1 VIVA FOREVER (Spice Girls)
I won't say there was never any doubt as that would be a lie, but in the event the Spice Girls demonstrate that despite their much-publicised problems of late they can still sell records like few other artists around. The release of Viva Forever comes amidst a background of internal difficulties between the girls which culminated in the departure of Ginger Spice Geri Halliwell several weeks back. Whilst the girls have continued as a foursome seemingly undamaged by the split Viva Forever is very much a record by the five girls, featuring vocal contributions from all and with a lavish animated video that features the quintet as digitised fairies. Quite aside from all that it is of course a magnificent single, a lush ballad replete with strings, flamenco guitars and plenty of Spanish phrases, the penultimate track from SpiceWorld it is the album's fourth single and returns them nicely to the top of the charts (the 797th Number One single), proving that for the moment the relative failure of Stop (which peaked at Number 2 in March) was a minor blip. Thus exactly two years to the week since Wannabe became their first it is their seventh Number One from eight releases. They climb further up the all-time lists, equal now with the achievements of Michael Jackson and George Michael in their solo careers and keeping pace with Madonna who of course charged ahead with her 8th Number One earlier this year. The only other act to have had more Number One hits in the 1990s are Take That who notched up 8 chart-toppers in 9 releases between 1993 and 1996. The Spice Girls record you will note now stands at 7 from 8.
2 JUST THE TWO OF US (Will Smith)
Trailing in some distance behind the Spice Girls but still with an impressive sale, Will Smith has the second biggest hit of the week with what is either his second or third hit of the year, depending on which way you look at it. His first was of course the disco-styled Gettin' Jiggy Wit' It which made Number 3 in February but he charted just three weeks ago on the re-released Fresh Prince track Lovely Daze. This new single was actually slated for release a couple of months ago but was held back until now, rather suspiciously to coincide with the news that Will Smith has become a father [Jaden, not Willow, for those wondering]. Nothing could be more appropriate for the single as this is possibly the first New Man rap, a love song yes but one with a twist as it is a father's prayer to his newborn baby as he holds it in his arms. Like most pop rap songs it makes little pretence at originality, this time based extensively on Grover Washington Jnr's 1981 hit that famously featured Bill Withers on vocals but equally famously peaked at a derisory Number 34 despite being an American smash hit. It means that Will Smith (since he droppped the Fresh Prince moniker) has now had three Top 3 hits from his last four releases.
5 DEEPER UNDERGROUND (Jamiroquai)
A somewhat undignified tumble for Jamiroquai means their triumph at having a Number One single was a short-lived one. Still, at least they have the consolation of the single being available at all, Jay Kay having been vocal in the press in the last week at the decision not to make this track available in America despite the fortune lavished on the video. That decision was taken in the light of the current US success of the other prominent track from the Godzilla soundtrack and the one which closes the film (the Jamiroquai song isn't actually heard properly until halfway through the end credits, by which time most people are already in the car park). Suffice it to say that Puff Daddy and Jimmy Page have their single released this week and we could well see two different songs from the same film soundtrack top the chart within a fortnight of each other. Notice also that the turnover of Number One singles has been particularly rapid in the last few weeks. Since Three Lions spent 3 weeks at the top in June Billie, Another Level, Jamiroquai and for the moment the Spice Girls have all managed just a single week each. Indeed since the start of the year C'est La Vie and the aforementioned Three Lions are the only successive Number One hits to have spent more than seven consecutive days each at the top.
6 MY OH MY (Aqua)
At the start of last week much was made of the head to head battle as Aqua and the Spice Girls released singles on the same day for the first time ever. In the event it was a non-contest with the Scaninavians trailing in with their lowest charting hit to date. After the sophistication of Turn Back Time Aqua have gone bubblegum again with another insanely happy pop track complete once more with a costume drama video (this time involving Pirates). Not that it is in any way inferior to tracks such as Doctor Jones and Barbie Girl but of course the formula only has so much mileage in it. Had this been the first Aqua single it would quite likely have been a massive Number One hit but as it stands it looks set to become their first not to top the charts, preventing them from becoming only the second act in history to hit the top with their first four releases - the first of course are... well, do you really need me to point out the irony?
