Christmas -2. The countdown continues and things hot up with yet another flood of potential seasonal chart toppers. Record shops are already full to overflowing and that situation will continue for a good few weeks yet, pushing the already high record sales of the year to even higher levels. On the chart this week there are 11 new entries, 5 climbers and 3 non-movers.
No. 35: NEW ENTRY. Bomb The Bass - Darkheart
A second hit of the year for the resurgent outfit following Bug Powder Dust which made No.24 back in October. This single is more of the same, ambient dub reggae which is utterly uncommercial but amidst all the activity elsewhere in the chart comes as quite a breath of fresh air.
No. 34: NEW ENTRY. CJ Lewis - Dollars
I hate to be rude at Christmas time but CJ Lewis is quite literally one of the most unoriginal artists of the year, having in many ways started a trend of making ragga cover versions of pop classics, the biggest of all being his Top 3 placing for Sweets For My Sweet. For his fourth single he goes for a proper reggae song at last, but the result is a rather turgid single that makes you wish for another pop classic to be massacred.
No. 33: NEW ENTRY. Black Duck - Whiggle In Line
A promotional copy of this record first arrived at the radio station about a month ago. Repeated plays brought a dose of much-needed hilarity to the office along with the conclusion that it could never be a hit. Clearly we were wrong. With Saturday Night easily the second biggest seller of the year it was inevtiable that a parody would end up being made. This single takes its cue from the peculiar quacking noise that starts the original before using the track as a base for (you guessed it) a ragga artist to mouth, for want of a better word, gobshite all over it. The original promotional copies used samples of Whigfield's voice but this commercial release has been amended to use a session singer faithfully reproducing the chants of the original track. The whole thing is clearly intended as a bit of seasonal fun, even to the extent of requesting donations for duck sanctuaries on the sleeve. Pop music is supposed to be about having fun after all...
No. 32: FALLER. Erasure - I Love Saturday EP
Erasure fall from their No.21 peak to make I Love Saturday their smallest hit ever.
No. 31: FALLER. Michelle Gayle - Sweetness
More so than ever this Christmas several record companies have been caught out by the lack of volatility in the singles chart of late. Many recent singles have outsold their initial expectations and have hung around for what is literally months. This has played havoc with the release schedules of several record companies which has resulted in several artists having more than one single on the chart. One such artist is Michelle Gayle with Sweetness now on its 13th chart week and her long-scheduled Christmas release just a few places ahead.
No. 29: NEW ENTRY. 2wo Third3 - I Want To Be Alone
2wo Third3 have waited most of the year for their breakthrough, having charted a number of minor hits, become a cult success in gay discos before finally managing a hit single back in October with I Want The World. Their second Top 40 hit is, in seasonal style a Christmassy ballad, if rather uninspiring and badly sung. What makes it stand out is the underlying melody, which uses a chord sequence that sounds naggingly familiar. Listen to the record and you will see what I mean, the first time I heard it I assumed it was a remake of Barry Manilow's Can't Smile Without You. For me to comment further on this connection would possibly be out of place but it is worth noting that the seasonal flavour of that particular chord sequence once led George Michael to use it in 'Last Christmas' and for him to subsequently fight off a plagiarism suit from the writers of the aforementioned song. [Derivative it may be, but this is actually something of an overlooked gem and one whose relative failure at the time puzzled me].
No. 28: NEW ENTRY. 2 In A Tent - When I'm Cleaning Windows
More seasonal silliness, this time courtesy of Mike Stock and Matt Aitken, poking fun at the trend this year for making dance records out of the most bizarre ideas possible. Enter George Formby. George Formby was possibly one of the last of a breed of music hall stars. From the mid-1920s until the early 1960s the gawky Lancashire lad was one of the most successful entertainers in Britain, his musical talents expressed by his devotion to the ukulele. During his career he made innumerable films and several best-selling records, most of which came before the days of record charts although he did once chart a single in 1960 - Happy Go Lucky Me/Banjo Boy making No.40. The songs themselves are still as famous as ever and now one of his most celebrated has been turned into a tongue-in-cheek dance record. It really has to be heard to be believed provided you don't take it too seriously of course. When I'm Cleaning Windows was actually banned by the BBC in its day owing to its subject matter - the sights a window cleaner sees whilst on his round. Such subject matter was nothing to Formby though, his biggest selling single ever was Chinese Laundry Blues.
No. 26: NEW ENTRY. Michelle Gayle - I'll Find You
So here she is then, Michelle Gayle becoming the second woman in the chart this week to have two simultaneous hits. I'll Find You is yet another lavish production, showing off her voice to full effect. Its a bit too angst-ridden to have the mass appeal of Sweetness and may find itself swamped by the Christmas rush.
No. 22: NEW ENTRY. M Beat - Sweet Love
Can I denounce this record as the antichrist? Well maybe that is a little strong but it will inspire many similar feelings amongst soul fans. M Beat's second hit is in the style of the first with hardcore Jungle beats all over the shop. The crucial difference is that rather than coupling these rhythms with a similarly frantic rap, instead they have drafted in a session singer to sing a perfect reproduction Anita Baker's biggest hit ever. Sweet Love first made No.13 for Christmas 1986 and has remained a classic ever since. I've overused the phrase already this week, but just like many other records on the chart this week it has to be heard to be believed - you could not pick a more unlikely track to turn into a jungle record. What next... Annie's Song - The Techno edit?
