1 SWEET LIKE CHOCOLATE (Shanks & Bigfoot)
After selling over a quarter of a million copies last week, Sweet Like Chocolate continues to fly off the shelves and this week does enough to spend a second week at the top of the chart. The annoyingly catchy single is now the sixth Number One record to spend a fortnight at the top of the chart in 1999. Most of the media coverage of the single in the last week has centred around the exact identities of the duo - Langsman and Meade are still only identified by their credits as writers of the track. Whilst the single continues to cross over and will almost certainly still be in the Top 3 next week it is highly unlikely that it will become the first single this year to spend a third week on top of the pile. The reason for this is the imminent release of the single that is equally certain to wind up one of the biggest-selling records of the year.
2 OOH LA LA (Wiseguys)
Close your eyes and conjure up the following images. Think Budweiser TV advert. Think of the famous frogs taking a ride on an alligator. Think alligator invading a packed bar to general alarm. Think alligator emerging from other end of the building with frogs still in tow only now with a crate of beer strapped to its back. Alligator and frogs groove to big beat track. The track in question is Ooh La La, a product of the talents of Theo Keating who released the single under the name of The Wiseguys exactly a year ago this week. The single bombed out at Number 55 and the followup single Start The Commotion fared even worse at Number 66 a few months later. Cometh the hour, cometh the TV ad and cometh the Top 3 hit as the re-released dance single capitalises on the exposure and finally becomes a massive chart hit. Doubtless Norman Cook is asking himself why he didn't make this record.
4 CANNED HEAT (Jamiroquai)
Oh come on, how can you pass anything approaching rational comment on this? The first single from the long-overdue new Jamiroquai album shows Jason Kay et al at the very height of their creative powers with this immaculately produced slice of retro-disco. Canned Heat is plainly and simply an ode to dancing, as good a love song to the power of the disco as anything the Bee Gees ever wrote. After hitting Number One for the first time ever with the song from the Godzilla soundtrack Deeper Underground last July the stock of the band has never been higher and they prove it here with the third Top 5 hit of their career - Canned Heat just falling short of the Number 3 peak scaled by Virtual Insanity in 1996. If you search the web hard enough you will find a Jamiroquai tribute site that carefully archives everything I have written on the band since the launch of dotmusic, almost all of it positive. Lest you think I'm some kind of acolyte I should point out I've never been motivated to buy a Jamiroquai record, it is simply a case of it being hard to find fault with the way they present their music. Their brand of one foot in the past soul-funk and Jay Kay's squeaky vocals are a combination you either love or hate but their chart record over the past few years (12 Top 20 hits since 1993) are a fair indication that they appeal to a great many people.
6 SALTWATER (Chicane featuring Marie Brennan)
That Bryan Adams' Cloud #9 was such a big hit a few weeks ago was due in no small part to the contribution of Chicane in transforming the original ballad into a sublime dancefloor hit. Now they capitalise with a hit in their own right and with a single that neatly surfs the current wave of Hi-NRG trance hits. The production is simply Robert Miles at twice the speed coupled with the breathy vocals of Marie Brennan - famous of course for being the older sister of Enya and for years the dominant voice of ethereal Celtic folksters Clannad. The vocals are in fact the original lyrics to the old Clannad hit Theme From Harry's Game except that rather than sampling them Chicane invited her back into the studio to rerecord the vocal track from scratch. Saltwater is easily the biggest Chicane hit to date, beating the Number 14 peak of the original instrumental mix of Offshore which charted just before Christmas 1996. Marie Brennan has only once before had a direct chart credit - this was for her one and only solo hit Against The Wind which made Number 64 in May 1992. As a singer with Clannad she has of course had plenty of other chart hits. Clannad's biggest and most famous was the aforementioned Theme From Harry's Game which made Number 5 in 1982 and which is guaranteed a place on just about every "relaxing moods" compilation ever made. The only other Clannad hit to reach the Top 40 was In A Lifetime, a collaboration with Bono which made Number 20 when first released in 1986 and then climbed to Number 17 when re-released three years later to promote a greatest hits collection.
8 SAY IT AGAIN (Precious)
Now technically the voting in the Eurovision Song Contest is supposed to be based on the quality of the song but with the judging now being conducted by means of a pan-European telephone vote it is certainly possible that the nervy and slightly off-key performance by the girls in Jerusalem on Saturday night contributed to their rather dismal showing in the final voting, their total of 38 points and 14th place ranking alongside that of Love City Groove in 1995 as one of the UKs worst performances of recent years. As if in sympathy Say It Again makes a small slide down the chart this week although bear in mind that this chart listing counts sales up to midnight on Saturday and that the effect of their performance in front of the TV millions will not register until next week. Meanwhile. we wait to see who will pick up the UK licence for the winning song - Take Me To Your Heaven by Charlotte Neilsen of Sweden.
