1 FILL ME IN (Craig David)
At the end of the day, no matter how many people claim the contrary, all predictions as to what position a single will land at are nothing more than guesswork, and guesswork that changes day by day. This week's chart is a perfect case in point. Of a number of potentially big new hits due for release this last week, one was expected to rise above them all and charge in to give the act a well deserved Number One hit. For the moment I will leave you guessing as to which one. Suffice it to say it wasn't Craig David, despite the fact that when he edged into a narrow lead at the start of the week it was possible to hear a number of people saying "well, of course, it was an obvious candidate to be Number One". Obvious it may have been by the start of the week but if you suggested to anyone two weeks ago that Fill Me In was a potential chart-topper they would have been pleasantly surprised by that expectation.
So let us be pleasantly surprised at the way Fill Me In has emerged victorious in what must be said was a very close run race for most of the week. The sweet tones of Craig David will be familiar even if his name isn't as he was the voice heard on Artful Dodger's smash hit Re-Rewind. Essentially his first solo release is a direct follow up to that single, right down to the fact that Mark Hill from the Artful Dodger produced the single.
2 FLOWERS (Sweet Female Attitude)
New entries you want sir? New entries we have in absolute spades let me tell you. Another record that wasn't supposed to be a contender for Number One but ended up being so was this debut single from Sweet Female Attitude. UK Garage rears its head once again as the usual mix of scattered beats, strings and acoustic guitars accompanies Manchester girls Leanne and Catherine as they sing a song that is as desperately soulful as it is danceable. Those with a keen ear may well spot a few classical melodies buried inside the mix as well. All in all a smash hit.
3 A SONG FOR THE LOVERS (Richard Ashcroft)
This one. This is it. It's him. It was Richard Ashcroft who was supposed to be King Of The Hill this week. The debut solo release from the former Verve frontman was supposed to sweep all before him and kick off the next stage of his career in style. In the end he loses out narrowly in a three-way race that could have gone either way right up until the last moment although in the interests of perspective it is worth pointing out that a Top 3 entry is no bad thing at all. The single is everything you would expect from the man who penned the classic Urban Hymns album, a mainly acoustic song with the requisite amount of soaring strings and the tones of a songwriter who never fails to sound as if he means every word he sings. Song For The Lovers duly returns him to the Top 3 for the first time since The Drugs Don't Work topped the chart in September 1997. Even if it isn't the Number One it was supposed to be.
4 A DEEPER SHADE OF BLUE (Steps)
Four chart positions. Four new entries. Detect a pattern here? Steps' first single since their Christmas release Say You'll Be Mine sees them return to the Abba-aping style that dominated most of their early releases. In the process it becomes their biggest chart hit for almost a year, their largest hit in fact since Love's Got A Hold On My Heart reached Number 2 in July 1999. It may sound unfair but it is almost inevitable that Steps' appeal and chart positions will begin to tail off at some point, it is just a question of when. For the moment though they appear as strong as ever and Deeper Shade Of Blue is now their 8th successive Top 10 single.
5 THE BAD TOUCH (Bloodhound Gang)
A longstanding record is equalled this week as, just like in the week of October 31st 1998, the Top 5 is made up entirely of brand new singles. The fifth is the first smash hit single from the latest American sensations Bloodhound Gang whose image for the single has been tailored to match the rather bizarre monkey theme of the lyrics of this hit. Easily the most fun rap single of the year and one which fully deserves its Top 5 placing. Beyond that it is impossible to comment, suffice it to say that The Bad Touch represents a complete turnaround in the chart fortunes of The Bloodhound Gang. Their only other chart single to date came in August 1997 when Why's Everybody Always Pickin' On Me? reached the impressive high of Number 56.
6 BLOW YA MIND (Lock 'N' Load)
Well what are records if they are not for breaking? The culture of "chart 'em big and chart 'em high" pushes back yet another boundary as for the first time ever the Top 6 singles are all brand new entries. The single that has the honour of shattering that record is this club hit from Holland. As with many dance singles there is at least one story to be told about it, Chin Chin DJ Francis made Blow Ya Mind two years ago but rather than release it, kept the master to himself as an exclusive for him to play in his sets. If nothing else it was a novel way of building up demand and now it is finally commercially available the single has scaled charts in countries all over Europe - a list to which Britain can now be added.
