This week's Official UK Singles Chart
[And now a watershed moment in pop music history as an iconic act of the previous decade fallen on hard times finds the inspiration to reignite her stardom and transcend even everything she had achieved before].
1 SPINNING AROUND (Kylie Minogue)
Reflect for a moment on the fact that it is now over 12 years since Kylie Minogue released her first single. I Should Be So Lucky was the name of that record, which spent an impressive five weeks at the top of the charts. It was the start of what by all ordinary logic should have been a short novelty chart career, based largely on her celebrity as a TV soap actress. Kylie's though is the career that defies all logic and over the past decade she has maintained that celebrity via a series of image changes, famous boyfriends and the apparent need for many people to hold her up as an icon, even if nobody is sure what exactly she is supposed to represent. Not that her career has been without its downsides, such as her last album which was belatedly released in 1998. An attempt to go 'credible' was met with disappointing sales even if critical reaction was positive to singles such as Breathe, Did It Again and the lead track Some Kind Of Bliss. Said track was written for her by the Manic Street Preachers and it was a major shock when it only reached Number 22 - I pointed out at the time that had it been James Dean Bradfield rather than Kylie on lead vocals it would have been a Number One. Clearly a lot can change in three years, including her record label. This much-hyped new single sees her return to the dance-pop style characterised much of her early material, albeit with more dancefloor appeal than before (Paula Abdul is one of many credited co-writers). The result is a Number One single, a feat which is making headlines around the world as we speak. For a start it is the second single by an Australian act to top the chart this year (following Madison Avenue) making this the best year for down under since 1996 saw Gina G (once) and Peter Andre (twice) hit the top. Spinning Around is her fifth Number One single (four solo and one duet with Jason Donovan) but perhaps significantly it is her first chart-topper since Tears On My Pillow ascended to the top in January 1990. This wait of 10 years and 5 months is one of the longest ever endured by a female artist, second only to the gaps of 26 and 15 years between appearances at the top by Cher and Diana Ross respectively. The success of Spinning Around further means that Kylie is now one of a select band of artists to have had Number One hits in three different decades (80s, 90s, and 2000s), putting her in chart terms on the same level as the likes of Cliff, Elvis, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Madonna, Queen, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. Kylie Minogue - chart legend?
5 BABYLON (David Gray)
Second biggest hit of what is an astonishingly quiet chart week by usual standards is what many will consider to be a long-overdue breakthrough hit by David Gray. The Welshman has been waiting in the wings of stardom for a couple of years now but struggled to find an audience in this country. Instead he switched his attentions to Ireland and became a star overnight with several hits to his name. He crept unnoticed into the charts over here just before Christmas with Please Forgive Me (Number 72) but now charges into the Top 10 with this single. Comparisons with Shawn Mullins are not too far off the mark as Gray's style is sweetly sung pop rock with an edge. The penetration of the single has been helped by the clever twist of there being two different versions of the song being played on the radio - one guitars and one without, effectively allowing the single to fit into the format of more stations than would otherwise have been the case. If indeed he is this year's Shawn Mullins, let's hope he can manage more than the one hit.
6 THE POWER OF LOVE (Frankie Goes To Hollywood)
No, your eyes don't deceive you but there is more to this re-release than meets the eye. The Power Of Love was Frankie's third single. Released just prior to Christmas 1984 the ballad made Number One to make them the only act since Gerry and the Pacemakers to hit the top with their first three singles. Now a classic, the single was re-released in 1993 as part of the promotion for a Greatest Hits collection and it made Number 10. Last November a club DJ in Portsmouth by the name of Rob Searle (just so you know who to blame) issued a bootleg of a mix he had produced which took Holly Johnson's original vocal track and laid it on top of a thumping trance beat. As fast as you can say 'club sensation' the mix was snapped up for commercial release and this chart hit is the direct result. Now there are of course two ways of looking at this. Many longtime fans will be outraged at the way such a famous song has been butchered and transformed from classic power ballad to become an electronic dance tune. They are entitled to their point. The other view is to appreciate the fact that the trance remix works a treat, the emotion of the song still shines through and that had this been the first ever recording of the track it would be being hailed as a classic of our time and an example of how dance music can produce flashes of utter genius. Maybe this should be seen as one of the rare examples of a remix becoming just as famous as the original.