11 PUMPING ON YOUR STEREO (Supergrass)
So which version of Supergrass does the public prefer. Is it the cartoonish fun-loving pop stars that took Alright to Number 2 in 1995 and who allegedly inspired Steven Spielberg to want to turn them into a real-life cartoon? Or is it the crop haired acid-rockers who had hit singles in 1997 with Richard III and the summertime cruising classic Sun Hits The Sky? Believe it or not both images of the band spring to mind for this first single release from their long-awaited third album as Gaz Coombs does his best Mick Jagger impression over a glam-rock inspired backing that must surely have Gay Dad drooling with envy. Despite a strong showing at the start of the week the single just fails to become their sixth Top 10 hit - something of a comedown when you consider that Richard III (the first single from their last album In It For The Money) entered at Number 2. Nonetheless it is good to see the trio back and still firing on all cylinders after two years away and their re-emergence just in time for the summer festival season is a timely piece of marketing. Those who watched the recent BBC drama The Passion cannot fail to have noticed that most of the track from In It For The Money made an appearance on the soundtrack at one time or another, proving if nothing else that they have some fans in some very unusual places.
13 DISCO DOWN (Shed Seven)
Since their chart debut in 1994 Shed Seven have 12 consecutive Top 40 hits so a Greatest Hits collection seems quite an appropriate gesture. To herald the album Disco Down becomes hit Number 13 and in the process becomes their fourth biggest ever. Disco Down delivers just what the title suggests, a full tilt heads down boogie that is certain to inspire some energetic frugging at live gigs, even if clubland will certainly remain unmoved. Their only Top 10 hit to date was Going For Gold which reached Number 8 in March 1996 and this entry now means they have charted singles at Numbers 11 (She Left Me On A Friday), 12 (On Standby), 13 (Disco Down) and 14 (Getting Better), quite a model of consistency you will agree.
14 NOMANSLAND (DAVID'S SONG) (DJ Sakin)
After the Number 4 smash hit of Protect Your Mind, Herr Sakin makes a quick return to the chart with his second hit single. Those with a mind to play spot the sample can award themselves double points if they spot which melody has been borrowed for Nomansland as the track is inspired rather obscurely by the theme to the 70s adventure series The Adventures Of David Balfour (hence the "David's Song) subtitle of the single). More of the same means there is nowhere near the sensation that Protect Your Mind caused back in February but this Top 20 entry will hardly be a disappointment.
19 YOU LOOK SO FINE (Garbage)
After over a years worth of singles from Version 2.0 it is good to see Garbage's chart positions remaining healthy. You Look So Fine slides nicely into the chart to become their fifth Top 20 hit in the last thirteen months and their eighth such chart hit since 1995. The fact that a track which has been avalable for a year to dedicated fans can chart so high is undoubtedly due to the remixes that accompany it on the CD single - take special note of the work of the Fun Lovin' Criminals who make you wish Shirley Manson, Butch Vig et al sounded like this all the time.
21 JUMBO (Underworld)
The followup to Push Upstairs fails to repeat the Top 20 storming performance of its predecessor and instead has to settle for landing just outside, nonetheless maintaining Underworld's consistent chart record and becoming their fourth straight Top 30 hit (or their fifth if you count the two chart appearances of Pearl's Girl in 1996 as two separate hit singles).
22 JOY (Gay Dad)
The second Gay Dad single has been several months coming, during which time it is quite possible that the sensation that surrounded their first release has been forgotten. To refresh your memory To Earth With Love was probably the most celebrated debut single from any band since Babylon Zoo, a wonderful melange of influences ranging from glam rock to power pop and beyond. Much was made at the time of the way the printed chart listings credited the producer of the track as "Information Witheld By Label" - it later emerging that the single was actually an edit of about five different recording sessions with a variety of people in the chair and that for a while it was unclear exactly whose work the finished product was. Anyway, back to the present and their album is set to hit the stores in the wake of its second single hitting the chart. Not that Joy is a less worthy piece of music than To Earth With Love (although despite the title it has half the energy and little of the er... joy) but without the hype it is possible to take a more rational view of the abilities of the band. One suspects that their failure to reach the Top 20 this time round is a more realistic reflection of their long-term appeal. [This would be their final chart appearance, the hype around Gay Dad evaporating to nothing in short order. Joy would have a longer lifepsan than the band themselves, resurrected for a series of Mitsubishi adverts a year later].
35 NOW THAT YOU'RE GONE (Mike and the Mechanics)
All three members of Mike And The Mechanics will quite freely admit that they are a hobby band, something for Mike Rutherford to do in between the latest instalments of the currently stuttering career of Genesis. That doesn't mean they don't make some immaculate MOR records as this latest single proves. Now That You've Gone, complete with a production that ups the bpm rate by a factor of ten is a prime example of this. Musically there is nothing at all wrong with the track, right down to the killer singalong chorus but Mike And The Mechanics' main problem is that of their relevance and in the current chart climate you can argue that three middle-aged men making music that appeal to other middle-aged men have none at all. Occasionally, as their three Top 20 hits from past years show, they come good and release a single with widespread appeal (for further details see The Living Years, Word Of Mouth and Over My Shoulder). Sadly this isn't one of them and Now That You've Gone will join the list of very very good Mike And The Mechanics singles to be more or less totally ignored.