1 SAME OLD BRAND NEW YOU (A1)
Glad you could join us this week. With the press devoting substantial column inches to the somewhat less than titanic battle taking place on the album chart between Westlife and the Spice Girls, one could be forgiven for thinking the singles chart had packed up for a week. With most attention being paid to the release of their second album, it was always extremely likely that Westlife would fail to cling to the very top slot on the singles chart and so it proves as My Love follows in the path of three of their other Number One hits and spends just seven days at the summit. Their place is taken by a boy band who first made their chart debut just over a year ago and who since then have slowly but surely clawed their way up the ladder until they too are now serious contenders for the top slot with every single they release. Just over two months since A1 first topped the chart with their cover of A-Ha's Take On Me they are back with a brand new song and the latest single to be taken from their forthcoming new album. A1 are no less than the seventh act this year to have had multiple Number One singles, an astonishing total even when compared to the four who achieved the feat last year. Furthermore this track is now the 37th single to top the chart in 2000, breaking the all-time record that was set only last year. Although the overall level of turnover on the singles chart has dipped slightly from its late 90s levels, turnover at the very top end has never been more rapid.
2 MY LOVE (Westlife)
So Westlife slip down a place, a fact which seems almost incidental given the fuss that is being made over the first week sales of their second album which easily sails to the top of its own chart this week. The main reason for the hype is because Westlife's Coast To Coast album was released on the same day as Forever - the third album from the Spice Girls and this was portrayed as a new battle of the bands, the new Irish sensations against the old hands on the block. This battle was, of course, a nice excuse to put the boot into the Spice Girls who were always going to end up the runners-up in this battle but who are now seen as fair game for knocking copy now that it appears that their time has passed. At the end of the day a certain amount of reading between the lines is needed here as by entering the chart at Number 2 the Spice Girls album can hardly be considered a failure - not just yet anyway. It is furthermore worth pointing out that Westlife's debut album failed to top the chart at any time during its chart run and was reduced to landing at Number 2 behind Steps' Steptacular when first released exactly a year ago this week.
4 SHAPE OF MY HEART (Backstreet Boys)
Completing the trio of boy bands in the Top 5 this week, America's Backstreet Boys creep in almost unnoticed underneath Ireland's Westlife and Britain's own A1. The first single to be taken from a forthcoming new album, Shape Of My Heart is their third hit this year and the follow-up to The One which made Number 8 back in June. Slowing down the tempo just a bit, Shape Of My Heart sounds almost like a Westlife track but is in actual fact another Cheiron studios creation and shows that Max Martin and Rami et al are capable of writing songs for both the BBs and NSync without there ever being any danger of the two being confused. This single is now their 12th UK Top 10 hit and their 8th in a row, a run which stretches back to the release of As Long As You Love Me in August 1997. Indeed one can only admire the staying power of the Backstreet Boys. In an era when the lifespan of a pop band is reckoned to be around 3 years, the lads from the east coast have been releasing singles since 1995 and their popularity shows few signs of slowing down yet.
6 ORIGINAL PRANKSTER (Offspring)
Offspring raised a few eyebrows a few weeks back when, they deliberately made this new single available for download on their website several weeks in advance of its official release. Your guess is as good as mine as to what effect that had but even if there were plenty of chances to download an electronic copy for free there were still enough people prepared to buy the single and to send it flying into the Top 10. This continues the transformation of everyone's favourite veteran unknown rock band into genuine mainstream stars that began last year when Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) shot to Number One. Original Prankster is now their third Top 10 hit and returns them to the Top 40 after their last single She's Got Issues fell agonisingly short when it peaked at Number 41 in December last year.
12 DISPOSABLE TEENS (Marilyn Manson)
Be very afraid, for Marilyn Manson appears to be within an ace of breaking through the final barrier and scoring his first ever Top 10 hit. Disposable Teens matches the peak of his biggest hit single to date, The Dope Show having also made Number 12 in November 1998. The last Marilyn Manson single was Rock Is Dead from the Matrix soundtrack which could only reach Number 23 in January 1999.
17 BY YOUR SIDE (Sade)
This week it is a welcome return to the singles chart for a veteran UK soul act. Sade (like Blondie they are actually a band named after the lead singer) first came to public attention way back in the mid 1980s with two now classic albums Diamond Life and Promise along with singles such as Your Love Is King, Smooth Operator and The Sweetest Taboo. The formula was simple, cocktail lounge soul featuring velvety sax lines and the smooth voice of Helen Folasade Adu herself. After several years away the group made a triumphant return with the 1992 album Love Deluxe in 1992 although it wasn't until the track No Ordinary Love featured on the soundtrack of the film Indecent Proposal the following year that it took off. The re-released No Ordinary Love wound up as Sade's second biggest hit ever when it peaked at Number 14. Seven years on and she/they are back with a new album and now this new single which performs extremely respectably by landing nicely inside the Top 20. Despite the familiarity of many of their past songs Sade have only ever had a small handful of Top 20 hits, this one being their fourth and one which matches the peak of 1984s Smooth Operator to become their third biggest hit ever, almost 17 years since they first hit the chart.
