1 HEARTBEAT/TRAGEDY (Steps)
After the chart with no new entries comes the second silliest chart of the year. At the start of January we traditionally enter a silly season lasting a couple of weeks where the batch of new year releases that have been held back by record companies take a few weeks to kick in, where the big seasonal hits suffer stock-marketesque falls in popularity and the makeweights of the Christmas chart find their chart positions suddenly improve as the aforementioned create a void near the top end. Last year you will remember produced a memorable period when a single that had topped the chart in November shot back to Number One to be swiftly followed by a single that had already sold almost a million copies over the holiday period. In short, anything can happen. "Anything" this week turns out to be the first ever Number One single for Steps as their seasonal offering becomes the nation's bestselling single on its seventh week on the chart, coincidentally the slowest climb to Number One by any record since All Saints' Never Ever topped the chart nine weeks after its release exactly 51 weeks ago. Heartbeat/Tragedy first entered the Top 40 at Number 2 towards the end of November and had actually slid down as far as Number 8 a week before Christmas. Over the holiday it started to move upwards and now takes pride of place at the top of the charts. Although Heartbeat is the notional a-side there has been just as much attention focused on Track 2, their cover of the Bee Gees' Tragedy. Taken from the recent album of Bee Gees covers it thus duplicates the feat of the 1979 original in reaching the top of the charts, the first cover of a song written by the Gibb Brothers to reach the summit since Boyzone's cover of Words in October 1996.
10 1999 (Prince)
Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of the award for Most Obvious Reissue Of The Year Is... As even the most casual of forecasters could have predicted, Prince's classic single arrives back in the shops to coincide nicely with the year after which it is named. Even before now 1999 has had a rather adventurous chart history. It was first released in 1983 and became his first ever Top 40 hit, peaking at Number 25. It was followed by the similarly classic Little Red Corvette which crashed out at Number 54. The following year Purple Rain happened, Prince became a superstar and the time seemed ripe for a re-release of one of his earlier hits. Hence January 1985 saw a double-sided re-release of both 1999 and Little Red Corvette. The single flew to Number 2 and it was not until 1994 and the release of The Most Beautiful Girl In The World that its status as his biggest hit ever was even seriously challenged. Whether charting as "Prince" or "The Artist" this second reissue is his first Top 10 hit since Gold reached Number 10 in December 1995. Popular rumour has it that Prince himself is none too impressed with this exploitation of his back catalogue, particularly as this is early material over which he has no direct control. He is reportedly planning a new set of mixes of the track although sadly for him Warners may just have spoiled that plan. As for the Michael Jackson rumours...
Fascinatingly Prince failed to chart a single inside the Top 40 during the whole of 1998, spoiling a run of hit singles that stretches back to the original appearance of 1999 in 1983. Only two other artists can boast such a consistent run of chart hits. Cliff Richard charted a Top 40 single in every calendar year from his debut in 1958 to 1974, a 16-year run spoiled by his failure to release a single in 1975. The all-time champion is of course none other than Elvis Presley who made an appearance on the Top 40 in every year between 1956 and 1983, a full six years after his death. Although the run was spoiled by the failure of his 1984 release The Last Farewell to climb any higher than 48 his record of managing a chart entry in every single year lasted for another two years until 1986 became the first year for 30 years not to see an Elvis single make the Top 75.
22 WILD WOOD (Paul Weller)
Wild Wood was first released in 1983 when the solo Paul Weller was just on the verge of being regarded as a genius. The single made Number 14 to become his biggest solo hit to that date. As a co-promotion with his Modern Classics greatest hits album and a followup to the single Brand New Start which made the Top 20 in November, Wild Wood gets a re-release albeit in a special limited form. This time around it is coupled with a Portishead remix of the track which until now has been a prized white label asset of the few DJs than owned a copy. Now it is finally in the shops, or at least it was as the single becomes one of a handful of one week only releases to have made the chart. To paraphrase Spinal Tap: don't go to the shops to look for it, it's not there anymore.
24 POSTCARD FROM HEAVEN (Lighthouse Family)
Undaunted by the failure of Question Of Faith to make the Top 20 in October and its status as their smallest hit to date, The Lighthouse Family make the title track of their second album its fifth single, exactly a year since High became the second. It is of course more laid-back string-laden balladry but for the moment it takes over the mantle as the lowest-charting single of their career. [Another weird example of an act's official Vevo channel randomly featuring a Top Of The Pops performance rather than the actual official video].
25 RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW (Fierce)
The new year is always a good time to break new acts. A seasonal lull in sales and that fact that most big-selling acts have had their best material chart (and indeed sell to capacity) over the Christmas period means the door is open for fresh new material. First through said door this year are Fierce with their first ever hit and whilst it is no more than a competent piece of R&B pop they are at the very least certain of a few more mid-table hits.
29 I WISH I WERE YOU (Alisha's Attic)
Put it down to the time of year, put it down to the fact that airplay over the holiday period has been difficult to come by but this is an extremely disappointing chart entry for Alisha's Attic. Indeed I Wish I Were You becomes their first single not to chart inside the Top 20. Until now every single they have released has made either Number 12, 13 or 14.