7 GHETTO ROMANCE (Damage)
Believe it or not there was a time when the boy band market wasn't saturated with an endless stream of clones and there was still room for innovation within the concept. Damage were one such group of innovators, the five Londoners even had Little Caesar guesting on their first (flop single). Their first Top 40 hit came in October 1996 with Love II Love and they followed it up four more hits, the largest being a soulful Top 3 cover of Eric Clapton's Wonderful Tonight. For three years there has been silence, save for the tabloid coverage of singer Jade's on-off relationship with Baby Spice and a support slot for All Saints that helped to remind people that they were still around. The drive to bring their name back to people's attention continued earlier this year when they played support to Mariah Carey. It all must have helped, this long-awaited comeback single shakes away memories of their long chart absence and flies into the Top 10 to become their fourth Top 10 hit.
8 LAST ONE STANDING (Girl Thing)
Another girl group? Why yes the chart was crying out of one of those wasn't it? Hard though it is to get excited about another bunch of female clones it must be said that of all the acts that are lining up to fill the gap that the Spice Girls will almost inevitably create, Girl Thing look the most promising yet. Certainly you will be hard pressed to find a pop record released this year with as much energy as this one, or indeed quite as inspired in its infectiousness. A raft of TV appearances have done their job and the single makes a strong debut inside the Top 10 to get the career of Girl Thing off to a flying start. Time will tell as to whether the girls will end up famous enough for everyone to know all their names but for now you can chalk this up as the best pop single around until the next Atomic Kitten one. [Although he was not the public figure he wold eventually become, Girl Thing would become notorious as Simon Cowell's most expensive failure before fame of his own came calling. But it did give the world Jodi Albert. Partial win then].
24 CANTO DELLA TERRA (Andrea Bocelli)
Full marks to everyone who pointed out to me last week that I missed Dario G's Carnival De Paris out of my list of World Cup 98 connected singles, taking the total for that competition up to nine Top 40 hits. Happily Euro 2000 is a little easier to keep track of as this week the theme music used by the BBC for their coverage becomes the third to enter the upper reaches. Canto Della Terra has been a chart hit once already, the powerful aria giving Andrea Bocelli a Number 25 hit in September last year. His co-operation in helping to re-promote the single has rewarded him with a one place chart improvement but perhaps more importantly gives its parent album Sogno a flying leap up the albums chart as it climbs 86-26 this week. Thus far the BBC are the winners in the unofficial chart race against ITV for turning their themes into hits, gaining revenge for 1998 when ITV hit Number 12 with Jarre's Rendez-Vous '98 leaving the state broadcaster to trail in at Number 20 with the Wimbledon Choral Society's rendition of Faure's Pavane. Meanwhile we are left to ponder just why the BBC chose a track by an Italian to introduce coverage of a tournament being staged in Holland and Belgium, although the decision of ITV to use the main theme from Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra is even stranger still.
33 RIDDLE (En Vogue)
Long before TLC, SWV, IUD (OK I made that one up) and Jade there was the original all-female R&B group. They were En Vogue and they made their UK chart debut in 1990 with the near-classic Hold On (a Number 5 hit). Although often sporadic their chart career continued at regular intervals during the 1990s, their last burst of fame coming in 1997 when Don't Let Go (Love) made Number 5 and Whatever and Too Gone, Too Long also made the Top 20. This new single (a superb performance by the way) comes on the back of some rather messy infighting and some minor personnel changes and whilst this is unlikely to have affected the performance of the single this is certainly a rather disappointing chart performance. Far from being a triumphant comeback, Riddle is set to wind up as their lowest charting new hit since Runaway Love made Number 34 in October 1993 (their last chart single of any kind was actually smaller than this, a remix of Hold On having made Number 52 in November 1998).