No. 21: FALLER. Bon Jovi - Always
Bon Jovi spending their 13th week in the Top 40 with always with the result of charting two hits at once, their release schedules too having been thrown haywire by the unexpected success of this single.
No. 17: NEW ENTRY. Madonna - Take A Bow
The adverts are right. There is no sensation to play up over the new Madonna album. It really is just a collection of songs brilliantly made. Take A Bow stands out a mile and was an easy candidate to release as a Christmas single. What has taken many people by surprise is the rather lacklustre way this track has debuted. The lady with the longest run of consecutive Top 10 hits in chart history could well be about to see that record grind to a juddering halt [it did]. Most Madonna tracks peak on their first or second week on release, which is fine if you have debuted inside the Top 10, but not as low down as No.17. Its the first time one of her singles has charted outside the Top 10 since Bad Girl made No.11 first week out in March 1993, only for that to climb to No.10 the following week. She has not had a single chart this low since Gambler entered at No.20 in October 1985 - testament in itself to the way every single she has released has dominated chart proceedings. All may not be lost, as the single is likely to appeal to many of this seasons casual record buyers, but it is still a scare nonetheless. Madonna is, incidentally, the bookies friend having been favourite to take the Christmas No.1 slot several times but having never yet made it.
No. 11: NEW ENTRY. Rednex - Cotton Eye Joe
So far this track has been ignored in the betting for the Christmas No.1 but the first week success of this track could turn all that on its head. Cotton Eye Joe has been causing a stir on dancefloors for months now and on commercial release has exploded into action to become the major hit somehow you always thought it would be. It is one of those dance records based on an unlikely source, this time a Country and Western reel in a similar manner to 'Everybody Gonfi-Gon' earlier in the summer only this time done with much greater style. Guaranteed to be one of the dance smashes of the season it is also worth keeping an eye out for. Once all the furore over the Christmas No.1 has died down, something will have to emerge from the pile to top the charts in the traditional new year lull and this record could stand a very good chance indeed [yeah, totally called that one].
No. 10: CLIMBER. Whigfield - Another Day
Only 3 places but enough to give Whigfield a second Top 10 hit. She is out of the running for Christmas No.1 on the strength of this though.
No. 7: NEW ENTRY. Bon Jovi - Please Come Home For Christmas
Bon Jovi become the second act on the chart to have a record explicitly about Christmas and the third overall to have two simultaneous hits. With their Greatest Hits collection still selling in large numbers, this single also has the bonus of not actually being on that collection. Please Come Home For Christmas was first recorded by the Eagles and made No.30 in December 1978. It suits Jon Bon Jovi's voice down to the ground and it will be enough to tug on a few heartstrings. Just one of the reasons why the betting this season is still wide open. [An opportunistic release this one, this recording had been made several years earlier and appeared on a Very Special Christmas compilation album credited to Jon Bon Jovi solo].
No. 4: CLIMBER. Boyzone - Love Me For A Reason
Boyzone make a strong climb with their cover of the Osmonds classic but from this point on may find themselves coming a little unstuck. With sales of singles inflated to their highest point of the year over the next couple of weeks, penetrating the Top 3 is going to prove very difficult indeed.
No. 3: NEW ENTRY. Mighty Morph'n Power Rangers - Power Rangers
[Simon Cowell attempting to ruin the Christmas charts is a tradition which dates back longer than most people realise]. Oh dear. Outselling every other toy this Christmas and with supply outstripping demand to such an extent that mini riots have resulted in some toy shops, here come the Power Rangers. The concept of the show probably needs no introduction, suffice it to say that the low budget American show which uses stock footage bought from a totally different Japanese TV show has become the child cult of the year and revived the Saturday morning ratings of breakfast station GMTV which screens it terrestrially. It was perhaps inevitable that a record company would try to cash in on that success, so here is the official Power Rangers record. Thankfully it isn't all that bad, being little more than a soft-rock workout which ordinarily would stand no chance at all, but thanks to the cult of the Power Rangers has become a Top 3 smash. Before the season started this was favourite to be No.1 for Christmas (the success of Mr Blobby last year having set the form for TV novelty hits). It still remains a strong prospect however unlike Mr Blobby last year the record is unlikely to appeal beyond its immediate demographic, kids with taste bypasses who like Power Rangers will buy it but nobody else. For proof of this one only has to look back to 1992 when the WWF Superstars [another Cowell project] were favourites for the top with Slam Jam but ultimately could not progress past their first week peak of No.4.
No. 2: CLIMBER. Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You
Up goes Mariah to score her second biggest hit ever with her Christmas offering. This year is in fact the best year for records actually about Christmas for a long time with two such records on the chart and in the Top 10 to boot. The last time there were two Christmas songs in the Top 40 was in 1990 with Cliff Richard's Saviours Day, Shakin Steven's The Best Christmas Of Them All and the Carpenters Merry Christmas Darling all vying for chart honours. The last time two were in the Top 10 together was in 1989 with Band Aid II's Do They Know Its Christmas at No.2 and Let's Party by Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers at No.2.
No. 1: SECOND WEEK. East 17 - Stay Another Day
East 17 are now clear favourites to retain the top slot until Christmas Day having now sailed past the 500,000 copies mark. It is not unthinkable though that something will overtake them and the bookmakers are still taking no chances on the betting. There are still more potential candidates to chart next week and so more so than in any other recent years, it will not be over until 2pm on Christmas Day when the crucial chart will be published.