[Another relatively notorious moment here. The final week of Elton John's run at the top was seen by me as a chance to go on a mini rant about just what a disappointment the biggest selling single of all time was. It was copied far and wide across the net, mainly by people astounded at the boldness of it. In the modern day this would have prompted a twitterstorm of some kind. Be thankful for small mercies].
1 SOMETHING ABOUT THE WAY/CANDLE IN THE WIND 97 (Elton John)
It's sales now slowing to a crawl, Elton John's single still manages to outsell the rest of the chart to spend a fifth week on top of the survey. Although Puff Daddy's I'll Be Missing You spent a total of six weeks at Number One earlier in the year it was in two separate runs so this five week stay makes Candle In The Wind the longest-running chart-topper since the Spice Girls' Wannabe managed seven weeks in the summer of 1996.
There has been much talk of the phenomenal sale of this single, now far and away the biggest selling record this country has ever seen, and how it shows the record industry at its best and how music can be a unifying force for good - in this case money for charity. I confess to being somewhat uncomfortable with this notion and in fact I find it rather sad that a single such as this should go down in history as the biggest pop record ever. This record has not sold in terrific quantities because of its musicianship, nor the way it makes people feel, nor because of the way it appeals to such a wide group of people. The tales emanating from record shops prove that. This single has been bought by people as a kind of social duty, much like putting money into a collecting tin. People have been buying the disc to put on the coffee table for show, buying multiple copies to keep shrinkwrapped for whatever bizarre reasons. I'm tempted to wager how many of the almost 4 million purchasers of the single have actually played it more than twice before filing it to the back of a drawer. In short this record is little more than an object, soulless and empty and certainly not a celebration of all that is good about pop music. The fact that the last two singles to hold the honour of being the all-time biggest seller were charity records should say it all. They only go to prove that music can often be a divisive force, where one man's pleasure is another's poison (or in my case a single by Clock) and that it takes other, outside influences to make people put that aside and give a record near-universal appeal. It makes you long for the days when The Beatles' She Loves You sold 1.5 million copies to become the all-time biggest seller and an example of a piece of music that appealed to all, not because it was in aid of charity, not because it was about a dead princess but because virtually everyone who cared about the music had cause to like it. Maybe someday someone will make such a record, one with widespread appeal that will be bought by millions appreciative of its musical qualities, one that can become the biggest selling single of all time and be played by people with a mind for the artistry and talent on display, not the icon or the cause behind the song.
2 STAY (Sash featuring La Trec)
Sash continues his impressive run of hits this year with a remarkeable show on consistency. Three times in succession now he has entered the charts at Number 2 with Stay looking set to follow in the footsteps of Encore Une Fois and Ecuador in dominating the clubs for weeks to come. Curiously enough although there are many records for having succesive singles top the charts at the start of your chart career, there are no such accolades for being a perpetual runner-up. Opening your chart account with 3 Number 2 hits is nonetheless impressive although he has some way to go before he equals the best all-time career opening run set by Kylie Minogue whose first seven hits all peaked at either Number One or Number 2 - mind you the Spice Girls are hot on her heels with their new single set to become their fifth succesive Number One hit.
6 TUBTHUMPING (Chumbawamba)
Now into its ninth week on chart, Chumbawamba's biggest ever hit single rises once more to maintain its status as one of the summer's, biggest sellers. Meanwhile the international success of the track continues as Tubthumping continues to rise up the US charts, an impressive feat for what is surely this most British of pop records.
7 ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE (Propellerheads/David Arnold)
One of the most eagerly awaited album releases of the autumn is Shaken And Stirred, composer and arranger David Arnold's project to re-record classic moments from James Bond soundtracks as a tribute to the music that inspired him as a child. The album involves Arnold collaborating with an eclectic range of acts on various moments from Bond history. By far one of the standout tracks becomes the first single, this reworking of John Barry's theme from one of the classic films from the 1960s. Despite a series of remixing credits to their name the Propellerheads have never had a smash hit single in their own right, coming closest in May this year when Spybreak! made Number 40. For David Arnold it his first big hit single since he collaborated with Bjork on Play Dead which reached Number 12 in 1993. The new version of OHMSS is a curious piece of music, especially on the original album version which builds up into a duel between the Propellerhead's funky dance rhythms and David Arnold's lush orchestrations. Expect the Bond remake trend to continue in the next few weeks with Moby's own remix of the original theme plus Sheryl Crow's theme to the new film 'Tomorrow Never Dies' which is due before Christmas.
10 CLOSED FOR BUSINESS (Mansun)
Continuing their impressive run of chart form, Mansun's fourth hit of the year follows two of its predecessors into the Top 10. The band are a refreshing example of how the rapid in-and-out nature of the charts need not harm the development of new talent. Despite never having had a single spend longer than a fortnight in the Top 40 they have steadily progressed over the last two years from just grazing the bottom end of the chart to consistently hitting the heights with just about every release.
11 YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND (Brand New Heavies)
With two hits under their belt already this year, the Brand New Heavies notch up another that looks set to become one of their biggest. Curiously, having capitalised on the songwriting skills of singer Siedah Garrett with Sometimes and You Are The Universe they go down the route of a cover version. You've Got A Friend is well known to most, the Carol King song from Tapestry that was covered first time around by James Taylor who took his version to Number 4 in 1971. One is tempted to wonder quite why the world needs another version of the song, but here it is, the Brand New Heavies version managing to preserve the tone of the original whilst adding their own jazz-funk style to the song. It matches the peak of Sometimes to become their biggest hit to date, the band still yet to reach the Top 10 after 13 hit singles.
