1 GIRLFRIEND (Billie)
Having become in July the youngest person to have a Number One single for several decades Billie Piper now writes herself into another page of chart history with her second single as it too shoots straight to the top of the charts. Just like B*witched a fortnight ago she now becomes one of a select few to have topped the chart with her first two singles but is only the third to have gone straight to Number One on both occasions - Robson and Jerome and of course B*witched are the other two. Having turned 16 a few weeks ago she is still one of the youngest people to reach Number One but by no means the youngest to have had two bestsellers. That honour goes once more to Helen Shapiro whose third single Walkin' Back To Happiness hit the top in October 1961, a fortnight after her 15th birthday. As for the single itself it maybe lacks the energy of Because We Want To and sounds in places like it could have been an American pop hit ten years ago. Once again eyebrows will be raised at the frantic turnover at the top end of the chart as Girlfriend becomes the 25th new Number One hit of the year. Personally I prefer to marvel once more at the way anticipation for new singles by even acts such as Billie is built up. When I was 13 I would have been hard pressed to name any record outside the Top 10. This week's chart is evidence of several thousand 13 year olds being informed enough to have bought this single the very moment it was released.
2 ROLLERCOASTER (B*witched)
OK, in the light of the flood of mail I received last week regarding the chart-topping achievements of B*witched and Irish acts in general last week let me clarify the facts that I inadvertently managed to cloud. As is now definitely the case, the four girls have spent four weeks at Number One in 1998, more than any other act save for Run-DMC but it is an honour they share with two others, All Saints having notched up four weeks (all of them non-consecutive) with their three chart-toppers this year whilst Boyzone's 3 weeks at the top with No Matter What added to their seven days with All That I Need in May to give them a four-week total. Furthermore the two Number One hits from Boyzone mean that there have indeed been four Number One hits from Irish acts this year - more than any other in chart history although the suggestion by one correspondent that Boyzone's contribution to Perfect Day in January should mean they are to be credited with a fifth is possibly pushing the point slightly.
3 GANGSTER TRIPPIN' (Fatboy Slim)
Hot on the heels of the first Fatboy Slim album (home of the June Number 6 hit The Rockefeller Skank) Norman Cook is preparing to release the second from his current hitmaking alter-ego. This new single which turns out to be even bigger than his first is yet another masterpiece of production, blending ancient ska samples with hip-hop rhythms. Norman Cook is easily one of the most-travelled artists of his generation having now had Top 10 hit singles with The Housemartins, Beats International, Freakpower and now as Fatboy Slim as well as several Top 20 entries with Pizzaman. I won't pretend for a minute this is my personal cup of tea but just as Rockefeller Skank eventually grew on you, this single has the same kind of charm and after all, can you really knock a Top 3 hit single?
5 SMOKE (Natalie Imbruglia)
Rather surprisingly it has taken almost a year for this track to appear as a single, next to Torn it was easily one of the best tracks from Natalie Imbruglia's album. Now it finally appears it marks a turnaround in chart form for the Australian after her last hit wishing I was there could only manage a Number 19 peak. This return to form can be attributed to her newfound dancefloor appeal with this single complemented by remixes from the like of Alastair Whitehead and Way Out West and as a result she has her first Top 10 hit since Big Mistake in March this year. All eyes now on her second album and the question of whether she can match the global smash she managed with her debut.
6 THE FIRST NIGHT (Monica)
Just as her singing partner found her solo career given new impetus following the global smash of The Boy Is Mine, so too Monica has her biggest ever solo hit, a mere seven days after Brandy charted with Top Of The World. Ultimately Monica has to settle for the smaller hit but this is to take nothing away from this track, recently involved in a battle with Aerosmith at the top of the US charts. It is based on the Diana Ross classic Love Hangover which was first released in 1976, making Number 10 in this country. Prior to this Monica had never progressed beyond the Top 30, her only previous chart entry being For You I Will which made Number 27 in May 1997.
