1 ALL THAT I NEED (Boyzone)
The six-week reign of Run-DMC is finally ended from one of the most predictable sources of all. With their first release of 1998, Europe's leading boy band crash straight into the top of the charts. The single marks the continued move of Boyzone away from their pop roots and into a more adult contemporary style, this new single fitting into the 'mature ballad' category rather than being an out and out pop stormer of the nature of Picture Of You. After three successive Number 2 hits the single returns them to the top of the charts to give them their third Number One single, following in the footsteps of Words and A Different Beat which both hit the top at the end of 1996. All That I Need is their 11th chart hit since 1994, none of which have peaked lower than Number 4. All of these superlative statistics require some moderation so try this: perhaps unwittingly they have one thing in common with Oasis - none of their Number One hits have so far spent more than a solitary week at the top.
3 SOUND OF DRUMS (Kula Shaker)
Be warned: the trendy press are about to turn on Kula Shaker so how long they will continue to be everyone's darlings is open to some debate. Hopefully this single should silence the critics for a while, comments about his Grandfather and other less savoury moments in history aside, the only criticism being that yet again they are looking to the past for inspiration. After their Deep Purple phase provoked by their soundalike cover of Hush last year, Crispian Mills et al now attempt to sound like The Doors and in the process net themselves the fourth Top 5 hit of their career. Awkward as ever, they have refused to make a video for the single which will explain to some the lack of support from stations such as MTV which ordinarily would have been playing the single for several weeks. As energetic as ever but the feeling remains that Smash Mouth's Walking On The Sun may have been the more effective Doors pastiche.
5 ROAD RAGE (Catatonia)
I'm sorry but I'm in love with Cerys Matthews [everyone was at that time]. Easily the most charismatic star to emerge this year, she has helped Catatonia to grow into the hottest band of the year. After hitting the Top 3 in January with the infectious Mulder And Scully and guesting on Space's Ballad Of Tom Jones, she leads the band on another Top 5 single, again lifted from the album International Velvet. Not since Blondie have a band been so eclipsed by the attention paid to their female singer but in all honesty it is the power and sheer, well, Welshness of her voice that carries most of their songs beyond the mundane. The Queen of Pop.
6 LAST THING ON MY MIND (Steps)
Prefabricated pap they may be but Steps have after just one single carved themselves a notch in history. Said notch was the pop/linedance crossover 5,6,7,8, itself based on an old country hit which was first released in the middle of November last year. Three and a half months later the track dropped out of the Top 40 after an extraordinary chart career that never once saw it climb higher than Number 14. Nevertheless such a performance - and over the Christmas period too - saw the single sell over 200,000 copies and become the biggest selling single of the decade not to reach the Top 10. Any follow-up was bound to make more of an impact, and so it has proved with this single as it charges the place in the Top 10 that was so long denied its predecessor. The only puzzling thing is the nature of the single which is a bubbly, 70s-disco tribute [the Abba connection here totally passing me by it seems], completely removed from the line-dancing style of 5,6,7,8 and leads me to wonder whether Steps really are the fresh concept that we thought or simply just another deliberately-cast pop band designed to make money for their producers.
9 DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY (Mavericks)
There will be many who will view the arrival of The Mavericks in the UK charts with something approaching unrestrained joy. Eight years after they formed in Miami and released their first records, a concerted effort is being made to bring the East Coast's most celebrated country outfit to a wider audience. The process has begun with this new single which moves them away from country and more towards rock but without detriment to their sound. It is a timely release with LeAnn Rimes and Shania Twain leading the biggest C&W crossover this country has seen in years, The Mavericks now taking that process another stage further.
12 KEEP ON DANCIN' (LET'S GO) (Perpetual Motion)
I sat down and listened to this single once. It took about four minutes out of my life. During that time I heard a drum machine bash away repetitively, a few beeps here and there and a bloke shout "Let's Go" at regular intervals. Is there anyone I can sue to get those four minutes back? [I think this confirms it once and for all, the resolution to be nicer about dance music came in 1999].
13 NOT IF YOU WERE THE LAST JUNKIE ON EARTH (Dandy Warhols)
Thus far the Dandy Warhols have struggled to gain a foothold over here, suffering perhaps from the current music climate that has seen many American alternative bands frozen out. The hype surrounding their last single Everyday Should Be A Holiday suggested big things but the single could only crash out at Number 29. Now this new single, setting new standards for lengthy song titles, redresses the balance somewhat and brings the Dandy Warhols to a far wider audience, something which the strength of this single suggests they deserve.
