1 ALL AROUND THE WORLD (Oasis)
Like a number of singles released at the moment, this was originally scheduled to be a December release, Oasis' assault on the Christmas Number One slot. In the end the perhaps sensible decision was made to hold the track back until the new year when it would have a clear run at the top. So it proves, the track on Be Here Now that cried out to become a single, released here in a slightly edited form which fades before the song descends into the epic singalong that features on the album [The full version was on the CD and 12-inch, it was only the little-bought 7-inch single which had the "radio edit" which was promoed to stations in the hope they would not be put off by its near ten minute length]. The Be Here Now set has come in for a great deal of criticism since its release with the word 'disappointing' the most oft-echoed. As a whole that may be true but as with all Oasis songs, taken individually they all stand up as classic mini-masterpieces. Who cares that All Around The World is a slightly formulaic stadium anthem when in years to come it will be seen as a classic Number One single to rank with their very best? The second Number One hit from the album it is the fourth of their career and gives Oasis a remarkable record of consistency where Number One hits are concerned. They have now topped the charts in each of the last four calendar years 95, 96, 97 and 98. Such a feat is comparatively rare in modern times. The only other act in recent memory to duplicage this are Take That who had Number One hits in 1993-1996 inclusive. Kylie Minogue managed to reach Number One in 88,89 and 90 as did Madonna in 85, 86 and 87. Indeed during the 1980s acts such as the Pet Shop Boys and Wham also managed the hat trick as did many acts in the 1970s but the last act to top the charts four years running were the Beatles, way back in the 1960s. Indeed the fab four hold the all time record, boasting at least one Number One hit every year from 1963-1969 and given that Take That are now out of the running, Oasis represent the best chance any present act has of equalling that phenomenal feat.
2 NEVER EVER (All Saints)
Having topped the chart in its ninth week of release with its lowest weekly sale of all, it perhaps comes as no surprise that All Saints' tenure at the top was as brief as it was glorious. What is more curious is that it holds off the challenge of big new releases from the likes of Radiohead and Ian Brown to merely slide to Number 2. The current instability at the top of the charts calls to mind the record-breaking run of last year when the first seven weeks of the year saw seven successive Number One hits. So far this year we've had four - Spice Girls, Perfect Day, All Saints and Oasis and given that Oasis have never spent more than a single week at Number One don't be surprised if the run continues this year too.
4 NO SURPRISES (Radiohead)
This month the respected music magazine "Q" published the results of an extensive reader survey, aimed at discovering the 100 best albums of all time. Although such surveys are often heavily weighted in favour of the recent past it raised a fair few eyebrows to see Radiohead's latest opus OK Computer so far ahead of the rest at the head of the survey [Yes, remember when OK Computer being voted the best album of all time in Q was a shock rather than just tediously predictable?]. This single possibly gives an indication why. Like All Around The World it was scheduled to be a Christmas single but has been held back until now. No Surprises is, franly, beautiful. An exquisite, haunting melody cum lullaby it is easily one of the most beautiful records you are likely to hear this year. The third single from its parent album, it sails into the Top 10 just like Radiohead's three previous singles. Regular readers will know that I don't exactly count Radiohead as one of my favourite bands and indeed the more ludicrously overwrought tracks on OK Computer may well pale with time but if this goes down as one of their greatest ever hits there will be a certain sense of justice to it.
5 MY STAR (Ian Brown)
The hype surrounding this particular release has been such that I even ended up accusing Ian Brown of being a member of the Seahorses a few weeks ago. In actual fact the former members of the Stone Roses can be divided into two camps - John Squire (he of the Seahorses) and everyone else, for although this is notionally the debut solo single from the former Roses frontman the musicians that worked on the track bear a striking resemblance to many of his former bandmates. This would go some way to explaining the tone of the single, maybe a lesser track than a genuine Roses record but with the same half-dreaming, melodic ease that characterised the best band of the first part of the decade. Expect several more singles from Mr Brown over the coming months, maybe none quite as big as this one but guaranteed hits all the same.
11 STORY OF LOVE (OTT)
OTT have been part of the second division of boy bands for rather too long. Despite being no worse than contemporaries such as 911 the Irish group came under some criticism for their apparant aping of Boyzone (their debut single Let Me In was an Osmonds cover for heavens sake) and for their lack of good material. Of their three hits last year, the biggest was their August cover of All Out Of Love which briefly made Number 11. The new year arrives and possibly a new era for OTT for what they have here is the first great pop record of 1998. The writing has a lot to do with it, Spice Girls hitmaker Richard Stannard has teamed up with US songwriting legends George Merril and Shannon Rubican for this spice of pure pop perfection. No matter that it would have been a hit whoever sang it, OTT have been given the song and it charges into the Top 10 to equal their biggest hit to date. [One of the great 'forgotten' pop hits this one. And so timeless it could easily be a One Direction track].
