This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 DILEMMA (Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland)

Ever wondered just why clean cut American pop stars of the likes of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and 'NSync have lately attempted to go "street" and produce a more harder edged sound? It is due to the way the tastes of the US public have in the last two years or so turned against cheesy manufactured pop and sought out something with a little more edge and less obviously mainstream. That something has turned out to be rappers like Nelly - artists whose sound is very much from the gangsta rap side of the card but with the rougher edges shaved off and replaced by a more commercial and appealing sound. In effect, serious rap music that sits comfortably on Top 40 radio. Like so many popular American genres, British audiences have simply been content to be on nodding terms with the music and hence whilst in the last two years Nelly has clocked up a respectable string of hits (Country Grammar, EI, Ride Wit' Me and most recently Hot In Herre), by no stretch of the imagination could be regarded as a mainstream pop act. Until now. Dilemma is a revelation and a half, a mellow romantic track that is driven by both the vocals of Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland and the contrast Nelly's rap interjections provide. An immediate favourite with radio audiences and TV viewers alike, you probably wouldn't have flagged it up immediately as a potential Number One single but its appeal is such that the single has this week flown to the top of the pile, shouldering none other than Las Ketchup out of the way. Just like that it appears that Nelly is a mainstream name with his first ever Number One hit single. Kelly Rowland becomes the second Destiny's Child member to have a hit outside the group this year, following in the footsteps of Beyonce Knowles who charted with Work It Out earlier in the summer. She herself is no stranger to the top of the charts, having hit the top with her bandmates on Independent Women (Part One) back in December 2000.


3 NU FLOW (Big Brovaz)

The success of the So Solid Crew when first unleashed upon the public a year ago was quite a pleasant surprise. Here was a group of teenagers with genuine urban appeal but who could make records that sold in enough quantities to become mainstream hits. The only problem was that they were (and to some extent still are) a little too hardcore, making music that didn't exactly cross demographic divides and who most assuredly were not going to find success outside their own country. Hence the search was on for an act without these caveats, UK hip hop that could be marketed to anyone. Sony think they have found them in the shape of Big Brovaz, six kids from South London with a debut single that merges rap and R&B in an enormously appealing radio-friendly package. Nu Flow is little more than the standard "here we are, everyone introduce themselves" single but the track allows everyone to showcase their talents, some of them rapping, some of them singing and all being enthusiastic whilst avoiding sounding sanitised and cheesy. Mainstream pop radio leaped upon this track from the moment it was serviced and as a resu, t Big Brovaz have a Top 3 smash hit with their very first release. A damn good start then, the only question is whether the rest of their material can measure up to this kind of standard.


5 I'M RIGHT HERE (Samantha Mumba)

Following a year away from the charts, during which time she expanded her profile overseas and became a mainstream actress thanks to The Time Machine and a see through top, Samantha Mumba returns to the genre that made her famous in the first place. The first single from her forthcoming second album, I'm Right Here charges straight up the charts to give her a fifth Top 5 hit. Indeed to date her only single to peak lower than Number 5 was her last hit Lately which made Number 6 just prior to Christmas last year. Earlier this summer an attempt was made to turn her younger brother into a chart star in his own right but Omero Mumba's debut single Lil' Big Man could only reach Number 42 and so it is left to big sister to show how it is done. The only thing she lacks for now is a Number One single but you never know what the grooves of the new album will contain. Samantha Mumba is a national treasure, even if she is Ireland's national treasure.

