1 PERFECT MOMENT (Martine McCutcheon)
Many and numerous are the soap opera actors and actresses that have attempted to launch a singing career for themselves but surely none have ever done so with as much style as Martine 'Tiffany' McCutcheon. Even with the saturation airplay Perfect Moment has been receiving for the last month, the fact that she was the subject of an hour-long television documentary on Easter Monday which chronicled her transformation from Eastenders actress into a singer (effectively a 60 minute commercial for the single) has sent sales of the track into orbit. Just for a change, this isn't a case of a TV star attempting to cash in with their moderate singing talents. McCutcheon has always had a musical background, beginning her career as one-third of the girl group Milan who stiffed badly in the early 90s. When she first joined the cast of the BBC soap in 1995 she was also the public face of a number of dance acts [notably Uno Clio alongside her then boyfriend] (roles which for some reason have conveniently been forgotten by the authors of her official press biographies).
Her debut single is, in truth, immaculate. A string-laden ballad of the kind that Barbara Streisand would kill to be given to sing and with appeal right across the board, from teenagers to Radio Two listeners. Credit must go as much to the people behind it as Martine herself, former Janet Jackson producer Tony Moran working the magic on the song which is written by Wendy Page and Jim Marr who also co-authored most of Billie's debut album. Martine McCutcheon is now the third member of the cast of Eastenders to have a Number One single in the UK although interestingly enough all have done so at different stages of their careers. Perfect Moment tops the charts four months after Tiffany Mitchell met her end under Frank Butcher's car, Nick Berry hit the top with Every Loser Wins in 1986 whilst a full-time member of the cast whilst Wendy Richard hit the top in conjunction with Mike Sarne on Come Outside in 1962 - 23 years before the soap opera was created.
As a final footnote, it is worth pointing out that the road from soap operas to the charts isn't always paved with gold. Perfect Moment was released in the same week that Walk My Way, the third single from former Coronation Street star Matthew Marsden was due to appear in the shops. Instead the single release has been cancelled, the future of his debut album and indeed the entire project uncertain.
2 FLAT BEAT (Mr Oizo)
So after a fortnight at the top, Flat Beat finally succumbs to the all-conquering might of Martine McCutcheon. It is worth speculating what the chart would have looked like had Perfect Moment not been released as the rest of the Top 10 demonstrates that this is one of the quietest weeks for big new releases since Christmas. Every single one of last weeks Top 6 singles maintains its place in the pecking order, each moving down just one place to accomodate the brand new Number One.
8 NO SCRUBS (TLC)
Account for this if you will, after entering at Number 7 a fortnight ago, TLCs single slid to Number 13 last week and looked to be set for a short chart career. This week, maybe due to a lack of strong competition for places near the top the single rebounds in spectacular style to reclaim a place in the Top 10.
10 TABOO (Glamma Kid)
This rather appealing single marks the Top 40 debut of Glamma Kid who picked up a Mobo award for Best Reggae Act on the strength of his 1998 single Fashion 98 which narrowly missed the Top 40, peaking at Number 49. His push into the upper reaches comes thanks to this collaboration with Shola Ama sings the chorus line from Sade's 1985 Number 31 hit The Sweetest Taboo. For Shola Ama herself this is her sixth successive Top 30 single and her first hit of 1999 following Much Love and Someday I'll Find You which made Number 17 and 28 respectively during the course of last year. You will note that this is the first proper reggae single to cross over this year which can only mean summer is on the way at last.
11 GIRLFRIEND/BOYFRIEND (Blackstreet featuring Janet Jackson)
Following the cute pop of Take Me There, Blackstreet show their harder side with this edgy R&B shuffle, possibly one of their least commercial singles ever but for all that another massive hit for the group. Janet Jackson makes a credited appearance on the two-way vocal dance, the track owing much of its groove brother Michael's 1992 hit Jam, a similarity which is understandable when you consider that just like Boyfriend/Girlfriend it was written and produced by Teddy Riley. This is now their 7th successive Top 20 hit.
13 PROMISES (Cranberries)
What Cerys from Catatonia is to the Welsh accent in pop, so Dolores from the Cranberries was always to the Irish voice and maybe for that reason alone it is a delight to see the Cranberries back in the charts. Their layoff has been a long one, this is their first chart single since Free To Decide peaked at Number 33 in July 1996. Really it is as if they had never been away, Promises is full of harmonies, crashing guitars and barely suppressed anger. Still the band fall short of the one thing that has eluded them so far in their career - a Top 10 single but this will do nicely thanks, Promises equalling their biggest hit to date, matching the peak of Salvation which made Number 13 in April 1996.
