1 BAG IT UP (Geri Halliwell)
Well if she intended to steal the show at the Brit Awards she certainly went a long way to succeeding. Whilst emerging from a giant crotch to put on the most energetic routine of the show, Geri Halliwell sent a clear message to her former bandmates and exposed an audience of millions to her new single - the fourth to be released from her album. Perhaps in the light of this, we shouldn't be too surprised but nonetheless, the performance of the single has been nothing less than spectacular as it follows her previous two releases and crashes in at the top of the charts. Although her album is a bombastic mix of styles Bag It Up is a good example of what she does best, a bold storming pop song that in truth owes more than a little to the legacy of late-80s rare groove.
Believe it or not, with this single Geri Halliwell has moved a step closer to writing a spectacular new chapter in the record books. This is her third solo Number One, added to which you need to add the seven she clocked up as a member of the Spice Girls. That's an incredible ten in total. Believe it or not, there are very few solo artists who also had chart careers with a group that can boast that kind of consistency. Of the former members of Take That, Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams have both had solo Number Ones - but only two each. Only former Beatles members can come close to this level of achievement with both Paul McCartney and John Lennon having had three Number One singles after splitting with the band. Lennon, McCartney and Halliwell. Quite a combination isn't it?
Finally it is worth noting the length of time Geri Halliwell has spent at the top compared to her other bandmates. Whilst a Spice Girl she spent 20 weeks at the top whilst her solo hits have all managed just one week each - a total of 23. This means she now leads Mel B who has spent 21 weeks at the top with the Spice Girls plus one further week alongside Missy Elliott. Whilst Mel C and Emma have both also had solo hit singles, neither has topped the charts to date.
2 ALL THE SMALL THINGS (Blink 182)
So we are supposed to call this Skate Rock now are we? Fair enough. Call this whatever you want but it is a shock in anyone's terms. The compulsive Californian nudists have to date only had one other chart single, What's My Age Again which crashed out at Number 38 back in October last year. Nobody was all that surprised, it was the kind of sparky rock track that goes down well in the States but which struggles to find a niche over here. So how do you explain this transformation? Their second single benefits from its obvious commercial appeal which has in turn resulted in widespread radio airplay, a singalong chorus of the kind that occupies parts of your mind for far longer than is comfortable, and no small amount of luck to become this week's second biggest single. As Offspring proved last year it isn't impossible for an American rock act to have a massive hit single in this country but it has to be very very good. The challenge for Blink 182 now of course is to see if they can capitalise on this exposure (if you will forgive the expression). Those with long memories will remember the pleasant surprise of Green Day's Basket Case gatecrashing the Top 10 in early 1995, a feat they have to date been unable to replicate.
4 KILLER (ATB)
ATBs third hit single manages to be unique as it is his only chart hit thus far that hasn't had a wander round the lower reaches of the Top 75 on import before its official release. Not that the single hasn't been available in certain places for the past few months, it was just never in a position to chart. Unusually Killer is a cover version, a pretty straightforward remake (albeit with ATBs trademark Hawaiian guitar figures added) of Adamski's 1990 classic which topped the charts for four weeks and which featured an uncredited vocal from the then-unknown Seal. Seal himself later re-recorded the track for his debut album and this version also became a single, hitting Number 8 in November 1991, barely 18 months after the original. This new 2000 version of the track also features vocals from a singer doing his best Seal impression but of course the track would arguably have worked without it. Seal originally wrote the lyrics to a different tune but found they worked well with a piece of music that Adamski was working on in the studio when they met. Not many people realise that Killer is the name of the music, not the song.
6 STILL DRE (Dr Dre featuring Snoop Dogg)
This is turning into quite a week for landmark hits. If anyone can claim to be one of the founding fathers of gangsta rap it is Andre Young, better known as Dr Dre. One of the founding members of rap legends NWA, he went on to become one of the group's biggest solo stars, his 1993 album The Chronic setting the benchmark for much that was to come. Over the past eight years or so he has been the mentor to many upcoming rap stars, ranging from Snoop Doggy Dogg, then girlfriend Michell'e right up to his extensive musical and lyrical contributions to Eminem's debut album last year. Now the man himself has stepped in front of the microphone for the first time in several years and is instantly rewarded with his biggest UK hit single ever. His previous solo efforts never really made much of an impact on the charts, Nuthin' But A G Thang reached Number 31 in 1994 and Keep Their Heads Ringin' made Number 25 a year later. Chart credits on 2pac and Blackstreet hits have taken him into the Top 10 in the past but to date his biggest lead artist credit has been the Number 15 peak of Zoom, alongside LL Cool J. So we arrive at the present day, and with a similarly re-emerging Snoop Dogg he lands inside the UK Top 10 for what is technically his biggest hit to date. Of course it would be remiss to not point out that he made a significant vocal contribution to Eminem's Guilty Conscience which made Number 5 in August last year but that probably complicates things even more...
