1 IT WASN'T ME (Shaggy featuring Rikrok)
So, does having your record available in the shops via imports prior to its official release harm its potential sales in any way? Shaggy would probably respond in the negative. The sucess of It Wasn't Me possibly proves the point that if anything it helps to stimulate demand for a single like nothing else. Three weeks the record has been a Top 40 hit, floating around the bottom end as a result of imported copies that might cost a little more than the average single but which crucially aren't always easy to find. This factor alone is what wakes people up to the song, the fact that it is so elusive makes it more of a "must-have" the moment it becomes properly available than would otherwise have been the case. How else to explain the way the track sold a reported 80,000 copies inside a single day during the course of the week [and actually sold 345,498 copies in total during the week, which was utterly extraordinary]. As a result, It Wasn't Me duly becomes the third single in chart history to reach the Top 40 on import sales and subsequently go on to top the listings (Lou Bega and Eiffel 65 had the others). Speaking of threes, Shaggy tops the UK singles chart for the third time in his career. His other two Number One successes were Oh Carolina in March 1993 and Mr Boombastic in September 1995. The only other reggae act to have topped the chart as many times are UB40 whose chart CV can also boast three chart-topping hits. For all of this, Shaggy's hit singles actually only come sporadically. In all It Wasn't Me is only his 9th chart single and the 5th to go Top 10, his last hit coming almost four years ago when his cover of Piece Of My Heart reached No.7. Honourable mention must also go to singer Ricardo 'Rikrok' Ducent who is as much an integral part of the song as Shaggy himself and who does at least get the co-credit on this official listing after having been ignored by the charts whilst the single was on import.
2 WHOLE AGAIN (Atomic Kitten)
All good things must come to an end of course and after four impressive weeks, Atomic Kitten finally surrender their place at the top of the listings [also impressive was he way 2001 James managed to avoid making reference to the hilarious "you can fill my hole again" jokes which echoed across the nation's playgrounds during the course of these four weeks]. Just to put the feat of the threesome in some perspective, Whole Again is only the 10th single in the last five years to have spent as many as four weeks at the top and it did so whilst increasing its sales week by week the whole time. The record did not do this by selling to the usual hard core of pop fans, it managed to become the first genuine mainstream crossover hit single for well over two years. Singles sales have slumped of late and I have often said that all it will take is one smash hit to persuade people outside the usual core of record buyers to start spending their money on music. If Whole Again turns out to be the first of several of these this year it may turn out to have a far greater significance than anyone could have predicted.
4 NOBODY WANTS TO BE LONEY (Ricky Martin with Christina Aguilera)
Celebrity duet alert. Quite whose idea of a dream team this was isn't completely clear but record bosses love the concept of bringing two already established stars together on record in the hope that the single will appeal to the fans of both. Of course such manufactured collaborations always end up being more high-concept than good pop record and this appears to be the case here as we are clearly supposed to be more excited about these two glamorous stars gazing into each others eyes in the video than we are about the rather drippy ballad itself. Still, a massive hit it is and for that reason alone it is hard to knock it too much. For Ricky Martin it is his first hit single since She Bangs was a Top 3 smash in November last year and is the fifth Top 10 single of his career. Another of those five was a celebrity duet of course, albeit on a rather smaller scale - Private Emotion with Meja reached Number 9 in April 2000. Christina Aguilera's last hit actually came just one week after her co-star's, Come On Over Baby charting at Number 8 in November also. This single gives her a fourth UK Top 10 hit.
5 I'M LIKE A BIRD (Nelly Furtado)
Filling the category of "new discovery of the week" is Nelly Furtado who is half Portuguese and half Canadian for those who like to keep track of these things. Her debut single begs comparisons with Lene Marlin, albeit Lene Marlin after she has been dragged to America and given a drum machine to play with. That is a good thing by the way, and certainly marks the teenager out as someone to watch over the coming months. Hey lets face it, the last new singer to cite Leonard Cohen as an influence was Tanita Tikaram. I forget whether that is a good thing or not.
8 SO WHY SO SAD (Manic Street Preachers)
Well as it turns out the announcement of what was going to happen caused more of a stir than its actual execution. How excited we all got when it was announced that the Manic Street Preachers were going to take the almost unprecedented step of releasing two singles on the same date. Such was the interest that the release dates of the two singles were brought forward to this week but as it turns out the Manics are overshadowed by no less than three of this weeks other releases. The chart placings of the two tracks were almost certainly going to depend on which picked up the lions share of the airplay - and so it proves. Easily most radio-friendly of the two singles, So Why So Sad edges out its partner to become the biggest selling Manics single of the week. Needless to say it is actually one of their best ever, a gloriously layered single that sounds like the Ramones performing The Beach Boys and one which cements their long standing reputation as one of the most soulful rock bands around. This is their first release since the limited edition Masses Against The Classes topped the chart in January 2000 and is the ninth Top 10 hit of their career.
