1 I WANT IT THAT WAY (Backstreet Boys)
Just over four and half years on from their debut UK single release the Backstreet Boys achieve one of then few chart honours to have eluded them and score a Number One single in this country. The signs had been there for a while, every single from their second album Backstreet's Back went Top 5 and in the current climate a brand new single from any boy band is more or less assured of success (just ask Westlife). Although America arguably invented the concept of the Boy Band with New Kids On The Block in the late 1980s it has fallen to British and Irish groups to take the concept to undreamed of heights. Arguably the Backstreet Boys are the first US-originated all-boy group to top the charts since the New Kids themselves in 1990 although this is to assume that the success of Boyz II Men in 1992 was attributable to the widespread appeal of their music rather than their looks and their bodies. Admittedly I Want It That Way is no better a pop record than some of their past releases (and indeed shares much of its musical arrangement with As Long As You Love Me) but a Number One single it is, albeit I suspect for only a week. Next week will see one of the most intriguing head to head battles for many months as the current Kings of teen pop take on the might of a former Spice Girl.
3 PRIVATE NUMBER (911)
With the Backstreet Boys at Number One and Westlife at Number 2, 911 complete a Top 3 made up entirely of boy bands, the first time this has ever happened in the UK charts. It is cover version time once more for 911, this time a rather anodyne version of Judy Clay and William Bell's soul classic which reached Number 8 at the end of 1968. I know I have said it before but it is a point worth repeating, to push the trio down the road of sweet but soulless covers of established classics seems rather bizarre when you consider that in the past they have released original material like The Day We Find Love and The Journey - songs which more than stand on their own merits. Not that there is too much wrong with the record, the song is far from unpleasant and the contribution of 20 year old Natalie Jordan on the female part of the song a refreshing novelty and the single becomes their tenth successive Top 10 hit. Nonetheless, it seems somehow appropriate that of this week's new releases Private Number has been outsold by the Backstreet Boys singing a brand new song and only just shades a Top 3 slot from the good old fashioned we-write-them-and-play-them-ourselves musicianship of the Stereophonics.
4 PICK A PART THAT'S NEW (Stereophonics)
It is worth pointing out that most bands labelled with the 'alternative' tag find their singles releases following a predictable pattern - a massive chart entry for a hugely hyped brand new single released in advance of an album followed by a few more lesser hits bought mainly by die-hard supporters. Clearly on this basis one can hardly call the Stereophonics 'alternative' as with the third single from the Number One album Performance And Cocktails they maintain their impressive run of hits, in this case clocking up a third successive Top 5 entry. It is a point worth dwelling on, Pick A Part That's New equals the Number 4 peak of their last release Just Lookin' and slots in just behind the Number 3 entry of The Bartender And The Thief - the much-hyped first release in advance of the album. Granted it would be wrong to expect anything other than a dramatic tumble for the track next week but for the moment it is appropriate to celebrate the achievements of a band who either have the most loyal fanbase around or who increase their appeal with every single release.
6 CLOUD #9 (Bryan Adams)
Surely the very embodiment of a mid-80s commercial soft-metal act, Bryan Adams' chart career has stretched for over 15 years, a fact that is surely attributable to the way he has always been willing to make records in a variety of different styles. The singles released so far from his latest album have been a case in point. The first single, the title track On A Day Like Today was a Beatles/Oasis pastiche but admittedly "only" made Number 13. Then came When You're Gone, a rousing duet with Spice Girl Mel C (herself a revelation as a rock chick) which gave him another enduring hit single, spending ten weeks in the Top 10 over Christmas/New Year and peaking at Number 3. Now comes the third single, a fairly typical mid-tempo ballad in its original form but for this single release, remixed by Chicane (of Offshore and Strong In Love fame). Chicane's work on Cloud #9 takes a leaf out of the Tin Tin Out book of respectfully tactful remixes as the track is transformed into the most distinctive-sounding Bryan Adams single yet. Purists have confessed to hating it, personally I think it is inspiringly good, the remix being subtle and yet dramatically different, certainly good enough to erase memories of other abortive attempts to fuse rock and dance (Def Leppard's Slang anyone?). With both versions of the track on the CD single can you really go wrong?
11 DAYZ LIKE THAT (Fierce)
Slowly but surely making a name for themselves as the next big thing in British R&B are Fierce who here chart with their second hit single. Although less of an immediate pop single than their first release Right Here Right Now a far busier promotional schedule and a support slot with Another Level has meant the single sails past the Number 25 peak of its predecessor, just missing out on a place in the Top 10 in the process and more than establishes the girls as a name to watch out for.
