This week's Official UK Singles Chart
1 I HAVE A DREAM/SEASONS IN THE SUN (Westlife)
Are you sick of people wishing you a happy new year yet? Thought so, so I won't bother although, in all honesty, I could have done with an excuse to use a greeting in order to flesh this baby out a little. Yes, welcome to the greatest test of a writer's art, as for the second week running this is a commentary on a chart where virtually nothing happens. Now for this to happen two weeks running is more unusual than you might think as ordinarily the post-Christmas sales week is seen as a good excuse for a few hardy souls to put records out and grab good chart positions at a time when record sales head for their lowest point of the year. Instead, a combination of public holidays and the possible reluctance of anyone to put new product out when there was potential for millennium bug disruption has meant another virtually empty week on the release schedules. So here we go for another reshuffled chart. Heck, this could almost be America.
Actually just three Top 40 singles hold firm this week and one of them is Westlife's Christmas Number One which, as it is listed as a 1999 Number One manages to equal the three-week record set during the year by Ricky Martin, Eiffel 65 and Cliff Richard. Still the world (and a few with bets on) await the first Number One single of the new millennium. To go back to what I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Westlife are only the third act ever to have four Number One singles inside a calendar year. They did so in almost exactly seven months, their first single Swear It Again hitting the top on May 1st. That means that if they top the chart any time before this coming May they will have had a phenomenal five chart-topping singles inside a 12 month period. Again to find any act with that level of consistency you have to go back to the early 1960s. The Shadows managed five Number One singles in 53 weeks (Wonderful Land, The Next Time, Dance On, Summer Holiday and Foot Tapper between March 22nd 1962 and March 28th 1963) as did Elvis (It's Now Or Never, Are You Lonesome Tonight, Wooden Heart, Surrender and Little Sister/His Latest Flame between November 3rd 1960 and November 9th 1961) but nobody has managed it in under a year. So keep an eye on the release schedules for Westlife's next single. They have until April 28th to claim the record.
2 TWO IN A MILLION/YOU'RE MY NUMBER ONE (S Club 7)
In a week of curious turnarounds, this one can rank as the biggest surprise. S Club 7's third single debuted a Number 5 a fortnight ago and slipped back a place last week. This week it is on the ascendant and slots in nicely to the runners-up slot to match the peak of their last single S Club Party. Those with long memories may recall Steps' Heartbeat/Tragedy single making similar moves in early January last year which led that single to top the chart early in January. S Club 7's surge of form may possibly have come a little to late for that I fear with a batch of new singles due in the shops this week. Still, none of those are massively anticipated new releases. Could the manufactured TV stars claim the first Number One of 2000?
4 SAY YOU'LL BE MINE/BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (Steps)
Speaking of Steps, their now habitual new year second wind makes its appearance here. Two years ago their debut 5-6-7-8 had crept into the Top 20 just before Christmas when it suddenly caught alight again in the new year and ended up resident in the Top 20 until mid-February becoming along the way one of the biggest selling singles never to reach the Top 10. Last year of course Heartbeat/Tragedy topped the chart in the new year, a push which helped the single top the magical million mark. This year it is the turn of Say You'll Be Mine which although it hasn't done anything spectacular so far at least rises to a new high of Number 4, beating the Number 5 placing of their last hit After The Love Has Gone.
8 THE MILLENNIUM PRAYER (Cliff Richard)
How is this for irony? One of the few singles on the chart named after this week's celebrations actually fares far worse than many other Top 40 singles this week, The Millennium Prayer slumping no less than six places.
21 WILL 2K (Will Smith)
The second non-mover this week and actually something that is a slight surprise given that Will Smith's track is an out and out millennium party record. That wasn't enough to lift it back into the Top 20 though and it stays firm at 21 this week.
26 RIGHT NOW (Atomic Kitten)
Highest climber honours this week almost go to Atomic Kitten, the Liverpool threesome who reached Number 10 with their debut single in early December and who rise nine places this week to reach their highest position since the week before Christmas. With songs written by none other than Andy McCluskey of OMD the girls' debut album set for release in the spring has excited most of those who have heard it and certainly virtually every "ones to watch in 2000" column in the popular press has tipped them for big things this year. Then again the same thing was said about Gay Dad 12 months ago...
