1 TURN BACK TIME (Aqua)
I love seeing the shock on people's faces when they realise exactly who is singing this song. After the catchy but irritating novelty pop of the singles Barbie Girl and Doctor Jones, Aqua suddenly demonstrate their musical versatility with the other type of song in their repertoire, a mature and immaculately produced pop ballad that acts like Roxette would probably kill themselves to be able to write at the present time. Far removed from being a novelty, Turn Back Time has been welcomed onto radio playlists far more readily than previous offerings and this factor, coupled with the presence of the song in the soundtrack to the hottest film of the moment Sliding Doors has helped propel the song straight to Number One. Few will require me to point out to them that this elevates Aqua into very distinguished company indeed, the first international act to join the select roll of acts who have achieved what used to be the ultimate honour of reaching Number One with their first three chart hits. Step forward Gerry and the Pacemakers, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Jive Bunny, Robson & Jerome and of course the Spice Girls, the latter of course the only act to open their account with more than three Number One hits, but what price Aqua joining them sometime soon?
3 GONE TIL NOVEMBER (Wyclef Jean)
This is somewhat unexpected. After his two previous singles achieved rather indifferent chart positions the erstwhile Fugees frontman vaults into the Top 3 with his latest release. We Trying To Stay Alive made a respectable enough Number 13 in June last year but his cover of the folk standard Guantanamera slid out of the chart a week after entering at Number 25 in September. Now his new single, already a Top 10 hit stateside (and backed ironically by a remix of Guantanamera) returns him to the chart positions he enjoyed at the height of Fugees mania in 1996 when the band scored four successive Top 3 hits.
4 LIFE AIN'T EASY (Cleopatra)
It is taking a while for people to realise but the three sisters from Moss Side are quite probably this year's domestic R&B discovery. If their first Number 3 hit Cleopatra's Theme didn't convince you then this new single will, once again showcasing not only their unusual vocal style but also the way their voices harmonise in the way that is unique to siblings. Madonna is reportedly a big fan of the threesome and celebrity endorsements don't come more convincing than that.
6 DREAMS (Corrs)
For a while it seemed the Corrs were the world's most successful act not to have had a UK hit. The Irish family group had sold millions of albums and sold out concerts around the world with their mixture of sophisticaed rock and traditional Irish arrangements. Whilst their second album Talk On Corners made them a smash in the states and in Europe it could only sell steadily over here and successive singles missed the Top 40 altogether, the most recent being What Can I Do which was released a few months ago. Clearly it was going to take something special to wake people up over here to just how good they were and it turns out an inspired choice of cover was the way forward. The best elements of the Corrs have been translated into this new recording of a concert favourite, Fleetwood Mac's Dreams. Remixed into a four on the floor dance sleeper by Todd Terry the single achieves what none of their own compositions could, a Top 10 entry and a long overdue hit single for one of Ireland's biggest musical exports. Dreams first appeared on the classic Fleetwood Mac album Rumours which despite its status as one of the most charted albums in history in this country never produced a major hit single. Dreams was the biggest single released from the album, peaking at Number 24 in August 1977. The track was the subject of a cover just a couple of years ago, Wild Colour taking a dance version to Number 25 in 1995 whilst a year later Quench crept into the chart at Number 75 with another remake. The only other hit from Rumours to be covered by another artist is Don't Stop which was remade by Status Quo who took the track to Number 35 in April 1996. For many the most well known track is The Chain which was used by the BBC as the theme to its motorsport programmes for many years yet despite winding up as a bonus track on CD singles etc. over the years it has never been a chart hit in its own right, either for Fleetwood Mac or anyone else.
7 SAY YOU LOVE ME (Simply Red)
Two years since the release of his last album proper, Mick Hucknall returns to front a new Simply Red album. The halcyon days of Stars and album sales of three million are long gone and on the strength of this single they will not be returning any time soon. Few will depend they aren't disappointed by this new single, a rather pedestrian plod through some astoundingly bad lyrics about love and commitment. Well played and immaculated sung as you would expect but this is nothing that Mick Hucknall hasn't done many times before and so much better too. Still, a Number 7 new entry is not to be sniffed at, this is only their seventh Top 10 hit since 1985 but compared to past brilliance such as The Right Thing and Stars this single is scarecely deserving of the accolade.
15 NIGHT FEVER (Adam Garcia)
Much has been made in the press over the last week about the opening in London of a brand new musical based on the film 'Saturday Night Fever'. Taking the role played by John Travolta in the film is Australian hunk Adam Garcia and so his cover of the theme to the film/musical is released as a single in a wonderful example of cross-promotion. The cover is like Virgin Cola to the Bee Gees' Coke, a good attempt but always destined to be inferior to the original which was toppled from the Number One slot after a two week run exactly 20 years ago this week.
18 KELLY WATCH THE STARS (Air)
The followup to Sexy Boy gives Air their deuxieme Top 20 hit of the year, charting five places lower than its predecessor. The two singles are pretty much soundalikes of each other which is something of a shame as the album is full of a wide variety of musical styles, many of which would have been a better showcase of the groups' versatility than Kelly Watch The Stars. It is still a great single but maybe an opportunity missed.
