1 SOMETHING IN THE WAY/CANDLE IN THE WIND 97 (Elton John)
Now easily confirmed as the biggest selling single of all time, Elton John continues his majestic reign at the top of the charts for a fourth successive week. With sales of the single now well on the downturn the speculation is mounting as to who will become the next act to top the charts. The smart money is on the Spice Girls whose new single Spice Up Your Life has been cannily held back a week to be perfectly poised to shoot to the top in a fortnight's time.
3 AS LONG AS YOU LOVE ME (Backstreet Boys)
The US boy band are now far and away one of the most succeessful pop acts of the year. Having built on their initial success in 1996 this year has seen them notch up four hit singles, all of which have reached the Top 5. The followup to this summers' Everybody is yet another masterpiece of finely crafted pop, a mid-tempo swayer that does its job with almost ruthless efficiency.
4 ANGEL OF MINE (Eternal)
This could have been a tricky card for Eternal to play. The phenomenal success of I Wanna Be The Only One took many people by surprise. Although an instant classic and an obvious single the fact that it hit Number One and spent almost two months inside the Top 10 made it far and away Eternal's biggest hit single to date. What they have chosen to do is now ignore the Before The Rain album totally and release a brand new recording. Angel Of Mine is a previously unheard track which will form the cornerstone of their Greatest Hits collection due out nicely in time for Christmas. The single as it happens isn't all that special, a typical gentle ballad which the girls nonetheless deliver in a not altogether unpleasant manner. It does enough to stretch their run of consecutive Top 10 hits to 8 and is their seventh to reach the Top 5. To all but abandon an album in favour of new material after just two singles is an unusual move in this day and age but with the prospect of another four year run of singles from Janet Jackson's new album on the horizon it is a remarkable breath of fresh air.
6 RAINCLOUD (Lighthouse Family)
One of the most eagerly awaited releases of the season will be the brand new album from the Lighthouse Family. Their brand of mellow ballads gave them a run of four Top 20 hits in 1996 and seemingly inspired a whole generation of advertising copywriters as songs such as Lifted and Ocean Drive were licensed to advertise anything from breakfast cereal to estate cars. Needless to say any new material from the pair could hardly miss. Raincloud has attracted extensive comment thanks to the piano riff that begins the record which depending on your point of view is reminiscent either of Copacabana or Love Is In The Air. Such speculation and the inability of radio DJs to avoid drawing attention to it is all beneficial to the profile of the track and as a result it crashes straight into the Top 10 to give the Lighthouse Family the second biggest hit of their career to date.
11 NEVER GONNA LET YOU GO (Tina Moore)
Despite being one of a number of records to be awarded a bullet on the chart this week, Tina Moore's speed garage anthem fails to maintain its curious record of reaching the Top 10 every other week, instead holding firm at Number 11. This is its seventh week on the chart, all of which have been spent between Numbers 9 and 12.
12 BIG BAD MAMMA (Foxy Brown featuring Dru Hill)
Foxy Brown notches up her fifth hit single and in doing so charts with her fourth collaborator. Following Top 40 hits with Case, Blackstreet and Jay-Z she now teams up with Dru Hill for her third Top 20 hit of the year to date.
14 OOH LA LA (Coolio)
Hot on the heels of the classically inspired C U When U Get There comes another commercial rap masterpiece from Coolio who can quite plainly do no wrong. Despite being one of his more hardcore offerings it is clearly appealing enough to chart respectably and becomes his second solo hit of the year and his fifth Top 20 hit.
16 LOVE ME AND LEAVE ME (Seahorses)
So far this year the Seahorses have released two singles, both of them instant and probably enduring classics. Love Is The Law made Number 3 with Blinded By The Sun reaching Number 7 in July. The eagerly anticipated third single had the potential to be even more special, thanks to the presence of one L. Gallagher on the writers credits and in the event is just as good as its predecessors, especially given the way it sounds like the best track the Byrds never recorded. In spite of this it could well be the first Seahorses track to miss the Top 10.
