1 INDEPENDENT WOMEN (Destiny's Child)
Hey, in terms of good marketing this is hard to beat. Just as the long-awaited Charlie's Angels film opens admid much fanfare in the UK, its theme tune sails nicely to the top of the charts. As far as we are concerned however, this is actually one of the more noteworthy Number One singles for many months. For a start it is the second chart-topping single in succession to be lifted from a film soundtrack, deposing LeAnn Rimes' Can't Fight The Moonlight which was featured in Coyote Ugly. This is the second time this has happened this year as back in March, Pure Shores by All Saints (from The Beach) was toppled by American Pie by Madonna (from The Next Best Thing). Before this you would have had to go back to 1991 to find two film hits following each other at the top of the charts. It is furthermore interesting to note that Destiny's Child are the first American group to hit the top since the Backstreet Boys in May 1999. Plenty of American stars have been at the top since but all have been soloists, if nothing else an interesting reflection of the type of music that is able to command mass audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. After a year of upheaval and personnel changes, Destiny's Child can actually be even prouder of their achievement in topping the UK charts as they are the first American all-female group to reach the summit since The Bangles hit the top with Eternal Flame way back in 19889. Before that you would have to go back to 1985 and Sister Sledge's Frankie for a group of American females at the top of the charts.
2 CAN'T FIGHT THE MOONLIGHT (LeAnn Rimes)
As seems to be the way of things at present, seven days was more or less all LeAnn Rimes could have expected for her first ever Number One hit. Perhaps surprisingly Can't Fight The Moonlight was only the third ever Number One hit single written by songwriting legend Diane Warren. Prior to this her only compositions to reach the summit were Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now (Starship, 1987) and Don't Turn Around (Aswad, 1988). The single is also produced by no less a legend than Trevor Horn and this was in turn his first Number One production since Boyzone's A Different Beat hit the summit in 1996.
3 WALKING AWAY (Craig David)
I probably said it last time he had a single out but Craig David is almost certainly the discovery of the year, so much so that it will be a major shock if he does not walk off with at least one Brit Award in February. Sadly his third single cannot quite do the business and follow Fill Me In and Seven Days to the very top on its first week. Top 3 is still pretty impressive of course and if anything Walking Away is one of his finest offerings to date, the twinkling Spanish guitars moving him even further away from the two-step garage sound with which he was in danger of being associated with thanks to his earlier work as guest singer on Artful Dodger records. If anyone you know starts moaning about manufactured pop bands without any discernable talent clogging up the charts, just point them in the direction of Craig David to have your faith in the music industry restored.
5 OPERATION BLADE (BASS IN THE PLACE) (Public Domain)
Scotland appears to have been the biggest source of the buzz surrounding this massive new dance single but in recent weeks the track has dominated dancefloors south of the border as well. Operation Blade charges into the Top 5, propelled neatly by a sample from New Order's Confusion (as heard in the movie Blade - hence the title) and a largely unnoticed contribution from Public Enemy's Flava Flav whose voice can be heard on the "Bass in the place, London" sample that provides the disc with its central hook. Meanwhile the debate rages, is the similarity of this track to Phatt Bass by Aquagen just a coincidence or an example of blatant copying of someone else's idea?
6 THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL (Ronan Keating)
So what does this prove? That nobody, no matter how big you are, is guaranteed a Number One hit or that Ronan Keating isn't quite the all-conquering superstar that he is made out to be. The former is possibly more truthful than the latter but despite this it is something of a surprise that his third solo single not only fails to follow When You Say Nothing At All and Life Is A Rollercoaster to the top of the chart but also that it cannot even penetrate the Top 5 first week out. This single is another fun example of Ronan Keating adapting his singing style to match the authorship of whatever song he is singing. His rather gravelly tones at the start of this track may well have something to do with the fact that The Way You Make Me Feel is co-written by Bryan Adams.
11 UP ROCKING BEATS (Bomfunk MCs)
Second hit single time for Finland's Bomfunk MCs following on from the global smash Freestyler which made Number 2 in August and had a six week run in the Top 10. Up Rocking Beats doesn't carry with it quite the same level of sensation and clearly follows the general rule of sophomore singles from less high-profile acts... not bad, just not quite as good.
13 WHAZZUP (True Party)
Just what exactly is the message behind the notorious Budweiser ad campaign? Is it saying that the drink is so good that it makes you want to make strange vomiting sounds at your friends so you can work up the thirst to crack open a fresh one? Never mind, popular culture being what it is there was a certain inevitability that someone would want to extend the catchphrase into a new form of media. Presenting then a novelty dance record based on the guttural screams from the adverts and which is almost certainly as terrible as you expected it to be. True Party can at least congratulate themselves on being the initial winners in the race to get a Whazzup single into the charts as there are at least four other singles that sample the advert up for release. This may not be the last we hear of cries of Whazzup inside the chart this side of Christmas.
