1 MAMA/WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE (Spice Girls)
In October 1963 a popular Liverpool beat group called Gerry and the Pacemakers released their third single, a cover version of You'll Never Walk Alone from the soundtrack of the musical 'Carousel'. It shot to Number One within weeks, just like their previous two hit singles How Do You Do It and I Like It. Such a feat was unprecedented. No act had ever hit Number One with their first three singles and many were convinced it could never be repeated. 21 years later another Liverpool band, Frankie Goes To Hollywood made Number One with their third single The Power Of Love and too made chart history by emulating this astonishing feat. Since then two more acts have managed to open their career with a trio of chart toppers - in 1989 Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers and then last year Robson and Jerome. All these acts had something else in common. Their fourth hit singles (although Robson and Jerome admittedly have not yet released one) fell just short of reaching Number One.
This week the Spice Girls rewrite the record books forever. In common with Wannabe, Say You'll Be There and 2 Become 1, the double a-side of Mama and Who Do You Think You Are races past all opposition to become this weeks Number One single. It is the most successful opening run of any artists career ever, rivalled possibly only by Kylie Minogue whose first nine singles peaked at either Number One or Number Two. This also comes in a week when Wannabe is still fimly entrenched at the top of the US charts and although many artists have managed to top the charts on both sides of the Atlantic simultaneously they are the first to do so with different discs since Tiffany was ruling the roost in January 1988 with I Think We're Alone Now over here and Could've Been in the States. As for the record itself, well the appeal is obvious. Aside from the fact that both tracks are remixed from the album, Mama is released with perfect timing, hitting the top in time for Mothering Sunday when a substantial proportion of copies purchased can be attributed to that festival. Who Do You Think You Are is an example of what the girls do best, an uptempo, brassy dance workout that is easily one of the best on the album and is the song they performed to astonishing visual effect at the recent Brit awards ceremony. The single is also notable in that all proceeds are to go to charity - more on that next week.
3 RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE (Fugees)
Record companies like to think they have everything planned down to the last day with their release schedules rarely getting toally disrupted. Just occasionally huge spanners can be thrown in the works and such is the case with the Fugees. Following their all-conquering successes of last year including two Number Ones and a Top 10 hit at Christmas with No Woman No Cry the next Fugees single was scheduled to be a re-release of Fu-Ge-La which underperformed when released as their first single last year, only reaching Number 21. The release date was duly set and promotional copies were sent out to radio stations, many of whom playlisted it. Around the same time the soundtrack of the new Muhammed Ali biopic was released in America with the Fugees' contribution Rumble In The Jungle released as a single. Several canny importers immediately flooded this country with copies of the track and despite the inflated price of such singles, they immediately began to sell. Clearly this could be detrimental both to potential sales of Fu-Ge-La (after all what do you do if there are two singles by the same artist on different record labels available) and also to sales of Rumble In The Jungle when it came to be released properly. As a result, the released of Fu-Ge-La was shelved, much to the annoyance of radio stations who had it in rotation, and the release of Rumble In The Jungle was brought forward. Fortuantely none of this charade appears to have harmed the single too much as after several weeks bubbling under the Top 75 on import the single rockets into the Top 3 on its proper commercial release. Its appeal is likely to be more limited than previous Fugees singles as it is more a typical album track from the band, an ecletic mix of hip-hop and soul combined with a curious use of samples. The samples, in this case, are an easily recognisable chorus borrowed from Juice Newton's Angel Of The Morning and a bassline lifted from Abba's The Name Of The Game, marking one of the few occasions that the Swedish stars have allowed an old track of their to be used as part of a dance record.
7 MOAN AND GROAN (Mark Morrison)
Funny how so many artists who appeared at the Brit awards have new products out at present? Such cynicism aside, Mark Morrison's performance (complete with stage dive) was one of the best of the night and he now blasts into the chart with his fifth successive Top 10 hit, following on from Horny which made Number 5 just before Christmas.
10 SHOUT (Ant and Dec)
For a pair of teen stars aiming for a more mature audience, Ant and Dec command a surprising amount of respect. After all there aren't many double acts that have been kicked off childrens television for being too rude. To coincide with their new critically acclaimed Channel 4 TV series, Ant and Dec release this new hit single and depart briefly from the dance-orientated teen sound of their previous hits and instead produce a wonderfully understated piece of what almost could be called trip-hop. Based on a bassline that sounds almost, but not quite like Walk On The Wild Side it is probably one of the most appealing singles they have ever released and gives them the third Top 10 hit of their career.
11 WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME (Monaco)
The inevitable gap that now appears between New Order releases means the members of the band have plenty of time for solo projects. Some more more succesful than others. Bernard Sumner's association with Electronic is well-know and to a lesser extent so is the group formed by Gillian Gilbert and Steven Morris, The Other Two, who had a couple of small hits in the early 1990s. Peter Hook's first extra-curricular project was the rock band Revenge whose hit tally registers a round fat zero. Not to be outdone he now has a seond go and hits the jackpot big-time. Monaco is the title of his new band and for their first single they have produced an utter gem, the guitar-driven pop song is easily one of the best new singles of the week complete with harmonies and a sha-na-na chorus. Surely this has to go Top 10...
12 INDESTRUCTIBLE (Alisha's Attic)
The Best New Act at the Brits may have eluded them but the hits keep on coming for the quirky group. The quietly understated Indestructible becomes their third hit single and equals the peak of Alisha Rules The World as their biggest yet.
19 FOUND YOU (Dodgy)
The hits just keep flowing for Dodgy, their first of the year and their fifth to reach the Top 20.
20 SIXTY MILE SMILE (3 Colours Red)
The second hit single for 3 Colours Red, following on from Nuclear Holiday which reached Number 22 in January. They are destined to get bigger as well.
21 SPIN SPIN SUGAR (Sneaker Pimps)
Sophomore hit time as well for the Sneaker Pimps, this single following on from the wonderful 6 Underground which reached Number 15 in November last year.
[And there the archive copy of this piece grinds to a halt abruptly. It is possible I failed to save the full version before applying it to the standard template and sending it off to dotmusic, although looking at the chart for this week the only two other singles left to be commented on were really obscure club hits from Live and Qattara. It isn't too much of a stretch to imagine I had nothing constructive to say about them and so left them be. The lack of detail towards the end suggests either I was short on time and close to deadline or my manic weekend schedule had caught up with me and I was writing this in my usual Sunday afternoon sleep-deprived state].