1 BELIEVE (Cher)
It is a record-breaking week on the UK Top 40 with the Top Ten comprised of three of last week's hits and an astonishing seven new entries. It is therefore all the more impressive to relate that they have all been outsold by the record that has outperformed all comers in every one of the five weeks it has been on release. Believe now matches the five-week run of Cher's only other solo Number One hit, The Shoop Shoop Song which was a hit in 1991. Clearly her run has to come to an end sometime between now and Christmas but with sales of Believe still far ahead of any rivals there is always the chance that we could be about to see the longest run at Number One of the year.
2 UNTIL THE TIME IS THROUGH (Five)
This week's winners of the race to sit at Number One behind Cher are Five, the teen group making their contribution to the race to have the biggest slushy Christmas hit. The single establishes them as one of the most prolific acts of 1998, they began the year with their first hit Slam Dunk (Da Funk) still in the Top 20 and now Until The Time Is Through becomes their fifth hit single and matches the peak of their last hit Everybody Get Up as their biggest to date. As I mentioned above the single is a typically seasonal ballad with saccharine levels turned to the max. The strategy of releasing your slow singles for Christmastime has in recent years turned into something of a cliche and indeed the number of acts slowing the tempo down in the hope of tugging a few heartstrings this year is truly mind-boggling. Recent years have shown that a ballad doesn't necessarily do your Christmas chart chances any harm (the Spice Girls now appear to have it down to a fine art) but when everyone is releasing slow songs it becomes ever harder for one to stand out from the crowd. By releasing this single this early Five are clearly not looking to be Number One for Christmas, the gamble here being that the single can sustain its sales for the next four or five weeks to still be among the big sellers when the singles market goes through the roof as the big day approaches. Time will tell.
3 I'M YOUR ANGEL (Celine Dion and R Kelly)
Barely a fortnight since R Kelly charted with Home Alone (which remains on the chart this week, sliding to Number 40) he is back with another hit single, this time taking second place billing to Celine Dion. The single is taken from two different albums, both R Kelly's own and Dion's forthcoming Christmas offering. The stirring ballad is in a similar vein to Tell Him, the single which saw Celine Dion team up with Barbara Streisand exactly a year ago and comes as the year draws to a close with no single looking likely to challenge My Heart Will Go On as the biggest seller of the year. Notwithstanding the comparative commercial failure of her recent album of French songs, this single will round off 1998 with Celine Dion confirmed as the undisputed Queen of MOR.
4 UP AND DOWN (Vengaboys)
Easily the most genuinely in from nowhere entries of the week is this largely instrumental dance single from the Vengaboys. Under any other circumstances it would be a nothing song, just a simple bouncing synthesised rhythm track with the occasional intoned female vocal but just occasionally such a novelty record can hit the right note - and this is one such occasion as the Top 5 entry so neatly illustrates, even if it is unlikely to become one of the years biggest sellers. [History records they would only get bigger and better over the next few years].
6 SO YOUNG (Corrs)
After the Corrs experiences this year one should never underestimate the power of the remix. Twelve months ago the Irish family group were a well-kept secret. Their album Talk On Corners was selling slowly and unspectacularly and their latest single I Never Loved You Anyway was failing to dent the charts despite saturation play on MTV and VH1 and more enlightened radio stations. Then in May came the remixes and so too did the hits, their cover of Fleetwood Mac's Dreams reaching Number 6 whilst a Tin Tin Out remix of What Can I Do (which had already missed the Top 40 in its original version in March) became their biggest hit to date when it made Number 3 in August. All of this has called attention to the album which recently notched up a grand total of 1 million sales. Just in time for Christmas comes this latest single, again lifted from Talk On Corners and again remixed, this time gently and subtly by K-Klass. The new treatment give the song a beef that was lacking in the original arrangement but is by no means as drastic as the transformation effected to What Can I Do. Needless to say it is another irresistible pop song, well deserving of a place in the Top 10.
8 MOVE MANIA (Sash featuring Shannon)
Something of a sensation here as Move Mania becomes the first ever Sash single not to go Top 3 upon release. After five successive singles, four of which landed at Number 2 first week out there is maybe a hint here that the formula is wearing thin and this could well end up his lowest charting single to date. Vocals this time are provided by a dance legend rather than an unknown newcomer. Shannon had a string of hits in this country in the early 1980s, her most famous being Let The Music Play, a Number 14 hit from 1984.
