Ten years is a long time, whichever way you look at it. Musically speaking it is a whole world away, the summer of 1995 now regarded as the golden summer of Britpop, when the likes of Pulp, Supergrass, Blur and of course Oasis battled it out side by side at the top of a revitalised singles chart. Ten years on, the game has changed apparently forever but it seems one thing remains consistent - a new Oasis release is awaited with fevered anticipation.
Of course, every new Oasis album seems to follow the same pre-release pattern. One or both of the Gallagher brothers will admit that the previous one didn't live up to expectations, the new single hints at a return to old inspiration and the album itself is greeted with ambivalent reviews that suggest they just aren't as good as they used to be. Consistently, however, the singles always rocket up the charts and true to form Lyla explodes upon release to give the boys yet another Number One single. They are amazingly consistent, new album Don't Believe The Truth becomes their fifth official release in a row to see its lead single fly to the top of the charts, Morning Glory, Be Here Now, Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants and Heathen Chemistry all having their promotion kicked off by a Number One single, the latter of course spawning TheHinduTimes' which was Oasis' last Number One single in April 2002. Overall Lyla is their seventh Number One hit, a total which reaffirms their status as one of the most successful British acts of all time. Their next target is the total of 8 chart-toppers notched up by both Take That and the Rolling Stones although there may be a wait for this as their last album to spawn two Number One hits was 1997's Be Here Now which saw both D'You Know What I Mean and All Around The World hit the top.
Oh yes, and to complete the consistency Lyla does indeed hint at past glories as well as suggesting new inspiration with Noel Gallagher admitting that they are now borrowing elements of classic Who tracks as well as their usual Beatle-esque undertones. The single is nothing less than very very good, but you can hear the reviewers sharpening their pencils ready for when the album itself hits their desks.
Also making their long-awaited chart return this week are the Black Eyed Peas who after years of steady slog found themselves turned into superstars thanks to their 2003 album Elephunk and its lead single Where Is The Love which topped the charts for an impressive six weeks two years ago. Three more hits and two further Top 10 singles followed and this now sets the stage for brand new single Don't Phunk With My Heart to debut at Number 3 on the new chart. It becomes their third Top 3 hit single, just short of the Number 2 peak of Shut Up which charted in December 2003 as the follow-up to Where Is The Love.
The Top 10 domination of rap and hip hop is maintained this week as although Will Smith and Eminem slip down the listings they are replaced by the Black Eyed Peas and also the new single from Jennifer Lopez which features a guest rap from Fat Joe. J-Lo is, of course, following up a Number One single here, her last single Get Right being one of the parade of singles that all took it in turn to top the charts at the start of the year. The second single from the Rebirth album is Hold You Down and it duly gives the Latino superstar her third successive Top 10 single. In truth, the gentle duet is a far better single than the whiney mess that was Get Right even if ideas wise it is about as original as, well an Oasis single. This is Fat Joe's second appearance on a Jennifer Lopez single, the rapper having contributed to Feelin' So Good which became her third chart hit when it peaked at Number 15 in April 2000. His biggest ever chart hit was 2002 single What's Luv which featured the dulcet tones of Ashanti. That single made Number 4 and in terms of musical style bears more than a passing resemblance to Hold You Down. Funny that.
The dreaded curse of the looping house track strikes us again at Number 9 with the drive to rework 1980s hits hitting on its strangest target yet. Although best known as 70s prog rock legends, rock band Yes had their biggest ever commercial hit in 1984 following a nostalgic reunion some years after the band fell apart. Owner Of A Lonely Heart topped the US charts and went Top 20 over here in 1984, the track created one of rock's most famous guitar riffs and guaranteeing the band royalties for all eternity thanks to TV-advertised compilation albums. The track was always pretty club friendly to begin with thanks to the vogue at the time for adding synths and breakbeats to rock singles so producer Max Graham had to only sprinkle a little bit of 21st-century magic on the track to bring it up to date and straight into the Top 10. This doesn't really count as a remix, thanks to the discarding of most of the verses (which brings the running total of the radio edit down to a miserly 2.5 minutes) so we can count this as a reworking, Max Graham and Yes getting co-credit on the single. As a result, it becomes Yes' second ever Top 10 single, although by no means their biggest. The equally classic Wondrous Stories still wins out having peaked at Number 7 back in 1977.
The fifth Top 10 entry of the week goes to the Kaiser Chiefs who finally see live favourite Every Day I Love You Less And Less become a major hit single. The Leeds band made their big chart breakthrough back in March when Oh My God stormed the charts at Number 6 and indeed it was one of a handful of hits which arrived back in the charts at the end of April when downloaded sales were factored in, the track loitering around the bottom end of the Top 75 for five weeks thanks to the survey picking up its still constant sales at some of the online stores. Really their new single deserved to be bigger with its na-na-na chorus and the effortless way it harks back to a golden age of 70s new wave. Yes, there seems something slightly wrong about heaping praise on an act who take so much of their inspiration from the past, but as we've seen it has never done Oasis any harm.