11 STRANGE GLUE (Catatonia)
The latest single from International Velvet and their third hit of 1998. Strange Glue is a more restrained, reflective single than either Mulder And Scully or Road Rage but it still features the unmistakeable tones of Cerys Matthews and thus manages to make Catatonia sound like no other band on earth. The law of diminishing returns suggests that Number 11 may be the best it can hope for, their first single to miss the Top 10 since I Am The Mob peaked at Number 40 last October.
12 MONEY (Charli Baltimore)
The Notorious BIG legacy lives on with this debut single from Charli Baltimore, the girl he was dating at the time of his untimely death.
14 TEARDROPS (Lovestation)
A look back to the past once more with this 1990s reworking of one of the most famous soul tunes of the 1980s. Teardrops was far and away the biggest global hit for Womack and Womack, released exactly ten years ago this week it ultimately peaked at Number 3 during a 17 week chart run. There is little that can be done with the track exactly to do a fairly straightforward cover and this is exactly what Lovestation have done, the result being a sizeable club floorfiller and now a Top 20 hit.
18 GOT THE FEELIN' (Five)
A relatively quiet week for new releases means a few curious moves lower down the chart, Five finding their decline suddenly halted as they move back up the chart slightly. They are worthy of comment simply as one of a number of UK acts that have suddenly found themselves with sizeable American hits. Their second single When The Lights Go Out, a Number 4 hit here in March, is riding high in the US Top 10 and is joined in the chart by big hits from the Spice Girls, All Saints and perhaps most startlingly Cleopatra. [This genuinely was the case, you can see that extraordinary American chart here]. The British are coming (again).
25 I WASN'T BUILT TO GET UP (Supernaturals)
Single of the week in many inky publications, and indeed in .dotmusic itself a few weeks ago. The first new material in two years from the Supernaturals had been forecast to kickstart the process of turning the band into the stars they should be with I Wasn't Built To Get Up possibly the finest example yet of their jaunty britpop style combining with an ear for a clever lyric. Indeed their songwriting has already attracted critical acclaim with last year's Top 30 hit Smile being nominated for an Ivor Novello award. Frustratingly they still appear to be having problems crossing over, far from becoming their biggest hit to date the single can only manage a mid-table placing inside the Top 30 meaning that the aforementioned Smile remains their biggest hit, having peaked at Number 23 in April 1997.
37 MAS QUE MANCADA (Ronaldo's Revenge)
For the third week running a version of Mas Que Nada becomes a Top 40 new entry. Ronaldo's Revenge brings up the rear with this particular rendition, landing three places below the peak of the Tamba Trio's version and some way behind Echobeatz who slide to Number 19 after having charted at Number 10 last week. The slightly retitled Mas Que Mancada is still unmistakeably the same track despite the way some of the mixes take the song almost into the realm of 70s disco. Indeed mixes are a contentious issue where dance singles are concerned as present thanks to the new set of chart rules which were implemented a fortnight ago. Interested parties can find the full details documented elsewhere but the marketing plans of dance labels have been affected the most by the new rules. Although there was always a 25 minute playing time limit on singles, multiple mixes of the same track were allowed to total up to 40 minutes which led to some dance CDs being effectively mini-albums featuring several versions of the same track. The new rules slash that limit in half meaning that although bundles of mixes can still be produced, if they run for more than 20 minutes they will have to try their luck on the album chart. Personally I doubt that the new rules will have as much of an impact as some have feared, the most likely being that the dance tracks that become big hits will do so because of mass commercial appeal rather than hardcore enthusiasts buying multiple copies of packs of remixes and sending little-known records flying into the Top 20. Proving it one way or the other is nigh impossible... if the new rules harmed this track from Ronaldo's Revenge, how come Echobeatz were unaffected last week?
38 LOVER (Rachel McFarlane)
The first and I have to say long-overdue solo outing for Rachel McFarlane. Back in 1994 she was the voice of Loveland who had a number of chart singles in the two years that followed, hits such as I Need Somebody and Don't Make Me Wait. However the most famous Loveland release was the first, Let The Music (Life You Up) which was billed as Loveland featuring Rachel McFarlane vs Darlene Lewis. The idea was there were two versions of the track, one sung by McFarlane and the other by Lewis, the gimmick helping the track to Number 16 in April 1994. Her first solo hit could well reestablish her as one of the most distinctive dance divas in the country, despite the somewhat lowly chart position of this release.