1 C'EST LA VIE (B*witched)
In the face of, what is in the event, a surprising lack of competition the four Irish girls spend a second week at the top of the chart, nicely seeing off competition from Horny which moves up a place below them. Much more about the single it is hard to say, apart from commenting on the peculiar existence of two different versions of the song. The first CD single available features the version of the song featured in the video, complete with occasional spoken inserts from the girls. CD2 features the same single mix, apart from the deletion of said inserts and indeed it is this version that is on the single track promotional CDs that most radio stations are using to air the track. So why the difference?
4 MY ALL (Mariah Carey)
Notice that rapidly there is gap developing betwen the kind of Mariah Carey singles that perform well overe here and in the United States. Take Honey, the first single from her current album which transformed her into a dance diva with a lilting Puff Daddy production. Over here it was a massive Number 3 hit and a longtime airplay staple but received an indifferent reaction in the states. Cue the album's title track Butterfly which was a syrupy ballad that America went crackers over but here it stiffed at Number 22 and brought to an abrupt end her run of 12 consecutive Top 10 hits that had stretched back for five years. Hence the turnaround that this new single marks, available in a set of three different mixes but with a heavy dance mix the one being pushed over here. The result is a return to the Top 5 for Mariah Carey proving that she is far from on the way out, she just needs to target her material more carefully. Presumably America prefers the ballad mix of the song.
8 KUNG FU FIGHTING (Bus Stop featuring Carl Douglas)
Slowly but surely Bus Stop have crept their way into the Top 10 in the kind of chart performance that has all but vanished. After climbing 13-12-11 it now picks up speed and returns Carl Douglas to the Top 10 for the first time since his own original version was Number One almost 23 years ago.
9 (HOW DOES IT FEEL) TO BE ON TOP OF THE WORLD (England United)
As I write this the 1998 World Cup finals are just a few days away and now the floodgates will open. This year more than ever before a torrent of records, some good some bad, have been released to commemorate the biggest sporting event on the planet and the support of the makers for one team or another. Heading the pack is the official England World Cup song, a tradition since the halcyon days of 1970 when the then world champions travelled to Mexico whilst Back Home was sat triumphantly at Number One. England did not qualify for the finals again until 1982 and the squad duly celebrated this with This Time (We'll Get It Right) which peaked at Number 2. The bubble of football songs featuring the vocal 'talents' of the players burst in 1986 as We've Got The Whole World At Our Feet was not only the worst song so far but only reached Number 66. In 1990 a new strategy was famously tried and New Order were drafted in to make the official song. World In Motion was the result, few footballers appeared on the disc and the single made Number One. It was a situation that was repeated two years ago when the European Championships were soundtracked by the now classic Three Lions which meant that when the FA invited writers to submit songs they were inundated with suggestions. Having rejected a remake of Three Lions (of which more next week) they plumped for 'Top Of The World', an old Echo and the Bunnymen song which never saw the light of day which Ian McCulloch has turned into an anthem for France '98. Featuring various members of Echo and the Bunnymen, Ocean Colour Scene, Space and er The Spice Girls, "England United" immediately found themselves under fire. "It is not a terrace song" went the critics, complaining that whereas Three Lions was turned into a perennial football anthem this is just another guitar-based pop song. I do wonder what they were expected. The fact is that Top Of The World is every bit as good as World In Motion and at any other time would be considered a guaranteed smash hit. As it turns out the negative publicity and the competition from so many other World Cup songs has put paid to any chances of the song becoming Number One. Instead it lands at a by no means unimpressive Number 9, ahead of all the other songs this week but destined beyond all doubt to be eclipsed not only by the remade Three Lions but by another unofficial song which is set next week to become one of the biggest Number One hits of the year.
This single at least has one factor to ensure its place in history. Recorded several months ago it features the harmony vocals of Mel B, Mel C, Emma, Victoria and of course Geri, making it almost certainly the last ever studio recording to feature all five original Spice Girls.
12 DO FOR LOVE (2 Pac)
Blackstreet's Eric Williams makes his second guest appearance on a rap single in the last couple of months. Following his contribution to Queen Pen's All My Love he helps to add to the contiuing success of the late Tupac Shakur whose workrate at the end of his life is reflected by the number of singles he has charted since his death. In all, living or dead, this is his 8th chart single (including the two Makavelli releases from last year) of which all but one have made the Top 20.
14 SWING MY WAY (KP & Envyi)
Another American import with more to commend it than most formulaic swing productions, Swing My Way breaking into a frantic euro-style rap several times during the track.
