1 WHOLE AGAIN (Atomic Kitten)
Four weeks on top, and the list of supposed sure-fire Number One hits that Atomic Kitten have sent packing continues to grow. Whole Again now holds the honour of being the longest-running Number One single since Westlife's I Have A Dream/Seasons In The Sun also managed a four week run over Christmas 1999. The Kittens are also in a position to rank as one of the most successful female groups of all time. The last record by an all-female act to spend this long on top of the charts was Wannabe, the debut release from The Spice Girls which had an epic 7 week run in summer 1996. Now that Wheatus, Jakatta and Outkast have been sent packing, is Shaggy next in line?
2 MS JACKSON (Outkast)
Import fever has struck the UK singles chart once again. There were one or two big dance singles in 2000 that had a brief run amongst the lower reaches on import sales a week or so before their proper release but not since summer 1999 have forthcoming mainstream singles found themselves in such demand that punters were willing to snap up copies from overseas sources well before the single was due to hit the streets for real. Such a fate befell this single from Outkast and it has spent the last four weeks bubbling outside the Top 40, reaching a high of No.48 seven days ago. The usual chart rules kick in here as the import copies are considered a separate single from the official release. Thus Ms Jackson registers as a new entry on the chart this week and its 'weeks on chart' total is reset accordingly. Outkast made headlines recently when they pulled out of a support slot for Eminem as one of their number was about to become a father. Ms Jackson, the tale of one man's plea to his mother-in-law (Sylvia's Mother with a new twist if you like) is actually their second chart hit, the first being Bombs Over Baghdad which made No.61 just before Christmas.
Of course the rampant speculation can now begin as to whether the number of weeks the single was available on import hurt its first week chances and thus prevented it from topping the chart. Depending on who you talk to, people in the industry are divided on whether import sales do have an adverse effect. Some are of the view in fact the appearance of a single lower down the chart can be a wonderful publicity boost as it immediately draws attention towards a track just as the promotion for the record is building up steam. Certainly when you look back to 1999 you can see that the singles that topped the chart after having charted prior to release on import (Lou Bega, Eiffel 65 and Christina Aguilera) ended up as some of the biggest sellers of that year. Will the same happen to Outkast?
3 ALWAYS COME BACK TO YOUR LOVE (Samantha Mumba)
In danger of rivalling U2 as the biggest Irish act of the moment, Samantha Mumba storms back into the chart with her third single. This is the follow-up to the David Bowie sampling Body II Body and sees her return to the Top 3 following the failure of her last single to climb past its No.5 entry point. Her biggest hit for now remains her debut Gotta Tell You which made No.2 in July last year.
5 FEELS SO GOOD (Melanie B)
After a long gestation period the debut solo album from Scary Spice was released in autumn last year. To help with the promotion she released a single, Tell Me, which made No.4 at the start of October. The timing seemed puzzling as this was barely four weeks before the new Spice Girls single and album was due for release. Sure enough the promotion of Mel B the solo artist was put on hold as the girls gathered together and declared their commitment to the group to promote Forever. The rest we know, as although the single Holler topped the charts, the album did not and shortly after release was tumbling down the listings with a press backlash ringing in their ears. This may or may not have prompted the decision to pull the plug on any further promotion of what had rapidly turned into a disastrous project. So it is instead that the dust has been blown off Mel B's album which now finds itself repromoted in the shape of this new single. Feels So Good is actually Mel B's fourth solo appearance following I Want You Back (No.1 in September 1988), Word Up (No.14 in July 1999) and Tell Me which peaked at No.4 in October last year. Meanwhile, the rest of the Spice Girls are busy with solo projects, Geri Halliwell, Emma Bunton and Victoria Beckham all have singles waiting in the wings whilst Mel C is set to record her second solo long player. Strange to note that whilst All Saints have publicly fallen on their collective swords, the Spice Girls are refusing to admit publicly that the group are no more. On this evidence it is hard to see how they can deny it.
6 NO MORE (A1)
The only group to be named after a Dual Carriageway cum-Motorway, A1 this week fail to add themselves to the list of acts who have managed three Number One hits in a row. Their last two singles Take On Me and Same Old Brand New You both topped the charts but this new single can only creep into the listings at No.6, coincidentally the chart peak of Like A Rose exactly a year ago this week, their last release not to top the charts. No More is their seventh single release and their seventh straight Top 10 hit.