8 FOOL AGAIN (Westlife)
Well if the Top 6 are all new entries there have to be some big time losers amongst the singles that they displaced. It's not every day you get to call Westlife 'big time losers' either but there is no getting around the fact that last week's Number One single takes a spectacular seven place tumble from the top of the chart, a reflection maybe of the narrow way it squeaked in to the top thanks to mass buying by a loyal army of fans rather than due to any widespread appeal. Those with long memories may have noted that this tumble is eerily similar to the way B*witched's fourth Number One single Blame It On The Weatherman (itself a record-setter) plummeted from 1-9 in March 1999.
10 AIRWAVE (Rank 1)
Bizarrely enough this dance hit is the second Top 10 new entry to be produced by two Dutch DJs. Bubbling European trance is the order of the day here, the single also holding the honour of being the 7th new entry inside the Top 10 this week - itself equalling the current record.
13 BINGO BANGO (Basement Jaxx)
Whereas at one time you would expect a Basement Jaxx single to be challenging for a Top 5 entry, this single has to content itself with a rather lesser chart placing. No reflection on the quality of the track, as we are simply talking the law of diminishing returns here. Bingo Bango, despite a set of new mixes, is still the same track that appeared on last year's Remedy album so the fourth single from Felix and Simon probably wound up a purchase for completists and fanatics only. Again, not that a Number 13 entry is anything to be ashamed of but it slides in one place lower than their last single Jump N' Shout to become their smallest single since their debut Fly Life made Number 19 in May 1997.
22 LIFE STORY (Angie Stone)
Onto the mid-table entries now, the first of which is the debut single from latest soul discovery Angie Stone. Actually that should really have been in quotes as she is hardly a new discovery at all, with a career CV that already boasts work alongside the Sugarhill Gang, Vertical Hold and a spell collaborating with D'Angelo to whom she was married for a period in the mid-90s.
23 LIGHT A CANDLE (Daniel O'Donnell)
Another Daniel O'Donnell single. I'd leave it at that, but for the fact I'd get shouted at by the editor. Really you cannot expand further than that as the genial Irish balladeer simply goes on churning out hit after hit after hit, almost all of which sell to his dedicated audience of grandmothers and all of which vanish as quickly as they came. Light A Candle is his first hit of the year 2000, following on from his three chart entries in 1999, the last of which was A Christmas Kiss which made Number 20 back in December. In all it is his 13th Top 40 hit since 1992.
24 AMAZED (Lonestar)
For those that don't follow these things, Amazed by Lonestar topped the US listings a few months ago, the first country single to do so since the early 1980s. Anyone who hoped that the same thing would happen over here is going to be disappointed as the debut single from the duo creeps into the Top 30 in a somewhat understated manner with little sensation surrounding it. In a way this is actually a shame, as the success of Shania Twain has proved, it is perfectly possible to sell country music into the mainstream in this country. I suspect the problem is that Amazed is perhaps a little too conventional sounding. A sweet ballad with an immaculate production that hints of classic Chicago tracks of the past but lacking that little extra spark of appeal that could have turned it into a big British hit. [Spoiler alert: this one turns into a surprisingly long-running saga].
33 I DON'T WANT NOBODY (Cherie Amore)
OK now I am going to lose patience. This week's chart has seen more than its fair share of faceless dance singles land in the upper reaches, all of which I've been level headed and informative about without once being rude about the people who make them or the people who buy them. Is this how I am rewarded? Far and away the best club hit of the week crawling in at a pathetic Number 33? There is a fix on, I'd swear. Anyway, being professional for a moment, French teenager Cherie Amore (surely not her real name!) [it wasn't even the name of the woman singing, just an alias for producer Eric Peyronel] lets rip over a ravishing disco beat that all but defies you not to get up and dance. Apparently it is easier to defy the urge to buy it.
39 YOU'RE THE REASON (Wamdue Project)
How does the old saying go? You are only ever as good as your last hit single. The last hit single for Wamdue Project was,of course, King Of My Castle which topped the listing back in November last year. The follow-up is just as equally bonkers and indeed sounds more or less the same right down to the bassline, chord sequences and the sound effects that link the verses and chorus. Despite this (or maybe because of it) the single has more or less bombed, barely creeping into the Top 40 at all. It is easily the least successful follow-up to a Number One hit single since Lou Bega's I Got A Girl (the successor release to Mambo No.5) reached a desultory Number 55 in December last year.