1 LIVIN' LA VIDA LOCA (Ricky Martin)
For the second successive week Ricky Martin denies what many had seen as a sure-fire Number One hit to claim the prize for himself. Just like the Steps record last week, Five actually had the sales edge during the first part of the week but then fell behind once the weekend arrived. It means that Livin' La Vida Loca is unique amongst the many Number One singles of 1999, having broken past the magic two week barrier and is now officially the longest running Number One single since Cher's Believe at the back end of last year. Is anyone going to shift him any time soon?
2 IF YA GETTIN' DOWN (Five)
At times you could be forgiven for feeling sorry for Five. Having spent the whole of 1998 as one of the most popular pop bands in the country they were forecast to have a Number One single on several occasions. In June 1998 Got The Feelin' was their expected chart-topper but that single could only make Number 3. They followed it in September with Everybody Get Up, only to see All Saints beat them to the top of the chart. Finally in November came the release of Until The Time Is Through which became one of many singles to fail to dislodge Cher's Believe from pole position. Sadly their timing isn't much better for the release of this brand new single. The unstoppable force that is Ricky Martin proved beyond even them to shift and they are duly rewarded with their third Number 2 hit in a row. Like most of their more upbeat numbers it is a record that serves to pay effective homage to a past classic hit. In this instance If Ya Gettin' Down borrows copiously from the beat and bassline of Indeep's Last Night A DJ Saved My Life which hit Number 13 in early 1983 and which is probably not as famous as it should be for being amongst the first major commercial rap hits. Meanwhile the world asks. Will they ever top the charts?
4 BETTER OFF ALONE (DJ Jurgen presents Alice Dee Jay)
Better Off Alone began its life in Holland on the same Violent Records label that gave birth to the Vengaboys. Rest assured though that this single is by no means as bad, instead the record is one of the more wonderful pieces of summertime Euro dance as Alice Dee Jay croons the simple vocal line over an insistent synthesised line. Deservedly a massive hit single and sits nicely alongside tracks such as 9PM (Til I Come) as an example of how a record made to be danced to can also be a thing of beauty.
10 LOVESTRUCK (Madness)
For a band that supposedly split up in 1986 Madness have been doing quite nicely out of the nostalgia trail ever since. No tax bills for them to pay off (and Suggs with his solo career and TV work hardly needs the money), no they simply reform every so often to rediscover the joys of working together again and playing to rapturous audiences. To put this in context, Madness were quite easily one of the best bands of the 1980s. Coming to prominence in 1979 on the crest of the Ska boom at the time, the band went on to have 21 Top 20 hits over the course of the next seven years and left behind them a legacy as one of the best ever singles bands... songs such as House Of Fun, Our House, Driving In My Car and One Step Beyond remain established standards to this day. Since their official split in 86 they have made several attempts at chart comebacks. In 1988 a small rump of original members reformed as The Madness and reached Number 44 with I Pronounce You. In 1992 as part of a Greatest Hits promotion their cover of Labi Siffre's It Must Be Love was re-released and made Number 6 and on the back of this the band reformed to play the first in what became a regular series of concerts in Finsbury Park, recording a cover of The Harder They Come along the way - but again this could only reach Number 44. Now the band have gone back into the studio once more to record new material and this time have clearly hit Paydirt. Lovestruck could almost have been recorded by them in 1982 as all the elements of classic Madness are there, right down to the wacky video and almost bizarre lyrics. The public clearly agree and the track crashes into the chart to give Madness their first brand new Top 10 hit since The Sun And The Rain hit Number 5 in November 1983, although lead singer Suggs had a solo Top 10 hit as recently as 1996. A new album is reportedly on the way.
15 I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT BUT I CAN'T GIVE IT ANYMORE (Pet Shop Boys)
1990, 1993, 1996 and now 1999. Neil and Chris certainly believe in pacing themselves when it comes to album releases. Over 13 years since they first hit the singles chart the Pet Shop Boys prove that they are still capable of having big hit singles. Their love of exotic titles comes to the fore here, I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More is easily amongst the longest in singles chart history and as you would expect conceals another cleverly written song about frustrated emotions, a common Pet Shop Boys theme. All the other elements are in place of course, a lush string arrangement, a David Morales production that is ripe for remixing and a strong tune but somehow you get the feeling that there is a lack of the sensation that usually precedes a brand new Pet Shop Boys single. At the end of the day this hardly matters, the track scrapes nicely inside the Top 20, admittedly down on the Top 10 placings they have become accustomed to in the past but in the process retaining their perfect record of Top 30 hits. It is also worth bearing in mind that the duo have often used the first single from a new album as a gentle introduction, hitting the public with a stunning pop tune for the second single. In 1993 Can You Forgive Her was followed by their classic cover of Go West whilst in 1996 the gentle Before was followed by the storming latin rhythms of Se A Vide E. I Don't Know What You Want... may not be the most exciting record the Pet Shop Boys have ever released but you can rest assured that the expected follow-up is destined for far greater things.
17 FEELING IT TOO (3 Jays)
A special mention here for Jamie White, creative genius behind Tzant, The PF Project and Mirrorball who always reads this column and who also has the distinction of being one of the 3 Jays behind this latest dance smash. As well as Jamie they are Jim Lee and singer Jeff Patterson who have teamed up for this single which nicely rides the current wave of disco-influenced dance singles with strong male vocals a la Phats And Small and Armand Van Helden. Jamie's website [no longer there] tells the story of how the single came to be made far better than I can, suffice for me to say it is a deserving Top 20 hit and gives vocalist Jeff Patterson a second appearance in the Top 20 following his work on Healey and Amos' Stamp!, a Number 11 hit in October 1996.
