1 IF YOU TOLERATE THIS YOUR CHILDREN WILL BE NEXT (Manic Street Preachers)
This was always going to be the time when searching questions were to be asked of the Manics. Whilst the album Everything Must Go became their biggest ever commercial smash and brought them to the attention of a far wider audience than ever before, the evidence of Richie James' contributions to the songs was there for all to see. Their forthcoming new album is effectively the first without their most celebrated member... so can they still work magic without him? This single probably answers most of those questions. Arguably their most commercially accessible single ever, If You Tolerate This... sounds at times like Simon Le Bon singing U2 but it charges to the top of the chart in its first week on release to finally give the Manics a UK Number One single. It has been a long wait too, their chart debut came in May 1991 when You Love Us made Number 62 so they have had to endure a wait of no less than 7 years and 3 months... a very unusual length of time given the rather ephemeral nature of the appeal of most chart acts and the current trend for artists to have a quick burst of massive success before vanishing. Indeed, of all the acts to have had their first Number One single in the 1990s only a small handful of others have had comparable waits, Bryan Adams, Will Smith and the Lightning Seeds amongst them. Beating the Manics are the likes of Simply Red (10 years 3 months) and Prince (14 years 3 months) and Meat Loaf (15 years 5 months). Even these delays pale into insignificance beside the 29 year wait that Jackie Wilson posthumously endured before Reet Petite topped the chart in December 1996. Back to the Manic Street Preachers then, quite deservedly Number One - the 799th to be precise and the race is now on to become the next centennial chart-topper.
2 ONE FOR SORROW (Steps)
Abba on acid they have been labelled, but there is no denying that the debut album from Steps is set to be one of the biggest pop smashes of the year when it is released in a few weeks. Heralded by this new single they miss out by a whisker on a Number One but that doesn't stop One For Sorrow becoming Steps' biggest hit to date. Their previous two singles have all managed to clock up eclectic chart careers, 5,6,7,8 spending 14 weeks in the Top 40 without ever climbing higher than Number 14 whilst their Bananarama cover Last Thing On My Mind had a six-week run in the Top 10, peaking twice at Number 6. Their third single is slightly less frantically paced than its predecessors and if anything maybe a little less distinctive despite its trademark catchy chorus. It won't change the world but great pop music was never meant to. [Fan ripped video embedded here, their Vevo channel oddly only features the horribly remixed version which appeared to promote a Hits collection in 2001].
5 FINALLY FOUND (Honeyz)
British pop is suddenly awash with all-girl singing groups, some are good and some terrible and so amongst them all it is a joy to witness the birth of something rather special indeed. Very much in the Eternal mould of girl groups, Honeyz are a trio who have produced what for me is one of the best soul singles of the year. Not since the days of Wilson Phillips have female harmonies sounded so sweet and immaculately produced and so instantly appealing. The public clearly agrees and the Honeyz find themselves with a Top 5 hit with their first ever single. Girl groups are indeed ten a penny at the moment and for one to stand out from the crowd they have to possess that intangible something that we reviewers lazily describe as 'magic'. Believe me, Finally Found has it in spades.
6 GOD IS A DJ (Faithless)
Oh yes, they are back. The all-conquering trio of Rollo, Sister Bliss and rapper Maxi Jazz made world domination an art in 1996/7 with the global smash single Insomnia and its accompanying album which produced a string of other hit singles, the most recent of which was Don't Leave, the remixed version of which made Number 21 last November. The first single from a forthcoming new album picks up where the last left off, a warm and mellow groove with Maxi Jazz painting what is doubtless a quite heretic comparison between clubbing and religion. Utterly flawless and their second biggest hit ever, only Insomnia having peaked higher at Number 3.
10 DROWNED WORLD (SUBSTITUTE FOR LOVE) (Madonna)
Having celebrated her 40th birthday a few weeks ago, Madonna now charts with her 46th chart hit. Drowned World only narrowly squeaks a Top 10 place and although her record-breaking run of 32 consecutive Top 10 hits ended many years ago she still has an almost incomparable strike rate of top tenners with all but four of her hits having made Number 10 or higher. No other solo woman comes close to this total of 42 Top 10 singles and in the whole of chart history only Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard have had more.
