1 3 LIONS '98 (Baddiel/Skinner/Lightning Seeds)
The challenge of Fat Les is held off for yet another week and 3 Lions reigns supreme at Number One, surpassing the achievement of the original 1996 recording which could only manage a solitary week at the top before surrendering to the Fugees' Killing Me Softly - on both occasions it was at Number One. All kinds of facts and figures about the single have been flying around in the last week, most particularly the claim that it is the first track since the 1950s to reach Number One three times. As always the facts aren't quite as simple. Whilst it is true that this is the third time that Three Lions has been at Number One strictly speaking it is not the same record as the one which charted in 1996. When it comes to counting the number of hits that an artist has had the rules are quite clear: re-issues and remixes are not new hits but if an act has gone back into the studio to remake the record then it is a re-recording and is indeed a new hit. This is the case here, this is a complete re-recording of the 1996 single and is therefore a different record altogether. Rather than having made Number One for the third time Three Lions has actually just added itself to the ever growing list of tracks that have been Number One in two different versions, albeit this time by exactly the same artists, a distinction which, as I mentioned last week, they share with Cliff Richard (some people suggested that the two versions of Do They Know It's Christmas merited a mention here but there can be few who would argue that Band Aid and Band Aid II were anything more than two almost totally distinct acts with merely the name and the cause in common). Whilst we are arguing over these statistical semantics it is worth noting the misfortune of Tommy Edwards who made Number One in 1958 with It's All In The Game. Said record was also a new version, a stereo recording of the song that had given him a big American hit in 1951 - one year before the inception of the British charts, leaving us to speculate whether he could have become the first person to have two different Number One hits with the same song.
To further confuse the issue, the new version of Three Lions has now sold over 300,000 copies to add to the 800,000 shifted by the original. Therefore many will claim the record is now a million seller, an accolade which should of course go to the song, not the recording.
3 GHETTO SUPASTAR (THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE (Pras Michel)
The Fugees musical dynasty continues. After solo hits for Wyclef Jean and Lauryn Hill the third core member of the allstars steps forward for his first ever solo single. As always there is more of a Fugees connection than meets the eye, the single is produced by Wyclef Jean himself and note also one of the guest stars on this single, the biggest new hit of the week. Turning the song into a rap duet is Wu-Tang Clansman Ol' Dirty Bastard, yet another chart appearance for a member of the group who have never themselves had a Top 40 hit but have seen several of their members land solo hits in the UK charts.
6 LOST IN SPACE (Lighthouse Family)
Lighthouse Family singles have always been perfect soundtrack material as the use of tracks such as Lifted and Ocean Drive in all manner of TV commercials have proved. Now hot on the heels of High which soared to Number 4 just after Christmas is this new single which features prominently on the soundtrack of the forthcoming film of the same name. Puzzlingly it is not exactly vintage Lighthouse Family and whilst their tracks will always be laid back mellow masterpieces this single is so laid back you almost feel they were lying down to perform it. Nonetheless it gives them a third successive Top 10 hit from the album Postcards From Heaven.
9 LOOKING FOR LOVE (Karen Ramirez)
After a couple of minor singles which became dancefloor hits but little more Karen Ramirez suddenly charges into the Top 10 with a single that has picked up a great deal of pre-release airplay. This may have something to do with the quality of the song, Looking For Love being an old Everything But The Girl track and covered by Karen Ramirez in a Missing-style four on the floor club hit. Surprisingly, despite the quality of their songs over the years this is the first ever Ben Watt/Tracey Thorn song to be successfully covered by another artist. There are surely others to come.
11 DIVA (Dana International)
You guessed it, it is _that_ single. The frantic eurodisco song that all but ran away with the voting to win the Eurovision Song Contest earlier this year. More so than most Eurovision winning songs it was begging for international release as a result the transexual singer from Israel makes an impressive debut just outside the Top 10. In doing so Diva becomes far and away the most successful Eurovision winning song in this country for many years. Even the virtual monopoly of the Irish during the first part of the decade failed to produce many hit singles and the last Eurovision winner to reach the Top 40 was as long ago as 1993 when Niamh Kavanagh reached Number 24 with In Your Eyes. Dana International is set to become the first winner of the contest to reach the Top 10 since 1987 when Johnny Logan's Hold Me Now made Number 2. Despite Gina G's chart-topping performance in 1996, Number One hits as a result of the contest are still rarer with none at all since the halcyon days of the early 1980s when from 80-82 Johnny Logan (again), Bucks Fizz and Nicole all hit Number One with their winning entries.
13 GO DEEP (Janet Jackson)
The relentless parade of Janet Jackson singles continues. Go Deep is the fourth single to be released from her current album since October last year. It is the usual routine, Jam and Lewis swing, video on MTV in heavy rotation but by the looks of things it is set to be the first single from the album to fail to reach the Top 10.
