1 PURE AND SIMPLE (Hear'Say)
After their record-shattering sale of last week it would have been a major shock if Hear'Say had surrendered the Number One position immediately. Happily a more logical state of affairs has prevailed and after a week in which the relentless media attention being paid to the TV-created group has showed no sign of letting up, Pure And Simple retains its crown for a second week with another sale of well over 200,000 copies. In just two weeks the Popstars have sold close on Pure And Simple retains its crown for a second week with another sale of well over 200,000 copies. In just two weeks the Popstars have sold close on three quarters of a million copies which is nothing short of phenomenal. They are now the third act this year to achieve what had almost seemed to be a dying art, extending their stay at the top end of the chart for longer than seven days. Could a third week at the summit yet be on the cards?
2 IT WASN'T ME (Shaggy)
I get the strangest feeling that in a few years time we will be looking back to late March/early April 2001 as short golden period of pop music [called it]. Certainly the top end of the chart bears witness to this as every single record in the Top 4 is a massive popular success. From Hear'Say at the top we move to Shaggy's former Number One hit which this week moves back up a place to return to the Number 2 position. As I mentioned when he first topped the chart with this record, Shaggy's hit career may not be the most consistent in the world but when he has a massive hit he does so in style. Both of his previous Number One hits Oh Carolina and Mr Boombastic went on to clock up extensive chart runs and I suspect this one will be no different as it creeps rapidly towards one million copies sold.
4 WHOLE AGAIN (Atomic Kitten)
Even Atomic Kitten are still hanging in there and reaping the benefits of the huge rush to the singles racks that Hear'Say have sparked. Their former Number One hit is now eight weeks old yet its sales show no signs of slowing down. Indeed it is possible to credit Whole Again with being the record that finally kicked life back into a singles market that had been slowly slipping for most of the last year. Each of its four weeks at Number One saw its sales increase over the previous one and even two months later the single is still selling just as many as it did in its first week on release. Surely they cannot be contemplating a cover to follow this up?
5 MR WRITER (Stereophonics)
So whilst the big pop hits of the season clog up the top end of the listings, it falls to the Stereophonics to have the biggest new hit of the week. Taken from their forthcoming new album, this is about as unconventional a single release as the group have ever managed thus far in their career. This is where the Sterophonics go acoustic as the song features just a guitar, piano and the distinctive voice of frontman Kelly Jones [not in the single mix alas]. Perfection itself really. This is the Welsh group's first chart hit since their performance alongside Tom Jones on Mama Told Me Not To Come which made Number 4 in March last year. This is now the fifth Top 10 hit for the group, all of which have made the Top 5. Their biggest hit to date was The Bartender And The Thief which made Number 3 in November 1998.
8 RENDEZVOUS (Craig David)
Fresh from whining about his lack of Brit awards (small hint Craig: being nominated just means you are in consideration as a contender, it doesn't automatically give you the right to gong), Craig David returns to the chart with the fourth single from the acclaimed Born To Do It album. The usual formula applies here as Craig's smooth vocals flit nicely above a slinky production that is capable of undoing a bra strap at ten paces. The law of diminishing returns ensures that this is his smallest hit to date but you can hardly argue with yet another Top 10 hit. A direct indication of just how much the established hit singles are dominating sales at present is the fact that Craig David is the second of just two Top 10 new entries this week.
11 STILL BE LOVIN' YOU (Damage)
This is a little more like it. After their last single Rumours could only reach Number 22 in October last year, Damage return to the Top 20 with this latest single release. Still Be Lovin' You is now the eighth Top 40 hit for the soul-orientated boy band. Their biggest hit remains the No.3 peak of their cover of Wonderful Tonght which was released in May 1997.
12 BEST FRIENDS FOREVER (Tweenies)
Bob The Builder may have had the Number One record and whole shopfuls of merchandise to his name but in the battle to be the biggest pre-teen TV sensations, the Tweenies are putting up a fair old fight. The recent concert tour by Bella, Milo, Fizz and Jake saw them play to packed theatres full of children who lapped up their entertaining mix of song, dance and games. The Tweenies phenomenon has already produced one surprisingly large hit single in the shape of Number One which belied its title slightly by reaching Number 5 just before Christmas but which still spent an impressive 8 weeks inside the Top 10. Their second hit single is more of the same, a cute pop-rap track aimed at very young children but done in such a way that it works as a catchy pop record as well even if it lacks just a little of the charm of their first hit. Part of the magic is the fact that established songwriters have been used for most of their songs, Best Friends Forever is written by Simon Woodgate who has penned tracks for the likes of Steps and A1 in the past.