15 IS NOTHING SACRED (Meat Loaf)
This is turning into something of a week for long involved sagas. Take Meat Loaf for example, his past relationship with Jim Steinman meant it was inevitable he would be involved in the Whistle Down The Wind project in some way. In fact he was originally slated to be the artist singing No Matter What on the official album to accompany the musical but lost out in that race to Boyzone (who of course went on to sell a million copies of the record in this country alone). Instead his contribution was the song A Kiss Is A Terrible Thing To Waste which also appeared on the Greatest Hits collection he released just before Christmas. The track was due to appear as a single before Christmas but was held back due to the long-running success of the Boyzone song. It was rescheduled for the middle of February but was then pulled at the last minute and replaced finally by this track, Is Nothing Sacred, written by Don Black and also taken from his Greatest Hits album. The role of the single is now as a tie-in for his UK tour which ironically is suspended whilst the singer recovers from a throat infection. You really couldn't make it up. Although the single once again has Jim Steinman working his magic in the producers chair there is no denying that this is Meat Loaf by numbers and this Top 20 entry, his first Top 40 hit since Running For The Red Light in 1996 has charted on the basis of loyal fan support only. Still, it is worth pointing out that this is now his eighth Top 30 hit since since 1993, his hit tally in the 1990s better than anything he has achieved at any other time in his long career.
22 EVERY TIME IT RAINS (Ace Of Base)
Appropriately, just as the latest Abba revival gathers pace (heck the Abba Gold collection has topped the album chart this week, seven years after last climbed that high) the band who were labelled the New Abba when they made their debut in 1993 clock up yet another British hit. As has been mentioned before, part of the appeal of the Swedish band is their willingness to switch between wildly different styles and so from the Tamla beats of Always Have Always Will they arrive at this sophisticated pop ballad that is led by a subtle acoustic guitar and which in all honesty would not have sounded out of place in the quieter moments of late-80s sets by the likes of Heart and Vixen. Something tells me the law of diminishing returns is operating here, being as it is the third single from the album Flowers it is set to become only their second hit single to miss the Top 20 - the other one being Happy Nation which despite charting twice in 1993 and 1994 has never climbed above Number 40.
27 LOVE ON LOVE (Candi Staton)
23 years since Young Hearts Run Free, 17 years since Suspicious Minds and 8 years since You Got The Love, Candi Staton proves that she can teach acts such as James Brown a think about longevity with this brand new single. Her return to chart action comes thanks to this remake of Love On Love, originally written and recorded by the E-Zee Posse back in 1990. E-Zee Posse were the front for former Haysi Fantayzee member Jeremy Healey, these days better known as one of the country's best DJs and remixers. Love On Love was written in collaboration with Boy George whose career in dance music has also mirrored that of Healey's and so it is somewhat appropriate that a song penned by two men who know a thing or two about prolonging a career in music should stretch Candi Staton's span of hit singles from 1976 right up to the present day.
32 CHANGES (2 Pac)
Worthy of comment is the chart performance of 2 Pac's Changes which not only became his biggest hit single ever when it made Number 3 back in February but now is set to go down in history as the most consistent seller of his career. Now well on its way out, the single nonetheless has now spent nine weeks in the Top 40, easily beating his previous best, the seven-week run of Ain't Mad Atcha from November 1996.
34 BARBARELLA (Alisha's Attic)
In a way you have to feel sorry for the Poole sisters. At one time they were tipped as future megastars with a long and successful career in front of them. Now it seems everyone is counting the days until they are dropped by the record company - and all because their second album dropped off the chart after just three weeks on release. The third single from the aforementioned platter reunites them with producer David A Stewart who turned tracks such as I Am I Feel from their debut into such magical pieces. Sadly the magic doesn't quite work as well here and although the harmonies are as perfect as ever their second single of 1999 fares even worse than the first, I Wish I Were You having peaked at Number 29 and was at the time their smallest ever hit.
40 FUNK ON A ROLL (James Brown)
Does it get any better than this? The Godfather Of Soul proves once again that having a UK Top 40 hit is always possible even at this stage in his career. Funk On A Roll, sounding as it does like every song he has recorded in the last 20 years, gives the man his first Top 40 hit for almost 11 years. The last time he charted a single this high was in 1988 when Full Force took him under their wing and gave his career a new impetus with the I'm Real album and its title track which peaked at Number 31. For all his legendary status his singles career in this country has always been somewhat erratic, he can only boast the proud total of 3 Top 20 hits: It's A Man's Man's Man's World in 1966, Living In America in 1986 and a Coldcut mix of various shouts and screams called The Payback Mix which hit Number 12 in April 1988, just three months before I'm Real charted.