1 SWEAR IT AGAIN (Westlife)
With the first three months of 1999 having been characterised by the now-infamous string of Number One hits enjoying instant and at once minimal seven day runs at the top we now seem to have slipped into a pattern of a different kind. Chart-topping records are still more or less guaranteed to fly straight into pole position but now they are staying there for just that little bit longer. Working on the admittedly dangerous assumption that their reign is due to end next week, Westlife are now the third act in succession to spend a fortnight at the top of the chart, just like Mr Oizo and Martine McCutcheon before them. Believe it or not this is more unusual than it sounds, the last time more than two successive Number One hits spent more than a solitary week at the top was in the last few months of 1997 when Barbie Girl, Perfect Day, The Teletubbies and the Spice Girls' Too Much all experienced long runs at the head of the list. If you like, read it as more proof that the huge amount of "what the hell is going on with the charts" editorial that was prevalent in the media back in February was a strange overreaction to a phenomenon that stretched back far longer than most people realised.
2 WHY DON'T YOU GET A JOB (Offspring)
One of the most enjoyable musical experiences is the sound of a band who have discovered pop music for the first time and are absolutely loving every last minute of it. Such a description can be applied to Offspring who after years ploughing their own noisy furrow are now in the richest vein of commercial success of their long and semi-distinguished career. Even those who were expecting something similar to the Number One Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) will be shocked as the follow-up is a casually strummed singalong which whilst not being a direct copy evokes rather fond memories of the Beatles' Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da. Denied the chance by an extremely slim margin of becoming their second chart-topping single on the trot, Why Don't You Get A Job could well become one of the most enduring hits of early summer. Going back and listening to anything they recorded five or ten years ago means it becomes painfully apparent that Offspring have sold out in a big big way. To be frank, they sound fantastic.
3 NO SCRUBS (TLC)
The erratic and at the same time fascinating chart career of TLCs No Scrubs takes yet another twist this week. You may remember that the single was first released at the start of April and entered the chart at Number 7. The following week it slid to Number 13 and to all intents and purposes looked to be on its way out, only to rebound back into the Top 10 and land at Number 8 the following week. This unusual behaviour was largely attributed to the late delivery of the video for the track. Coupled with the well-documented reasons for the girls being unable to travel to Europe to promote the single [unsure what they were now, possibly a knock on effect of Lisa Lopes' probation from a 1994 incident when she nearly burned her boyfriend to death] its TV exposure was limited until a video was available - hence once No Scubs made its way onto MTV and The Box and other pop shows this extra exposure benefitted its sales. However there is little to explain the continuing way in which the single rockets around the chart, after climbing to a new peak of Number 6 a fortnight ago it duly fell once more to Number 9 but once more with a dearth of big new releases this week TLCs track benefits again with a sensational climb as it leaps six places into the Top 3 to become far and away their biggest hit single ever.
9 BEAT MAMA (Cast)
It may well be another quiet week for new releases (only 2 new entries inside the Top 10 you will note) but for a great many people it will be the biggest of the year so far. Said people are dedicated Cast fans who have been waiting what seems like an eternity for this new single from Cast. In fact it is their first new material in two years but happily the wait does not seem to have damaged their appeal as Beat Mama sails nicely into the Top 10, the seventh time they have ventured this high. Beat Mama happily also represents something of a musical progression for John Power's outfit, louder jangling surf guitars and a more aggressive vocal line are the order of the day here and in all honesty I have yet to see anyone give it a bad review.
15 KOREAN BODEGA (Fun Loving Criminals)
Alright I will confess ignorance and admit I haven't the faintest idea what a Korean Bodega is or what it consists of [a shop] but as always the FLCs manage to make it sound like the coolest thing going. As a prelude to their return to these shores for a series of dates later this month the track becomes the third single from 100% Columbian to reach the Top 40 and perhaps bizarrely becomes the biggest so far, beating the Number 18 peak scaled by Love Unlimited in August last year. Frustratingly a Top 10 hit eludes them, their biggest hit to date was Scooby Snacks which reached Number 12 in 1997.