9 FOUND THAT SOUL (Manic Street Preachers)
...and here is the tenth. In a way it is a shame that these did not turn out to be the biggest hits of the week as there was a whole chapter of chart history just waiting for the Welsh wizards to write themselves into it had they managed to reach the Top 3 with both this singles. Despite this they have done a fair job in setting standards, this being the first time an established mainstream act has charted two brand new singles on the same day. The only other contemporary example of this were Lush who released Desire Lines and Hypocrite on the same days in June 1994 but who were only rewarded with a No.52 and a No.60 hit for their troubles. Back to the present and the Manic Street Preachers are now one of a select few acts to have two simultanous Top 10 hits. The last time any one chart act managed this was in December 1993 when Meat Loaf had both his then brand new hit I'd Do Anything For Love alongside the re-released Bat Out Of Hell in the upper reaches. Found That Soul may have been the lowest profile of the two Manic Street Preachers singles but it serves as an example of the other side of the band, the slightly rawer brooding side that last surfaced on their Holy Bible album. It is worth noting that we are just a few months shy of ten years since You Love Us became the first ever chart hit for the Manics. Back then they were the stereotypical angry young men, complete with a self-mutilating guitarist and a pledge to release one album and then split up. A decade later they are about to release their sixth album, have a shelf full of awards and are geniune national treasures. Just a shame Richie appears not to be around to see it all.
11 PARADISE (Kaci)
Yes that is here name apparently. Now given that the last two years have seen any number of bright American teenage girls hitting the charts it is best that a new addition to their ranks has a gimmick. Kaci has one - she is barely a teenager at all. Kaci is just thirteen years old, signed to the same label that gave us the almost equally young LeAnn Rimes. Her debut single is pleasant enough with an energetic latino-cum flamenco feel that is enjoyable as long as you don't stop to wonder just what a girl barely out of a training bra is going to do with the chap who inspires her to the vision of paradise that she paints in the song. Swap Pokemon cards presumably.
16 THE VISION (Mario Piu presents DJ Arabesque)
Mario Piu you may remember was the man responsible for the Christmas 1999 dance single Communication which took the innovative step of using the radio interference generated by mobile phones as the backbeat to a club hit. As a novelty it worked quite well and the single was a Top 5 hit just prior to the holiday. Now the Italian trance wizard is back in tandem with DJ Arabesque on a track that would probably be more interesting if he too was only 13 years old.
18 HE DON'T LOVE YOU (Human Nature)
The British Isles have had Boyzone, Westlife, A1, 911 and BBMAK et al. America has had its Backstreet Boys, NSync and other clones. For the past few years Australia has had Human Nature. For most of the last four years they have remained something of a well kept secret internationally, superstars in their home country but relative unknowns elsewhere. An attempt was made to push them here in 1997 on the back of the success of their debut album back home but the two singles released, Wishes and Whisper Your Name failed to even reach the Top 40. Now with their third album in the can it is time for the world to wake up to the foursome, hence a renewed push and this brand new single co-written by Steve Mac who has also penned hits for the likes of Billie and Westlife. The result is the Top 20 hit you see here, a fair start but exactly how this is supposed to distinguish them from all the other boy bands around is beyond this writer. For the moment the jury is out on whether Human Nature have what it takes to become British heartthrobs. Then again it took Savage Garden a while to truly catch fire...
24 ONCE AROUND THE SUN (Caprice)
Caprice Bourret is a well known blonde bombshell model. Not quite a supermodel, despite her aspirations which may explain why she wants to become a singing star instead. Attempt number one was made in the September 1999 when in full breathless dance diva mode she released a single called Oh Yeah. It made No.24, nobody thought it was any good, and so she went away again. Now she is back to give it another go. To say that the promotional push for this single has been intense would be to understate things as Caprice has been made available for just about every publication and TV show that could possibly want her. Comparisons abound with Victoria Beckham's whirlwind tour of the nation to promote Out Of Your Mind last summer and just as back then there are plenty of people waiting for the artist to end up with egg on her face as all the effort is for nothing. That said the single isn't actually half bad. Dance it is not and the layered guitars and Caprice's unoffensive vocals produce what is far from the worst single to hit the charts this year. Co-writer of Once Around The Sun is none other than Chesney Hawkes who topped the charts himself in 1991 with The One And Only. As it turns out the massive promotional push was indeed a slight waste of time as the single can do more than match the chart peak of her debut. Hopefully this won't mean yet another abandonment of the project. I can't help but have a slight fascination in where exactly she goes from here. [I was clearly hedging my bets here, but the passage of time allows us to note that this is actually a rather fabulous single and far better than it has any right to be].
26 LOVE WHAT YOU DO (Divine Comedy)
Always making records that a never less than a joy to hear, Neil Hannon's Divine Comedy return to the singles chart for the first time since November 1999 when Gin Soaked Boy made No.38, one of a number of hits they had that year on tbe back of a Greatest Hits collection. This Top 30 chart entry is a slight improvement on the chart position of that last hit but is still rather poor form relatively speaking for a band who can boast six Top 20 hits to their name since 1996. The towering work of genius that was National Express remains their biggest hit single, a No.8 hit in February 1999.