1 BARBIE GIRL (Aqua)
Still the relentless sales of Aqua's hit single continue. With this, Barbie Girl's third week at the top, it has now sold over 800,000 copies in this country and is well on course to give 1997 yet another million-selling single. To find a novelty hit (as this must surely still be classified) as big as this one has to go back as far as 1989 for Jive Bunny's Swing The Mood which also sold close to a million copies.
3 TELL HIM (Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion)
A pairing born of a chance meeting backstage at this years' Oscars ceremony, the two most distinctive noses in female balladry combine voices for a fairly pretty if rather formulaic piece of transatlantic easy listening fodder. For Celine Dion it is her second hit of what has been a rather quiet year by her standards, her only other chart entry in 1997 being Call The Man which made Number 11 in June. Barbra Streisand on the other hand has now had one of her most prolific chart years for many a long while. She made the Top 10 back in February, duetting with Bryan Adams on I Finally Found Someone and this is the first time she has had two successive Top 10 hits since 1979. Indeed Tell Him is her biggest hit single since Woman In Love was at Number One exactly 17 years ago this week.
4 SPICE UP YOUR LIFE (Spice Girls)
Spice Up Your Life continues its slow progress down the chart having now moved 1-2-3-4 since its release and with its sales likely to be dented by the availability of its parent album Spiceworld which makes a spectacular debut at the top of the albums listing this week. The girls found themselves in the news this weekend for a rather unusual reason - their sacking of manager Simon Fuller. The head of 19 Management had been labelled by the music press as 'Svengali Spice' for his part in turning the five British girls from disparate musical backgrounds into the biggest marketing phenomenon of the decade. He controlled everything, what they did, who they promoted, the music that was released, even which members of the press they spoke to. Their domination of the media was orchestrated by him in a schedule which the girls sometimes complained left them exhausted. Now he is gone and some will speculate that this is the musical equivalent of demolishing the foundations on which your house is built. Certainly the Spice Girls are now temporarily adrift, shorn of the marketing and promoting muscle that made them what they are today. Plenty of acts have parted company with managers, the ones who survive are established superstars such as Elton John, Prince and Michael Jackson who can stand on the strength of their own talents. As manufactured acts such as Bros have proved, biting the hand that fed you in the first place can be the beginning of the end.
6 CHOOSE LIFE (PF Project featuring Ewan McGregor)
This is such an inspired idea you wonder why nobody thought of it sooner. Adorning many a student bedroom is a poster containing the opening words of the film "Trainspotting", an embittered rant by actor Ewan McGregor against all the material and social artefacts that he and his characters have chosen to reject in their drug-fuelled lives. Jamie White, the brains behind the 1996 hit Hot And Wet by Tzant thought it would make a great dance record and duly pressed up a white label version of the monologue, skillfully lifted from the original film soundtrack and placed over a thumping electro beat. The track came to the attention of Positiva records who had released the original soundtrack album and who felt it would be perfect for a followup platter of tunes from the film that never made it onto the original soundtrack. As a result the album "Trainspotting 2" was opened by a rerecorded Choose Life, now made using the original master tapes of McGregor's monologue and with the full approval of all involved. After a slight delay the track is now released as a single and dutifully crashes into the Top 10. There is a suspicion that there was a better dance record to be made out of the monologue but the fact remains that nobody else has and it is the PF Project that have the hit single, albeit one that uses a rather sanitised version of the film dialogue for the benefit of sensitive radio audiences and possibly removes much of the anger that was behind the speech in the first place. [This unusually detailed account of an otherwise random club track was entirely down to Jamie White being a regular reader and giving me the full inside info on what he was confident was going to be a huge smash hit].
7 OPEN ROAD (Gary Barlow)
This is slightly more like it, the title track from Gary Barlow's first solo album and a far more appealing prospect than the dirge that was So Help Me Girl. The song, penned by the man himself outstrips the Number 11 peak of its predecessor to give him his second Top 10 hit of the year and to surprise the critics who expected his singles sales to mirror those of former bandmates Robbie Williams and Mark Owen by showing a steady decline.
