This week's Official UK Singles Chart


For four weeks long the remixed Elvis Presley track has reigned supreme, outselling every other single on current release. More than just a passing novelty from a television commercial, A Little Less Conversation has become one of the defining hits of the summer and made the profile of the musical legend the highest it has been since his death in 1977. All of this has come as something of a surprise to many, not least RCA records who have been nervously watching the way the single has carried on selling. Their problem is that next week should see the chart arrival of the second single from Gareth Gates - who also just happens to be an RCA artist. Hence in a somewhat surprising move, they have reportedly decided to clear the playing field for themselves and last Friday unceremoniously deleted the Elvis vs JXL single.

A word on industry terminology here as this does not mean that the track instantly becomes unavailable for purchase. All this means is that the single is no longer on the catalogue of product that is available for retailers to order. From this moment on no more copies of the single will be pressed and existing stocks on the shelves will now dry up naturally. The rather cynical hope, of course, is that this will depress demand for the track to such an extent that the Gareth Gates single will have at least one less piece of competition as it aims to debut at the top of the charts. [They denied it until they were blue in the face, but I couldn't find a single industry contact who wasn't certain that was the aim of the deletion].

Cynical it may be and already the decision has attracted more than its fair share of mutterings but at the end of the day it is up to the record company to determine what product they put on the shelves and if they wish to fly in the face of public demand, who are we to argue with them? This isn't of course without precedent although to delete a single to try to clear the way for a totally unrelated one is certainly unusual. Sometimes it is used positively as a marketing tool, such as in the case of the Manic Street Preachers' The Masses Against The Classes which was deleted on the day of release to make it a limited edition. Sometimes deletions are made to prevent a long-running single from interfering with long-established release plans such as in 1996 when Peter Andre's Mysterious Girl was withdrawn from sale after its four month chart run had forced the release of the followup to be delayed more times than was convenient. Very occasionally it can be at the request of the artists themselves, most famously in 1994 when Wet Wet Wet decided that people were fed up of the 15 week chart-topping run of Love Is All Around and voluntarily withdrew it - although their motivations were called into question when this resulted in a temporary reversal of the decline in sales of the track and almost resulted in it withstanding the challenge of Whigfield's Saturday Night to spend a record-equalling 16th week at the top. Hence the destiny of A Little Less Conversation is by no means set in stone, and who knows, this may be a clever ploy on the part of RCA records to stimulate a headline-grabbing chart battle where otherwise one would not have existed. Either way don't expect the single to plummet down the chart for a few weeks yet, stocks are still plentiful and the data provided by the music charts each week means that most corporate buyers are often well ahead of the game, even when the rug is pulled from under them.

2 BY THE WAY (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

It's funny, I remember when the RHCPs were the embodiment of rock and roll excess, the socks on cocks band with a wild, dangerous streak to their half-rapped funk singles. Now in 2002 they seem almost respectable, politely discussing their musicianship with anyone who will listen and are happy to make video packages to promote their new single on CD:UK. Don't knock it, it works. By The Way, the title track from their forthcoming new album and a mellow radio-friendly track in the vein of their previous hit Scar Tissue has this week soared past the competition to become the biggest new hit of the week. Not only that of course but it is far and away their biggest ever UK hit single. Only their third ever Top 10 hit it is the first to make it even into the Top 5, their biggest smash until now bring the Number 7 peak of their cover of Love Rollercoaster in 1997. In most other territories in the world their most famous hit is of course 1992s Under The Bridge but in this country it could only reach Number 13 in a 1994 re-issue after having originally made a lowly Number 26 and it is better known in the 1998 cover by All Saints which topped the chart.


3 I'M GONNA BE ALRIGHT (Jennifer Lopez)

I confess to being unconvinced by Jennifer Lopez' last hit single, the reworking of Ain't It Funny which appeared to have dispensed with all notion of melody for the sake of hip-hop cool, although this certainly did not hold it back with the single making Number 4 in March. Happily this new single is more of a return to musical form, an upbeat pop single that is improved rather than distracted by the inclusion of two rap breaks from Nas. I'm Gonna Be Alright takes its musical inspiration from I Got 5 On It which was a hit for the Luniz back in 1996. The result is a record that goes one better in terms of chart placings and becomes her fourth Top 3 hit, one that matches the peak of Play and the original version of Ain't It Funny both from 2001. She has never had a single peak at Number 2, her biggest being the chart-topping Love Don't Cost A Thing from the start of last year.


Believe it or not it is 11 years this summer since the Prodigy first burst onto the charts with Charly, a quite groundbreaking piece of dance music that mixed discordant synthesisers with samples from old public information films. Their chart longevity can be largely attributed to a 1996 change of direction which saw Keith Flint step to the fore with his own brand of vocal declamation and the addition of screaming guitars to the breakbeats. The result was two successive Number One singles in the shape of Firestarter and Breathe. That was followed at the end of 1997 by the hugely controversial Smack My Bitch Up which took a throwaway line from an old rap hit and turned it into a track that had people all over the world foaming at the mouth with apoplexy and TV stations scratching their heads over just how much of the accompanying video to show. Such were the waves that they made that it is hard to believe that they have not released anything else in the five years since, but it is true, this brand new single is their first musical output since. Inthe time away very little appears to have changed, Keith still shouts, Liam still makes some very exciting noises in the background and whilst the single doesn't quite have the impact needed to challenge for the top of the charts, they do at least manage a Top 5 hit, the seventh of their career.