15 WE ARE ALIVE (Paul Van Dyk)
I was going to refer to this single as For An Angel (Part 127) but that would actually be a little mean-spirited as far from churning out his usual trance clones, Paul Van Dyk is rapidly turning into a masterful creator of some catchy mainstream singles. This is his third chart single of the year following his brace of Number 7 hits: Another Way which charted back in January and Tell Me Why which charted in May. Full credit to the trance stars who are still having hits, albeit at a lesser level compared to 20 months ago, whilst everyone else waits for the Hard House floodgates to open in the wake of Public Demand's appearance in the Top 10.
21 THIS I PROMISE YOU ('NSync)
Bubbling around outside the Top 20 this week are one or two acts who, on past form at least, look rather out of place being there. First up are NSync, not the most consistent chart performers at the best of times but who can normally count on a place in the Top 15 at the very least. Whilst It's Gonna Be Me made Number 9 in September this follow-up performs rather badly and could well wind up as their smallest hit single since they reached Number 34 in tandem with Gloria Estefan on Music Of My Heart back in January. Their first two singles Tearin' Up My Heart and I Want You Back were minor chart entries when first released in 1997 but both became Top 10 hits when re-released in 1999.
'NSync's failure to consistently land massive chart hits is in stark contrast to their fortunes back home in America where they are guaranteed a smash every time out. Bear in mind of course that the only US teen band of the last decade or so to manage sustained UK chart success was New Kids On The Block in the early 1990s and they did so at a time when there were no comparable UK acts to provide them with competition. With UK fans having the likes of A1 and Westlife to choose from, imported stars are almost destined to be little more than a passing concern rather than the subject of mass adulation. Whilst 'NSync may look enviously at the way the self-destructing Backstreet Boys don't seem to suffer from the same kind of chart inconsistency they can at least console themselves that their fortunes are somewhat better than fellow countrymen 98 Degrees whose latest single Give Me Just One Night this week enters the chart at Number 61.
[A minor entry it may have been, but the video is still worthwhile for another chance to gawpe at Justin's pubehead].
24 WHAT ABOUT US (Point Break)
Of course, things aren't all plain sailing if you are a UK-based Boy Band. Just ask Point Break who are gamely grinding on with their career despite apparently failing to capture the imagination of anyone. What About Us (are we supposed to read into that title?) is their fifth single release, the follow-up to August's Number 14 hit You but it is set to become their second smallest hit to date. Only their debut Do We Rock was a smaller hit, charting at Number 29 in October 1999.
25 TRUE STEP TONIGHT (True Steppers featuring Brian Harvey)
The first two True Steppers singles were both smash hits. Buggin' made Number 6 in April whilst Out Of Your Mind was the subject of a well-publicised chart duel, making Number 2 back in August. Their third hit is far, far smaller but the reasons as to why this should be are potentially rather intriguing. It could just be that the novelty of their own garage-based style has worn off or maybe that die-hard fans are more interested in buying their debut album. Or it could be the change in their guest singers. Buggin' was helped on its way up the charts by the presence of former Another Level star Dane Bowers on lead vocals whilst Out Of Your Mind featured not only Bowers but also the headline-grabbing presence of Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham. Guest singer on True Step Tonight is Brian Harvey, something which would have been a big deal five years but which now has little more than curiosity value. Harvey was the outspoken singer of East 17, the group of five east end lads who had a run of chart hits between 1992 and 1998 including the 1994 Christmas Number One with Stay Another Day. Having initially broken up in 1997, East 17 made an ill-fated attempt at a comeback the following year, a project which was aborted after two singles. Their former lead singer is reportedly about to launch his solo career and this guest appearance was undoubtedly meant to help raise his profile once more. Sadly it seems that at the moment Brian Harvey lacks the star power that might just have helped the True Steppers to emulate their past chart performances.
35 HOLD ON TO ME (MJ Cole featuring Elisabeth Troy)
This is the third hit single of the year for one-time underground garage king MJ Cole. His last single was the Number 13 hit Sincere, a re-release of his most famous track which can lay claim to originally being the first ever garage single to make the Top 40 following its release first time around in May 1998. This new single proves to be a rather more minor chart entry but does at least mark the first time that vocalist Elisabeth Troy has received a direct chart credit rather than simply being a footnote on the sleeve.