12 BIG LOVE (Pete Heller)
Deservingly one of the bigger hits of the week and a massive dancefloor smash to boot, Pete Heller attaches himself nicely into the current vogue for infectious grooving house records. Heller, here making a rare solo appearance under his own name is probably best known as one half of legendary production duo Heller and Farley, both men also being the leading lights behind Fire Island who charted with a cover of the Style Council's Shout To The Top in April 1998.
14 SHOWER YOUR LOVE (Kula Shaker)
The musical chameleoid that is Kula Shaker arrives in the Top 20 once more. Shower Your Love is surely far and away one of the most commercial singles they have ever released, Krispin Mill's new-found talent for writing anthemic choruses comes to the fore with this track that draws not only on their usual influences but one which must have The Levellers asking why they haven't written this song yet.
16 FEELING FOR YOU (Cassius)
The reviews for the album may have been rather lukewarm (that is if you count "not as good as Daft Punk" as a valid criticism) but most are agreed that Feeling For You is one of the standout tracks. It appears now as a single as the follow-up to the Top 10 hit Cassius 1999 and gives walking encyclopaedias a chance to play spot the sample once more - the track this time based around Gwen McRae's All This Love That I'm Giving.
22 CARTE BLANCHE (Veracocha)
If you are a fan of dance music then this is a phenomenal week for you with a tremendous wave of singles which began their lives as anonymous white labels in the hands of clubs DJs now crashing into the chart. Already we have had entries from Cassius and Pete Heller, now Veracocha with this frantic piece of instrumental trance - via the mini hit factory in the making that is Positiva records - becomes the third and still to come lower down the chart are hits from Johnny Shaker, DMX, Universal Nation and Phoebe One.
28 IT'S ALL BEEN DONE (Barenaked Ladies)
Lacking the manic energy of One Week, the follow-up from the Barenaked ladies fares rather worse in terms of chart performance. After so many years in obscurity I suppose it is worth celebrating the fact that the Canadian band have now had two Top 40 hits. Could anyone have predicted that a few years ago?
32 PEARL RIVER (Johnny Shaker)
Produced by German wunderkind Sharam Jey, Pearl River originally made an appearance in DJ returns at the back end of last year when an instrumental track. In a move reminiscent of the transformation of Chicane's Offshore in 1997 the second time around the track has grown a vocal track, provided here by Serial Diva and the result is a new lease of life for the single, propelling it on this re-release into the Top 40. It is something of a triumph for small independent label Low Sense whose ownership of the UK licence for the track has given them a single in the upper reaches of the Top 75 for the first time ever.
33 HUMAN (Pretenders)
In a sense Chrissie Hynde is threatening to turn into Cliff Richard isn't she? The years roll by and yet she never seems to get any older. Her music remains just a good as well, even if the level of support she receives is proving to be somewhat erratic. Whereas the last Pretenders album in 1994 produced the Top 10 hit I'll Stand By You, this new single belies its rave reviews and a production job by Tin Tin Out to only stutter into the Top 40 for what looks destined to be a rather limited chart run. Slightly sad then, but it is worth bearing in mind that even their now-classic debut single Stop Your Sobbing could only reach Number 34 back in 1979.
34 GIVE YOU ALL THE LOVE (Mishka)
OK funny story this, from the strange but true pile. Creation boss Alan McGee (aka the Man Who Discovered Oasis) was on his honeymoon in the Carribean when he came across Mishka, a white surfer dude with dreadlocks crooning in a club. Never one to shy away from taking a chance, McGee signed him up and so the enigmatically named singer [it means "teddy bear" in Russian] makes his chart debut with this laid-back, lilting summer rock song. Admittedly the single is perhaps a little too laid back and would work better if released later in the summer but its potential for remixes has already given it a lease of life in the clubs and with the right push there is every chance Mishka could become a major star. [Alas no, he would be a one hit wonder. But this single is too lovely to be forgotten].
36 PUSH (Universal Nation)
Already a major dance hit in Europe, this instrumental track hit escapes over her to make what for the moment is a brief appearance in the UK Top 40. I say "for the moment" as if this summer is anything like those gone by there is scope for any number of poorly-performing dance records to find themselves given a new lease of life as holidaymakers flock to the continent a get a taste for these hitherto overlooked classics. Push could well end up being one of them.
38 GET IT ON (Phoebe One)
A welcome Top 40 debut for Phoebe One, regarded by many as the British answer to Missy Elliott and a Mobo award winner last year to boot. Her first ever major chart hit is a fun slice of hip-hop with one of those tunes that sounds naggingly familiar. Too familiar for some it turns out as the track gives a writers credit to none other than Rod Stewart, lest the writer of Baby Jane gets upset about the apparent appropriation of one of his melodies.