13 I NEED YOU (LeAnn Rimes)
This track is the follow-up to the chart-topping Can't Fight The Moonlight from the end of last year, the single that transformed LeAnn Rimes from being a novelty underage country singer to fully fledged pop star. Given her new high profile you could be forgiven for having expected it to chart a little higher but sadly her seventh hit doesn't charge straight into the Top 10 and instead it has to settle for this berth just outside. I Need You may not be the most exciting single she has ever released but it shows off her wonderfully rich voice to perfect effect. At some point LeAnn Rimes is going to have a hit single that propels her to Celine Dion levels of stardom. This isn't it.
15 WANT YOU BAD (Offspring)
Following on from Original Prankster which made Number 6 in November last year, this is the first chart hit of 2001 for Offspring. No messing around here, just four minutes of tuneful US skate-rock which lands just the right side of commercial for it to be a welcome addition to the chart. For a band that struggled for years to have hit singles, the Offspring aren't doing too badly. This is now the 7th Top 40 hit of their career and their fifth Top 20 hit since Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) topped the charts just over two years ago.
18 THE STORM IS OVER NOW (R Kelly)
Yet another act with his first chart hit of the year is R Kelly who goes Back To Ballads for the followup to I Wish which made Number 12 in October last year. The Storm Is Over Now is hardly a classic to rank alongside I Believe I Can Fly or If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time nor is it quite the epic gospel track it sets out to be. Nonetheless it is unobjectionable enough and will almost certainly haved moved somebody somewhere. Which is all that matters really until it gets made into an advert for butter or breakfast cereal in five years time. You can see it coming [I still call copyright on that idea if anyone from adland is reading this].
19 MR DJ (Blackout)
The stars of the recent dotmusic video exclusive finally see their first full single release land nicely inside the Top 20. Full on support from the Dreem Team on Radio One and in the clubs has helped to push this garage hit to prominence. The producer of the hit is Merlin who has had a previous career as a rapper, having appeared on hits by the likes of Bomb The Bass (Megablast) and the Beatmasters (Who's In The House).
32 WACK ASS MF (Rhythmkillaz)
A Top 40 entry for this Dutch hard house club hit whose rather shocking title is easily the most notable thing about it. This must mean it is time for the Top 40 stragglers... bring 'em on.
34 JOY (Mark Ryder)
Now this is an interesting dance hit. An electronic backing that is doing its hardest to turn into Soft Cell's Tainted Love throughout is the accompaniment to a ragga toast that could have been performed on any jungle or garage hit from the last five years. But that isn't the interesting bit. The performer is. Mark Ryder may be making his solo chart debut but he has had a musical career in the past as part of N-Joi, charting hits such as Adrenalin and the era-defining Anthem which made Number 8 in April 1991. Since those days he has been a small but significant part of the speed garage scene and this single represents his first overground appearance outside of mixing duties on compilation albums.
35 THE BEST THING (Savage Garden)
A sixth single release from the Affirmation album and by the looks of things this was a single too many as The Best Thing becomes one of Savage Garden's smallest hit singles ever. In fact their only hit to chart lower was the original issue of To The Moon And Back which made Number 55 in September 1997.
36 FREE AT LAST (Simon)
This guy is British but lives and works in San Fransisco. The concept behind his first hit single is a simple one: take one of the most famous recorded speeches in American history and set it to dance rhythms. As the title indicates, the speech in question is Martin Luther King's celebrated "I Have A Dream" speech which he gave on August 28th 1963 at the climax of a rally in Washington. Of course turning his words into a hit record is by no means a new idea (at the last count around 40 different singles had sampled his words in one form or another) but this single is perhaps unique in that it is nothing more than the words of the civil rights leader set to an understated set of beats. No further instrumentation and no further hook. Well at least it is different.