20 INVISIBLE (Tilt)
Go on, I will admit it. If there is any kind of dance music that I could listen to all day like it is electronic trance such as this, the track with which Tilt mark their Top 40 debut. The dreamy vocals from the unmistakable pipes of Grace, most famous of course for Not Over Yet which hit Number 6 in 1995 but who has not been seen in the Top 40 since a remix of Down To Earth made Number 29 in July 1997.
22 MA BAKER (SOMEBODY SCREAM) (Boney M vs. Horny United)
From the file labelled "Who licensed this" comes this somewhat unique dance track that has been created by meshing the groove and hook from Boney Ms 1997 Number 2 hit with some new production from the wonderfully-named Horny United. Not so much a remix as a reanimation.
24 FREAK ON A LEASH (Korn)
With Offspring apparently moving further and further from their heavier roots, it is of some comfort to see one band unafraid to play their instruments loud and in doing so remaining in a position to make a respectable chart showing. Funnily enough I think I echoed that same sentiment last time Korn charted a Top 40 single - Got The Life which reached Number 23 in August last year, maybe demonstrating what a breath of fresh air they have curiously become although in hearing this single I can't help but hanker for a new Metallica album. They are showing a nice level of consistency with their chart placings, their five Top 40 hit singles have peaked at either 23, 24, 25 or 26.
26 SECRET LOVE (Kelly Price)
Developing slowly but nicely, that can be the verdict for now on the career of backing singer turned diva Kelly Price. She made her chart debut back in November last year with Friend Of Mine which reached Number 25. A second successive Top 30 hit means she is certainly no one-off and if she continues to find favour in the clubs then Top 20 and wider radio exposure could well be a possibility next time round.
33 RUN ON (Moby)
No come on, be serious here. Is this the same Moby who whilst still a teenager in 1991 created the haunting and timeless Go? Is this the same Moby who created one of the fastest dance records ever with Move back in 1993? Is this the same Moby who transformed the James Bond Theme into a piece of techno wizardry in 1997? Is this really Richard 'Moby' Hall taking to the mike for a change [an error made by a large number of reviewers strangely enough, the vocals on the track are naturally nothing more than an extensive sample] and in the process sounding like Fred Astaire. Is this the track that could almost have been Fatboy Slim's Praise You in an alternate universe? Can I fit any more relevant questions into a single paragraph? Am I the world's greatest lover? Well OK, it was worth a shot...
34 GOODBYE (Spice Girls)
For the past few months, Goodbye has featured as the soundtrack to a campaign by the National Society For [the Prevention of(!)] Cruelty To Children, the donation of the song to the organisation by the girls having received a small amount of coverage at the start of the year. It has resulted in continued exposure for the track and as a result some rather bizarre chart behaviour. Goodbye of course topped the chart when first released the week before Christmas, spending just a week at Number One and remaining in the Top 40 for 8 weeks. Remaining on the chart the whole time, by the start of March it had dipped to a low point of Number 57 when the NSPCC campaign kicked in which resulted in a small surge of sales, enough to give the single another push up the listings and it duly re-entered the Top 40 at Number 37 a fortnight later. Second wind you would have thought and after this sales blip the single dipped again. Two weeks ago it had reached its lowest point to date, landing at Number 74 and looked certain to vanish from the Top 40 altogether after a hugely impressive 18 week run. Not so, as last week Goodbye charged up to Number 49 and this week lands back at Number 34. Such a feat is almost unprecedented in recent chart history and indeed I'm hard pressed to call to mind the last time a single made three different entries into the Top 40 whilst remaining on the chart the whole time. Credit will be given next week to the first person who emails me to fill in this gap in my knowledge. [I don't think we ever found out the answer, so nobody hold their breath].
39 BLOSSOMS FALLING (Ooberman)
Depending on your point of view it is either a welcome sight to see Liverpudlians Ooberman making the Top 40 for the first time ever or a crying shame that they are just a minor footnote to this week's chart. Longtime favourites of John Peel and anyone else who has been to the right gigs recently this track that evokes memories of the original 1960s summer of love, albeit with louder guitars, probably did deserve better. Then again maybe that honour will be reserved for future singles.