1 WANNABE (Spice Girls)
Tsk tsk, have these young upstarts no respect? Not content with deposing one member of the greatest pop band of the 90s from the top of the charts the Spice Girls cling on for a third week of glory to deny none other than Robbie Williams the chance to claim his first solo Number One. The success of the Spice Girls still defies all speculation - nobody has ever successfully marketed a female teen band before so exactly who their audience is is a bit of a puzzle. One thing that could have been predicted is that the press have no picked up on them and the girls' rather raucous lifestyles are coming under tabloid scrutiny. Given the revelations in the newspapers over the weekend concerning certain members of the group the line from the song "If you wanna be my lover/you gotta get with my friends" takes on a delicious ironic ring.
2 FREEDOM (Robbie Williams)
[Superstar (solo) debut klaxon!] There are clearly two sides to Robbie Williams. One is Robbie the singer, the youngest member of Take That who took lead vocal on many of their tracks including their astonishing take on Could It Me Magic and the Number One Everything Changes. The other is than of Robbie the publicity magnet. Ever since he sensationally broke ranks last Autumn and quit the band he has been a constant presence in the gossip columns, be it speaking critically of the regime within Take That and his distaste for certain of his former colleagues or carousing as hard as he pleases, either on his own or with new found friends the Gallagher brothers, again he claims as a statement about the way Take That's management forced the band to maintain their squeaky-clean images. Inevitably he now begins a solo chart career, this time on Chrysalis records having successfully extricated himself from Take That's all-encompassing deal with RCA records. For his first solo single he has made an astonishing choice - choosing to cover George Michael's Freedom 90 which originally reached a lowly Number 28 for the man himself. The song was written by Michael as an expression of his feelings at having left the days of being a teen idol behind him and so by covering the song Robbie Williams leaves no doubt in the mind at all as to the direction in which his career lies. When the imminent release of this single was announced all kinds of romantic images were conjured up of Robbie memorably and historically replacing Gary Barlow at the top of the charts. In the event this has not happened, the Spice Girls giving Gary Barlow a solitary week at the top and then maintaining their lead to deny Robbie (for now) his first solo Number One. The real interest now lies with the future for both singers. Gary Barlow is highly respected as a songwriter, Robbie Williams somewhat less so and one suspects that it will be the latter that finds there is only so much mileage to be gained from being 'the bloke who used to be in Take That'. [Facepalm emoji].
3 TRASH (Suede)
Suede were undoubtedly the toast of the early 1990s. They emerged towards the tail end of 1992 with several things in their favour. A charismatic singer in the shape of Brett Andersen, a superlative guitarist in the shape of Bernard Butler and a fixation with David Bowie, all of which combined to create a deliciously retro sound yet made them firmly a band of their era. A string of hit singles ensued and the band even survived the trauma of Butler's departure just as their second album Dog Man Star had been recorded. Since the end of 1994 the group have been silent and by and large the sensation has passed, Oasis have taken over as the biggest band in Britain and Suede have been in serious danger of becoming yesterdays men. Fortunately this brand new single has set aside any such doubts, still managing to be enough of a sensation to land straight in the Top 3 to equal Stay Together as their biggest hit single ever. Dare I suggest, however, that Trash lacks something of the strength of melody that characterised many of their previous recordings and which elevated them to the status of instant classics [oh it would hold its own in that respect].
4 GOOD ENOUGH (Dodgy)
It has been quite a week for big new releases and unusually the three biggest line up one after another just inside the Top 5. Bringing up the rear of these, as it were, are Dodgy with their second single of the year and easily one of the best records they have ever made. Good Enough is one of those wonderfully summery records that all but barges its way onto radio playlists, perfect in its execution, immaculate with its harmonies and, well, Good Enough to win a place in the hearts of record buyers. For too long Dodgy have been the critics favourite without a really massive hit to their name but now with a Top 5 smash and the biggest single of their career they can finally be seen as a force to be reckoned with.
6 KILLING ME SOFTLY (Fugees)
7 MYSTERIOUS GIRL (Peter Andre)
The two biggest selling singles of the last couple of months finally begin their downward trek but sadly in the most artificial of circumstances. With the Fugees having sold well over 1.2 million copies of their hit to make it the biggest seller of the year so far and with Peter Andre on just under half that amount both singles have now been deleted by their respective record companies. Both have stated fairly sound reasons for doing so, Columbia are concerned that Killing Me Softly should not eclipse sales of the Fugees album whilst Mushroom are worried that just as they are trying to establish Peter Andre as a chart star he will end up becoming eclipsed by the success of this particular song. Despite this it still leaves me and many others with a slightly uncomfortable feeling. It is by no means the first and will certainly not be the last time that record companies deliberately withdraw singles but it still smacks of manipulation of both the marketplace and its consumers. Record companies are the first to bleat that the chart moves too quickly and there is no scope for developing singles and growing acts, yet on the increasingly common occasions when singles do take on a life of their own and maintain their sales over a considerable number of weeks they mutter under their breath about disrupted marketing strategies and seek to rid the market of a single as quickly as possible. Isn't the music business wonderful?
