[A small but significant event took place during the course of the week this column was online: Freeserve, the UK's first free ISP, launched on September 22nd and dramatically expanded the number of homes online. For those running established websites this resulted in a noticeable surge in traffic. Including to these columns].
1 MILLENNIUM (Robbie Williams)
You know a single is due to sell in rather large quantities when you walk into a record shop and see three times as many copies of it on the shelf as any other single. Such was the case with Millennium this week, a brand new recording from Robbie's forthcoming second album. The past 12 months have seen Robbie Williams transform himself from a drug-addled has-been into one of the biggest stars in the country. Since the start of the year he has seen Angels sell close to a million copies, the single Let Me Entertain You become something of a theme song and played a string of sellout dates, including one concert which became the first ever Pay-Per-View pop concert ever broadcast in this country. Now with his seventh single release he has his first solo Number One single. As a member of Take That of course he appeared on seven of their eight Number One hits but only ever sang lead vocal on one - Everything Changes which hit the top in April 1994. He joins Gary Barlow in being the second former member of the original 90s boy band to have a solo Number One hit and thus making them only the second act in chart history to have had two of its former members reach the top of the chart in subsequent solo careers. The first of course are The Beatles with Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison have all had solo Number One hits. The chances of a third member of Take That reaching the top appear slim but there is still a chance nonetheless, Mark Owen has already had a Top 10 single and Howard Donald is set to launch a solo career of his own sometime this autumn. Back to Millennium then, the song being something of a departure from previous Robbie singles, it being a lavishly produced slow-burning song that samples heavily from John Barry's theme from the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, curiously one of the few Bond themes never to have charted in its own right in this country. Critics have been quick to knock him for using an old tune for what has turned out to be his biggest hit to date but there is something irresistible about him singing 'Come And Have A Go If You Think You Are Hard Enough' over the lush melody and there are clearly several hundred thousand people who agree with me.
2 SEX ON THE BEACH (T-Spoon)
How quickly the summer flies by. The trend of recent years for the post-summer charts to be flooded with ultra-trendy dance singles from the clubs of Ibiza and the like has all but killed off the other noble chart tradition of the naff holiday hit. Such hits are the really really cheesy continental party hits, played to death in cheap hotel discos and exposed to far more people than spaced out 20-somethings in the Cafe del Mar. This year such songs appear to be making a comeback and as if to prove the point, T-Spoon slide nicely into the runners up slot with one of the biggest and probably most annoying hits of the week. The single follows a classic formula, pop reggae beat, cheerily toasted verses and a singalong chorus that can do nothing else but evoke memories of long hot summers abroad, even if like me the closest you got to a holiday this year was a day trip to Blackpool. A holiday classic to rank with the best of them then and it doesn't stop there - No Tengo Dinero should be making an appearance next week. [My then colleague (a future national radio chart show presenter) announced this on the Saturday lunchtime 'local' chart countdown I produced as "the worst record ever made". Which it is, whilst also simultaneously being one of the greatest ever].
4 FINALLY FOUND (Honeyz)
Regardless of what the fatalists say, the chart life of a single doesn't have to be a case of straight in and straight out again. The presence on this week's chart of long-running singles from B*witched, LeAnn Rimes (natch), Another Level, Pras Michel and Brandy and Monica should prove the point, all of the above having now been in the Top 40 for well over 10 weeks. To add confirmation to this, the debut single from the Honeyz shows it is likely to have staying power. After sliding to Number 7 last week the single rebounds with a bullet to land a place above the Number 5 position it occupied on its debut a fortnight ago.
7 BOOTIE CALL (All Saints)
On the other hand there are those singles which do indeed appear to be set for a swift exit. Possibly none more so than All Saints' current single which makes a spectacular six place fall from last week's entry at Number One. Bootie Call is now one of a select band of singles that have fallen straight out of the Top 5 from Number One, indeed this is the biggest fall from the top since Block Rockin' Beats by the Chemical Brothers fell 1-8 in April 1997.