8 JAMES BOND THEME (Moby)
Most will be familiar with this by now, techno king Moby's breathtaking remake of John Barry's original 007 theme that drags the most famous guitar riff in cinematic history kicking and screaming into the late 1990s. Coming hot on the heels of the Propellerhead's On Her Majesty's Secret Service it is just one of a string of Bond-related hits that are set to chart over the next few weeks. Expect soon a second David Arnold single, this time in collaboration with David McAlmont to be swiftly followed by Sheryl Crow's official theme to the new film Tomorrow Never Dies.
10 PUT YOUR ARMS AROUND ME (Texas)
Do Texas really need any more plaudits? The most acclaimed band of the year make it a foursome of Top 10 hits with another single from the White On Blonde album. A gut-wrenchingly beautiful ballad it could hardly miss and so gives the world another chance to play Spot The Subtle Tribute, Sorrow by The Merseys (a hit in 1966) quite possibly being the inspiration here.
13 JANIE DON'T TAKE YOUR LOVE TO TOWN (Jon Bon Jovi)
Following the law of diminishing returns but still making an impressive debut, Jon Bon Jovi's third solo hit of the year may be the smallest but still gives him a 100% strike rate of Top 20 hits. Indeed the last single with which he was associated to miss the Top 20 was another solo one - Miracle which made Number 29 in November 1990.
14 I'M SO LONELY (Cast)
The album Mother Nature Calls spawns yet another hit single, another pop masterpiece from John Power et al and an example of just how effortless they seem to make the production of classic ballads such as this one. It is the first Cast single to miss the Top 20 since Alright peaked at Number 13 in September 1995 but still maintains their 100% strike rate of Top 20 hits - a run that now stretches to 9.
16 GUNMAN (187 Lockdown)
Dance record: idea/white label/club hit/official release/Top 20 entry/formula/dull. [Can I have my money now please?]
20 BROWN PAPER BAG (Roni Size)
The surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize were Roni Size and Reprazent, an award welcomed with open arms as an example of quality music being recognised no matter how far away from the mainstream it might seem. The first single released since the ceremony demonstrates just how the award can help to bring an act to a whole new audience, Brown Paper Bag soaring into the Top 20 compared to the Number 31 peak of Heroes back in June.
21 DON'T LEAVE (Faithless)
How wonderful life can be sometimes. Don't Leave was possibly one of the most outstanding tracks on Faithless' Reverence album. Closer to a proper song than any of the others, it is a beautiful laidback track featuring Jamie Catto's vocals and very little else. Originally released in March 1996 as the third Faithless single, like the rest, at the time it badly underperformed and peaked at Number 34. Over a year and a half later the track features prominently on the soundtrack to A Life Less Ordinary and now in a remixed form (guitars and choral wailings added) the single is re-released to a far more positive response. Number 21 is still possibly less than this wonderful single deserves but to hear it all over the radio once more is nothing less than a positive joy.
24 IF YOU WALK AWAY (Peter Cox)
The second solo hit single from the former Go West frontman. Despite the apparent quality of Ain't Gonna Cry Again it only made Number 37 back in August, mainly because it still sounded like a classy Go West number from the mid-80s. The followup fares slightly better and gives him his biggest hit since Go West's cover version of Tracks Of My Tears made Number 16 in October 1993.
33 INKANYEZI NEZAZI (THE STAR AND THE WISEMAN) (Ladysmith Black Mambazo)
The legendary South African singers resurface for another of their sporadic hit singles. Despite the beauty of their tribal chants a gimmick is always needed to bring them to mainstream attention. The last time they were in the Top 40 was in June 1995 with Swing Low Sweet Chariot to tie in with the Rugby Union World Cup finals being held in South Africa at the time. The appearance of 'Inkanyezi Nezazi' is as a result of the track being used in a TV ad for... er baked beans. Doesn't the group who helped make Paul Simon's Graceland such a massive international success deserve a little more dignity?
34 OH BOY (Fabulous Baker Boys)
Nothing to do with Buddy Holly, this long-overdue release becomes the first ever Top 40 hit directly credited to the Fabulous Baker Boys after they have trodden the usual path of remixing hits for countless others.
36 DEEPER (Delirious?)
Sometimes it can be beneficial to re-release an underperforming track as Faithless have proved this week. At other times it can backfire, the apparent increase in interest in an act not translating into increased demand for older recordings... Delirious prove this as Deeper managed a derisory Number 36, down on the Number 20 peak scaled by the single when first released back in May.