28 GENIE IN A BOTTLE (Christina Aguilera)
So who benefits the most from this second week of becalming? Christina Aguilera incredibly enough. The single which first appeared in the Top 75 on import in mid-September, which topped the chart in October and which has to date sold over half a million copies climbs the chart for a second week, up no less than 10 places to return to the Top 30 for the first time since early December.
32 IT'S ONLY ROCK N' ROLL (Various Artists)
Whilst celebrating those singles which are doing better than expected at this time of year, take time to consider the fate of one which has performed almost embarrassingly badly. It is none other than the Children's Promise single, the charity remake of It's Only Rock And Roll. Three weeks before Christmas bookmakers were refusing to take bets on the track being Christmas Number One and were offering to pay out on whatever single made Number 2 behind it. Two weeks ago the track debuted at a lowly Number 19 and has been in a decline ever since, this week falling out of the Top 30 altogether.
34 MUSIC OF MY HEART ('N Sync/Gloria Estefan)
It may not be a big hit but respect is due to whoever at Epic records decided to act independently of virtually the entire damn industry and release this single a couple of days after Christmas. As a result it becomes one of just two brand new singles to chart inside the whole of the Top 75 this week and the first Top 40 single of 2000. For 'N Sync it continues (albeit in a minor way) the run of hits that began in February last year when I Want You Back made Number 5 almost two years after its initial US success. They are joined on this frankly rather dull ballad by Gloria Estefan, one of the stars of the film from whose soundtrack it is taken, her first chart single since Don't Let This Moment End made Number 28 almost exactly a year ago.
37 DEAR LIE (TLC)
Props due this week to TLCs rather underperforming single (it only made Number 32 three weeks ago) which this week rises five places to reclaim the Top 40 place it lost a week ago.
38 NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST (Marvin and Tamara)
The third of this week's new entries will come as something as a relief to everyone at Epic records who had high hopes for the success of Marvin and Tamara. The two 13 year olds first charted in August with the Number 11 hit Groove Machine and the followup was this seasonal-sounding ballad. Nerves were jangled when it entered the Christmas chart at Number 44 but after holding firm last week the single rises six places to claim a psychologically important Top 40 placing. North, South, East, West is perhaps curiously the first non-imported new single to climb into the Top 40 since Imaani's Where Are You rose from 60 to 32 in May 1998. Here's hoping they do better next time around if only because it is entertaining to hear the pair interviewed and to note than Marvin's voice has quite obviously broken in the months since their material was recorded.
40 1999 (Prince)
As Will Smith's Will 2K holds steady at 21 this week and as Robbie Williams' Millennium creeps back into the chart at Number 74 so the most famous (and earliest) turn of the century party hit scrapes a place inside the Top 40. Despite having been re-released exactly 12 months ago when it reached Number 10, Prince's classic came out again just before Christmas and has spent the past three weeks edging slowly upwards to arrive here this week. As a result 1999 becomes one of a select few singles to have made the Top 40 on no less than four separate occasions. When first released in January 1983 it made Number 25, rising to Number 2 when re-released in January 1985 and of course it has now been a hit twice inside the last 12 months. The record for this kind of reappearing act is a little tricky to pin down as in the pre-Rock N' Roll era when the singles chart was between 12 and 20 places long it was not uncommon for singles to enter and re-enter the chart in quick succession. Nonetheless if we define a "separate occasion" as a gap of not less than six months then the most prolific chart record ever can be said to be Rock Around The Clock by Bill Haley and his Comets, the ultimate Rock N' Roll single having been a Top 40 record in January 1955, October 1955, September 1956, April 1968 and March 1974. As an aside Frank Sinatra's My Way made the Top 40 on no less than seven occasions between 1969 and 1972 but virtually all of these were as a result of the big-selling single slipping in and out of the then Top 50 singles chart with no more than a couple of weeks between appearances.