14 YOU'RE NOT ALONE (Embrace)
Full credit to the McNamara brothers for their subtle attempts to push forward musically. Their debut album could best be characterised as "The Verve with twice the emotion" and indeed the same epic style is in evidence here. Just slightly different, that is all. You're Not Alone is the second single from their forthcoming new album, the follow-up to Hooligan which made Number 18 in November last year. This Number 14 peak is a step back in the right direction but still falls slightly short of the Top 10 places which seemed to be theirs by default back in 97 and 98.
15 FREAKIN' IT (Will Smith)
I've mentioned before that just about every mainstream pop star has The Formula. The standard blueprint for their hits which, once it has proved to work, is adhered to until the attraction begins to wear off. Will Smith's formula has to date been one of the best of all: take a well-known tune from the past, borrow the hook and melody and replace the verses with your own cheeky rapping. Few would argue that it has produced some brilliant pop hits over the last few years, making up in charm and appeal what they lacked in creativity. Could it be that now it has reached the end of its lifespan? Take Freakin' It... the latest single to be released from Willennium and which once again take inspiration from the past - in this case Diana Ross' 1976 hit Love Hangover with a bit of Good Times/Rappers Delight thrown in for good measure. However instead of being an easy Top 5 hit the single can only creep in to the Top 20. Now it would be wrong to write him off just yet as in fairness Freakin' It maybe lacks something of the charm of hits such as Miami or Getting Jiggy With It (and I confess I would have picked Who Am I as a single from the album) but the fact remains that this is Will Smith's smallest hit single since the Number 23 peak of Just Cruisin' back in December 1997 and you get the feeling he will need to do something a little different in order to return to the Top 5.
18 STILL (Macy Gray)
You could be forgiven for raising a few eyebrows at the performance of this single, Macy Gray's third release and the follow-up to the sleeper hit I Try which made Number 6 just before Christmas, turning the lady with a voice like a muted trumpet into a superstar in the process. In a way though this isn't too much of a surprise. Macy Gray isn't really a pop star. She is a major adult soul star and has quite deservedly shifted thousands of albums of what is unanimously regarded as the most spectacular soul debut for years. Still is another incredibly gorgeous record, laden with emotion and THAT VOICE but it's natural home is dimly lit cocktail lounge, not Top Of The Pops. Perhaps this is a rare case of a record that is probably too good to be a major hit and is all the better for it...
23 EX-GIRLFRIEND (No Doubt)
After a long gestation period, No Doubt are ready to unleash their brand new album to the charts, this single marking their first appearance since the one-off release of New last June following its appearance on the soundtrack of the film Go! Ex-Girlfriend proves that Gwen Stefani's voice sounds as good as ever but the track seems to lack something of the magic that made their earlier material sound so appealing. This single at least is their biggest hit since the Number 16 peak of Spiderwebs in October 1997 but needless to say they appear stuck with always being spoken of in terms of Don't Speak, the massive worldwide smash hit from earlier that same year which is of course totally unrepresentative of their usual music.
33 IT MUST BE LOVE (Mero)
This marks the chart debut of Mero, two teenagers from Glasgow named Tommy and Derek who are aiming to become the latest set of pop sensations. To their credit they have chosen to stand out from the crowd somewhat in terms of their musical style. No cheesy pop harmonies here, instead prepare yourself for an addictive brass-driven Motown groove that might just bring a tear to the eyes of a fair few ageing Northern Soul aficionados. If subsequent releases have even stronger songs behind them then there is a chance they have at least one smash hit in them. Just don't mention Soulsister. [Another in what is a startlingly long string of failed Simon Cowell projects. Something of a lost potential classic, although it is hard to escape the feeling that this was the track that created the template for S Club 7's Reach].
35 THE F-WORD (Babybird)
Something of a change of style here for Steven Jones and Babybird, chunky guitars, a thumping rhythm and a healthy dose of attitude characterise this new single. The F-Word becomes their first hit single since Back Together made Number 22 just over a year ago and is their eighth Top 40 hit in total. Dedicated fans of the band will bemoan the fact that it is sadly just another minor hit single, a far cry from 1996's You're Gorgeous, the most misunderstood song of the last decade and a track which appears to remain something of an albatross around their necks.
37 VOICES (Dario G)
The Beach soundtrack produces its third hit single in the shape of the gorgeous atmospheric track that accompanies some of the film's most memorable sequences. Uncredited vocals from Espiritu add perfectly to Dario G's usual musical expertise to create the pleasantest ambient experience you will hear in this week's Top 40. You might have expected this to have charted higher than hit has done but Voices is hampered by the fact that it is also lifted from Dario G's own two and half year old album Sunmachine and hence is probably owned already by most of the people it is likely to appeal to. Still it at least gives the trio known as Dario G their fourth hit single, the first since the album's title track made Number 17 in September 1998.