they've only ever once reached the Top 10 (The King Of Rock And Roll in 1988) and this is only their seventh Top 40 hit since 1984.
31 AIN'T NO PLAYA (Jay-Z featuring Foxy Brown)
A curious combination. Jay-Z with his second hit single of the year, following on from Can't Knock The Hustle which featured Mary J Blige on vocals. Foxy Brown too makes her second Top 40 appearance of 1997, following on from her guest vocals on Blackstreet's Get Me Home.
35 DANCE WITH ME (Tin Tin Out featuring Tony Hadley)
Poor Tony Hadley. The former Spandau Ballet singer has spent most of the last five years nearly having hits. Despite a string of singles such as Lost In Your Love and last year's soundtrack-related Build Me Up which are amongst the best he has ever made, not one single platter has reached the Top 40. Finally this changes with this startling collaboration. Dance innovators Tin Tin Out have collaborated with the King of New Romanticism for this rather brilliant single. Tony Hadley himself claims this is a one-off so a big hit here would have given his career a huge boost. Despite all the buzz surrounding this single the chart placing comes as a major disappointment. This is one track that deserves much better.