1 GANGSTA'S PARADISE (Coolio featuring LV)
In the face of, what has to be said, some pretty stiff opposition, Coolio hangs on to the top slot for a second week, with a large increase in sales to boot. Whilst the single is by far one of the most commercial pieces of gangsta rap ever released in this country, its success is still something of a surprise given the restricted market there normally is over here for this type of track - proving that Gangsta's Paradise is a genuine crossover in every sense of the word. To remain at the top much longer, however, it will have a fight on its hands. Not only is there this week's highest new entry hot on its heels, but this week sees the release of the new Robson Green and Jerome Flynn single which has already reputedly notched up over half a million in advance orders. The rush will not stop their either as Christmas quickly hoves into view, bringing with it the most frantic sales period of the year as record companies bring out the big guns in an attempt to land Christmas Number One.
2 HEAVEN FOR EVERYONE (Queen)
As you might expect, there was a fairly high proportion of people that expected this track to land the Number One slot this week. In the event the track lost out to the apparently unstoppable Coolio but this is not to detract from the achievement of this record. Before his death four years ago this month, Freddie Mercury had been working on some vocal tracks in preparation for a new Queen album to follow Innuendo. After a suitable period of mourning, Roger Taylor, John Deacon and Brian May all regrouped and set about completing that album around Freddie's vocals. The album is called Made In Heaven and this long-awaited track is the first single to be taken from it. A good deal of hype surrounded the premiere of the track, the original plan being for it to be fed via satellite to the entire commercial radio network early one Monday morning. This plan was thrown into disarray when Capital Radio DJ Chris Tarrant somehow obtained a copy of the single and played it on his show the preceding Friday, thus blowing EMIs promotion strategy out of the water. Once aired the track then attracted protests from die-hard Queen fans who were quick to point out that far from being a 'new' song it was actually another version of a track that appears on a 1987 Cross album, the band formed by Roger Taylor. Such points aside, the single was destined to be massive from the start and gives one of the greatest rock bands of all time a kind of posthumous smash, featuring not for the first time and by no means the last, a vocalist who never lived to hear the finished product. The last Queen single proper came in October 1991 when The Show Must Go On reached Number 16 although in the intervening period has come the celebrated smash reissue of Bohemian Rhapsody and the Five Live EP in 1993, both of which were Number One hits.
4 THUNDER (East 17)
A welcome return with the first track from a brand new album from one of Britain's finest pop bands. East 17 forced a critical reappraisal of their abilities last Christmas when Stay Another Day become the Christmas Number One and sold close to (if not more than) one million copies. They may not be as pretty as Take That but that has not stopped them gathering a large following of teenage girls whilst racking up a string of hit singles at the same time, many of which have transcended the pop barrier and become classic dancefloor hits in their own right. Thunder is actually their third hit this year, following the Top 20 success of Let It Rain and Hold My Body Tight but unlike those two this is a brand new release. It gives the band an eighth Top 10 hit since September 1992 and maintains their astonishing consistency of hits - of their 12 hits to date only one - Gold - has failed to reach the Top 20. Not even Take That can boast a record such as that.
6 MISSING (Everything But The Girl)
But for the action above, Missing would surely have climbed higher this week, the dramatic reworking of the original melody yet again the most popular record on the nation's dancefloors and is far and away the pair's biggest UK hit for over seven years. The scale of the departure from the usual style of the band was in perfect evidence last week from the expression of Tracey Thorn's face as she sang the song on Top Of The Pops... as if she couldn't really believe she was doing it either.
11 YOU'LL SEE (Madonna)
You can try. You can try as hard as you can but however much you attempt to put Madonna down she always manages to spring back and surprise everyone. The start of 1995 saw her at a surprising career nadir. Whilst Take A Bow reestablished her atop the US charts, here it became her lowest charting single ever when it only reached Number 16. Despite reasserting herself with Top 10 hits Bedtime Story and Human Nature all eyes were upon her next release. Here it is, and what a cracker of a record it has turned out to be. Just when you though she was scraping the barrel with a set of tedious minimalist dance grooves she appears with a ballad that ranks as one of the most classic singles she has ever released. With a voice so sweet it is hard to imagine that it belongs to the same self-styled media harlot she blasts her way into the Top 20, although surprisingly enough not into the Top 10 as one would normally expect. All eyes will be trained on her next week as she attempts to score her 36th UK Top 10 hit, a record beaten only by Cliff Richard and Elvis Presley.
15 UNTIL MY DYING DAY (UB40)
Clearly it is the week of the consistent hitmakers. The most successful reggae band of all time return to the charts with their 24th Top 20 hit. Formed at the tail end of the 1970s by brothers Ali and Robin Campbell, the band have effortlessly sailed through the last decade and a half, notching up 16 Top 10 hits and 3 Number Ones along the way. Their singles success tends to come in bursts and whilst the debut position of this hit is impressive enough it is still by no means as commercial as some of their other tracks, something that could well count against it as soon as next week arrives. Nonetheless this heralds another string of hit singles from the band and also comes hot on the heels of Ali Campbells' own solo hits That Look In Your Eye and Let Your Yeah Be Yeah which reached Numbers 5 and 15 respectively earlier this year.
