[Fun fact: this column is the earliest one to be preserved by the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. So you can read it in situ, as it were, as it originally appeared right here].
1 MMMBOP (Hanson)
The debut single from the Hanson brothers is so well known worldwide that it probably needs little introduction. One of those records that is a smash hit before it has even started there was never going to be the slightest bit of competition once it was released. So it proves, MMMBop races to the top of the charts with a sale almost three times as much as its nearest rivals to become what is surely going to be one of the smash hits of the summer. To make a single that is so catchy, so filled with exuberance and brilliance that it is destined to become of the greatest pop records of all time, and to do so with your very first release is quite some feat, indeed such a feat it will take some doing for them to live up to it.
3 PARANOID ANDROID (Radiohead)
If Hanson's single was one of the most eagerly anticipated of the week, then the new single from Radiohead cannot have been far behind. Thanks to their last album and tracks such as Street Spirit, Radiohead have established themselves as one of the great British bands. Hance this high new entry for this brand new single that at a stroke becomes their third Top 10 hit and the biggest of their career so far. Paranoid Android is an epic, soaring track that is full of the depth of meaning that their material has come to characterize. Most reviewers have fallen over themselves to praise it which is why I have to shamefacedly confess that to these ears it is nothing special. Diehard fans have bought the record in their droves but nearly seven minutes of dull, mournful sounding rock will not appeal to many others... the single is almost certain to tumble next week. [Radiohead enter the OK Computer era of acclaimed experimentation and I begin a long tradition too of just not getting it at all].
9 SIX UNDERGROUND (Sneaker Pimps)
The soundtrack album clearly has a new use. Simply arrange for a minor hit to become part of a film soundtrack and watch its sales soar upon re-release following the exposure given to it in the film. The latest single to benefit from this is Six Underground. First released in October last year it made a highly creditable Number 15 as a debut hit for the Sneaker Pimps. Following its use on the soundtrack to "The Saint" the slow, dreamy single is re-released and finds itself with a six-place improvement and all being well sets the band on the way to becoming major stars.
10 WALTZ AWAY DREAMING (Toby Bourke featuring George Michael)
Ho ho, how cynical is it possible to be here? George Michael has followed the path of many major stars and set up his own record label, Aegean records. The first signing to the label was new discovery Toby Bourke and in turn he has the honour of becoming its first act to release a single. Waltz Away Dreaming isn't a bad single by half and to enter the Top 10 in your first week on the charts is a very good way to kick start a career. The cynical amongst us will question the rather generous way the label boss has lent his talents to the single, turning Toby Bourke's first hit into a duet. The question must therefore be how much the George Michael influence has affected the sales of this track, especially as if you ignore the fact that there are two very similar voices perfoming the song it is to all intents and purposes a George Michael track. In his defence, Toby Bourke has at least done better than Deon Estus did in 1989. Bass player on the Faith tour, he enlisted George's help on his single Heaven Help and found himself further down the mix than his 'backing singer'. Although a sizeable American hit, the track stalled at Number 41 over here.
11 TI AMO (Gina G)
Full marks to Gina G who is now far and away the most successful act to emerge from the Eurovision Song Contest in many a long year. Her fourth hit single falls agonisingly short of the Top 10 achieved by the last few but even so for a fourth single to be charting this high is pretty impressive (how many 'trendy' bands can manage such a feat). Bright and summery and at a slower tempo than previous hits, Ti Amo makes Gina G a chart force to be reckoned with.
12 YOU MIGHT NEED SOMEBODY (Shola Ama)
Slipping down the charts at last but worthy of some comment, Shola Ama's first hit single has become bigger than anyone could possibly have imagined. Peaking at Number 4, it has just spent a very impressive seven successive weeks inside the Top 10.