12 U SEXY THING (Clock)
Oh please, who buys Clock records? The group with little or no shame are back with another slice of the cheesiest pop around and inexplicably their second Top 10 hit of the year after It's Over made Number 10 back in March. They turn to the formula of many of their past hits and massacre an old hit, this time Hot Chocolate's 1975 Number 2 hit. The song itself was lightweight enough to begin with but this new version follows the usual Clock formula of a tacky arrangement and a gratuitously unneccessary rap in the middle, succeeding only in depriving it of whatever soul it might have originally possessed. The only positive note to strike is that the release of this cover comes hot on the heels of the use of the original in the film 'The Full Monty' which has prompted talk of a reissue - and a chance for people to see just why this version is so offensively bad.
16 PUT YOUR HANDS WHERE MY EYES COULD SEE (Busta Rhymes)
A creditable new entry for Busta Rhymes and a vast improvement over his last hit Do My Thing which could only reach Number 39 in May and one of his biggest hits to date, second only to Woo-Hah!! Got You All In Check which reached Number 8 in May 1996.
18 LATE IN THE DAY (Supergrass)
Supergrass' third hit of the year and a worthy follow-up to Sun Hits The Sky whose anthemic tones helped it reach Number 10 in June. Rather disappointingly it is set to be one of their smallest hit singles for a long while. Indeed if Late In The Day fails to reach the Top 10 it will become their first single to miss those heights since Lose It only made Number 75 in March 1995.
24 HIGH (Feeder)
Here's a fascinating fact: Feeder are the only act this week to make their Top 40 debut. Every single one of this week's other new entries are from acts who have charted hit singles before. In this age of semi-anonymous dance singles and high new entries on the back of localised support it is extremely rare for there to be just a single Top 40 debutant in a week.
25 HOME (Sheryl Crow)
Sheryl Crow continues her good run of hits with the release of the title track from her current album. The platter has now spawned five hit singles, this biggest of which was her last hit A Change Would Do You Good which made Number 8 back in July. Expect one further hit from the lady before the end of the year as she becomes the latest in a long line of stars to record the theme to a James Bond film.
26 URGE (Wildhearts)
Rounding off a curious trio of new entries with one word titles is the second Top 30 hit of the year from professional Geordies The Wildhearts. The follow-up to Anthem, their Number 21 hit from August, this is their ninth Top 40 hit since 1994 although with rumours rife about their imminent demise it seems wise to make the most of it.
28 CELEBRATE (Levellers)
Destined perhaps never to have a major smash single, despite Chumbawamba having proved that one can still be 'with it' and 'alternative' even with a Top 3 single. Following on from What A Beautiful Day this single, featuring guest vocals from former Fairground Attraction star Eddie Reader, becomes the Leveller's second single of the year which becomes their tenth consecutive Top 30 hit, albeit likely to be only the second of these to miss the Top 20 and their lowest chart entry for over six years. They too are another consistent set of hitmakers who have never penetrated the upper reaches. This is their 12th hit single, none of which have ever climbed higher than Number 11.
33 MAKE IT WITH YOU (Universal)
Universal's second hit single, their first coming this summer in the shape of Rock Me Good which disappointed many by only peaking at Number 19. Make It With You, no relation to the old Bread song is another piece of pop-reggae which would sound wonderful at the height of summer but at this time of year feels somewhat out of place.
35 LAVA (Silver Sun)
A welcome reissue for this single from Silver Sun which first peaked at Number 54 almost exactly a year ago. It now becomes their second Top 40 hit following on from Golden Sun which made Number 32 in May.
36 COME TO DADDY (Aphex Twin)
The first hit single in a while for Richard James aka The Aphex Twin, Britain's most famous techno experimenter who is something of a cult figure in dance circles. The somewhat hardcore nature of his music means that chart appearances are few and far between, this is only his second ever Top 40 hit and coming four years after On reached Number 32. He has for the moment a unique place in chart history as the artist behind the longest Top 75 single ever. Records are considered eligible for a place on the singles chart if they are shorter than 40 minutes in total playing time. The Aphex Twin's 1996 EP 'Girl/Boy' exceeded that total slightly but nobody noticed in time and it was given a listing in November last year, one of the few times people have got away with breaking the rules. That same rule caused something of an upset a few weeks ago when a new set of remixes of Stevie V's 1990 hit Dirty Cash were released but found themselves listed on the album chart as they had accidentally breached the 40 minute time limit.
37 GOLDEN BROWN (Omar)
Omar claims that the Stranglers' Golden Brown was the first record he ever bought as a child. Certainly over the years the song has acquired legendary status after first reaching Number 2 in January 1982 and famously being held in the runners up slot by The Jam's A Town Called Malice. Omar's faithful and respectful remake becomes the second cover of the song to chart in recent times, Kaleef taking their version to Number 22 just before Christmas last year.
40 I AM THE MOB (Catatonia)
A refreshing appearance in the Top 40 for Catatonia who are still flailing around on the edges of mainstream success. To date this is only their second hit to grace the upper reaches, the first being You've Got A Lot To Answer For which made Number 35 just over a year ago.