1 BARBIE GIRL (Aqua)
So the rumours emerging from record stores during the week were true. In a totally unexpected reversal of the form books the Spice Girls have been toppled after just a solitary week at Number One. In their place is the record which is perhaps the most annoyingly appealing pop tune of the year. A bit of a novelty it may be, but for the moment it is the most talked-about single in the country despite the fact that radio stations are having to bring themselves to play a record so frivolous it would ordinarily hardly merit serious airplay consideration. A new entry last week at Number 2, Barbie Girl thus becomes what in this day and age is something of an exception, a single that actually climbs the chart to reach Number One. Only two other records have done this during 1997, the first was R Kelly's I Believe I Can Fly which leaped from Number 5 to the top in April whilst this summer Puff Daddy's I'll Be Missing You climbed from Number 2 to the top, albeit at the start of a second run at Number One after having entered the charts at the top to begin with. A Number One single that begins life lower down the chart is something of an endangered species these days, the last chart-topper to enter the Top 40 outside the Top 10 was Boom Boom Boom by the Outhere Brothers which entered at Number 15 in June 1995.
5 PARTY PEOPLE... FRIDAY NIGHT (911)
911 round off their phenomenally successful year with another smash hit single. They follow fellow boy band Backstreet Boys by becoming the second act to have four Top 5 singles in 1997. Their new single is another slickly-made if unremarkeable lets-get-down-and-party pop single and as such can expect a fairly short chart life.
7 DO YA THINK I'M SEXY (N-Trance featuring Rod Stewart)
Following their less than successful attempt to return to more serious dance music with The Mind Of The Machine, N-Trance go back to a tested formula and instantly hit paydirt. Their third disco remake after Staying Alive and D.I.S.C.O. has the added attraction of a star guest, Rod Stewart himself contributing to this pacy remake of his 1979 Number One hit single. It could hardly miss and gives N-Trance their third Top 10 hit single.
9 PHENOMENON (LL Cool J)
LL Cool J was one of the more surprising beneficiaries of the rather frantic sequence of new releases near the start of the year which lead to there being no less than seven different chart-topping singles in as many weeks. One such single was LL's cover of Chaka Khan's Ain't Nobody which belied its high chart entry by spending just five weeks in the Top 40. This belated followup is just as original as its predecessor, sampling heavily from one of the most famous rap hits of all time, Grandmaster Flash's White Lines providing the inspiration here.
13 DIGITAL (Goldie featuring KRS One)
Believe it or not this is the first ever major hit single for the undisputed King of Jungle. Although a strong seller to club DJs and a much in demand producer and remixer, solo singles from the man with the astonishing teeth are few and far between. To date his most famous success has been with the legendary Inner City Life, the track that brought Jungle to mainstream popular attention but even that famous track needed several releases to finally stagger to a paltry Number 39 in November 1995. All that changes now with this epic (10 minutes at its shortest) track that also gives KRS One his biggest ever chart entry, surpassing the Number 24 that he reached with Step Into A World back in April.
14 RIPGROOVE (Double 99)
The second time of asking for Double 99's club anthem which could only reach Number 31 when first released at the end of May.
15 EVERYTHING I WANTED (Dannii)
The Dannii Minogue is quite wonderful bandwagon rolls on with her second Top 20 single of the year, the followup to All I Wanna Do which revived her career and gave her a Number 4 hit back in August. This new single is what you might call a slow grower and owes more to early-80s electropop than anything else. Another Top 5 smash is unlikely but it is the seventh Top 20 hit of her career since 1991.
16 TELLIN' STORIES (Charlatans)
The fourth single from the Charlatans' career-reviving album is the title track and comes at the end of a year which has seen the band emerge from the shadow of keyboardist Rod Edwards' death to become every bit as popular as they were in their early 90s heyday. Tellin' Stories is their ninth Top 20 hit.