19 SHE (Elvis Costello)
When the soundtrack of the hit film Notting Hill was being compiled, the producers decided that Charles Aznavour's classic She would be the perfect way to open proceedings. The only problem was that the Frenchman's heavily accented rendition proved a little distracting and so the solution was to get an Englishman to re-record the track. Hence the somewhat surprising appearance in the Top 20 of Elvis Costello who sings the classic song tenderly and faithfully and has ended up with a major hit for his troubles. Don't underestimate the significance of this, although the master songwriter remains as popular as ever, even after over 20 years in the business he has rarely been this high in the singles chart. In fact She is only the sixth Top 20 hit of his long career and his first under his own name since A Good Year For The Roses hit Number 6 in late 1981 - he did reach Number 16 two years later with the track Pills And Soap under the guise of The Imposter. Some purist might bemoan the fact that he should return to prominence with a straightforward cover of a famous love song but at the end of the day isn't this worth a step back? Elvis Costello has a Top 20 hit. Rejoice.
20 DID YOU EVER THINK (R Kelly featuring Nas)
Mr Kelly is in serious danger of becoming a serial collaborator. Just look at his last few hit single for the evidence. First he helps Sparkle into the Top 10 by duetting on Be Careful. After the minor blip of the solo Top 20 hit Half On A Baby he teamed up with Keith Murray for Home Alone which reached Number 17 in November last year and then barely a fortnight later he was at Number 3 with his duet with Celine Dion I'm Your Angel. Said ballad was of course one of the bigger hits of his career so it is somewhat strange that he should have waited eight months to release this follow-up. As you might have guessed the single Did You Ever Think is a duet, rapper Nas growling his way through his own spots on the record and becoming the fifth person to appear alongside the R&B superstar on a chart single.
22 I KNOW WHAT I'M HERE FOR (James)
So where do James go from here. Having grown over the course of the decade from perennial indie also-rans to stadium-filling superstars and then sliding back down to more limited appeal the band released a Greatest Hits collection at the back end of last year only to see it become one of the biggest selling albums of the year. With the remix of Sit Down having given them their first Top 10 hit for seven years they now have the chance to regain some of their lost momentum. Sadly it looks like this single isn't the one to do that. The first release from a brand new album I Know What I'm Here For is nothing less than an excellent piece of work but lacking somewhat in commercial appeal. Hence, I suspect, this rather unremarkable chart position, their 13th Top 30 hit but a long way short of expectations.
23 TO BE IN LOVE (MAW presents India)
They may be better known as remixers but I'm nonetheless a huge fan of the work of Kenny Gonzalez and Louie Vega, better known as Masters At Work. The pair were of course the brains behind 1997s Nuyorican Soul project which featured a number of different vocalists, most notably India who featured on the project's biggest hit, a cover of the Salsoul Orchestra's Runaway. Now she steps to the fore again on this single, credited to MAW for what are described as "legal reasons". It isn't the most inspiring record they have ever made admittedly but enough to give them a Top 30 hit and certainly a greater success than the last single to be credited to "Masters At Work Present India", I Can't Get No Sleep which made Number 44 in August 1995.
24 ALL STAR (Smash Mouth)
Despite all the promise of their debut single Walking On The Sun, Smash Mouth have until now failed to live up to it. Said track, complete with infectious Hammond Organ riff hit Number 19 in October 1997 but since then the group have failed to chart another single. All that changes now with this new hit landing nicely inside the Top 30. It is just as good as Walking On The Sun but this time around there is less of a buzz and less of a sensation and it wouldn't surprise me if we go another two years without seeing them on the chart.
25 SEPTEMBER '99 (Phats & Small vs. Earth Wind And Fire)
Although officially Phat's And Small's follow up to Turn Around is the single Feeling Good due out in a week or so, they return to the chart here with a label credit as remixers of this classic disco record which first made Number 3 in early 1979 and remains one of the biggest ever hit singles for Earth Wind And Fire. September '99 is actually a perfect example of how to stamp your own authority over a classic without ruining it, Phats and Small have added their own trademark beats to the track and nicely illustrating just how much artists such as Armand Van Helden and Stardust owe to the legacy of acts such as Maurice White's R&B legends. Perhaps surprisingly the remixed track fails to make much of a chart smash but it does at least return Earth Wind And Fire to the Top 40 for the first time since 1982 and gives a whole new generation the chance to appreciate what is surely one of the greatest dance records ever made.
36 I DO (Jamelia)
An understated debut for the rather good first single from 18 year old Jamelia, co-written by the lady herself who is touted as a big R&B star of the future. [Bigger things were ahead of her for sure].
38 SO PURE (Alanis Morrissette)
Make no mistake Alanis needs a major marketing turnaround. Thank U may have been a Top 5 hit last Autumn but the underwhelming reaction to this single proves that the Number 28 peak of Joining You back in March was no fluke. In a way it is sad as So Pure is one of the better moments from Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie but I suspect even her forthcoming series of concert dates in this country will be unable to lift this single up the charts and it takes over the mantle as one of the smallest hits of her career.