Just missing out on the Top 10 at Number 11 is a man whose voice may well be familiar even if his name isn't. Rob Thomas began his musical career as the lead singer of rock band Matchbox 20 whose chart career in this country is less than stellar. Indeed it is one of life's great mysteries as to why the acknowledged classic Push was never more than a minor (Number 38) hit in this country and indeed to this day despite several other releases it remains their one and only Top 40 hit in this country. His greatest international fame, of course, came thanks to his guest turn on Santana's Smooth for which he supplied lead vocals and which helped the song to become a worldwide smash hit, even if it had to have two bites at the cherry over here, finally reaching Number 3 upon its second release in April 2000. Now Thomas makes the chart as a solo artist for the first time, albeit with a track that appears to be trying to push him in a totally different musical direction, the production of Lonely No More stirring in enough Latino elements to make it sound more like an Enrique Iglesias offcut than a worthy solo release. Rob Thomas' great selling point is his voice of course which he can use to turn even the most average sounding ballad into a tear-jerker. Hopefully, there are more of those on his forthcoming album, for the moment the single is actually a bit of a disappointment.
Electronics wizard Mylo continues to make commercial strides as his third single becomes his biggest to date, In My Arms hitting Number 13 as the follow-up to the rather harder edged Destroy Rock And Roll. Easily one of the standout tracks from the album, In My Arms cutely samples not only Kim Carnes' Bette Davies Eyes but also spookily Boy Meets Girl's Waiting For A Star To Fall which has of course been the subject of no less than two Top 10 singles already this year. Needless to say, the Mylo single has rather more artistic merit than anything Cabin Crew or Sunset Strippers managed to excrete.
So to Number 18 and the wonder that is the Eurovision Song Contest, the annual television Jamboree that sees almost 40 countries across the continent link up for a competition to see which nation has performed the best pop song on the night. The UK may claim that we don't take it quite as seriously as some countries appear to do but nonetheless, there is the issue of national pride at stake - we want our songs to win at all costs dammit. This year I actually sat through the whole thing for the first time in ages, owing to the fact that Kyiv is the birthplace of Mrs Masterton and the fact that she discovered she was at university with the female presenter who kept shouting at us. I was thus one of the millions who witnessed UK entry Javine come perilously close to repeating the Nul Points fiasco of two years ago, ultimately coming third from bottom in one of our worst showings ever. This doesn't, of course, bode well for the chart prospects of Touch My Fire which slips neatly into the Top 20 in an attempt to cash in on the contest. Ordinarily Eurovision entries can at least expect a small chart filip as a result of the television broadcast (which came too late to have an effect on the chart this week) but despite her best efforts Javine's performance was poor compared to many others and the likelihood of the single rising to give her a second Top 10 single to follow Real Things from 2003 is slim. She doesn't even have the satisfaction of beating last years UK entry Hold On To Our Love by James Fox which made Number 13. Heck, even Jemini's Cry Baby made Number 15 in 2003 despite coming last in the contest overall.
It has actually been some considerable time since Eurovision spawned a major chart hit. The UK entry hasn't spawned a Top 10 hit since Precious' Say It Again hit Number 6 in 1999 (the group featuring a certain Jenny Frost among their number who would later join Atomic Kitten and top the charts several times) and the last time any Eurovision song topped the charts was Gina G's Ooh Ah Just A Little Bit in 1996. The song didn't win the contest but did at least come from an era when the UK actually stood a fighting chance. Come back Jonathan King, all is forgiven.
There is a return for a genuine chart legend at Number 19 as Stevie Wonder clocks up his first solo hit for quite some time. His last Top 40 appearance came at Christmas 2003 when he teamed up with Blue on a remake of Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours which made Number 11. Although he had a Top 10 hit back in 1997 when teaming up with Babyface on the memorable How Come How Long his last solo Top 40 hit of any kind was just over ten years ago, For Your Love hitting Number 23 in February 1995. The new single So What The Fuss isn't going to spark off a Stevie Wonder revival just yet (although how nice would that be) but it is nice all the same to see a genuine legend back in the upper reaches of the UK charts. Stevie Wonder is now pushing for his 40th anniversary of chart hits, his first single being Uptight (Everything's Alright) which was a Number 14 hit in early 1966.
To round off the Top 20 this week there is a welcome new entry for New Order, the follow-up to Krafty which hit Number 8 back in March. New single Jetstream was always one of the standout tracks from their current album thanks to a guest turn from the Scissor Sisters' Ana Matronic. Times must be changing, Englandneworder aside this is the first time a New Order single has featured a guest star.