From svengalis Cowell and Fuller [unsure where that came from, she was definitely a Fuller project but I don't think Simon Cowell had any connection with her. It was just that post Pop-Idol the pair of them appeared to come joined at a hip. That would change] comes this latest teen prodigy, 16 year old Amy Studt. At the very least she is not manufactured, her material coming from her own hand and if ever there was an act that defined the term "priority artist" this is it. Her debut single is inventive to say the least, the piano-led and deliberately cute and prim verses exploding into frenzied and rebellious choruses to make this one of the least conventional pop hits you will hear this week. Whether this is actually as effective as it set out to be is less clear cut and the Top 20 entry for the single is maybe a little less than people were expecting. Still, there is very little to hate in a single that suggests there is talent at work here and I'm quite content to sit on the fence and watch with interest what she comes out with next. [Her next release oddly took a year to appear, despite this track gaining a fair degree of American sucess too].



Token rock hit of the week is the second single of the year from Idlewild, this following up the blink and you'll miss it chart run of You Held The World In Your Arms which hit the chart at Number 9 back in May before charging to 27 the following week and then dropping out altogether a fortnight later. Hopefully American English will spend a little more time hanging around and at the very least it becomes their second biggest hit ever, leaving 1999s When I Argue I See Shapes now in third place with its Number 19 peak.


With their unexpected 2000 Number 2 hit version of Who Let The Dogs Out the Baha Men sealed their place in popular culture for evermore, the track becoming one of those pieces of music that is more than just a pop record and is instead a cultural reference point (good or bad) for just about everyone. It is of course highly unlikely that they will ever have a hit approaching that magnitude again but that doesn't mean they can't try. February 2001 saw them attempt to recapture the party spirit with You All Dat which made Number 14 and now they land another Top 20 single with Move It Like This. Summertime is the best time to listen to tracks such as this, an upbeat party single with a bright sunny vibe although beyond that there is little to mark this single out as a smash even if it is probably more representative of their sound than the aforementioned global smash.

23 FLOBBADANCE (Bill & Ben)

A word or two here for anyone reading this who isn't either British or an ex-pat. Bill & Ben the Flowerpot Men are television legends in this country, some of the original stars of children's television from the 1950s. The marionette puppets were indeed men who lived in flowerpots, spoke in a strange garbled flobadobadob language and had a friend in the shape of Little Weed. The series was only ever aired in the 50s and 60s but an entire generation has grown up with it as a reference point - and at the present time a new generation as well thanks to a modern day revival of the series in colour and with new animation techniques. From this new series comes this novelty tie-in single that features the vocal talents of comedian John Thompson who provides the voices of Bill & Ben in the new series. Sadly there isn't actually much flobadob speak on the record and at best the link to the traditions of the flowerpot men is actually rather tenuous. Still, a Top 20 hit it is and as I have said before there is very little wrong with making singles that deliberately appeal to young children. I suspect the main reason I am here is because when I was 3 years old I was given a small battery operated record player and a box full of read a long Walt Disney and my parents' old Beatles singles to play with.

28 RECKLESS GIRL (Beginerz)

The magic of the internet covered up the fact that I wasn't actually in the country last week, instead writing from the sunny shores of the river Dnipro as it passed through the city of Kyiv. From watching Ukrainian MTV I can report that they are into Enrique, Moony, Kylie and Sophie Ellis-Bextor in that order. All of that of course has little to do with Reckless Girl by Beginerz of course but I'd hate you to think that I have nothing more to say about it beyond the fact that it was first signed up at the Miami conference at the start of the year without good reason.

29 RIP (Gary Numan)

Inspiration or just pure coincidence? Two months after Are 'Friends' Electric was appropriated for the backing of the Sugababes' Freak Like Me, the writer of the aforementioned track is pleased to make a long overdue return to the UK charts. Although he has made several attempts at comebacks during the 1990s, his only Top 40 appearances in the last 15 have been due to re-releases of his 1979 Number One hit Cars, first in 1987 when it made Number 16 and then in 1996 when the track made Number 17. To put the appearance of RIP in context, the last piece of new material from Gary Numan to make the Top 40 was his 1986 single I Can't Stop which made Number 27. In fairness he has appeared with other acts since, in 1987 appearing with Radio Heart for two singles, Radio Heart and London Times whilst as part of Sharpe and Numan he made Number 34 with No More Lies in early 1988.

38 SHAKALAKA BABY (Preeya Kalidas)

The West End stage invades the bottom end of the Top 40 this week with this single taken from the cast recording of the new smash hit musical Bombay Dreams. As the title suggests, the musical sees writing legend Andrew Lloyd-Webber tackle the world of Bollywood in a visual and musical spectacle which has enchanted virtually every one I know that has been to see it. Preeya Kalidas is one of the stars of the show, playing Priya and Shakalaka Baby is her standout solo moment. It is a long way from being the biggest ever hit from a Lloyd-Webber musical (that honour incidentally going to Boyzone's rendition of No Matter What from Whistle Down The Wind) but nonetheless a refreshing sight even at the lower end of the chart.