12 TORN (Natalie Imbruglia)
Dropping out of the Top 10 for the first time since its release, Natalie Imbruglia's single this week became embroiled in the centre of a rather bizarre row. When Torn was first released the record company presented the single as a brand new track, written especially for her. In fact it was fairly common knowledge within the industry that it had been a minor Swedish hit two years ago for another singer in an almost identical arrangement, indeed Natatlie's version simply replaces the vocal on this 'original'. The pop gossip columns however did not know this and made a big splash about the 'deception', curious state of affairs which has even led to the rush release of the previous English version. The resultant furore led to several DJs (myself included) to point out an even older version. The song originated in 1993, performed by a Danish singer called Lis Sorensen. Back then the song was in Danish and was called Brand meaning Burned. The later English translation was done by Phil Thornally, leading to the version that Natalie Imbruglia was to eventually make a smash hit. No deception, no controversy, just a slow news time for the pop gossip pages.
13 TEMPERTEMPER (Goldie featuring Noel Gallagher) anr
The second hit in recent months for the undisputed King of Jungle. After teaming up with rap legend KRS-One for Digital back in November, Goldie matches the chart peak of that hit with this new hit. Musical inspiration is provided this time by Noel Gallagher who lends to the track the same manic distorted feedback that so helped the Chemical Brothers' Setting Sun become such a smash just over a year ago. Master of his art Goldie may well be but he is also the king of making an almighty racket and on the strength of this track could well reign for a long time to come.
16 ALL RIGHT ALL NIGHT (Peter Andre featuring Warren G)
As Prince Igor slides down the chart gradually, Warren G joins Noel Gallagher in becoming the first artist this year to have two Top 20 hits and in record breaking time too. It is as a result of this collaboration with Peter Andre, the Australian heartthrob who is rapidly discovering fame can be very fickle when you rely on teen adoration of your washboard stomach. Just over a year ago he was all but guaranteed a Number One with every release but now just creeps in the Top 20 with this 70s inspired track, based heavily on A Taste Of Honey's Boogie Oogie Oogie. A Number 16 entry will come as quite a disappointment to him, his last hit Lonely still made a creditable Number 6 and should this fail to progress it wil become his first hit to miss the Top 10 since Only One also made Number 16 in March 1996.
21 I REFUSE (Somore)
This is the second version of this track to chart in the last three weeks although the titles may confuse at first. Industry Standard were the first with Volume One (What You Want What You Need) and reached Number 34. Two weeks later here comes the other version, slightly retitled but still the same song, the debut hit for Somore. Near simultaneous cover versions of dance hits are quite rare, rarer still that two should become hits just weeks apart. The last such occurrance came in mid 1996 when Todd Terry's Keep On Jumping made Number 8 in a rush response to a Lisa Marie Experience cover which had peaked at Number 7 just two months before.
26 SANDS OF TIME (Kaleef)
Clearly fans of the theory that less is more, Kaleef [who have subtly changed their name from Kalipz to reflect what was hoped would be a more pop-oriented direction] notch up what is only their third hit single in the last three years. Their last two were in 1996 when Walk Like A Champion made Number 23 whilst a cover of the Strangers' Golden Brown made Number 22 just prior to Christmas that year. They begin 1998 in some style with this track, sampling heavily from Clannad's classic Theme From Harry's Game for a striking hit single.
30 I FEEL DIVINE (S-J)
A reader wrote to me during the week to puzzle at the apparant stagnation of the Top 40 at the moment. Certainly the past couple of years have seen a moving away from the trend of most of the last decade where the first few weeks in January would see an almost total clearout of pre-Christmas hits. Although three new entries in the Top 5 and a total of 11 new entries in this week's chart could hardly be called stagnation the lack of major new material for the start of the year has been somewhat startling. Consider even last year when January saw big new albums imminent from the likes of Blur and U2 with slow growers like the Texas album also released, compared with this year that seems almost an embarrasment of riches and the anguished cries from record retailers who have no major new product to push at present are growing ever louder. Still, these are the same retailers who complain about a fast moving chart and high turnover of stock but you have to admit they have a point. Expect things to pick up slightly over the coming weeks as most of the seasonal hits are well and truly on their way out. Heck, even the Elton John record is going into freefall.
33 FREE (THE MIXES) (Ultra Nate)
Truly it is a strange world. Ultra Nate's Free, one of the biggest and most enduring dance/pop hits of 1997 spent 14 weeks in the Top 40 from June onwards, selling over half a million copies in the process. Just a few short months later the track is back again in a new set of mixes. Now in all honesty I can never see the point of remix sets. Why buy a song again just because the drum beats are slightly different this time around? Nonetheless, this new package has sold enough to register on the Top 40, prolonging the life of what was always a marvellous track in a rather strange and unneccessary fashion.
36 THA DOGGFATHER (Snoop Doggy Dogg)
His first hit of 1998 but possibly the last from his current album, this minor Top 40 entry follows the four hit singles he had in 1997.