1 FLAT BEAT (Mr Oizo)
Go on, you've waited all week for this haven't you? The reason why the whole world and the rest of .dotmusic is proudly stating that Flat Beat is the seventh track from a Levis advert to hit the top of the charts whilst I'm ploughing a lone furrow and saying it is the sixth. Easy really, James counted wrong and forgot that Mr Boombastic by Shaggy (No.1 in 1995) was also from a Levis advert along with chart-topping singles from Ben E King, Steve Miller, The Clash, Stiltskin, Babylon Zoo and Mr Oizo. If nothing else it proves that what you read here is genuinely my own words, even on the occasions when I talk complete nonsense. Anyway, onto more relevant matters and despite the expectations of most that Flat Beat would be unable to sustain the necessary sales for a second week the disc becomes only the third single this year to spend more than seven days at Number One, in the process denying rap sensation Enimen from making his bow at the top of the charts. Something tells me that the presence in the shops of the debut single by a certain former soap star will prevent any recurrence of that next week but for the moment the cult of Flat Eric continues to grow and the nation's ears continue to bleed.
2 MY NAME IS (Eminem)
[Superstar debut klaxon]. Well you know you have made an impact when Billboard magazine is publishing editorials condemning your music. For the uninitiated, Eminem is an American white boy rapper who has been groomed for stardom by none other than Doctor Dre and who by all accounts is set to become one of the biggest stars on the planet. What has upset people so much is that although his lyrics are no filthier and no more shocking than anything by Ice Cube or Snoop Doggy Dogg or even Dre himself, never before have they been delivered in such a catchy, commercial, accessible style. The single My Name Is... is the perfect case in point, introducing us to Eminem's alter ego Slim Shady and with its undoubtedly clever lyric detailing his unique view on the world, his mother's drug habits and his desire to impregnate one of the Spice Girls amongst other things. You cannot help but be struck by the cleverness of the rhymes, indeed the single made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it. You can decide for yourself how to react, whether to take to the streets shouting "won't somebody think of the children" or to soak up the saturation play being given to the record by MTV and Radio One and accept that as this big new entry (which failed by a whisker to top the charts) shows, Eminem is here and he isn't going to go away in a hurry.
3 TURN AROUND (Phats And Small)
What the French pioneered, the anyone can take to the next level appears to be the message here as Phats And Small become the latest in a long series of Stardust clones to take on Thomas Bangalter et al at their own game. Hence Turn Around is another collection of disco beats meshed with turn of the millennium production coupled with an impassioned male vocal that has the kind of hook that is guaranteed to fill a dancefloor. Cynics might claim that it is another identikit dance hit but since when did anyone become poor using a formula that appears to guarantee a hit?
4 THANK ABBA FOR THE MUSIC (Steps, Tina Cousins, Cleopatra, B*witched and Billie)
Forgive me for thinking out loud but wasn't the last Abba revival as recently as 1992? With Steps copying their entire musical idiom wholesale, a whole new generation of record buyers ready to snap up the Greatest Hits album and with the musical Mamma Mia set to open in the West End, brace yourselves for the cult of the Super Swedes to rear its head again. Leading the pack is the ensemble medley of Abba songs that Steps, Tina Cousins, Cleopatra, B*witched and Billie performed at the Brit awards back in February. This is actually the second time the Brits ceremony has spawned a charity compilation single as in 1990 producer Jonathan King commissioned a medley of dance hits from the previous year to be performed on the night. Released a few weeks later the Brits 1990 Dance Medley (credited to Various Artists) reached Number 2. This single doesn't make quite as good a showing but is certain to raise plenty of money for the Brits Trust. One has to feel sorry for Cleopatra who are the only act featured on the record who don't currently have a hit of their own on the chart, Tina Cousins, B*witched and Billie can thus claim to have two Top 40 hits this week whilst Steps are now celebrating their third concurrent Top 40 hit, the best showing by any act since a series of re-releases gave Oasis four Top 40 singles in the same week back in November 1996.
7 DEAD FROM THE WAIST DOWN (Catatonia)
Although they'd had some minor chart entries before, 1998 was the year Catatonia became big with a series of smashes including the Top 10 singles Mulder and Scully and Road Rage. Now they look set to extend their fame even further with a new album called Equally Cursed and Blessed which is trailed by this gorgeous new single. Jangling indie guitars are replaced by slide ones and the strings sound like they could have been arranged by John Barry as Cerys croons her way through a wonderfully engaging pop ballad and implores the world to "make hay, not war." Some had it pegged as a contender for Number One but in the event the band have to settle for a slightly lesser chart entry, albeit one which becomes their third Top 10 hit.
11 BE ALONE NO MORE (Another Level)
After hitting Number One last summer with Freak Me and following it up with the Top 5 ballad Guess I Was A Fool back in November, Another Level take the somewhat curious step of going back to their debut single which first peaked at Number 6 just over a year ago in February 1998. Your guess is as good as mine as to why this seemed such a good idea as the single has rarely been out of the airplay listings since. It has of course been subtly remixed, Jay-Z's guest rap having been given more prominence this time around. I suspect this will be seen merely as a stopgap release for Another Level who are widely expected to have one of the biggest hits of the summer with a soundtrack single that is slated to be their next release. Just remember who told you first...