6 THERE BY THE GRACE OF GOD (Manic Street Preachers)

Given that most acts seem to rush a Greatest Hits collection into the shops after just a couple of years in existence, the arrival of such a compilation package from the Manic Street Preachers seems long overdue. Such an album will indeed be the shops in time for Christmas and should provide a fascinating snapshot of the way the group evolved from angry and noisy nu-punks into the anthemic and stadium filling giants they have now become. All Greatest Hits collections from still active acts are of course obliged to contain at least one new track and true to form the Manics have provided this one, a single that doesn't actually do anything new but which will not sound at all out of place alongside A Design For Life, So Why So Sad and even You Love Us and Motorcycle Emptiness. Their first chart single since Let Robeson Sing hit Number 19 in September last year, this is in fact their biggest chart hit since The Masses Against The Classes topped the chart in January 2000 and is their 11th Top 10 hit single. The only puzzle really is why the single keeps threatening to turn into Wings' Band On The Run during the chorus.


A triumphant chart return this week for LL Cool J, one of the acts around whom legendary rap lable Def Jam records was formed in the mid 1980s and who has managed to clock up a quite respectable string of hits at regular intervals ever since, as well as carving out a moderately successful acting career. Indeed with Rakim still in the Top 40 this week on the Truth Hurts single there are two veterans of the 80s rap scene with hit singles this week. Luv U Better from his brand new album X is LL Cool J's first Top 40 appearance since July 1998 when he appeared alongside Dr Dre on the soundtrack hit single Zoom. Hit last solo hit single came a few months prior to that, Father hitting Number 10 in March 1998. His biggest hit single was a cover version of Rufus' Ain't Nobody which became an unexpected Number One hit single in February 1997 although chartwatchers of a certain age will probably remember him best for I Need Love which hit Number 8 a full ten years prior to that and which to this day stands tall as one of the most romantic rap singles ever made.

9 YOU WERE RIGHT (Badly Drawn Boy)

Just like that, Damon Gough is a hitmaker for real. After crossing over into the mainstream with his acclaimed work on the About A Boy soundtrack and which has already given him two hit singles this year, Badly Drawn Boy unleashes his second album proper on the public and with the lead single has a Top 10 hit for the very first time. Not that this is any less than it deserves as You Were Right mixes his usual melancholic vocals with an enormously appealing production that is probably the closest he will ever come to making a "proper" pop record. This man deserves a Number One single at some stage - possibly even more so than Samantha Mumba.


25 CRY (Faith Hill)

This is something of a week for chart comebacks as here now is country's very own Faith Hill with her first UK hit since the Tin Tin Out remix of Breathe hit Number 36 just over a year ago. 2001 saw her attempt to cross over into Shania Twain-esque territory with pop remixes of some of her singles, as well as Breathe there was The Way You Love Me but far and away her biggest hit was the untouched There You'll Be from the movie Pearl Harbor which hit Number 3. Hence this new single eschews club remakes and is a fairly standard MOR country ballad, far from bland but nothing to set the charts on fire. It does at least give her a sixth Top 40 hit since her debut with This Kiss back in 1998.


A third hit single of the year for Doves, following up There Goes The Fear (Number 3 in April) and Pounding (Number 21 in August). Caught by the river performs even more poorly chart wise but all this proves is that anyone who cares already has the album.


Those who know their happy hardcore will raise a smile to this one. Children Of The Night was first released in 1996 (around the time that Scooter first invented the genre you will note) but did not become a chart single until 1998 when a set of remixes helped it to creep to Number 47. Four years on and with the aforementioned Germans enjoying a mini rennaissance it has been deemed time for the leading British contribution to the genre to make a reappearance. As daft and lightweight as it always was and with an instrumental line that sounds like it has been lifted from a 1980s video game, Children Of The Night finally becomes a Top 40 hit.

38 TONIGHT I'M GONNA LET GO (Syleena Johnson)

A debut chart single for Syleena Johnson, thanks in part to the contribution of Busta Rhymes who features heavily on this track that is based in part on his 1997 hit Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See. A mess in truth.


Finally this week are Russian duo PPK, finally and belatedly following up Resurrection which became a Top 3 smash hit for Christmas 2001. For whatever reason this new single lands at exactly the other end of the Top 40 although the fact that this new single sounds so irritatingly familiar to the first may well have something to do with it. So much so that "Retread" may actually have been a more accurate title.