23 ELECTRIC MAN (Mansun)
The singles chart has a funny lopsided look to it this week. Of the 12 new entries to the Top 40, only five are actually in the top half. Rather than being full of older singles being pushed down by new arrivals the bottom end of the chart plays host to a number of new releases from acts who could be forgiven for expecting better. First up are Mansun who were last seen back in August with I Can Only Disappoint U which made Number 8. This time around the second single from their album Little Kicks fails even to make the Top 20. They can at least take some consolation not only from the fact that they still sound as good as ever (especially on the now-obligatory Perfecto remix) but also from the fact that this is not their smallest chart hit ever, that honour going to their debut single Egg Shaped Fred which only made Number 37 in April 1996.
24 YOU NEED LOVE LIKE I DO (Tom Jones and Heather Small)
Should Tom Jones be disappointed that his latest single has missed out on a place in the Top 20? Well in fairness despite being freshened up with a remix this is the fifth single to be released from the now year-old Reload album even though his last single Sex Bomb had no problems reaching the Top 3 back in May. You Need Love Like I Do is, like most of the tracks on the album, a new interpretation of an old song, in this case a track that has never been a hit before in this country but which Gladys Knight and the Pips took to Number 25 in America in 1970. Tom's co-vocalist on this hit is Heather Small, sometime lead singer of M People and who was last in the Top 40 back in May with the Number 16 hit Proud. In fact whilst this single represents something of a backward step for Tom Jones it is a transformation in the chart fortunes of Heather Small, her last single Holding On having reached a rather miserable Number 58 in August.
25 GIRLS ON TOP (Girl Thing)
You have to feel for Girl Thing. Created by RCA records (home of Westlife you will note) with a great deal invested in them as the latest all-girl sensation they are being held up in some quarters as all that is wrong with the pop market at present, hailed as a unnecessary addition to an already crowded market and an example of a concept that has already run its commercial course. A shame then that their singles are so good, for under any other circumstances they would be massive stars. When their first single Last One Standing made Number 8 back in July I described it as "the best pop record until the next Atomic Kitten release" and the same can be said of this new record, four minutes of sparkling pop that sounds like fusion of every great disco record ever made (even without the Let's All Chant and Rapture samples). If you love bubbly feelgood pop music then this single brings a huge smile to your face every time. For all its good points in chart terms the track is a huge disappointment and the sort of performance that makes nervous record companies pull the plug rather than being seen to throw good money after bad [which is indeed what happened]. What did the lyrics of their first hit say? "It's the end of an era/and we're the last ones standing..." [Their already recorded album was all but junked, and only ever issued in Japan. It did however contain the song Pure And Simple which would become very famous indeed in a few month's time].
26 FOREVER MAN (HOW MANY TIMES) (Beatchuggers featuring Eric Clapton)
Now this is a concept you would have been proud to have thought up isn't it? How about a dance single based around a sample from none other than guitar legend Eric Clapton. This single is the product of the fevered imagination of Danishman Michael Linde who gained the approval of the axeman himself to take the vocals from his 1985 single Forever Man and turn them into this Latin-flavoured dancefloor stormer. Perhaps surprisingly (even to this lifelong EC fan) the result is nothing short of brilliant and really this single deserves far better than this somewhat minor chart entry. At they very least it is a dramatic improvement on the original chart peak of Forever Man as all it could manage back when first released was a solitary week at Number 75. This is the first Top 40 appearance for Eric Clapton since he made Number 39 with Circus in July 1998.
32 I SINGS (Mary Mary)
The second chart hit for Mary Mary albeit a rather smaller hit than they would have hoped for as the follow-up to Shackles (Praise You) which made Number 5 back in June. It may take time but something tells me they haven't had their last Top 10 hit [stop listening to the voices 2000 James, they lie].
37 FAREWELL TO THE MOON (York)
Hit single Number 3 for York aka Torsten Stenzal and assorted hangers-on, following The Awakening and of course this summer's' Number 4 smash hit On The Beach. The same ATB-esque formula applies here, Euro-dance with added slide guitars although without a familiar riff to guide the song as with their last hit, this track winds up being a little less memorable.