1 ROLLERCOASTER (B*witched)
They make it look easy don't they? Just over three months since the four girls from Ireland took the UK by storm with C'est La Vie their second single repeats the feat and crashes straight to the top of the chart. It continues this year's frantic turnover at the top of the chart, the fifth brand new Number One in as many weeks and the 24th chart-topper of the year to equal last years total with three months still to go. Whilst C'est La Vie went on to sell over 700,000 copies and become one of the top ten biggest-selling singles of the year this new song may struggle to do that, Rollercoaster being a more understated and less immediate song but with a chorus that still gradually burrows into your brain as only a great pop record can. The girls are now the third act this year to have two Number One hits and furthermore have now become one of a select few acts to have their first two singles to go to Number One. B*witched are the 19th such act to do so and are one of many to join the list in the past couple of years - an era which has seen acts such as the Spice Girls, Gary Barlow, Aqua and most recently Baddiel/Skinner and the Lightning Seeds achieve this double. All eyes now on their next single which may see them become only the seventh act in history to score a Number One with their first three hits.
2 PERFECT 10 (Beautiful South)
It was summer 1989 when former Housemartins members Paul Heaton and Dave Rotheray unveiled the lineup and first single from The Beautiful South, their new musical project together. Could anyone have predicted that almost ten years later the band would still be going strong? Over the last decade they have produced a collection of songs that most bands would kill for, intensely hummable pop tunes but always with a lyrical bite that (if this isn't mixing one metaphor too many) always manages to hit home. After a gap of two years they are set to release a new album and Perfect 10 is the new single and is a good forecast of some great songs to come, a sly look at British size obsession which sees Paul Heaton do his best Elvis Presley impression on a blues-based tune that rapidly turns into another killer pop chorus. Most impressively of all the song has at a stroke become one of their biggest hits ever. Far and away their highest ever chart entry it is only their third Top 3 single. Both the others came many years ago, their debut hit Song For Whoever reaching Number 2 whilst A Little Time remains their biggest hit, having topped the chart in November 1990. For all their massive album sales and their songs which are part of popular culture it is only recently that their singles sales have started to reflect this. After 16 Top 40 hits this is only their sixth Top 10 single.
3 DOO WOP (THAT THING) (Lauryn Hill)
It has been a somewhat crazy week for new releases as a glance at the bottom end of the chart will show. Crazier still for the biggest new singles of the week which all shoulder existing hits out of the way to give the chart 3 new entries in the Top 3 for only the fourth time in chart history. Although it had a substantial lead over the Beautiful South for most of the week, Lauryn Hill's single has to take third place in the end but even that cannot take anything away from this achievement. The mere presence of the Fugees' singer in the Top 3 means that the superstar band have managed a clean sweep in 1998. Two years after their acclaimed debut all three members have now had solo Top 3 hits within a few months of one another. First was Wyclef Jean with Gone Til November in May to be followed in July by Pras Michel with Ghetto Supastar. Now it is the turn of Ms Hill, back from her extended musical sabbatical after having a baby and with a delightful half-sung half-rapped single that stirs in elements of classic soul as well as the genre-defining hip-hop sound that is characteristic of every Fugees record you care to name. The first single from a forthcoming solo album it is by no means the first solo single she has released, The Sweetest Thing effectively being her first non-Fugees hit, despite the fact that it was a one-off release of a track that was bounced from the Fugees album and was simply credited to her alone.
15 JESUS SAYS (Ash)
It is something of a week for long-awaited comebacks. Just as the Beautiful South above them and Terrorvision lower down have released their first singles for several months so too Ash land back in the Top 40 for the first time since their single A Life Less Ordinary made Number 10 in October last year. The main attraction of the band when they first charted in 1995 was their relative youth (still waiting for their a-level results when their single Girl From Mars hit the Top 20) and so even now they are babies compared to many other bands. Happily this youthfulness spills over into their music and Jesus Says is every bit as appealing as past releases from the band who now sound more and more like punk throwbacks with an added obsession with sci-fi. Their chart positions speak for themselves, this is now their sixth successive Top 20 hit.
17 BEACHBALL (Nalin and Kane)
In a week that sees the bottom end of the chart flooded with dance hits of varying quality it is full credit to Nalin and Kane that Beachball has risen above the melee to reach such lofty chart heights. Another of these singles that is slightly longer in the tooth than people might release, this instrumental was given a new lease of life by popularity in Ibiza over the summer, hence the re-release and subsequent charting of the single this autumn.
18 ADIA (Sarah McLachlan)
A great deal of anticipation surrounded the UK release of Adia, the debut hit from Sarah McLachlan. Much of this stemmed from the way the laidback understated song had shot into the Top 3 in America, a refreshing change from the R&B dominated nature of the Hot 100 at present. Over here mainstream pop radio has shied away from it to a large extent and the bulk of its support has come from radio stations targetted to more mature audiences. Ironically it is in the somewhat frantic and eclectic climate of the UK charts that the single may fail to stand out as much as it does in America so don't expect any more Top 3 heroics from the Canadian, pleasant though the track may be.
20 FROM RUSH HOUR WITH LOVE (Republica)
Saffron is back so be careful. A great deal of attention has be focused on the return of Republica following their acclaimed debut album in 1997 and now-classic singles Ready To Go and Drop Dead Gorgeous. For this new single all the elements are intact, driving pop-rock allied to a thumping dance beat but it is sad to relate that despite the punning title this new single lacks something of the magic of earlier releases and certainly come nowhere near the commercial appeal that made past singles such airplay staples. I'll reserve judgement until I hear the new album properly but my lukewarm reaction to the single is reflected in the chart placing - scraping into the Top 20 compared to the Number 7 peak of Drop Dead Gorgeous in May 1997.
