1 BRING IT ALL BACK (S Club 7)
[Pop legends debut klaxon, as from not so humble beginnings the biggest pop act of the turn of the millennium take their first steps in almost totally transcending their TV show origins]. Not so much a pop group as a complete concept involving websites, sponsorships and a TV show, S Club 7 become the second Simon Fuller creation in the last two weeks to make a chart debut - and what a debut it is. The three boys and four girls are the stars of the BBC children's series Miami 7 which details the lives and loves of a group of youngsters who earn their living performing in Florida resorts, performing Monkees-style a song at the end of each episode. Those with long memories will remember with a shudder the last time anyone attempted to market a pop band around a TV show, North And South having failed in an attempt to set the world on fire. No such problems here though as Bring It All Back which doubles as the theme song to the series not only sweeps aside Baz Lurhmann but also even Madonna to sit nicely at the top of the charts.
Although films and TV adverts have a proven track record of producing major hit singles, TV shows tend to be less of a source of chart-topping material. Bring It All Back is the second children's programme in the last few years to have its theme song turned into a Number One single (Teletubbies of course being the other) but to find examples of other TV themes hitting the top you have to go way back in chart history. Back in fact to 1980 when the Theme From M*A*S*H (actually written for the film but used as well in the TV show) hit the top and then before then to 1973 when Eye Level (the theme to detective show Van Der Valk) became a Number One single for the Simon Park Orchestra. That is of course not to discount tracks such as Nick Berry's Every Loser Wins or Spitting Image's The Chicken Song (both 1986) which became hits as a result of featuring heavily in TV shows.
Back to the single itself and there is actually little doubt that the track would have become a massive hit even without the TV show. Quite simply it is one of the most fabulous pop singles of the year so far, a bouncy track that sounds like the best thing the Jackson 5 never recorded, an infectious singalong chorus and of course the patented Great Key Change Of Joy that is the hallmark of all truly inspirational singles.
2 BEAUTIFUL STRANGER (Madonna)
So unusually film has to take second place to television as Madonna's contribution to the new Austin Powers sequel can only scrape into second place on this week's chart listing. Alright so it was within an ace of becoming her ninth Number One single but she will hardly be complaining about the popularity of this track, another William Orbit collaboration that takes the acid-hippy noodlings last seen on Ray Of Light and takes them to the next level in a track that is totally in keeping with the flower power era in which the film is set. Madonna songs have featured on many film soundtracks in the past and not all of them ones in which she stars herself. Along with Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me you can list Vision Quest, At Close Range and With Honors although nobody will doubt that the Austin Powers film is set to be the biggest mainstream smash of all of these. Beautiful Stranger neatly helps preserve Madonna's record as far and away one of the leading artists of the decade, her tally of 24 Top 10 hits (not counting the 1991 re-releases of Holiday and Crazy For You) since 1990 far exceeds any of her rivals.
3 EVERYBODY'S FREE (TO WEAR SUNSCREEN) (Baz Luhrmann)
Eyebrows might be raised at the way Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) has been unceremoniously dumped from the top of the chart after just one week but in a way it illustrates nicely the point that spoken word singles, for all their unusual appeal, are rarely more than short-lived novelties with an ability to irritate after just a few plays. That is what is happening to this single as the appeal has worn off and the backlash has begun. This may go some way to explaining why true spoken word hit singles (excluding rap as argued last week) are celebrated yet few on the ground and normally quite minor hits. Last Christmas the TV presenter Des Lynam released a spoken rendition of Rudyard Kipling's poem If only to see it peak at Number 45 whilst back in 1993 The Shamen restricted the availability of the seven minute Terrence McKenna sermon Re:Evolution to just seven days, resulting in the single hitting Number 18 but spending just two weeks in the Top 75. No, despite the success of If and No Charge making the top of the charts in the 1970s to find a spoken word single that has had proven chart longevity one has to go back to the 1950s and examine the phenomenon of Wink Martindale's Deck Of Cards ("friends, I was that soldier"). First released in 1959 it charted sporadically for the first few months of 1960 before being re-released in April 1963 to ultimately climb to Number 5. Re-issued in 1973 in competition with a surprisingly popular cover by Max Bygraves (his version made Number 13) the single climbed back to Number 22 and to date has spent 41 weeks on the British charts making it far and away the most-charted spoken word single ever.
