1 IT'S LIKE THAT (Run-DMC vs. Jason Nevins)
Even in the face of yet another surge from the Celine Dion record, the 15 year old Run-DMC track, given a new lease of life by Jason Nevins, holds firm at Number One. It is somewhat fitting that one of the original rap acts should finally have a chart-topping hit. Although rap singles have been charting since the start of the 1980s (if one takes the Sugarhill Gang as a starting point) it is only in recent years that rap tracks have been charting high enough to occasionally reach the top of the charts. The first ever Number One single to feature a full blown rap was Snap's The Power which topped the charts as late as March 1990 [a common belief of mine at this time, which was odd given New Edition's Candy Girl was a favourite of mine growing up and which holds a stronger claim to that distinction] although opinion is divided as to whether this was a proper rap single or just a dance track with rapping. If one takes that view then the first rap Number One proper came a few months later in July of that year when Partners In Kryme's Turtle Power hit the top for four weeks. Since then the floodgates have opened, Vanilla Ice, KLF, The Simpsons, Shamen, Culture Beat, Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Coolio, and Will Smith are just a few of the rap acts to top the charts, not to mention people like the Fugees and The Prodigy who use rapping ideas in their own tracks. The success of the Run DMC track has coincided with a burst of nostalgia for the 1980s and there is talk of further Run-DMC remixes and even a Beastie Boys revival...
3 LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU (Robbie Williams)
Despite Angels still selling in fairly large quantities (it dips two places to Number 23 this week) Robbie Williams has decided enough is enough and has pressed forward with the followup. This, the last single to be released from Life Thru A Lens was actually slated for a single release early last year. In the light of the somewhat lukewarm nature in which his early singles were received it was decided that the title may seem a little arrogant and so it has been held back until now. Thank goodness is all I can say as it would have been a crying shame to see this single go unappreciated. Let Me Entertain You is Robbie Williams at his rocking best, a storming track that owes a great deal to The Who's classic Pinball Wizard but is all the better for it. It smashes into the Top 3 to become Robbie's biggest hit single since Old Before I Die reached Number 2 at the start of 1997, a dramatic turnaround from when South Of The Border - the single released immediately before the now-legendary Angels - reached Number 14 before vanishing from the chart a fortnight later.
4 STOP (Spice Girls)
Alas then twas not to be. I've been saying for a long time that the day had to come when a Spice Girls track failed to reach Number One. That day has now clearly come as Stop, denied last week by Run-DMC, fails to sustain a challenge and now starts to slip down the chart. It is worth reflecting on what has come before. An unprecedented and surely unrepeatable career-opening string of six Number One hits, far and away the best start to a chart career by any act ever. To have six Number Ones in a row would be impressive enough at any time in your career and indeed the Spice Girls are only the second act ever to manage such a run. Only the Beatles can match that - they had six in a row between 1967 and 1969 and even this was after their astonishing 11 in a row which lasted from 1963 to 1966. The track that disturbed that sequence was Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever which famously peaked at Number 2 behind Englebert Humperdinck's Release Me. It is worth remembering that this event in early 1967 caused some people to predict that The Beatles were a spent force, in much the same way that the death of the Spice Girls phenomenon has been reported any number of times. All artists have temporary blips - even just a few years ago Take That had a single Love Ain't Here Anymore peak surprisingly at Number 4 - had it hit the top they would have ended their career with a 9-single run of Number One hits.
5 NO NO NO (Destiny's Child)
[Superstar debut klaxon! Although the first ever chart appearance of Beyonce, Kelly and the others didn't merit much anaylsis at the time] A rather curious new entry this, the Texas R&B group charging straight into the Top 5 with virtually no mainstream airplay behind them at all. The presence of the Fugees' Wycleff Jean on the track is undoubtedly a selling point but aside from that point the single plods lumpily along in a manner which oridinarily would have guaranteed it a brief, inauspicious run inside the Top 30.
7 HERE'S WHERE THE STORY ENDS (Tin Tin Out featuring Shelley Nelson)
Finally one of the best dance acts around have a major chart hit, and not before time as well. Since they first charted in August 1994 with a remix of Sweet Tee's The Feeling they have produced a string of impressive singles which have mysteriously failed to sell in vast quantities. True, their galloping remake of Sandie Shaw's Always Something There To Remind Me made Number 14 in 1995 but recently they have struggled, All I Wanna Do reached Number 31, the marvellous Dance With Me with none other than Tony Hadley on lead vocals bombed out at 35 whilst Strings For Yasmin an acknowledged club classic, also disappointed at Number 31, despite being used by Sky TV in the best programme trailer ever made. Enough dwelling on the past, their new single should turn them into stars. Singer Shelley Nelson has been enlisted for a wonderfully crafted cover of a track that first appeared on the debut album for The Sundays back in 1989. Never released as a single by the band it has remained largely forgotten until now. The new version crashes straight into the Top 10 and becomes a far bigger hit than any release by the Sundays themselves, their biggest hit was last summers Summertime which reached Number 15.