19 YOUR CARESS (ALL I NEED) (DJ Flavours)
I have to indulge in a small amount of namedropping here as I met Emma, the singer of Your Caress through a mutual friend during the summer [on the stairs at a Bradford house party, let the record show]. It was at the time the record was just a white label and was near the top of the club charts and was an interesting insight into the way records such as this find their way into the charts. After being recorded earlier in the year by the singer and dancer the single was made available to club DJs to coincide with a series of promotional appearances, again in clubs (although how one performs a PA of a record so full of vocal samples is a question best left unanswered). Riding high in the dance charts the record was due for release in August but has only now appeared officially in the shops. Such a delay does not seem to have hurt its prospects and although hardly likely to set the world on fire has helped Emma achieve her ambition of a Top 20 hit single. [As of 2016 she's one half of the breakfast show on Heart Yorkshire].
20 THE WAY I FEEL (Roachford)
Andrew Roachford will probably never escape being the man who recorded Cuddly Toy, the international smash hit which launched his career in 1989. As is always the case that one massive hit has cast a shadow over much of his subsequent work, a crying shame when you consider it includes hits such as Get Ready and Only To Be With You. His last chart hit was back in 1995 when I Know You Don't Love Me proved quite prophetic when it became his second successive single to miss the Top 40. Two years later the man and the band are back with avengeance, crashing straight into the Top 20 with this rather wonderful track which belies its understated opening to build up into a soaring climax. Best of all by sneaking a Top 20 placing it instantly becomes Roachford's second biggest hit ever, only the notorious Cuddly Toy which made Number 4 can beat it.
21 FRIDAY STREET (Paul Weller)
Paul Weller's second single of the year, the followup to Brushed. Rather worryingly it confirms that his stock as a singles artist is in danger of sliding away. Should Friday Street fail to progress any further it will become his first single for five years to miss the Top 20. The fact that he is the singer on another of this week's chart entries should at least come as some consolation.
23 BINGO (Catch)
Expectations were high for this debut single from Catch, a three piece band in the mould of Ash who are touted as (you guessed it) the next big thing and this Top 30 entry is a creditable start. Single number 2 will be a crucial test. [Oh now this is a fun story, for the video to this song has possibly been exposed to a far wider audience in the modern era than it ever did at the time. The reason? It was during a repeat of the ITV Chart Show in the early hours of August 31st 1997 that ITN cut in to start the rolling news of the coverage of the death of Princess Diana. The precise moment that Bingo was replaced by a sombre looking Dermot Murnahan is on YouTube, preserved presumably for ever more].
25 HITCHIN' A RIDE (Green Day)
Back in the charts after a gap of over a year come Green Day. They have never quite managed to duplicate the impact of their biggest ever hit Basket Case but have run up a string of medium sized hits ever since. Indeed Hitchin' A Ride maintains their 100% record of Top 30 hits by becoming their first chart hit since Brain Stew made Number 28 in July 1996.
29 SATURDAY (East 57th featuring Donna Allen)
Easily one of the biggest club hits of recent months and radio-friendly enough to attract much airplay, East 57ths hit nonetheless only just squeaks a Top 30 placing. Featured vocalist Donna Allen has of course had a number of solo hits in the past with tracks such as Joy And Pain and Real. Her most famous vocal ever remains Serious which made Number 8 in April 1987 and was used as the basis for Strike's U Sure Do which itself was a Top 10 hit in April 1995.
30 THE BITTEREST PILL (I EVER HAD TO SWALLOW) (Jam)
Paul Weller achieves the curious feat of singing on two new entries in the same week with two different acts. With Weller's reputation as a solo artist still intact for the moment the powers that be have judged that it is time for yet another Greatest Hits collection from his original band. To tie in with this comes a reissue of the classic The Bitterest Pill which was the band's penultimate hit reaching Number 2 a few months before their final split at the end of 1982. An indication of the more soulful sound he would explore with the Style Council it still sounds as fresh today as it ever did and is curiously enough one of the few Jam singles never to have been re-released. Virtually all their singles have charted at least twice thanks to a mass re-relase of their entire catalogue in early 1983 after the band had split which led to their recordings all but dominating the lower end of the chart for several weeks.