1 MUSIC (Madonna)
Strange but true: As recently as four or five years ago it was not uncommon to find people assuming that Madonna's career was winding down. Her last Number One single had come in 1990 and in the middle of the decade she was experiencing her worst chart positions ever with the likes of Take A Bow and Oh Father peaking at Number 16. Fast forward to today and what do we see? A singer in her 40s with two children working with some of the most credible dance producers of the moment, several Number One hits to her credit in recent months and this week able to generate headlines when it appeared as if her much-bootlegged new release was going to miss out on topping the charts. As it turns out there was no need to worry. Yet again it was another close race but Madonna maintained the edge over the Spiller single to land in pole position for the second time this year. It means Madonna has now had no less than 10 Number One singles in the UK. Yes, so have both Geri Halliwell and Mel C but most of theirs came as part of a group. Every single one of Madonna's chart-toppers has been a solo effort. It means she is now only the fourth act in history to get into double figures, alongside Elvis and The Beatles with 17 each and Cliff Richard with 14. No other solo female singer comes even close to that total, Kylie Minogue currently running a poor second with five to her name (and even one of those was a duet). Is it worth adding any more? Perhaps just to say that Madonna's chart performance so far this year brings back memories of what most people assumed was her chart heyday... 2000 is the first time she has had two Number One singles in a calendar year since 1986 (Papa Don't Preach and True Blue) and 1987 (La Isla Bonita and Who's That Girl).
12 SCHOOL'S OUT (Daphne & Celeste)
Just for a change the real story of the singles chart this week isn't so much the new entries as the lack of them, at the very top end at least. In fact this week's chart is pretty much unique as every single one of last week's Top 10 singles retains their sales rank if not their position. Go look again at the listing... Madonna has entered at the top and everyone else has just slipped down a place. In an age where most chartwatchers are holding their breath waiting for the first ever Top 10 made up entirely of new entries it is strange to think that this week we almost saw the first ever immobile Top 10. Aside from this, leading the charge of the rest of the new entries are current festival(!) favourites Daphne and Celeste with their third hit single. Whereas their last hit UGLY (incidentally still on the chart after 12 weeks and which climbs to Number 48 this week) was based around an old Fishbone track, this one is more or less a straight cover of the classic Alice Cooper song which made Number One in 1972 - well before either of the two of them were born. Alice Cooper purists (of which there are still a few believe it or not) will almost certainly hate it, everyone else will see it as the bit of fun all Daphne and Celeste singles are intended to be. The real story here though is not that it becomes their third Top 20 hit of the year but the fact that somebody somewhere thought it would be a brilliant idea to release a version of the classic ode to educational freedom at the exact same moment that the summer holidays end.
[The knowing reference to them being festival favourites? That was a reference to what was easily one of the highlights of the summer. In what was you presume intended to be an ironic joke the two women were booked to be a filler act at the Reading and Leeds festivals that summer. Their Reading set came to be known as the Battle Of Daphne And Celeste as the hardcore rock audience took such umbrage to their presence on the stage that they pelted it with every available projectile on site. Wave after wave rained down, meaning that by the end the two women (loving every moment of it) were almost literally ankle-deep in garbage. And the whole thing is preserved on video forever more. To quote Daphne at the end: "you guys are wasting so much food"].
13 BANG (Robbie Rivera/Rhythm Bangers)
So what do we have here then. House pianos. Latin percussion. Thundering basslines. Bloke shouting 'bang'. Massive Ibiza hit. I care this much.
15 THE BALLAD OF CHASEY LAIN (Bloodhound Gang)
OK so you have had an unexpected hit by dressing up as monkeys and singing about sex in a manner that got TV and radio producers nervous. How do you follow it? Well given that you are the Bloodhound Gang and have an album called Hooray For The Boobies the answer is obvious - you release a tender ode begging your favourite porn star for erm well, the chance to do it like mammals I guess. Now at this point I'm stuck for what to say. Of course the single is tongue in cheek and to get offended is to miss the point totally. Equally so, what is the point of a single that is so tasteless that it is unlikely to get any mainstream exposure at all? Not the Top 4 hit that The Bad Touch was, which may actually be a blessing in disguise. The jury is still out on whether they are one hit wonders or not but in order to get a neutral view I played the track to my non-musically aware housemate. He burst out laughing at the words. That may well be the point.