8 ANGEL STREET (M People)
Disappointing the new album may well be but it was still something of a shock to see M People's last single Fantasy Island peak at a lowly Number 33 at the start of December last year, particularly as its predecessor Just For You had managed a much more respectable Number 8. They had have small hits before, Love Rendezvous only made Number 32 in late 1995, but it was the fourth single from its parent album not the second. Happily this seems to have been a temporary blip as Heather Small and Mike Pickering bounce back with this breezy pop song. It may help to point out that Angel Street is as close as you can get to a stereotypical M People song - indeed we seem to have heard most of it before. Isn't the rhythm similar to One Night In Heaven, wasn't that sax figure used in Search For The Hero and surely the chorus is musically identical to their little-known 1992 hit Excited. No matter it still sounds great and is their 10th Top 10 hit single.
10 FATHER (LL Cool J)
Whilst fellow rappers Run-DMC sit proudly at the top of the chart, Def Jam stalwart LL Cool J continues his current impressive run of British chart hits. The autobiographical Father becomes his fourth successive Top 10 hit and remember one of those was a Number One - Ain't Nobody which topped the chart just over a year ago. It is far and away his best run of hit singles ever as he has also now had six successive Top 20 hits. At the start of the decade he struggled to make the Top 40 at all.
11 BEAT GOES ON (All Seeing I)
More dance now, this interesting track from techno-boffins All Seeing I. Beat Goes On stands out from the usual crowd of dance singles by way of its ecletic choice of samples. Play it to any fan of the Buddy Rich Orchestra and you will see what I mean.
12 THIS IS HARDCORE (Pulp)
After the short Top 10 run of Help The Aged Pulp return with the title track from their forthcoming new album, the followup to the award-winning Different Class. Something tells me that massive hits from the new album will be thin on the ground. This Is Hardcore is what some would regard as classic Pulp, albeit with slightly more musicianship and better production than their famous early singles. With a nod in the direction of every track James Barry has ever scored, this is an epic account of Jarvis Cocker's fascination with a hotel porn channel, brilliantly scripted as ever and well worth the effort of listening to several times. This is the problem, I love Pulp tracks that have depth to them like this but without the anthemic melodies of songs such as Common People and Misshapes they will struggle to sell in vast quantities. Hence this Number 12 position and I suspect a very short run in the Top 40. The new album is just as brilliant but any record that needs to be heard at least 5 times to be appreciated will never be a major pop hit.
19 WEIRD (Hanson)
The law of diminishing returns ensures that Hanson's fourth single release becomes their smallest to date and the first to not make the Top 5. It is now 9 months since MMMBop hit Number One. Heres hoping that any new material from the lads inspires the same kind of joy.
21 DISREMEMBERANCE (Dannii)
The third single in the current sequence from the youngest Minogue sister and again the smallest so far. This might be because it is one of her most lacklustre singles to date and certainly not a patch on efforts such as All I Wanna Do. Ironically big sis Kylie who slides this week to Number 33 is growing stronger with every successive release. Then again both have other careers outside music but whilst Dannii can always get a job presenting TV shows, Kylie has quickly realised that really bad films with Jean Claude Van Damme do not a megastar make.
24 I'M GONNA MISS YOU FOREVER (Aaron Carter)
The third and smallest single to date from the best advert for birth control since the St Winifred's School Choir.
27 NOT ALONE (Bernard Butler)
The followup single to Stay, the second solo release from the man who for the moment will remain the former Suede guitarist. This single is no less wonderful that its Top Ten predecessor but has received lesser attention. Never mind, look how long it took Paul Weller to be appreciated as a solo artist.
31 SANTA MARIA (DJ Milano featuring Sam Fox)
Mike Stock and Matt Aitken must have thought they were onto a winner when they co-wrote Santa Maria. As near as you could get to Europop by Numbers, bouncy, joyful, totally inane and surely a massive hit. They first recorded it with Tatjana Simic, a former nude model from Croatia. The single was a hit all over Europe in early summer 1995 and was set to do the same here when it was famously removed from the chart under suspicion of chart hyping. Once the investigations and legal threats were over the single was cleared to chart once more but by now it was September 1996, nobody cared anymore and the single bombed out at Number 40. The song however refuses to die and has now been covered by another woman more famous for her body than her singing, former Page 3 star Samantha Fox. Fox was one of the first topless models to try to reinvent herself as a singer and indeed had a series of hits in the late 1980s, many of which went Top 10 including Nothings Gonna Stop Me Now from 1987 which was produced by Stock Aitken and Waterman - two of which of course are behind Santa Maria and have a hand in this new version. I'd love the song to be a massive hit but the timing clearly needs to be right and late March is hardly the time for a track that conjures up images of long, hot summer nights - hence the lowly chart position once more. As a further postscript to the bizarre history of this track, Sam Fox's version was at one stage threatened by a rival cover by another soft porn star, blonde model Vicky Lee. Fortunately her version was apparantly so awful it was decided that it was best kept under wraps.
38 WHERE DO I STAND? (Montrose Avenue)
The debut chart hit from Montrose Avenue whose record company feel will be the next Kula Shaker. Distinct from most bands as they have no less than three separate singers who all take turns with songs. Like the Beautiful South really, except the guitars are louder.
39 DREAM ANOTHER DREAM (Rialto)
Will Rialto ever become stars? Not content with releasing Monday Morning 5:19 last year to rank as one of the best singles ever, they followed it up with Untouchable which ran it a close second. That's my opinion anyway, the public at large disagreed, rewarding them with Number 37 and Number 20 chart peaks respectively. Now their third single, possibly lacking the brilliance of the other two, scrapes in at the bottom end of the chart suggesting that it may not be until their second album that the world wakes up to one of this year's best new bands. I can wait.