[This is a fairly notorious chart countdown, not so much for the records in it but for the way it turned out to have been compiled without sales data from the Virgin and Our Price record chains due to a system error. Howls of outrage from some labels eventually prompted the missing data to be folded into the database but without the chart itself being corrected in the record books. Except that the Official Charts Company website produces its listings using the main database and so this one is presented with some slightly adjusted positions. I told the full story elsewhere a few years ago].
1 (9PM) TIL I COME (ATB)
Far from being just an unusually popular dance single, ATBs chart smash is now proving to have a commercial life of its own, this second week at the top of the chart - outselling its nearest rivals by a mile - is a firm example of the record breaking out beyond the club-going audience who would normally buy it and selling to people with more mainstream musical tastes. It was the genre-obsessed American music industry that first invented the concept of a "crossover" single but the term has never been more appropriate in the case of (9PM) Til I Come. Just like Sweet Like Chocolate before it, the single is a superbly produced dance record that is in the process of becoming a huge popular smash. ATBs single presides over a startlingly static Top 10 this week with no less than four singles all maintaining their placings of seven days ago. This temporary becalming is perhaps due in part to the flood of new entries just outside - no less than six singles enter the chart between 11 and 20 this week, many of which were ones expected to debut inside the 10.
2 WILD WILD WEST (Will Smith)
Just what is it about the old Stevie Wonder album Songs In The Key Of Life that is inspiring so many hit singles? First there was Coolio creating the massive worldwide smash Gangster's Paradise out of the track Pastime Paradise. Then a few months ago George Michael was riding high with his version of As. Now it is the turn of Will Smith whose latest single borrows heavily from I Wish to add a few more pennies to Stevie Wonder's royalty account. Wild Wild West sees the man move back into the realm of film soundtracks, just like Men In Black from two years ago it is the theme to his new film of the same name which opens in this country in August. Widely tipped to be a Number One single the song instead has to content itself with being a runner-up, nonetheless maintaining Will Smith's impressive chart record since he dropped the Fresh Prince moniker. Indeed since Men In Black became his first hit single under this identity in August 1997 it is only the mysterious failure of Just Cruisin' to climb beyond Number 23 that prevents him having a perfect record of Top 3 hits.
6 VIVA LA RADIO (Lolly)
Depending on your point of view the current vogue for pop records that appeal firmly to the under-10s either reaches new heights or plumbs new depths with this single, the first ever hit for Lolly. Even her name says it all, Viva La Radio is two and a half minutes of pure bubblegum as she sings in a Whigfield-esque little girl voice to this nursery rhyme about the music industry's most tried and tested promotional medium. A more carefully-targetted single it would be hard to find, aimed firmly at children who will badger their parents to buy it for them and guaranteed to have sold more copies in Asda than it has in HMV. Those who are old enough to understand what I mean when I use words such as prescience will of course hate this but acts like Lolly are a clear example of the music industry actively investing in its own future, creating a new generation of record-buyers who will one day have the money to buy music for themselves.
8 THAT DON'T IMPRESS ME MUCH (Shania Twain)
Worthy of a mention this week is Shania Twain's long-running hit single. That Don't Impress Me Much reverses just about every trend going by climbing back up a place. Having sold over half a million copies so far the single has now spent eight successive weeks inside the Top 10, a total matched so far this year by just one record - Britney Spears' Baby One More Time. TLCs No Scrubs has also spent eight weeks in the Top 10 but of course these were non-consecutive. Would you bet against Shania clinging on for another week?