16 SPARK (Tori Amos)
The arguments will continue to rage about just how deserved her artist credit was on Armand Van Helden's reworking of Professional Widow but the fact remains that it will go down in history as Tori Amos' first ever Number One single. In fact her previous hit had been Blue Skies, a BT single on which she provided the odd vocal murmur which means that the last 'traditional' Tori Amos single was Hey Jupiter which reached Number 20 in August 1996, largely on the strength of its b-side which was er... the dance remix of Professional Widow. Nonetheless the true Tori is the slightly off the wall singer-songwriter and it is a role to which she returns with this brand new single from a forthcoming new album. Now recording with a full band there is a pleasant energy to this new single and it proves that her two year gap from the charts has not turned off her army of fans as Spark becomes her biggest hit single ('Professional Widow' aside) since Pretty Good Year made Number 7 in March 1994.
20 EL PRESIDENT (Drugstore)
A long-overdue chart breakthrough for Drugstore, the multi-nation band who were first formed three years ago but until now had only the Number 72 hit Fader from 1995 to their name. Part of the problem has been that they were signed to now-defunct label Go! Discs and have been hamstrung for over a year whilst, as one of the labels most valuable assets, their contract was transferred first to Polygram only for the major to finally allow them to be licensed to another genuine independent label, Roadrunner. Legal wrangles out of the way at a stroke they have a major hit single on their hands. The presence of Radiohead singer Thom Yorke on guest vocals undoubtedly helps but it is possible that the dramatically orchestrated epic ballad would have been a hit anyway, telling the story of the assassination in 1973 of the Chilean President it turns Isabel Montiero and Drugstore into chart stars at long long last.
21 DEJA VU (UPTOWN BABY) (Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz)
Currently big stars in the US, rap duo Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz unleash their debut single on the British public, agonisingly short of a Top 20 placing. If only they had sampled the Knight Rider theme...
24 NICE AND SLOW (Usher)
The award for least spectacular follow-up to a Number One so far this year goes to Usher. The contrast could not be greater, an instant chart-topping smash with You Make Me Wanna and now a somewhat minor Top 30 hit for the follow-up.
27 BAD PHOTOGRAPHER (Saint Etienne)
OK, so Steps get into the Top 10 but Saint Etienne have to be content with this, is that really the way things are supposed to be? Still the nation awaits the big breakthrough which will give Saint Etienne the really big smash hit that everyone, no matter what their musical tastes, must surely feel they deserve. The sparkling pop of Sylvie made a respectable enough Number 12 but now this new single, despite being another glorious throwback to the 60s in the same manner as You're In A Bad Way sees their chart positions sink back to their normal despairingly average levels. Bad Photographer is now their 13th Top 75 single, none of which have progressed beyond Number 11.
30 VISION INCISION (Lo Fidelity Allstars)
This is something of a week for widely-welcomed Top 40 debuts. Kicking off a string of new entries for newly-charting acts are the Lo Fidelity Allstars who break into the Top 40 for the first time with this, the third single released from their widely-acclaimed debut album. Their frantic mix of musical styles calls to mind early Happy Mondays recordings but the five-piece are masters of the dance genre too, their remixing skills having graced the bonus tracks on a number of well-known singles over the last few months. Even Robbie Williams wanted them to do him a remix - an offer they turned down.
31 BUZZIN' (Asian Dub Foundation)
Having seen Cornershop open the way for Asian acts to start crossing over, the Asian Dub Foundation blast into the Top 40 for the first time, three years after they were first formed as part of a community project in London. Their British breakthrough comes as a result of extensive support for their live act across Europe, particularly in France where they are apparently one of the hottest things going.
33 FUN (Da Mob featuring Jocelyn Brown)
Serial dance collaborator Jocelyn Brown pops up once more to add a touch of class to this otherwise unremarkable dance single. An incredible performer, one can either marvel at her reputation which makes her in such demand from the likes of Todd Terry and Masters At Work or alternatively reflect on how big (if you excuse the pun) she might have been had she had the material have bigger solo hits.
40 I'M LEAVING (Lodger)
Take Space's The Ballad Of Tom Jones, take your tongue firmly out of your cheek and thrown in an extra dose of nastiness. Lodger are currently tipped to be big, a combination of members from now-defunct bands Powder [most notably Pearl Lowe, at the time the girlfriend of Danny from Supergrass] and Delicatessen, backup up by guitarist Danny Goffey from Supergrass who are most definitely not defunct but who is their main songwriter. A curious state of affairs but it has not stopped this single from creeping into the Top 40 and bodes well for future releases. [Alas the only Top 40 hit for the short-lived supergroup. But what a single it was].