12 HORSE AND CARRIAGE (Cam'ron featuring Mase)
After a number of near-misses the latest young R&B star lands his first Top 40 single with this track from his hitherto-unnoticed debut album. Part of this tracks appeal lies in its sampling of the theme from the old TV series Magnum PI or maybe it is the presence of Mase on the track, Cam'ron now being the second act he has collaborated with after appearing with Puff Daddy on Can't Nobody Hold Me Down in March 1997 and having had a hit of their own with Feel So Good at the start of the year - watch out for him making a guest appearance on Brandy's new single in a couple of weeks.
13 THE INCIDENTALS (Alisha's Attic)
After a gap of just over a year, the two sisters return to the chart with the first track from their forthcoming second album. The formula which made I Am I Feel and Indestructible works just as well here, a wonderful song with gorgeous harmonies but with the acidic lyrical bite which characterises all Alisha's Attic songs. The four singles they released from their debut showed remarkable consistency in their chart placings - I Am I Feel reached Number 14 with the other 3 all spookily entering the chart at a high of Number 12 - and you don't need me to point out the irony of the chart position of The Incidentals.
16 DON'T RUSH (TAKE LOVE SLOWLY) (K-Ci and JoJo)
K-Ci and JoJo up the tempo slightly for their third UK hit single, this coming just over a year since they first charted with You Bring Me Up and hot on the heels of the UK chart run of their US Number One All My Life which saw them enter the Top 10 for the first time in April. The two brothers are just one of a number of chart acts this week to have a family connection. This week the Top 40 plays host to All Saints, Alisha's Attic, K-Ci and JoJo, The Corrs, Cleopatra and B*witched, all of which feature brothers and/or sisters together in the group.
17 ONLY WHEN I LOSE MYSELF (Depeche Mode)
When Depeche Mode first charted in 1981 as one of a wave of English synthesiser bands who would have guessed that they would still be charting consistently over 17 years later. It is a tribute to the songwriting talents of the band and their willingness to shift their style according to changing trends whilst always retaining a distinct trademark sound. This new single is a brand new track recorded for a forthcoming Greatest Hits collection covering the years 1986-98 and so it is quite appropriate that it becomes one of them, a slow brooding track but with a great deal of remix potential built in thanks to the production of Tim Simenon. Since their debut Dreaming Of Me peaked at Number 57 they have only once missed the Top 30 with a single release, and even that single was Little 15 available only as a French import. 33 Top 30 hits in 17 years is a feat few other acts can match but they have surprisingly never had a Top 3 hit - People Are People from 1984 and Barrel Of A Gun from last year are their biggest hits, both reaching Number 4.
24 PERFECT (Smashing Pumpkins)
Following the Number 11 hit Ava Adore the Smashing Pumpkins notch up their second hit of the year from the album Adore and do so with a gentle song that possibly deserves better than this chart placing. This is their ninth Top 40 hit since 1993.
29 PARTY HARD (Pulp)
Single number 4 from the album This Is Hardcore sees the chart positions grow ever smaller but that still doesn't stop this from being another magnificent single, Jarvis Cocker sounding worrying like David Bowie, and a song that proved to be the highlight of their sets at various festival appearances over the summer, even if it is almost certain to become their second successive single to miss the Top 20 after A Little Soul reached Number 22 in June. The single will at least help to stir interest in its parent album which is in line for the annual Mercury Music Prize at the awards dinner in a few weeks, Pulp aiming to become the first act to win the coveted trophy twice.
33 REASONS (Kleshay)
Possibly a name to watch out for in the future, Kleshay are the latest all-girl creation, a group of three London girls all of course attempting to become the next All Saints. Actually the comparison is quite a valid one as the brains behind the band is Karl Gordon who also produced half the tracks on All Saints' current album, including Under The Bridge and the recent Number One Bootie Call.
38 THE AGE OF LOVE (Age Of Love)
Just to show that you can never keep a good dance record down, this eponymous hit from Age Of Love first made Number 17 in July 1997 although back then it was an old track having first been produced in the early 1990s only to flop when first released with the backing of Jam and Spoon in 1992. OK so it is a classic, now enough remixes and repromotions already.