15 I'VE GOT SOMETHING TO SAY (Reef)
To think there was a time when Reef were most famous for being the band in the original Sony minidisc adverts. They have come a long way since, now proven and consistent hitmakers with a string of hit singles to their name - four of them making the Top 20. After two years away they return to the fray and suggest that the time in between albums has been spent listening to old Rolling Stones records as the incredibly catchy I've Got Something To Say seems almost tailor-made for a Mick Jagger lead vocal. Perhaps surprisingly the single hasn't quite had the radio support it deserved and whereas in 1997 the band were able to fly straight into the Top 10 with Place Your Hands and Come Back Brighter they are now only worthy of a place in the Top 20.
16 I STILL BELIEVE (Mariah Carey)
Now officially an Oscar-winning singer, Mariah Carey follows up her Christmastime duet with Whitney Houston with another single on the theme of believing. After When You Believe comes I Still Believe, another track lifted from her #1's hits collection. It is a single with a foot very much in both camps as the original downtempo album version is augmented on the single by a far more appealing David Morales mix, an acknowledgement that British audiences prefer her as Mariah the dance diva rather than Mariah the torch singer. Perhaps surprisingly the single has badly underperformed compared to past releases, missing the Top 10 altogether this week. Unless it makes an unlikely leap into the upper reaches in seven days time is set to become her lowest charting single since Butterfly brought her run of 12 consecutive Top 10 hits to a screaming halt when it reached Number 22 in December 1997.
19 MADE IT BACK '99 (Beverley Knight)
After reaching Number 21 in May last year another attempt is made to give the vastly underrated Beverley Knight a big hit single. This new mix takes elements of the original and adds some beats from Chic's Good Times to give the track a beef that was lacking first time around. Although you suspect better things were expected of it, the single at least has done its job and lifts the Mobo award-winner into the Top 20 for the first time in her career.
21 REAL LIFE (Bon Jovi)
Friends in Canada and the US often express surprise to me that Bon Jovi are still in a position to chart with big hit singles in this country when they are yesterday's heroes on the other side of the Atlantic. Strange it may seem but these isles retain an affection for the New Jersey band and their run of 1990s hits continues with this single. Real Life marks Jon Bon Jovi's reunion with his bandmates after his successful 1997 solo album which produced three Top 20 hits and is thus the first hit single for Bon Jovi (the band) since Hey God peaked at Number 13 in July 1996. Curiously enough there has been minimal hype for this release but it has picked up airplay easily enough and this Top 20 placing will also serve as a good advert for the film EDtv from whose soundtrack it is taken. Laying claim to be amongst the most successful rock acts of all time, Bon Jovi have now had no less than 24 Top 40 hits in the last 13 years.
23 JUMP (Bus Stop)
Of course it had to happen sometime, just why did it have to be in our lifetimes? After hitting the Top 10 last year with Kung Fu Fighting and following it up with a Top 30 version of You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet, Bus Stop take yet another established pop classic and give it the N-Trance treatment, turning it into a bouncy, cheesy rap song. Whereas their first hit had the backing and the promotional co-operation of Carl Douglas himself and their second featured Randy Bachman himself, the members of Van Halen have sensibly kept well away from this attack on their greatest musical legacy. I've been far too rude about this kind of record in the past to make any more vitriol seem worthwhile and at the end of the day the record doesn't pretend to be anything other than a bit of fun, always the essence of a good pop song. At least the statistics don't lie, Van Halen's original made Number 7 in 1984 with a live version reaching Number 23 nine years later. Bus Stop will be lucky to still have a place in the Top 40 next week.
30 HEARTBEAT/TRAGEDY (Steps)
Honourable mention must be made of Steps' single whose presence on the chart, as I mentioned above, gives them the honour of playing a part in three different Top 40 singles this week. First released in November last year, the single has now sold well over a million copies and this week celebrates five months on the chart, all of which have been spent inside the Top 30. The last record to have a chart career this protracted was LeAnn Rimes' How Do I Live which spent 24 successive weeks in the Top 30 last year.
34 DOCTOR GREENTHUMB (Cypress Hill)
Say what you like about Cypress Hill they make some of the most distinctive sounding rap singles around. Following the Mexican-flavoured Tequila Sunrise which made Number 23 in October last year the group return to the Top 40 with a dark, downtempo track that is almost certainly not a tribute to the medical profession. Sadly the most distinctive aspect of the single is that it is set to become their smallest hit single ever, the first time they have missed the Top 30 with a release since Insane In The Brain made Number 32 on its first release in July 1993.
38 SURRENDER (Roger Taylor)
Roger! His solo album Electric Fire hasn't exactly set the world alight since it was released in September last year making the presence of this single inside the Top 40 something of a pleasant surprise. If one is to rank the solo careers of the former members of Queen, Taylor will come a poor third behind Freddie and Brian as this is only his fourth proper solo single (fifth if you count his guest appearance on a Shakin' Stevens single in 1992). His biggest hit to date was the 1994 single Nazis which reached Number 22 on back of a small amount of hype thanks to the banning of radio adverts for the track on the basis that it was a political statement.
39 FLOODLIT WORLD (Ultrasound)
The second Top 40 single to date for Ultrasound, following their debut with Stay Young which peaked at Number 30 in June last year. For the moment their publicity antics appear to be making more headlines than their music, observers at the London Fashion Show back in February will have seen certain members of the band get more exposure than any of their record releases to date.