17 HOW DO I LIVE (LeAnn Rimes)
Maybe on her way out now but she is still hanging on in there. This week is week Number 17 for LeAnn Rimes' trend-bucking single. It has now sold well over half a million copies and all of this without ever reaching the Top 5. The single has been in freefall for a number of weeks and now slumps to Number 17, the second time it has occupied this position and still its lowest chart placing.
20 ZORBA'S DANCE (LCD)
Hey, look at this. A novelty track that has no connection whatsoever with the world cup. The premise of the track is simple, a fun dance version of the famous classical piece, all set to a bubbly synthesized beat to create a track that will be beloved of mobile DJs from now until eternity. Although maybe an obvious choice as a novelty single there has only ever been one previous chart version of the piece, recorded by Marcello Minerbi in 1965 that orchestral version reached Number 6. [Promoted to buggery by four unfortunate actors whose job for the next two summers was to cart huge latex costumes around to every radio station-sponsored event across the country to perform the exact same routine. I hope they were paid well].
22 SHORTY (YOU KEEP PLAYIN' WITH MY MIND (Imajin featuring Keith Murray)
The first chart hit for Imajin and the first Top 40 appearance for the man who takes lead vocal. Keith Murray may be an unfamiliar name but he has had some single releases to his name in the past, reaching Number 59 with The Rhyme in November 1996.
23 NO MATTER WHAT I DO (Will Mellor)
TV actor Will Mellor activates stage 2 of his attempt to become a singing star with his second hit single. His first hit was a cover of Leo Sayer's When I Need You which peaked at Number 5 in February. This new single is an original song, hence maybe less sensation and whilst he has a not altogether unpleasant voice he will need better songs than this to return to the Top 10.
24 WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND (Tina Arena)
Brand new Andrew Lloyd-Webber musicals are always big events, both in a theatrical sense and a musical one too. The opus of each new spectacular can always be relied upon to produce at least one or two hit singles and so it has proved, right back to the early 1970s when I Don't Know How To Love Him became a minor hit for Yvonne Elliman. Think of a Lloyd-Webber musical and you can probably name a hit from it, Any Dream Will Do from Joseph, Memory from Cats, several from Phantom Of The Opera, Love Changes Everything from Aspects Of Love and of course not forgetting Evita which produced a hit single for Barbara Dickson in 1977 in the shape of Another Suitcase In Another Hall [as well as Don't Cry For Me Argentina and Oh What A Circus but they weren't important enough to mention clearly] and so too for Madonna in 1996 when the film of the musical gave her three hit singles. So now to the present day and the imminent opening of Whistle Down The Wind a long-awaited new production that marks the first collaboration between Lloyd-Webber and Jim Steinman. Although some of the songs from the production have already appeared in public (most notably When Children Rule The World which was a hit for the Red Hill Children in late 1996), this is the first official release from the show and marks the return to the chart of Tina Arena, almost two years since her last hit Sorrento Moon.
26 CLOSEST THING TO HEAVEN (Lionel Richie)
So sad, Lionel Richie used to be a genius but has clearly now turned into a production factory for rather tired ballads. The Motown legend returns to the chart after what is (for him) a relatively short absence, just over two years since his last Top 40 hit Don't Wanna Lose You which reached Number 17. Like that former hit, this is an undoubtedly well made but ultimately rather meaningless love ballad and certainly has little to do with the classic Kane Gang song of the same name. After so long away it is hardly a surprise that he should be struggling to have major hit singles but yet again the choice of material may be to blame here, it is surely no coincidence that his only Top 10 hit in the last 10 years was the dance-flavoured My Destiny which reached Number 7 in September 1992.
35 SECOND ROUND KO (Canibus)
Wyclef Jean has one hit single and two productions to his credit on the chart this week. Bandmate Pras Michel charts with one higher up the chart whilst just above his own hit single comes this debut rap hit for Canibus. Apparantly if you play all three simultaneously at the right speed you can just about here the entire population of the western world shouting MAKE ANOTHER BLOODY FUGEES ALBUM.
38 THE CITY IS MINE (Jay-Z featuring Blackstreet)
Most underrated and yet consistent of rap artists, Jay-Z charts his second hit single of the year following his Number 13 hit with Wishing On A Star earlier this year, the record that was notable for charting in a mix that barely featured him at all. Collaborators this time round are Blackstreet, this single coming hot on the heels of Eric Williams' vocal contribution to Queen Pen's All My Love. This is by no means the first time that Teddy Riley's group have been partnered by a rap star, Dr Dre joined them on No Diggity which reached Number 9 in October 1996.
39 PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC (Thunder)
Someday, someday Thunder will have a massive hit single but having waited eight years now it is looking less and less likely. Their second hit of 1998 marks the second time the veteran rock stars have chosen to cover a song by another artist. Following on from their Top 30 cover of Python Lee Jackson's In A Broken Dream in 1995 this is an almost note for note cover of the classic Wild Cherry song which reached Number 7 in 1976 and more recently had the misfortune to be covered by Vanilla Ice in a rap version which reached Number 10 in February 1991.