19 YOU THINK YOU OWN ME (Hinda Hicks)
Growing in stature all the while, Hinda Hicks breaks into the Top 20 for the first time with her second single, the first If You Want Me peaked at Number 25 back in March.
21 PACIFIC/CUBIK (808 State)
If were a dance music fan in Manchester in the late 80s/early 90s the odds are that you danced at the Hacienda and bought your records from Eastern Bloc. The shop was owned by Martin Price whose keen ear for dance music not only led to him stocking virtually every essential white label going but also forming his own production and remixing team. Following in the tradition of Echo and the Bunnymen for naming themselves after drum machines, 808 State had seven Top 40 hits between 1989 and 1993, along the way working with artists as diverse as Bjork and Bernard Sumner whilst remixing old UB40 songs and launching the brief career of MC Tunes along the way. Contrary to popular belief they never really went away and charted as recently as 1996 with Bond, even if it did only make Number 57. Most famous of all their hits that actually made it was their first chart hit Pacific, a now classic mix of ambient rhythms and saxophone melodies. The track made Number 10 in November 1989 and is now the subject of this remix which the band themselves have undertaken. Still preserving all the elements of the original whilst updating it for the late 90s it brings 808 State back to the Top 40 for the first time since their Christmas 1992 remix of UB40s One In Ten.
23 SLEEP ON THE LEFT SIDE (Cornershop)
OK, time to face reality. Brimful Of Asha was one of the most inspired, most deserved Number One hits of the year but its success can be directly attributed to the Fatboy Slim remix which transfomed the track into a world beater. The followup now suffers from this, back to the tempo of all Cornershop's music it still oozes quality and has a lovely atmosphere to it but in the process sacrifices a great deal of commercial appeal. Radio One DJs Mark and Lard have been using Sleep On The Left Side as their theme tune for many months and it is probably this exposure alone that has helped propel the song into the Top 30. In fairness this is the most it can expect.
27 GET UP STAND UP (Phunky Phantom)
Continuing the current semi-regular trend of using past disco classics as the basis of dance singles, Phunky Phantom borrow copiously from Frantique's 1979 Top 10 hit Strut Your Funky Stuff for this minor hit. As inspired as it is original.
30 I DON'T EVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN (Uncle Sam)
US readers will be familiar with this track, the debut single for new R&B balladeer Sam Taylor aka Uncle Sam. He immediately inspires comparisons with Boyz II Men which is no surprise as in the states he is signed to their own Stonecreek Records label. I say just as well as I Don't Ever Want To See You Again sounds worryingly similar to I'll Make Love To You in several places.
32 WHERE ARE YOU (Imaani)
How quickly these things come around. Last weekend saw the annual televised festival of European musical culture clashes, the Eurovision song contest, the massive television event that may have launched the careers of Abba, Bucks Fizz, Gina G and Celine Dion but is in the main an excuse for the British to spend a night in front of the television, marvel at Greece and Cyprus awarding each other maximum marks regardless of the quality of their songs and maybe harbouring the faint hope that we might actually win. Last year of course we did, in grand style with Katrina and the Waves' Love Shine A Light and so the contest went to Birmingham this year with Imaani carrying the hopes of the nation on her shoulders. Despite being written off in many quarters the Jam and Spoon soundalike track actually did rather well, its Euro dance origins clearly appealing to the telephone voters across the continent and the song came second, just seven points adrift. Having first been released some two months ago, the single has grown steadily, entering the chart at Number 60 last week and now becoming the first single this year to climb into the Top 40 from the lower reaches of the chart. This is one of the few singles that is almost guaranteed a further climb as the effect of appearing in the contest ripples through to the shopfloor this coming week. Even so it seems destined to become the lowest charting British Eurovision entry for some years. Moves by Jonathan King to restore some credibility to the contest over the past few years have led to Love City Groove, Gina G and Katrina and the Waves singing our entries since 1985 and all have made the Top 10, something which Imaani looks unlikely to emulate. Incidentally watch out for the ultimate winner from Iceland [or, as it was in non-fantasy world, Israel], Diva sung by Dana International which could well become a surprise hit in its own right.
40 STAY (Mica Paris)
Good to see this lady back in the charts once more. It is exactly ten years last week since she first charted with her debut My One Temptation, a Number 7 hit which set her up as a major soul talent. Despite charting semi-regularly ever since she has never quite achieved the same heights which with this country's current dearth of big selling female soloists is something of a shame. This new single is a cover of and old Sly and the Family Stone track and continues her pattern of having minor chart hits with cover versions, her last Top 40 hit being a remake of U2s One which made Number 29 in April 1995. This single is now the third chart hit this year to use the title Stay, following in the footsteps of Sash and Bernard Butler and the ninth in chart history, making it one of the all time most popular song titles. Tonight still holds the record, with 11 different songs having used the title to date.