16 LET ME BE YOUR FANTASY (Baby D)
It was 1992 when Let Me Be Your Fantasy was first released. To a rather muted commercial response at first, the official release of the single creeping to an unofficial Number 87. Two years later and London dance radio station Kiss FM conducted a survey to find the most popular dance single of all time. Perhaps bizarrely Let Me Be Your Fantasy ran away with the voting. This prompted a fresh issue of the single and with it now being touted as a long lost classic it stormed into the charts, topping the listings for two weeks in December 1994. Five and a half years later and the track is back. Just not in its original form. Let Me Be Your Fantasy was actually one of the first ever drum n' bass jungle singles and topped the singles chart just as the trend was at its height. This new issue of the track straddles two current dance vogues, the main mix grafting the vocals onto a 2-step garage beat with the single also containing a trance version by Rank 1 (creators of the hit single Airwave from April). Just for a change both mixes work as well as each other and the already legendary status of the track is confirmed still further.
17 BILLS TO PAY (Glamma Kid)
Bills 2 Pay can possibly rank as Glamma Kid's most high profile release to date. Those that have been fans of his since his early underground days may have raised a few eyebrows at seeing him on the sofa on SMTV:Live last weekend but it is an illustration of how he is being tipped as a major breakout star. Not that he hasn't had big hits before of course, his last single Why having made Number 10 in November last year but for this one the ante has been upped a little. Bills To Pay borrows copiously from not one but two early 80s classics. The main rhythm of the track is lifted from Blondie's Rapture whilst the chorus uses the melody of Visage's New Romantic classic Fade To Grey. As a pop ragga single it works a treat and really the only mystery is why after all the hype and promotion the single has only managed to stagger to Number 17. Maybe next time.
20 JUST HOLD ON (Toploader)
Well their album wasn't quite the smash hit of the summer I had long predicted it would be but this single (and their supporting set at Bon Jovi's Wembley gig) is proof enough that Toploader make some marvellous records. Whereas their last single Achilles Heel was a re-release of one of their earlier flop singles, rather than go with a reissue of Let The People Know the band have lifted Just Hold On for their third Top 40 hit of the year. Perhaps not as distinctive as Achilles Heel nor as deliciously retro as their cover of Dancing In The Moonlight, Just Hold On still sounds like a glorious combination of the New Radicals and Supergrass even if the Number 8 peak of their last single hasn't exactly been matched by the performance of this single.
24 COWGIRL (Underworld)
The first single in almost exactly a year for Underworld, this hit landing on the chart a mere 53 weeks since King Of Snake made Number 17. Cowgirl is their seventh Top 40 single and is actually a remix of a track that appeared on their very first album way back in 1994. Consequently you can see in this single their evolution from frantic noise merchants to the calm, understated dubmasters they became when they hit paydirt a couple of years later. This remix is possibly one for completists only as to everyone else they remain the group with the song from Trainspotting.
28 ON THE LEVEL (Yomanda)
Something of a chart double this week for Paul Masterson as the Hi-Gate single slips to Number 19 this week just as his latest personal offering enters the Top 30. Indeed On The Level also features a contribution from Judge Jules making Yomanda and Hi-Gate more or less the same act in terms of personnel. The last Yomanda single was Sunshine which made Number 16 but this wild Ibizia-flavoured track can't quite scale those same heights.
29 FEEL GOOD (Madasun)
The third Madasun single but sadly one which fails to replicate the Number 14 peak of both Don't You Worry and Walking On Water. Conceived as a girl band with a touch of musical class, they appear to have fallen on the proverbial stony ground, becoming neither pop idols nor a credible success. In a way this is actually an incredible same as all their singles (none more so than this one) have showed a depth of talent and a genuine soul that is sadly lacking in most other girl groups. Feel Good can easily rank as their best single to date and deserve far better than this. Ordinarily you would just wait and wonder how they will perform with their next set of recordings but this of course is the fickle world of pop music - one which is all too keen to press the 'abort' button on projects such as this one.
35 NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY (Lil' Kim)
Well let's give the lady credit where credit is due. Surely nobody can match her for creating attention and generating headlines even if for all of that her real career (rapping) hasn't exactly turned her into a star on these shores. The serial fashion disaster has in fact only ever had two UK Top 40 singles, both of those coming back in 1997. She reached Number 11 in August that year with Not Tonight and charted twice with Crush On You, the second issue making Number 23 in the October. This track comes from her much-trailed new album but is unlikely to come close to replicating the peaks of her previous singles, despite the affectionate throwback to Rappers' Delight and however many "interesting" ways she finds to half-dress herself.