9 SHUT UP AND FORGET ABOUT IT (Dane)
So it is just "Dane" now is it? Dane Bowers is this chap's full name, erstwhile member of Another Level and for most of last year collaborator with garage act the True Steppers. That working relationship produced two hit singles with him involved: Buggin' which made No.6 in April 2000 and the celebrated duet with Posh Spice on Out Of Your Mind which made No.2 in August. Now it is time for him to step out on his own and he does so with the most gloriously bitchy single since Mel B's Tell Me. Just as Scary Spice's single was a song unashamedly about her ex-husband, the inspiration for Dane Bowers' track has come from the very public breakup of his relationship with glamour model Jordan (who could be seen in the video for Buggin'). He won't admit it is about her of course but the fact that the words of the song mirror so nicely his repeated complaints that she keeps turning up at the same events as him to try to win him back that it is just too much of a coincidence to ignore. In terms of class it doesn't score very highly but given that pop stars have been inflicting us with songs about how much they like their better halves for decades, it is quite refreshing to hear about the other side of things for a change.
10 THE LADYBOY IS MINE (Stuntmasterz)
OK so in the Top 10 already this week we have had the official release of an imported song, we have had solo singles from members of two former teen bands. What other concepts would round this off nicely? How about a bootleg - you know the deal, two seemingly unconnected records mixed together to transform both into an almost but not quite entirely new record. The circulation of The Ladyboy Is Mine actually dates back to last summer when one of the tracks featured on it was a chart hit. The record in questions is Modjo's Lady which has had its original vocals removed and replaced with those of Brandy and Monica from their 1998 hit The Boy Is Mine. As a dance single in its own right it actually works very well but given that both tracks involved are familiar in their original versions the overall effect is rather uninspiring. Certainly compared to the subtle beauty of Rodney Jerkins' original arrangement for The Boy Is Mine, this new mix almost seems a travesty.
17 WHAT MAKES A MAN (Westlife)
The erratic chart performance of Westlife's seasonal hit continues. Two weeks ago you may remember, the track found its way into the bargain bins and in the process into the homes of rather more people than would have been the case had it remained at its original price. This resulted in the track flying back up to No.17. Last week it fell back to No.24 and looked set to continue that decline. Not so, as you can see here and once again the single rebounds, back up again to No.17 on its 10th week on the chart. If this continues the single is in danger of colliding with the next Westlife release, their rendition of Billy Joel's Uptown Girl which is this year's official Comic Relief track. More on that soon.
24 THE FIGHT SONG (Marilyn Manson)
The first hit of 2001 for the High Prince of whatever he happens to be into this week. This single is the follow-up to Disposable Teens which made No.12 in November last year. This is now the sixth Top 40 hit for Marilyn Manson, the only mystery being why in a time when the UK charts have gone crazy for stateside rock, the most innovative act of them all is only able to clock up relatively minor hits.
26 BETWEEN ME AND YOU (JA Rule featuring Christina Milian)
The chart debut for JA Rule [as well as his soon to be just as famous collaborator as it happens. Possibly one of the earliest examples of what I eventually termed the "soft landing" debut], Jeff Atkins to his mum. Aside from that there is little of note about this rap single, save for the fact that it appears on legendary label Def Jam which is always a nice throwback to the golden age of rap from the mid-80s onwards.
28 DANGER (BEEN SO LONG) (Mystikal featuring Nivea)
Mystikal already has one Top 40 hit to his name this week, featuring on Joe's Stutter which falls to No.19 this week. He adds to this with this new entry to give him a second 'solo' Top 40 hit to follow-up Shake Ya Ass which made No.30 in December last year.
31 IT WASN'T ME (Shaggy)
Shaggy's worldwide smash single continues to chart well, despite still not being officially available. These imported copies charted at No.31 a fortnight ago, slipped to 37 last week but now rebound back up those six places once more. It Wasn't Me has thus twice equalled the peak of Lou Bega's Mambo No.5 from 1999 to become the highest charting import single of the last few years. [The fun thing about these foreign import copies was that they all featured the unedited album version with its original "naked, banging on the bathroom floor" lyrics which were toned down for the European single release]. This is still some way short of the record which is still help by The Jam who reached No.21 with That's Entertainment in 1981 and given that Shaggy's single finally hits the shops for real this week it is set to stand for a little while to come.
35 CHEMISTRY (Semisonic)
New album time for Semisonic but by the looks of things they have a long road to travel if they want to reach the same heights they scaled in 1999 when Secret Smile made No.13. This is their first chart single since Singing In My Sleep reached No.39 in April last year and the fact that this release struggles to better that suggests that the Minneapolis trio don't quite have the appeal they had two years ago.