11 COFFEE & TV (Blur)
So are Blur in danger of becoming washed up? The case for the prosecution is the failure of "instant classic" Tender to reach Number One back in February as had been widely expected, the single instead peaking at Number 2 and slumping rapidly after that. Furthermore its parent album 13 hasn't exactly set the charts alight and it too shot down to the lower reaches of the chart after the first few weeks. Case for the defence rests on the fact that Tender was far from an underachiever, spending 8 weeks in the Top 40 and doing enough business to make it one of the Top 20 bestsellers of the year to date. Plus of course they now have another Top 40 single (their 20th since 1991), Coffee & TV, the first Graham Coxon-sung track ever to be given such a status. No, their appeal may well be becoming in a Spinal Tap way "more selective" but they are far from washed up. After all, they have a bigger hit single this week than both Celine Dion and a Spice Girl. [This was one of the singles which prompted the re-calculation, Blur's label insisting they had been denied a Top 10 single (along with the promotional power this gave them) by the data errors. The irony? The corrected chart still has this one listed at Number 11].
13 SECRET SMILE (Semisonic)
Perhaps surprisingly the UK has so far been immune to the charms of the threesome from Minneapolis despite their success back home in the states. All that changes with the release of this, their second single which duly becomes their first ever chart hit in this country, a laid-back piece of guitar-pop which at times seems to be casting a glance over its shoulder to U2's One. [And another one which it was claimed should have been granted a Top 10 place. Although it eventually only had its place revised upwards by a single figure].
14 WORD UP (Mel G)
[Notes aplenty this week. Mel B's insitence on changing her name to reflect her marriage caused all manner of headaches when the marriage turned out to be disastrously short lived and she had to revert back. The "Mel B/G" experience has ever since been a cautionary tale for any female pop star and indeed caused Cheryl Cole to stick with her marital name long after she had divorced the football whose title she adopted]. Does this win the award for Surprise Of The Week? Quite possibly. Whilst recording track for her solo album (the first from a still-current Spice Girl) Melanie Brown/Gulzar made a contribution to the soundtrack of the new Austin Powers film, a feisty cover of Word Up, a hit first time around for Cameo in 1986 and subsequently for Gun in a rock version which charted in 1994. Given the Spice Girls' own chart record and the success of her last single, the Missy Elliott collaboration I Want You Back which hit Number One last summer, a Top 3 entry for Word Up was regarded as a foregone conclusion. As if to stick two fingers up to the journalists who complain the singles chart is predictable, Mel G finds herself in the unfortunate position of having the lowest charting Spice Girls-related single to date, surpassing even last summer's World Cup anthem (How Does It Feel) To Be On Top Of The World which only made Number 9. As to why this should be, your guess is as good as mine, the song may well be a well-worn classic but it is far from over-familiar and if anything Word Up is a far better commercial prospect than I Want You Back was almost a year ago. For now Geri Halliwell can permit herself a small smile of satisfaction, the performance of this record putting her own "failure" at only reaching Number 2 with her own record a few weeks ago well and truly in perspective.
15 GOURYELLA (Gouryella)
Once more Euro-trance invades the UK chart this time thanks to Dutch act Gouryella and this frantically paced instrumental. Brains behind the track is Ferry Corsten who under the name of System F has already been in the Top 20 this year, Out Of The Blue having peaked at Number 14 back in April.
16 THE ANIMAL SONG (Savage Garden)
Nobody would argue against the fact that Savage Garden are a total 80s throwback but in spite (or maybe because) of this they have spent the past year or so having some massive hit singles - Truly Madly Deeply and To The Moon And Back amongst the biggest radio hits of last year. This brand new single from a forthcoming new album is possibly their most appealing release to date, another catchy pop song that is propelled by its African rhythms as befits the theme of the song. Not to everyone's cup of tea but for the moment it seems the Aussie duo can do no wrong and although this single was widely expected to crash nicely into the Top 10 and for the moment is their smallest hit to date, it is nonetheless their fourth Top 20 hit single.
19 EVERYTHING IS EVERYTHING (Lauryn Hill)
Appropriately enough, with Whitney Houston currently nestling in the Top 5 with a song that effectively clones Ms Hill's whole musical style the lady herself arrives to join her in the Top 20. Single Number 3 from the album The Miseducation Of... follows her usual formula of half rapped half sung vocals over a minimalistic production. Everything Is Everything isn't quite as commercially appealing as Doo Wop (That Thing) and Ex-Factor and this Top 20 entry is probably a fair reflection of its appeal.