8 THA CROSSROADS (Bone Thugs-N-Harmony)
Perhaps inevitably the all-conquering champion of the US Hot 100 in recent months attempts a similar kind of domination over here. The laid-back summery slice of Gangsta rap lands easily inside the Top 10 but I suspect lacks the impetus to help it repeat its stateside success.
11 HOW BIZARRE (OMC)
Not for the first time in recent months a single belies its relatively slow start to make steady progress up the charts. How Bizarre looked to have lost momentum last week when it lay stuck at Number 19 but now it accelerates to become the biggest climber on the chart this week and with a place in the Top 10 firmly in its sights.
17 SOMEONE TO LOVE (East 17)
If newspaper reports are to be believed then East 17 are an act in crisis. Dissensions within, disappointing sales of the last album and a cancelled Autumn tour that is officially due to singer Brian Harvey developing throat nodules but is unofficially due to poor ticket sales. With all this as a background East 17 release their first single for six months, a rather sweet acoustic-driven track with a nice uplifting message but which charts at a rather lowly Number 17. Not that there is anything wrong with that of course, but for the fact that of their previous 8 singles, non has entered the chart lower than Number 12. It could be just a minor blip or it could spell the beginning of the end for the lads from Walthamstow who may never have matched Take That in terms of sales or popularity but whose contribution to the list of great pop singles of the decade is one to be viewed with awe.
20 HIT ME OFF (New Edition)
When impresario Maurice Starr brought together a group of young black Americans to form a new Jackson 5 clone it is unlikely he could have foreseen what they would all become. Having scored a Number One single over here with Candy Girl the various members of New Edition grew up and transformed themselves into stars in their own right. Every few years they all regroup to record again, except of course now the teenage pop band has become something of an R&B supergroup, Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill, Ralph Tresvant and Bel Biv Devoe are a combination to make many a promoter wilt with excitement. What is more surprising given the potential for clashes of egos and styles is that New Edition records stand up in their own right. This new single is no fluke, fully deserving a Top 20 placing, their first since Mr Telephone Man in 1985 and curiously enough only their third hit ever. My only worry is that this might put ideas in the heads of Maurice Starr's other superstar creation - New Kids On The Block.
21 LOVE SENSATION (911)
Hit Number 2 for 911, the latest bunch of clean-cut young lads out for a slice of the pre-pubescent market. Slowly but surely they are building a following for their slightly formulaic dance-pop, this new hit building from the Number 37 peak of their first hit Night To Remember back in May.
25 WEST END PAD (Cathy Dennis)
Cathy Dennis' name first appeared on a Top 40 in late 1989 when she was featured vocalist on D-Mob's C'Mon And Get My Love. There then followed a Danny D-produced album which failed to ignite over here until America suddenly took to the lady and she scored a Top 3 hit in early 1991 with Touch Me. That success rebounded over here and Touch Me also became a Top 5 hit with many other followups charting. A second album followed in 1992 with contributions from producers such as Shep Pettibone but her star appeared to have faded and despite bouncy pop tunes such as Irresistible she failed to break back into the Top 20. Now after over two years Cathy Dennis returns, having largely turned her back on her dance background and gone guitar-pop, using XTCs Andy Partridge and non other than Ray Davies of the Kinks as producers on her forthcoming new album. Thus comes West End Pad, a bouncy if rather pedestrian pop song that might at any other time have stood a chance of being a sizeable hit but for the moment looks to be the first damp squib in what I suspect will be a rather inauspicious comeback.
29 TARA'S THEME (Spiro and Wix)
It is somewhat appropriate that I should be writing about an Olympics-related record whilst the closing ceremony of the games is played on the television set next to me. The BBC reportedly paid a great deal of money to televise the Atlanta Olympics and so have been determined to get their moneys worth. Hence for the last fortnight TV viewers have been treated to what amounts to total saturation coverage of the games, morning, noon and night. As a result a great deal of exposure has been given to this track, the BBC's theme for their coverage. Tara's Theme is of course somewhat appropriately the famous theme to Gone With The Wind, except that this time Spiro and Wix have taken Max Steiner's anthem and turned it into a modern day pop track, making the Hollywood fanfare sound more like the kind of galloping anthem than an evocative piece of soundtrack music. The resultant effect has been enough to propel the track into the Top 40 to ensure it will remain of at least some historical interest, long after the games have become just a distant memory.
32 RAYS OF THE RISING SUN (Mozaic)
A second hit, almost exactly a year to the week on from the first, for Perfecto creation Mozaic. Last time round it was a Top 20 cover of Dr Alban's Sing Hallelujah. This year the girls produce a fairly standard piece of Perfecto pop, hard enough to be a serious dance record but accessible enough to become the kind of pop hit that this track looks like failing to be.
33 DO THAT TO ME (Lisa Marie Experience)
A second hit for the Lisa Marie Experience who follow up their version of Keep On Jumping which made the Top 10 a few months ago. Do That To Me first came out at the beginning of 1995 following massive success in the clubs. Back then it was only available on a limited edition release and so major chart success was not forthcoming. This time the track has a proper commercial release and just manages to scrape a Top 40 placing.