1 FREAK ME (Another Level)
Hearty congratulations to Another Level who with their second hit chalk up one of the more surprising Number One hits of the year. Just as we thought Billie was settling in for a long run at the top the lads from Essex charge straight to the head of the list with this Keith Sweat-penned swingbeat track that has as much pop appeal as it does R&B credibility. [No mention there of the Silk original of which this was actually a cover. The label did a very good job of playing that down and presenting this as a new track in its own right, fair play to them]. Fresh from supporting Janet Jackson on her European tour, the band have built up such a following that this Number One hit was almost a formality. The single has actually attracted more than its fair share of controversy thanks to the rather explicit lyrics that suggest all manner of uses for a tub of whipped cream. As a result there are two different versions of the song, a toned down version which features on the video and which the band perform on television and the full, ruder version which is the main track on the CD. For those that are still counting, this is the 795th Number One single and the crowning of Number 800 edges ever closer.
2 GHETTO SUPASTAR (THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE (Pras Michel featuring ODB and MYA)
A fourth week on the chart for Pras Michel's single and it registers its strongest sale to date to hold firm at Number 2, denied the very top by a whisker. The international smash hit is in danger of emulating I'll Be Missing You and selling more than the classic hit on which it is almost totally based - in this case Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's 'Islands In The Stream' which was originally a Number 7 hit over here in 1980.
3 BECAUSE WE WANT TO (Billie)
What a week it has been in the life of Billie Piper. Headline news in the mainstream press for her phenomenal achievement in reaching Number One at such a young age, attending showbiz parties and being photographed illegally drinking champagne causing another flurry of tabloid outrage and now brutally deposed from the top of the charts to leave many asking questions as to the extent of her popular appeal. Such questions can wait until her second single, for now it is enough to appreciate her place in history as the fourth youngest person to have a Number One hit. Head of the list is Little Jimmy Osmond who was 9 years old when he hit the top with Long Haired Lover From Liverpool in December 1972. Next up is Frankie Lymon who was 13 at the time of the success of Why Do Fools Fall In Love in 1956, swiftly followed by Helen Shapiro who was a few months shy of her 15th birthday when You Don't Know hit the top in August 1961.
5 IMMORTALITY (Celine Dion with the Bee Gees)
Not for the first time in her career Celine Dion finds herself in the unenviable position of having to following a megahit, a million selling single that spend over five months in the charts. She does so by taking a leaf out of the book of former singing partner Barbara Streisand and records a song with the Bee Gees. Immortality was written especially for her by the Gibb brothers and they helped with the recording by supplying backing vocals. At least that it what the sleeve notes of the album would have you believe, for this single release their official role has been upgraded and it is presented as a fully fledged duet making them the third act (after Streisand and Peabo Bryson) who have made a single with Celine Dion. For the Bee Gees this is a first, despite their vocal prominence on Number One singles for the likes of Barbara Streisand and Diana Ross in the past, this is the first time they have shared the credit with another artist in the whole of their 31 year career. Funny to think that Celine Dion struggled to make an impact when she was first marketed over here, this is now her 12th Top 10 hit.
7 BE CAREFUL (Sparkle featuring R Kelly)
The identity of Sparkle is something of a mystery. All we are told is that she is a new R&B superstar of the future, she has done no interviews and the record company are reticent to say the least in supplying biographical information about her. [Stephanie Edwards from Chicago as it turned out]. R Kelly certainly knows who she is [but was found not guilty in a court of law], he has written, produced and duets on this song which gives the lady a flying start to her chart career, Top 10 with her first ever single.
8 THE BOY IS MINE (Brandy & Monica)
It is worth calling attention to Brandy and Monica's smash hit single which although it has not had as big an impact as it did in America is still proving to be quite a stayer. Having peaked at Number 2 in its first week the single appeared to be on the slide, falling to a low of Number 11 a fortnight ago. Now the duet has found second wind and climbs for a second successive week to Number 8, its highest chart position since it fell from 3 to 9 in the middle of June.
9 I THINK I'M PARANOID (Garbage)
I Think I'm Paranoid makes it a neat brace of Number 9 hits for Garbage, following hot on the heels of Push It which charted in May. This is now their fourth Top 10 hit.
12 BOYS OF SUMMER (Don Henley)
Since the original split of the Eagles in the early 1980s, Don Henley has had at best a patchy solo career and has made the Top 40 just twice on his own, the last time coming in 1992 when his duet with Patty Smyth Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough reached Number 22. That is not to say he hasn't made some classic records and they don't come any more celebrated than The Boys Of Summer, the driving rock track that first made Number 12 in March 1985 and which seems to pop up on every rock compliation going. Now 13 years after the track first charted it has been re-released, probably to the delight of anyone who was a child in the 1980s. No gratuitous dance remixes here, no film soundtracks just an opportune re-release of a long-standing classic single which duly, and dare I say it spookily, matches its original peak and may even stand a chance of climbing higher.
15 RUNNIN' (2 Pac and the Notorious BIG)
Murdered rappers 2 Pac and Notorious B.I.G. were sworn enemies at the end of their own lives but that was not always the case. Back in 1995 before the pair had become superstars they were paired up in the studio to record a duet, one which until now has remained under wraps. Now the track finally gets an official release in the most poignant of circumstances, a rap duet between two men who were to ultimately die the kind of violent death their lyrics used to portray. The single itself is nothing spectacular but it is a Top 20 record nontheless, the third hit of the year for 2 Pac, the second for Biggy Smalls. The question now is whether there is any more material from either man left to release?
29 CASANOVA (Ultimate Kaos)
In 1994 Ultimate Kaos were the new Jacksons, if you will the new New Edition. And they were British. A group of youngsters with high voices making great pop records. So they did with their debut Some Girls which reached Number 9 in October that year but it proved to be their biggest hit and although their next three singles all made the Top 30 a rethink was needed. Thus the band returned in early 1997, voices having broken but still as bubbly as ever. Their comeback single was a cover of Casanova, first a hit for Levert in September 1997. It peaked at Number 24 over here but went on to become a smash all over Europe. Hence this re-release, another attempt to wake the British up to their perceived brilliance. As this scrape into the Top 30 proves, it will take more than a re-release to give them the kind of success Another Level appear to have achieved in their sleep.
34 MAS QUE NADA (Tamba Trio)
Rarely can one TV advert have inspired so many records. The advert in question is the Nike advert that was shown worldide in the run up to the World Cup featuring Brazilian superstar Ronaldo causing havoc in an airport departure lounge with his ball juggling. For the accompanying music the agency picked up on a recording of an old Bossa Nova track that had been recorded by countless artists over the years, most famously by Sergio Mendes but on this occasion by the Tamba Trio in the early 1960s. When the advert aired the copyright holders of Mas Que Nada could hardly believe their luck as they were inundated with further requests to licence the track, all of which they agreed to. As a result there are now no less than five versions of the track poised for release, many of which are going down a storm in clubs [over the next few weeks this would start to get stupid, just watch]. Ahead of them all comes the original, possibly ranking alongside Pavane as the most unlikely pop hit of the week. It creeps into the Top 40 this week but may well find its main competition from a version of the track by Echobeats which is due for a commercial release in a couple of weeks.
38 BREAKBEAT ERA (Breakbeat Era)
aka Roni Size's attempt to fool the rest of us. The Reprazent star teamed up at the back end of last year with DJ Die and Lennie Laws to record this track, in the same future jazz vein as Reprazent tracks but with added dancefloor appeal. The concept has proved so popular that a whole album is due out soon of which this is a taster, released under the name of Breakbeat Era but still very much a Roni Size track.