16 SOMETHING ABOUT YOU (New Edition)
It's quite a sweet irony that in the same week that a single with the same kind of joyful exuberance as tracks like Candy Girl shoots to the top of the charts that the band who themselves were once latter-day Jackson Five soundalikes make a return to the Top 20. Something About You becomes their first hit single for almost a year, Hit Me Off reaching Number 20 in August last year.
18 THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE (Marilyn Manson)
Last year's biggest culture shock to middle America suddenly escapes over here in a blaze of hype and publicity along with, and let's not be coy here, some frankly terrible records. Marilyn Manson is the stage alter-ego of Brian Warner who after several years as an underground cult suddenly found himself with a Top 3 album in America and half the country's thought police on his back. The large part of his draw is the grotesque stage show he and his band enact, a collision of the best of Alice Cooper and the worst excesses of the Tubes. The music is probably a secondary point but where the record is concerned that is all we have, a Trent Reznor produced mush of guitars and noise that somehow has found itself in the UK Top 20. It remains to be seen how the band's floor show goes down over here but as in this country we are fortunately thin on the ground where extreme right-wing moralists are concerned, I suspect most will pass without sensation. [That final comment seems odd from a modern point of view, but back then it was indeed the political right who were the self-appointed moral censors. Contrast with today].
22 GREEDY FLY (Bush)
Bush's second UK hit single, somewhat smaller than the first but after years of being the biggest British band never to have a hit in their own country I suspect a chart hit of any kind is something for them to celebrate.
25 GOOD GOD (Korn)
The third Top 40 single for Korn, each one agonisingly refusing to climb any further than the Top 30. First off the mark was No Place To Hide which made Number 26 last October which was quickly followed by A.D.I.D.A.S. which reached Number 22 in February.
27 THE LOVE SONGS EP (Daniel O'Donnell)
Lock up your Grannies, Daniel O'Donnell has a new single out. The undisputed King of easy listening (and by that I mean the Max Bygraves style that makes a blue rinse a required fashion accessory in order to buy it rather than the kitsch Mike Flowers Pops style of irony) is these days almost guaranteed a chart entry with every single he releases. This EP of gently crooned love ballads becomes his first hit since Footsteps made Number 25 last October. His biggest ever hit came in 1992 when I Just Want To Dance With You became his only hit ever the penetrate the Top 20.
31 BEAUTIFUL DREAM (World Party)
A welcome return for Karl Wallinger and World Party with his first album for four years. He has never been a major chart draw so the fact that this new single has charted where it has should come as no real surprise. The biggest World Party single ever was Is It Like Today which reached Number 19 in April 1993.
35 SPIRIT (Sounds Of Blackness featuring Craig Mack)
The most numerous group in pop is back once again, Gospellists Sounds Of Blackness notch up another smallish hit single. They have had a comparatively long spell away from the Top 40, their last such hit coming in early 1995 when the re-released I'm Going All The Way became their biggest hit ever, reaching Number 14.
36 ANY WAY YOU LOOK (Northern Uproar)
The first chart hit of 1997 for Northern Uproar and one which will come as something of a disappointment given their last couple of hits, most especially From A Window which made Number 17 in February 1996.
39 KATE (Ben Folds Five)
Someday, sometime Ben Folds Five will become massive stars. For the meantime they have to content themselves with a succession of minor hits. This is their third Top 40 hit but it represents a slight decline in chart fortunes, their last single Battle Of Who Could Care Less breached the Top 30 and many would have hoped for this to do better.
40 MAMA/WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE (Spice Girls)
The Spice Girls were the centre of attention at last week's Royal Command Performance which was shown on television. It was the first time the girls had ever sung live in this country and virtually everyone was waiting to pass judgement. The question of can they really sing remains the subject of much discussion, suffice it to say they acquitted themselves well on the faster numbers and had many people wondering why the backing singers appeared to be taking the lead on Mama. Nonetheless the extra exposure has served to give sales of their last single another boost and it shoots back up the Top 75 to reappear inside the Top 40. Wannabe was released in the middle of July last year and there has been a Spice Girls track in the British charts ever since.