17 I SAY A LITTLE PRAYER (Diana King)
Just to prove that very little is sacred, Diana King returns to the Top 40 after an absence of almost two years with a lyrically astonishing Aretha Franklin cover taken from the soundtrack of the film My Best Friend's Wedding. The classic soul anthem first reached Number 4 in 1968 for the great lady herself and has remained a standard ever since. Hitherto only Bomb The Bass have dared attempt a cover version and to their credit did so very well, their version making Number 10 just before Christmas 1988. Now the powerful lungs of Diana King step in to prove that it is very hard to ruin such a beautiful song, despite the best efforts of the production on this track. The only curiosity is her Jamaicanisation of Burt Bacharach's lyrics, quite why singing "The moment me wake up/Before me put on me makeup" is supposed to add to the song is a mystery to me. [Diversity, be more woke 1997 James].
19 STEP INTO MY WORLD (Hurricane #1)
A deserved second chance for this track from Hurricane #1. Former Ride man Any Bell has released three singles this year with his new band and all have met with little success. Now thanks to a number of dance remixes and a little record company faith their debut release is re-released and instantly improves on its Number 29 peak from May.
20 BEEN AROUND THE WORLD (Puff Daddy)
In the same week after his worldwide smash Number One drops out of the Top 40, the master of originality is back with the followup. Having borrowed heavily from The Police for his last hit, this new single takes its inspiration from no less than two different Number One hits from the past, Lisa Stansfield's 1989 chart-topper All Around The World provides the words for the chorus whilst David Bowie's 'Let's Dance' is the basis for the rhythm of the entire single.
22 GABRIEL (Roy Davis Junior featuring Peven Everett)
18 new singles enter the Top 40 this week which means that among them will be a number of dance singles with little chance of achieving widespread commercial sales. One such single is Gabriel which is notable for little more than marking the chart debuts of Roy Davis Junior and singer Peven Everett.
24 GET HIGHER (Black Grape)
A single which ironically enough seems to spell ever lower chart entries for Black Grape. The first single from the band's long-awaited second album is their first new release since their Euro 96 single England's Irie and to the surprise of many fails to hit the heights of many of their previous singles. Just like Top 10 smashes such as Reverend Black Grape and In The Name Of The Father this new single is a fun slice of party-styled funk but for whatever reason their audience for Shaun Ryder's band appearse to have drifted away and Get Higher could well become the first Black Grape single to miss the Top 20.
28 USELESS (Depeche Mode)
Hmm.. how can you rubbish a single without appearing suckered by the title that is begging for the joke? Depeche Mode's fourth hit of the year is destined to be the smallest and indeed their tiniest hit since A Question of Lust also made Number 28 in April 1986. Maybe not their best release ever but as the massive international success of singles such as It's No Good and Home have proven, the worlds most enduring synthesiser band have plenty of life left in them yet.
30 ROCK THE FUNKY BEAT (Natural Born Chillers)
One of the trendiest dance singles of the moment makes its appearance in the Top 40 to almost universal indifference. Recommendation from Radio One DJs does not a smash-hit Drum N' Bass anthem make.
34 EVERYBODY NEEDS A 303 (Fatboy Slim)
A plethora of new entries means a variety of new acts get their chance for a taste of chart action. One such hit is this chart debut from Fatboy Slim with a collection of funk and acid samples, all held together by the rhythm from Give It Up that doubtless sounds much better in a club than it does in a domestic CD player. [The chart debut of Norman Cook's most enduring alias. I'd like to think that his identity at that point was a mystery rather than this being a lack of research on my part, but that seems unlikely].
38 SING A SONG (Byron Stingily)
The second solo hit from the former Ten City frontman. Like his previous offering Get Up (Everybody) it is a wonderful showcase for his distinctive voice but, as the chart position shows, limited in its appeal.
39 JUST FOR YOU (M People)
It has been a frantically busy week for new releases with no less than 18 new singles entering the Top 40 this week. This has meant a dramatic purge of old hits, to such an extent that few records from the lower reaches have survived - M People's hit which was at Number 24 last week is the lowest charting single from last week's chart to remain in the Top 40.