9 FROM THIS MOMENT ON (Shania Twain)
Shania Twain rounds off her year with a third UK Top 40 hit and her biggest to date, eclipsing the Number 10 peak scaled by You're Still The One back in February. 1998 has been far and away one of the most successful years country music has had in this country for over a decade with LeAnn Rimes, Faith Hill and The Mavericks all joining Shania Twain in the mini-invasion of the UK charts. The irony is of course that all have had hits with what is termed New Country and owe their sound more to AOR melodies and production than most people's perception of a Country and Western act.
10 DREAMING (Ruff Driverz presents Arrola)
Growing in stature with every release, Ruff Driverz not only have their third Top 40 single of the year but also the biggest so far, reflecting the upward trend of their chart placings which have included a Number 30 hit for Don't Stop and the Number 19 peak of Deeper Love in May. Needless to say they also help establish a new record, becoming the seventh new single to chart inside the Top 10. So dramatic is the clear out that only Cher, Steps and The Tamperer survive from last weeks ten biggest selling singles.
16 BLAME IT ON THE BOOGIE (Clock)
Is there much point continuing to be rude about Clock singles? They keep being released and keep making reassuringly brief appearances in the Top 40. Their third hit single of 1998 returns to their usual formula, taking a classic dance single (in this case the Jacksons' 1978 Number 8 hit) and turning it into a soulless piece of synthesised pop that has less artistic value than the plastic used to produce the CDs. As always the team behind Clock must be given their due, since their first Top 40 hit The Rhythm in 1994 they have clocked (sorry) up 13 Top 40 hits including a mid-1995 run of three Top 10 singles. Although Blame It On The Boogie is regarded as Jacksons single they did not write it and were by no means the first to record it. The song's author was the unrelated Mick Jackson whose own version charted just a week after the Jacksons cover and closely matched its chart performance, peaking at Number 13. The song was also covered in the late 1980s, teen trio Big Fun kicked off their 15 minutes of fame by taking a faithful version of the song to Number 4 in September 1989.
17 HAPPY HOME (2 Pac)
The posthumous hits from 2 Pac just keep on coming. This is now the fourth hit single for the late rapper in 1998, a full two years now since his tragic murder. Following his duet with Notorious BIG, Runnin' which made Number 15 he now lands in the Top 20 with this new single, one of his last ever studio recordings incidentally, giving him a seventh Top 20 hit.
20 THE SILENCE (Mike Koglin)
Instrumental techno returns to the UK charts with this debut single for Mike Koglin. As the title suggests the single is a cover of Depeche Mode's 1990 Top Ten hit Enjoy The Silence, devoid of its vocals save for a sole female voice intoning the title it is quite a marvellous production and a testament to the strength of Depeche Mode's own melodies which are sometimes lost in the rather ponderous nature of their own productions.
23 IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND (Stars On 54)
There is something of a dance supergroup behind this single as Ultra Nate contributes vocals to a track that also features the talents of Amber and Jocelyn Enriquez. The 70s-styled single is taken from the soundtrack of the forthcoming film "54", the story of the Studio 54 club from New York, but works as a rather wonderful single in its own right and a production which is surely worthy of much more than this minor chart entry. The title of the act is an undoubted nod to Stars On 45, the Beatles and Abba medley singles produced by Jaap Eggermont in 1981 and which topped the charts worldwide during the course of that year. For some reason a number of typesetters appear to be confused by this so don't be surprised to see the single credited to Stars On 45 in some other less reliable listing sources.
32 BECAUSE I GOT IT LIKE THAT (Jungle Brothers)
The Jungle Brothers' mini revival continues with this long-overdue chart appearance for one of their most famous singles. Because I Got It Like That was a huge American club hit exactly ten years ago and first appeared on their debut album Straight Out The Jungle. Although it never charted first time around this new remix helps the classic house track into the Top 40, hot on the heels of the Top 30 remix of I'll House You. This, combined with their Number 18 hit Jungle Brother back in May has made 1998 the most commercially successful year ever for the often underrated New York masters of hip-house.
36 BATTLEFLAG (Lo Fidelity Allstars/Pigeonhead)
Finally a second Top 40 hit for the Lo Fidelity Allstars to follow up the Number 30 hit Vision Incision back in May. Battleflag actually isn't one of their songs at all but was initially recorded by Sub Pop act Pigeonhead. The Lo-Fi's remixed the track and it found its way onto a much sought-after white label 12 inch at the back end of last year. The track now gets a proper commercial release with the contribution of the Lo Fidelity Allstars now recognised as the main piece of production, hence Pigeonhead's downgraded artist credit, effectively they are now just guest stars on their own record.