7 DOODAH (Cartoons)
With their first single Witch Doctor only just having dropped out of the Top 40 after an 11 week stay Cartoons crawl out of the woodwork once more for their second Top 10 single in succession. More singalong nursery-rhyme pop is the order of the day here DooDah taking its vocal hook from the traditional song Camptown Races which you will probably be relieved to hear has never before been the inspiration for a British hit single.
12 ALL OR NOTHING (Cher)
The law of diminishing returns means that after the million-selling Number One Believe and its Top 5 followup Strong Enough Cher's third single from her current album can only land on the cusp of the Top 10. The same formula applies here, All Or Nothing (no relation to the Small Faces classic) is a more downtempo track but still with a thumping Eurodisco beat that is as far removed as you can get from her days as a leather-clad rock chick in the late 1980s. She can be forgiven for feeling frustrated that this single didn't chart just that little bit higher. Another two places at it would have marked the first time in her long career that she had charted with three successive Top 10 hits.
15 ALMOST DOESN'T COUNT (Brandy)
Another solid Top 20 placing for Brandy to follow on from the Number 13 peak of Have You Ever? which charted just before Christmas. Exactly a year ago this week Brandy was nestling nicely in the Top 3 alongside Monica with The Boy Is Mine, the single that arguably gave the careers of both women the shot in the arm they needed in the UK. Notice too though that whilst TV and film actress Brandy is now charting her third solo hit since, Monica has only had one other hit single - last October's The First Night which peaked at Number 6.
20 EVERYTIME (Tatjana Ali)
Something of a comedown for Tatjana Ali after the Number 3 smash hit Boy You Knock Me Out which charted back in February which in turn followed the Number 6 peak of her debut Daydreamin' from November 1998. What has caused this dramatic drop in chart form? Is it the lack of a self-referential Will Smith to guest on the track or is it just the fact that this is a rather average sounding R&B track without any of the magic that made her last hit so popular? Your guess is as good as mine.
24 ALL IS FULL OF LOVE (Bjork)
This may raise a few eyebrows. Despite the fact that the Homogenic album is now almost two years old and its singles haven't exactly set the charts on fire the track that closes the album becomes its fifth single release and becomes one of its biggest hits, rivalled only by the Number 21 peak of Bachelorette from December 1997. The sudden demand for the track can be attributed partly to the way the single has been remixed to give it a dreamy trip-hop feel but I suspect mostly due to the fact that the single is available in three different CD formats, the last of which is the first ever DVD to be cleared to appear on the singles chart. The new format allows for the Chris Cunningham-directed video to be included in broadcast quality alongside the audio track. Although the industry has seen many false dawns in the ability to sell the visual images alongside the music (Video CD and CD-I anyone?) there is every chance that the future could see the charts flooded with DVD singles rather at present where to own a copy of the video you have to buy enhanced CDs that allow you to view the video as a postcard MPEG in a bug-ridden shockwave environment.
33 MORE LOVE (Next Of Kin)
Frustratingly lacking anything approaching mainstream coverage beyond appearing on a few TV shows, the brothers Braintree arrive back on the chart with their second hit single, the follow-up to 24 Hours From You which made Number 13 back in February. To describe them as the British Hanson is by no means unfair but their American counterparts surely never had as much trouble getting people to notice them.
36 GET INVOLVED (Raphael Saddiq and Q-Tip)
Something of a superstar collaboration here as former Tony Tone Tone frontman Raphael Saddiq teams up with Q-Tip, best known as the frontman of A Tribe Called Quest. The combination of the smooth soulful vocals of Saddiq and Q-Tip's rapped interjections works rather well but in the absence of any British airings to date of the controversial animated series The PJs from whose soundtrack the single is taken, to the British public Get Involved is just another mid-tempo dance groove, hence this rather unassuming chart placing.
37 IT'S A GIRL THING (My Life Story)
For the uninitiated My Life Story are the band cum orchestra led by notorious motormouth Jake Shillingford. They have to all intents and purposes spent most of their career being considered poor relations to the like of the Divine Comedy, purveyors of intelligently constructed and immaculately performed songs about all manner of quirky subjects. They notched up five Top 40 hits in 1996 and 1997, beginning with live favourite 12 Reasons Why I Love Her but only May 1997's Strumpet cracked the Top 30, peaking at Number 27. They were subsequently dropped by EMI. Two years on they are now signed to It Records, a new label owned by none other than Andrew LLoyd-Webber and with it comes a dramatic shift in style as the band now sound like Joe Jackson backed by XTC with this quite appealing and somewhat summery sounding single. Sadly it doesn't seem to have improved their chart form and this single is destined to become another minor chart footnote. Keep your fingers crossed for better things to come.