21 THE WAY (Fastball)
For the sake of honesty I will come right out and say that I love this single to bits, so of course it is going to get a glowing write-up. The debut single from Fastball has been a surprise addition to the playlists of both MTV and commercial radio and has benefitted accordingly both here and all over Europe. The narrative-based country-rock single sounds like nothing else in the charts at present and with every successive listen sounds like the best song Tom Petty never wrote. For it to become a massive pop smash is perhaps a little unlikely but to see it so far up the chart at all is a very welcome sight indeed. [Another of those "half remembered" singles, instantly familiar when you hear it but precious few able to actually identify it by name].
23 JOSEPHINE (Terrorvision)
I've said before that the wonderful thing about living near to where a famous band was formed means that virtually everyone you meet claims to have been friends at school with them. Bradford's finest make a welcome chart return after an 18 month absence. Always managing to tread a fine line between commercialism and credible rock this is classic Terrorvision, the chorus always threatening to break out into a singalong, possibly thanks to the presence of none other than Edwin Collins in the producers chair. They possibly could have expected better than a Number 23 entry, after all their last single Easy made Number 12 in January 1997 and previous singles from their last album had made the Top 10. Time will tell if this is just a one-off slump in form.
28 SEARCHING FOR A SOUL (Conner Reeves)
He may be yet to prove his worth commercially as one of the countries hottest soul talents but Conner Reeves has the respect of a great many people for the music he has produced over the past year or so. This is his fourth chart single, his second this year and perhaps disappointingly his lowest charting to date, landing well short of the Top 20 placings achieved by hits such as Earthbound and Read My Mind. In a way this is quite a shame as Searching For A Soul is easily one of his most accessible singles to date, co-written as it is by none other than Charles and Eddie.
29 THE DON (187 Lockdown)
This is the third hit this year for 187 Lockdown and as it turns out is set to be the smallest, both Kung-Fu and the re-released Gunman having made the Top 20 in past months.
31 THE FUTURE OF THE FUTURE (STAY GOLD) (Deep Dish with Everything But The Girl)
Stay Gold was the original title of this track, a creation of US duo Deep Dish. Released in October 1996 the track landed at Number 41 on the chart but failed to progress any further. When putting together an album earlier this year the pair elected to revisit their earlier hit and invited Everything But The Girl to add a vocal track to it. As a result the track is now The Future Of The Future, a somewhat enchanting Drum N' Bass track featuring Tracy Thorn's distinctive vocals and which stands comparison next to past EBTG hits such as Walking Wounded and Wrong. Maybe not the big hit they had hoped for but as hits lower down the chart prove, there is nothing to stop a new remix in 18 months time.
33 NO TENGO DINERO (Los Umbrellos)
Before T-Spoon came along this single was set to be the big party smash of the late summer. No Tengo Dinero has been something of a worldwide phenomenon in 1998, a smash all over Europe and perhaps most astonishingly of all a largish hit in America where it sold over half a million copies. As a result the presence of the track so low down the charts comes as something of a surprise. Part of the reason may be the presence high up the chart of Sex On The Beach - maybe people can only relate to one Eurodisco novelty at a time. I suspect one other important factor is the delay in bringing the single out. Originally it was pegged for release in the middle of August which prompted the record company to license the track to appear on a number of chart- and dance-related compilations. Most notably the track appeared on Now That's What I Call Music 40 at the end of July and so given that the single has been freely available on an album which has sold over 900,000 copies so far, is it any wonder there are few people left over with an interest in buying the track as a single now it is finally released?
[An otherwise innocuous write-up of a low charting single managed to provoke the first ever formal complaint a chart commentary received, Los Umbrellos' label objecting to the insinuation that the track's appearance on a Now album two months ahead of release damaged its chart chances. Whilst acknowledging that suggesting the compilation had shifted 900K was over-egging things a little, my editors and I fired back that a single which had sold a million copies across Europe and half a million more in America and which had been trailed extensively (even in these pages) for weeks was expected to do far more than limp into the British charts at Number 33. The fact that it did was worthy of comment and that was precisely what this was.
Privately we speculated whether the piece had been read by the act themselves who then demanded answers as to why their chances of a British hit single had been wrecked by shoving it on numerous compilations ahead of its formal release].
34 THE FREAKS COME OUT (Cevin Fisher's Big Break)
Just for a change a dance hit from the clubs of New York scrapes into the chart although its UK popularity comes once more from its popularity amongst DJs in Ibiza this summer. Fingers crossed once the weather turns nasty the flood of records that only sounded good when drunk and wearing very little will cease.
36 YOU SHOULD BE MINE (Brian McKnight)
The debut single from Brian McKnight creeps into the Top 40 for what I suspect will be its one week of chart glory. If nothing else it makes a welcome sight for a single on Motown records to have a presence in the chart and something tells me there is more to come from this man.
37 SUNDANCE '98 (Sundance)
The '98 bit of the title should give you a clue that this isn't a new record. A summer favourite from last year, it has been given a new lease of life by some new mixes and charts in the UK for the second time, having reached Number 33 in its original form in November last year.
38 KINETIC (Golden Girls)
As far as chart clearouts go they don't come more spectacular than this. This final chart entry for the Golden Girls is no less than the 17th of the week - close to half of last week's Top 40 singles have been replaced by newer songs. In this case it is actually a newer old song as Kinetic is another long-lost dance classic finally being given mainstream recognition. Produced by Paul Hartnoll of Orbital, it was first released in 1992 without any attention paid to it, clearly a situation which some felt was injustice and a few remixes later it becomes a chart hit. You wonder where the next long-lost turntable hit is going to come from. I feel like going through my collection of old Deep Heat compilations to spot the next 'lost classic'.