15 DON'T COME HOME TOO SOON (Del Amitri)
Of course England aren't the only domestic side in the World Cup finals. Scotland are there too and have the daunting task of facing the champions Brazil in the opening match on Wednesday. As is well documented Scotland have a better record of qualifying for the finals than England but their past history of official songs is slightly less stellar. 1974 was the Scotland teams' chart debut with Easy Easy which reached Number 20. They followed up with Ole Ola (Number 4 in 1978 with none other than Rod Stewart helping out), We Have A Dream (Number 5 in 1982) before missing out altogether in 1986 and only making Number 45 in 1990 with Say It With Pride. Rod Stewart teamed up with the side again for Euro 96 and took Purple Heather to Number 16 but for the World Cup the Scottish FA have followed the English lead and ditched a team singalong in favour of an anthem sung by a Scottish band. Del Amitri took the honours and hit Number 15 with this typically gentle ballad that begs the team not to repeat their famous World Cup record of never getting past the first round of matches [didn't work]. It becomes Del Amitri's first hit since Not Where It's At made Number 21 almost exactly a year ago and rather pleasingly it is one of their biggest chart hits ever. The last time they made the Top 10 of the chart was in 1992 with Always The Last To Know. Regular hitmakers, the band are one of those frustrating few to have never made the Top 10. Nothing Ever Happens was their biggest hit but it ensures they have now had 14 chart hits without ever climbing past Number 11.
17 GIMMIE LOVE (Alexia)
Alexia's second hit single in this country and one which has found itself far more support than her first Uh La La La which in spite of reaching Number 10 found itself labelled as a rather cheesy piece of Eurodance. The new single is less bubbly and has consequently been topping dance listings for weeks.
18 WHEN (Shania Twain)
Proving that the influx of C&W style singers is no flash in the pan, Shania Twain manages to rid herself of the one hit wonder tag that seems to afflict so many country artists who are pushed over here to land her second UK hit single. Number 18 compares nicely to You're Still The One which made a creditable Number 10 during a seven week run in the Top 40.
21 TOP OF THE WORLD (OLE, OLE, OLE) (Chumbawamba)
Chumbawamba are massive football fans and famously spoke of their annoyance at having to miss England's qualifying match against Moldova when they were busy mixing their album last Autumn. Having decided not to submit a song to be the official England team anthem they elected to record their own universal supporters track and in the process have become the first act this year to chart an unofficial France 98 song. Ironically since its release last summer Tubthumping has become something of a stadium favourite with Leeds United using it as their theme music. Consequently their own confusingly titled Top Of The World is an almost total rewrite of their most famous hit, listing various occupations rather than drinks with the message that everyone comes together to shout the famous tune of "Ole Ole Ole". Simple but effective even if it won't become one of their biggest ever hits. Honest to the last the band even acknowledge where the roots of the song lies as it fades out to the strains "I Get Knocked Down..." as if to turn into Tubthumping.
25 OOH LA LA (Rod Stewart)
A surprising turnaround for Rod Stewart whose remake of the old Faces song had slumped to Number 32 after entering at Number 16 a fortnight ago. The resurgence of the single is thanks to the airing of his "Audience With Rod Stewart" TV special which was show a week ago and which has given new impetus to the sales of not only the single but also the album When We Were The New Boys which was released this week and is denied only by Simply Red from becoming his first chart-topping long player since 1979.
26 SHE WILL HAVE HER WAY (Neil Finn)
Congratulations to fomer Crowded House player Neil Finn who lands in the Top 30 with his first ever solo hit. Of course his previous hits with Split Enz and Crowded House are well documented and he charted alongside brother Tim in 1995 when Suffer Never made Number 29 as part of the one-off Finn Brothers project. He has had a better start to his solo career than his brother, whose biggest solo hit to date has been Persuasion which reached Number 43 in June 1993.
27 THE WOMBLING SONG (Wombles)
The Wombles promotional machine marches ever on. After the re-release of Remember You're A Womble and the new TV series comes the announcements that Mike Batt is to appear at various summer festivals to perform to nostalgia-seeking twenty and thirtysomethings. Now the furry litter-collectors get another reissued hit, this time the original theme to the TV series which is, believe it or not, became of the most charted singles of the 1970s when it spent 23 weeks in the Top 50 after peaking at Number 4 in February 1974.
32 IF THE RIVER CAN BEND (Elton John)
In the news for many of the wrong reasons at the moment, Elton John has found himself caught in the middle of a storm over the last minute cancellations of concerts as his partner Billy Joel finds the British air a little too much for him. After blowing out a gig in Manchester during the week Elton found himself performing two London dates on his own at the weekend after Billy Joel pulled out altogether. Primarily a hits retrospective, Elton has included a few newer songs in his set, most notably this one which now makes a less than impressive chart debut.
36 I PUT A SPELL ON YOU (Sonique)
Listen to late X-Express singles such as Find Em Fool Em Forget Em and you will recognise the voice of this lady, Sonique makes her solo debut with a rather wonderfully done dance version of the classic I Put A Spell On You which was first charted by Nina Simone in 1965 and since has been a hit for Alan Price and most recently Bryan Ferry who made Number 18 with the track in 1993. [The first of two minor chart entries during the course of the year for Sonique, both tracks destined to be far larger hits (and how) two years later].