17 YOU DO (McAlmont and Butler)
One of the scariest things I have heard all year was the threat by David McAlmont and Bernard Butler to make Yes their first and last hit single. That track when it was released stood out like a beautiful shining beacon amongst the chart hits of the time, reaching Number 8 in early June. Thankfully the threat was an empty one, and now, after having its release delayed for the best part of a month, comes their second hit. Guess what... it is almost as perfect as the first. Nobody else has ever made soul records like this, featuring an electric guitar amongst the strings and heavenly vocals. That is what makes this project so unique. The tragedy is that the style is so utterly unusual that commercial success may well be hard to come by. Despite this two successive Top 20 hits is impressive enough and a whole album full of this just does my head in to think about it.
18 DIGGIN' ON YOU (TLC)
There appears to be little stopping TLC now. Until a couple of months ago they were just another US RnB export but that was before the release of Waterfalls accompanied by the video of the year and a frantic round of promotion. It reached Number 4 and spent a full 12 weeks inside the Top 40, only vanishing from the listing a couple of weeks ago. Now comes the followup, straight in as you would expect to the Top 20. The new single is in pretty much a similar vein but is all the better for it, giving the girls their third Top 20 hit of the year.
22 BABY IT'S YOU (MN8)
MN8 are certainly one of the successes of the year, having first burst onto the charts in February with I've Got A Little Something For You and now being in line for any number of 'best newcomer' awards. This new hit, nothing to do with the old Shirelles song, becomes their fourth hit single but may struggle to match the Top 10 peaks of its predecessors.
23 YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME/CRY ME A RIVER (Denise Welch)
The hit ITV series 'Solider Soldier' would seem an unlikely source for hit singles, but then again the same could once have been said about soap operas. It began earlier this year when Robson Green and Jerome Flynn released the version of Unchained Melody that their characters sang in the show. The result was an instant Number One that astonished everyone by selling close to 1,900,000 copies to make it the best selling single of the decade so far and one of the Top 10 best selling singles of all time. With a new series of the show currently airing it falls now to Denise Welch to release the song her character has been seen performing. You Don't Have To Say You Love Me is one of the all-time great pop records Sung by Dusty Springfield at the height of her powers, it gave her a deserved Number One hit in April 1966 and this new version treats the song with the respect it deserves, oozing class from every groove. It is by no means the first cover version of the song to chart, Elvis Presley having taken his version to Number 9 in 1971 and Guys and Dolls having reached Number 5 in 1976. The track is backed by a version of Julie London's 1957 hit Cry Me A River which was also covered by Mari Wilson in 1983. This single charts just one week in advance of the eagerly awaited followup from Robson and Jerome whose new version of the old Frankie Laine song I Believe is set to explode onto the chart next week.
25 KING OF THE KERB (Echobelly)
I often say that the hallmark of a good album is the presence of a track that is so outstanding that it almost eclipses anything else on the disc. A track that simply sits there and cries "release me because I am going to be massive." This is the case for King Of The Kerb, the one track picked upon by radio stations from the moment the On album was released, simply on account of its killer chorus which elevates it from just another guitar track to a truly great pop song. Inevitably released as a single it gives Echobelly their second hit single of the year, following on from Great Things which made Number 13 back in September. Oddly enough given the attention paid to it you would have expected it to chart higher, and the single may struggle next week to live up to expectations. [Sadly it got no further than this and remains a lost great].
29 EVERYBODY SAY EVERYBODY DO (Let Loose)
After several false starts, Let Loose exploded onto the charts in the summer of 1994 with Crazy For You, an irresistible Nik Kershaw song that reached Number 2 set Let Loose off on a spree of hits, all in the same accessible pop-rock vein. They now appear to be facing the crunch, having to carry their initial success forward to a new album. Given that their last hit Best In Me reached Number 5 the chart position of this track comes as a slight disappointment and may well struggle to progress further. Somehow though I don't think this will be the last of the band's big hits given the classics such as Seventeen which they have released in the past.
32 1ST OF THA MONTH (Bone Thugs-N-Harmony)
As once piece of Gangsta Rap nestles at Number One, another hit comes to join it at the bottom end of the chart, the debut hit single for Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. This track of course has none of the commercial appeal of the current Number One so you are unlikely to see it scaling the same heights.
34 WHEN YOU WALK IN THE ROOM (Status Quo)
Rarely is it ever trendy to like Status Quo. This is due in part to a kind of musical snobbery which sees fit to criticise the band for continually releasing records based around similar 12 bar blues rhythms. To do so is actually to overlook their place as one of the most consistent hitmakers of all time. This single is released to celebrate their 30th anniversary in the music business, which dates them all the way back to 1965. They first began having hit singles in the late 1960s as exponents of bubblegum pop before they reinvented themselves as rock stars and set off on a run of 36 consecutive Top 40 hits and 22 Top 10 hits. In a similar manner to their last hit Restless in December last year, this is a cover of a classic, When You Walk In The Room having first made Number 3 for the Searchers in 1964. With such a lowly chart start this new version will struggle to do as well and struggle also to match the Number 2 peak of The Anniversary Waltz Part One, a medley of classic rock and roll songs that was released in 1990 to celebrate their 25th anniversary.
36 GIRLS AND BOYS (Hed Boys)
Another dance re-release although this time one that looks set to fall short of its original peak, this track from Hed Boys having first charted in August 1994 when it reached Number 21.
40 THINGS THAT ARE (Runrig)
Persistent and prominent Celtic rockers Runrig scored the biggest hit of their career earlier this year when their 1988 gaelic song An Ubhal As Airde (The Highest Apple) was featured in a TV commercial and made Number 18 in May. Their first release since sees them return to English and in all probability back to their usual form of notching up hit singles which perform poorly at a national level yet become massive Top 10 smashes on the regional Scottish chart. Few other chart acts today have such a marked geographical concentration of sales.