13 BEING A GIRL (PART ONE) EP (Mansun)
The follow-up to Legacy, this new EP from Mansun is led by its title track which lays claim to being one of the shortest chart singles of the year, clocking in at just over two minutes. No immediate commercial prospects but the enthusiasm of their hardcore fans remains undimmed and Being A Girl becomes their seventh successive Top 20 single.
19 MORNING AFTERGLOW (Electrasy)
The Manic Street Preachers aside, this was probably the most eagerly anticipated single release of the week. Regarded by many as one of the most exciting new bands of the autumn, this first Top 40 hit for Electrasy proves the point, a superbly produced track that is almost certain to be the first of many big hits for the band from the West Country. This may be as far as their debut gets but you can guarantee that future releases and their already-completed debut album are going to attract a great deal of attention. [If ever there was a group who utterly failed to live up to everything that was expected of them. This was their sole Top 40 chart hit].
20 EYES DON'T LIE (Truce)
A good strong debut for Truce, latest British female R&B discovery and with a single that promises a great deal for the future particularly with its insistent chorus that virtually dares you to sing along.
24 IT'S TRUE (Queen Pen)
Far and away one of the hottest female rappers of the moment, Queen Pen adds another Top 40 hit to her CV, her third this year and the follow-up to All My Love which in conjunction with Eric Williams hit Number 11 back in May. Just as All My Love was based on Luther Vandross' Never Too Much this track too takes its inspiration from the past, this time sampling heavily from Spandau Ballet's classic true. A nice idea, but by no means original as the celebrated early 80s Number One has been used by several rap acts in the past, most notably by PM Dawn who used it as the basis for Set Adrift On Memory Bliss which made Number 3 in August 1991.
28 FOR AN ANGEL (Paul Van Dyk)
Classic revival time for this track, first released back in 1994 when despite massive dancefloor appeal it never progressed further than being a popular album track. German DJ Paul Van Dyk has been threatening to have a Top 40 hit for a number of months and now finally does so with his most famous ever track. The beautiful instrumental trance track has now benefitted from a series of mixes and is picked up by a label with enough marketing clout to propel the track into the Top 40... yet another underground classic goes mainstream. [And now regarded as one of the seed points of trance music, despite it being over four years old by the time it even went overground for the first time].
30 ROCK WITH YOU (D'Influence)
Appropriate that in the week of Michael Jackson's 40th birthday that someone should chart with a cover of one of his old solo hits. D'Influence's track is a faithful cover of the song that first appeared on the album Off The Wall and which Number 7 in a March 1980. The addition of a gentle rap during the instrumental passages adds a nice 1990s touch to the song and possibly gives the cover more artistic validity than Cleopatra's current cover of I Want You Back.
33 HONEY (Moby)
Never one for the conventional, Moby clocks up his first Top 40 hit of 1998 with this track, a test of knowledge for anyone who likes to play 'spot the sample'. The vocal track is taken from an old song called Sometimes, a Deep South folk song recorded by Bessie Jones way back in the 1930s. Add to that a modern house beat and you have this, a quite marvellous dance single. It is Moby's first hit since his Top 10 reworking of the James Bond Theme charted in November last year and the man normally called Richard Hall has now had nine Top 40 hits since his debut with Go in 1991. [Another single whose significance only became apparent in retrospect. Released a year ahead of its companions, Honey was the first single to be taken from what would become Moby's career-defining Play album].
36 MUSIC IS THE ANSWER (DANCIN' AND PRANCIN') (Danny Tenaglia and Celeda)
The first Top 40 hit for the well respected Danny Tenaglia, as befits its current status as a club favourite.
38 I AM (Suggs)
The Avengers may be one of the most critically panned films of the year but it has not stopped the soundtrack producing a hit single. Said single is the first solo release in two years from the former Madness star and heralds the release of a new solo album due out soon. Let's hope future releases manage a more respectable chart position than this, it is set to become his smallest solo hit to date.
40 CRY TO BE FOUND (Del Amitri)
It is something of a change of scenery for Del Amitri as this is their first single to be released on Mercury records following the scaling down of the famous A&M label as a standalone operation. Sadly this new track is also set to be one of their smallest hits for a long time. Despite their Scottish World Cup anthem Don't Come Home Too Soon making Number 15 this typically reflective ballad can barely scrape a Top 40 entry.