21 BRING IT ON (Gomez)
Confusingly Bring It On was the title of Gomez' acclaimed debut album but this new single is not the title track, more a completely new song from their second long-playing release. It duly becomes the band's second Top 40 single to follow on from Whippin' Picadilly which reached Number 35 in September 1998 and from that it follows that it is their biggest to date. Their own unique sound - Britpop collides with the Blues - is something of an acquired taste but their appeal is clearly growing and for pure innovation alone one can but applaud them.
22 NO PIGEONS (Sporty Thievz)
Clever concept ahoy. Already a large hit in the States, this debut single from New York rappers Sporty Thievz is written as the male counterpoint to TLCs No Scrubs, whose backing and melody it samples heavily. To take it too seriously would be to miss the point but you cannot help but feel that No Scrubs put across the arguments in the battle of the sexes with far greater aplomb. No Pigeons nicely resurrects the concept of the 'answer' record, a song recorded as a direct response to one by another artist. The last famous example of this came back in 1983 when Lydia Murdock made Number 14 with Superstar, a direct riposte to Michael Jackson's Billie Jean which had made Number One a few months beforehand.
29 TREAT HER LIKE A LADY (Celine Dion)
Not the famous Temptations song of the same name but instead the fifth hit single from Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love album, released to nicely coincide with her arrival in this country for a series of arena dates, the health of hubby Rene permitting of course. To those unfamiliar with the album this single is nothing less than a pleasant surprise as the world's favourite French-Canadian lets her hair and gets into a reggae groove with this track written in collaboration with Diana King who also makes a guest appearance on backing vocals. Had this been one of the first tracks to be lifted as a single it would of course have been massive but with half the country and his dog already owning a copy of the album its potential was bound to be diminished. As it turns out Treat Her Like A Lady becomes one of her smallest singles for a long long time. Indeed her last single to chart outside the Top 15 was her last uptempo single Misled which could only make Number 40 first time around in April 1994, but even that relative flop hit Number 15 when re-released in December 1995.
31 LEGACY (SHOW ME LOVE) (Space Brothers)
Simmonds and Jones are the real life identities of the Space Brothers, the pair normally concentrating on remixes for other people but occasionally stepping out of the shadows with their own recordings. In fact their last chart singles came almost two years ago, Shine peaking at Number 23 in May 1997 and Forgiven (I Feel Your Love) hitting Number 27 in December that year. Before that they had also charted as Chakra, reaching Number 24 with I Am in January 1997. With haunting trance sounds very much the sound of the moment it seems only appropriate that they should return to the chart once more, hence the long-awaited release of this rather gorgeously made single that amply demonstrates that the likes of DJ Sakin and ATB are more than matched by home-grown producers. Fans will be pleased to know that an album is set to follow.
32 GET READY (Mase featuring Blackstreet)
Very much the hidden man of rap, Mase's list of guest appearances easily dwarfs his own solo chart career. In fact he has only appeared solo on one hit single - December 1997s Gloria Estefan-sampling Feel So Good which reached Number 10 and had Total to guest star alongside him on the followup What You Want. Aside from that of course he has appeared on singles by mentor Puff Daddy, Notorious BIG, Cam'ron, Brandy and most recently rapping a verse of Take Me There, the theme to the Rugrats movie. Lead artists on that single were of course Blackstreet and they now return the favour on this single which borrows copiously from Shalamar's Night To Remember and probably deserves a higher chart placing than this brief appearance just inside the Top 40.
33 VIP (Jungle Brothers)
After charting twice last year with remixes of some of their older work the time appears right for the Jungle Brothers to invade the chart with some new material. This new single will come as a shock to those used to their past work as this is easily their most commercial offering to date, moving away from their old skool hip hop roots thanks to this bubbly production by The Propellerheads. It is an eyebrow-raising low chart entry though, just one place below the peak scaled by the re-released Because I Got It Like That, their last hit single from November 1998.