14 MY FAVOURITE GAME (Cardigans)
This is a band with a point to prove, the point being that they are more than just a one-song band. That one song was of course Lovefool, a minor chart entry when first released in 1996 but then a worldwide smash a year later when it was re-released after appearing in the film of Romeo and Juliet. Stunning though it was it was largely atypical of its parent album First Band On The Moon, hence the failure of the follow-up Your New Cuckoo to progress beyond Number 35 in September last year. After a year away the Swedish group return with a brand new track from a brand new album and may well have proved their point with a strong Top 20 entry (and only their second ever such hit) for My Favourite Game. It represents a slight shifting of styles with stronger guitars and a less hook-laden chorus but if nothing else this should cause people to sit up and take notice of them. Let's just hope the new album contains more of the same.
15 SPECIAL (Garbage)
After a brace of Number 9 hits this year Garbage settle down into Top 20 charting territory with the third single to be lifted from their album which brings their run of four successive Top 10 singles to an end. They haven't charted lower than Number 10 since Queer made Number 13 in December 1995.
16 THE MAGIC IS THERE (Daniel O'Donnell)
Record companies somewhat cynically refer to it as the Granny Pound, the disposable income of more mature adults which is traditionally only spent in record stores at Christmastime. The past few years have seen plenty of occasions when the Granny Pound has been lured into record stores at other times of the year, Robson and Jerome singles were a classic example whilst the summer success of Jane McDonald's album was seen as a great triumph for making pop music appeal to an older audience outside of the winter holiday period. Daniel O'Donnell singles and albums fit into the same niche, hence the occasional chart appearance for the balladeering Irishman. This is his second Top 40 hit of the year, following Give A Little Love which gave him his biggest ever hit and took him into the Top 10 for the first time in April. This is now his ninth Top 40 hit since 1992 and whilst a lengthy chart run for this track is highly unlikely bear in mind that it will only take an 'ironic' dance remix of one of his tracks to suddenly make him credible. Leo Sayer could teach him a great deal.
22 GOT TO GET UP (Afrika Bambaataa vs Carpe Diem)
Ladies and gentlemen, we are blessed with the presence of a legend. Founding Father of hip-hop Afrika Bambaata returns to the UK chart with his first hit single for seven years. Actually his last single was the same as this one, Got To Get Up is a reworking by Carpe Diem of Just Get Up And Dance which was first released in 1991, inspired goodness knows how many samples and reached Number 45. After the required period of popularity in Ibiza this summer the track now gets a commercial release and lands just outside the Top 20. It is over ten years since Afrika Bambaataa was this high in the charts. His biggest ever hit came in April 1988 when he teamed up with UB40 for Reckless which reached Number 17. Interestingly his most famous recording, the genre-defining Planet Rock has never been a big UK hit, reaching Number 53 in 1982.
27 DISCO COP (Blue Adonis)
Gosh this is good, a dance single hailing from Belgium that is designed to be a recreation of classic disco albeit with a 90s flavour. Credit for some of this must go to Patrick De Meyer who was responsible for most of Technotronic's hits in the early 90s.
29 BIG NIGHT OUT (Fun Lovin' Criminals)
After all the hype surrounding the release of their current album the Fun Lovin' Criminals seem to be finding things hard going. The Number 18 peak of their Barry White tribute Love Unlimited was widely seen as a disappointment and the performance of this new single does little inspire confidence in their commercial appeal. It is a shame as Big Night Out is once more an inspired piece of production, this time based around a sample from Tom Petty's classic American Girl (a 1977 Top 40 hit). There is no reason why this shouldn't be Top 10, aside from the fact that it is not being bought in the required amounts. Maybe if they were all 16 year old girls...
32 THEY DON'T KNOW (Jon B)
The first Top 40 outing for rising R&B star Jon B, a rather wonderful track that is aided by the innovative production that adds an acoustic guitar to the usual mix of processed effects in much the same manner as Usher's You Make Me Wanna. As always this low chart entry may well be all that the single can hope for but the single is still something of a gem.
36 GOOD TO BE ALIVE (DJ Rap)
The former glamour model turned DJ is discovering that hype alone is often not enough to ensure chart success. This is the second DJ Rap single to chart this year, the first being Bad Girl which reached Number 32 in July. Here was me thinking that having the looks of a supermodel and having once been photographed in your underwear was the key to success in this life.
39 SINNER (Neil Finn)
Timed nicely to coincide with his current UK tour, former Crowded House man Neil Finn notches up his second Top 40 single of the year with this track, the follow-up to his Number 26 hit She Will Have Her Way which charted in June.