1 GENIE IN A BOTTLE (Christina Aguilera)
Ladies and gentlemen, your respectful silence for the feelings of ATB, Steps and The Honeyz, all of whom had released singles this week in the hope that they might stand a chance of topping the charts. Those who would have you believe that the singles chart is just a sham listing of whoever has the biggest marketing budget will themselves be stunned into silence as the biggest new singles of the week have all failed to dislodge the American starlet from her place in pole position. Whilst Genie In A Bottle is a long way short of the phenomenal sales of Baby One More Time earlier in the year Christina Aguilera is proving that anything Britney could do she can do as well, selling records in astonishingly strong quantities - over 170,000 copies in her first week on official release and this week's total, although somewhat lower is enough to give her a commanding lead over the records below. The single is now the 12th Number One record of 1999 to spend more than a week at the top compared to the other 17 which only managed a week apiece. This total of 29 chart-topping singles now equals the record that was set last year, meaning that the next single to top the charts will by default go down as a record-breaker.
3 DON'T STOP (ATB)
In some European territories the second ATB single has actually managed to outsell 9PM (Til I Come) and after the success of that single in topping the chart over here earlier in the summer a massive hit for the follow-up was almost assured. 9PM is easily the biggest selling dance single ever in this country and is locked firmly as the second biggest single of the year. It makes sense that Don't Stop is effectively 9PM Part II - why change a winning formula after all. With just a few months to go before the end of the year it is quite possible that Andre Tanneberger will wind up as the biggest selling import artist of 1999. 9PM effectively kickstarted the whole import craze this summer, the pre-release demand for the single reached such a pitch at one point that copies imported from Australia were wandering around the lower reaches of the singles chart. If you knew where to look it has been possible to buy copies of Don't Stop ever since the first single topped the chart and indeed in the last few weeks the track has paid a visit to the lower end of the Top 75, peaking at Number 61 a fortnight ago.
5 AFTER THE LOVE HAS GONE (Steps)
Happily this isn't a cover of the old Earth Wind And Fire song (that may well have been too painful a thought to contemplate) but another brand new song from Steps, a more downtempo number but one which still features the obligatory soaring chorus from the powerful pipes of Claire and a carefully choreographed video. Now you see if the singles chart were totally marketing driven then Steps would be topping the chart with every single release, they are after all one of the biggest pop bands in the country with an appeal that stretches from their natural young audience right the way through to students (so I'm told anyway). Instead circumstances have conspired against them twice this year and this time around their chart position comes as something of a shock. Back in March, Better Best Forgotten had to debut at Number 2 after Boyzone's When The Going Gets Tough spent a second week at the top. In July it was the turn of Love's Got A Hold On My Heart to land at Number 2, frustrated by Ricky Martin who was spending a second week at the top. Now in October After The Love Has Gone slides into what will be regarded as a rather shocking Number 5 slot, one of their lowest charting singles for a long long time. Yes, it is quite possible that the release dates of all their singles this year have been chosen carefully so they have the best opportunity to hit the top but at the end of the day the proof is there, you cannot ever predict with any accuracy how many copies a single is going to sell and so all the targeting in the world can be a wasted effort. Their cover of Tragedy remains Steps' only UK Number One single to date but once again a sense of perspective is needed - even a Top 5 single qualifies as a massive hit (even if it is the first Steps single NOT to debut at Number 2 since Last Thing On My Mind began its chart career at Number 6 in May 1998) and it sets the release of their second album up nicely, and the one thing you can guarantee is that it is going to be a massive seller.
6 GOING UNDERGROUND/CARNATION (Buffalo Tom/Liam Gallagher/Steve Cradock)
Is the sign that you have truly arrived as a musical legend the fact that you get to have a tribute album dedicated to you? If so then The Jam and Paul Weller have reached that stage. The tribute album is a truly 90s marketing phenomenon, lots of different artists all covering songs by a particular act in their own style. Hitherto they have not been known for producing big hit singles but clearly Fire & Skill, the forthcoming Jam tribute is set to be different. Then again maybe it is the acts involved. Although the first track on the CD is Buffalo Tom's anguished version of Going Underground (their first chart single of any kind in this country) the show is stolen by Liam Gallagher's duet with Ocean Colour Scene's Steve Cradock on the lesser-known album track Carnation. Whilst Noel Gallagher has appeared on record outside Oasis in the past (his two collaborations with the Chemical Brothers) this is the first time Liam has appeared on record without his band and you can bet that even if the single sounded terrible (and let's be honest it isn't the most commercial pop single on the chart this week) a big chart entry was almost assured.
7 NEVER LET YOU DOWN (Honeyz)
So exit Heavenli and enter Mariama as the Honeyz mark II make their chart debut with this new single. With the slight shift in personnel the girls have gone back into the studio to record a brand new track to make Mariama Goodman an active participant in the single rather than have her mime on television to someone else's vocals. This new song will appear on a similarly retooled version of their debut album which is due for repromotion in a few weeks. Can anyone honestly tell the difference though? To my mind this is spookily reminiscent of the situation that developed in 1988 when Siobahn Fahey left Bananrama to form Shakespear's Sister. Jacqui Sullivan was duly drafted in as a replacement and the girls had a Top 10 hit with I Want You Back, again a track that had appeared on their album Wow! but which we were told had been re-recorded to include the new lineup on vocals. Again it was nearly impossible to tell the difference. Back to the single itself and Never Let You Down is another saccharine-soul masterpiece dripping with glossy harmonies and that indefinable magic that elevates an ordinary single into something that can genuinely stir the emotions. Yes alright I'm a fan but with four straight Top 10 hits for the Honeyz in the last year I am clearly not the only one.
9 I TRY (Macy Gray)
Could this be the sleeper hit of the autumn? Macy Gray's first ever big hit single is certainly proving to be far more enduring than anyone could have predicted. After spending two weeks locked at Number 10 the track actually climbs up a place (no, you weren't seeing things) to squeeze in at Number 9. The lady with the cartoon voice is clearly capable of expanding her appeal even further.
13 WONDERLAND (911)
"911 to break up" screamed the showbiz headlines earlier in the summer. "911 deny breakup rumours" said the same headlines a day or so later. Well talk about hedging your bets, the trio's next release is to be a Greatest Hits album which will either signify the end of their time together or be a launch pad for the next stage in their career. First charting in 1996 with a cover of Shalamar's Night To Remember the trio have never been the most distinctive sounding boy band around and maybe suffered from an over-reliance on cover versions but nonetheless in the last three years they have notched up a string of fair-sized hits including ten Top 10 hits and of course their Number One version of A Little Bit More from January this year. The performance of Wonderland will actually come as something of a disappointment, this Number 13 entry could well wind up as their first single to miss the Top 10 since Love Sensation peaked at Number 21 back in 1996. Maybe they will call it a day after this who knows? I'll miss them if they go anyway, if you believe everything you read in the papers lead singer Lee Brennan has seen Emma Bunton naked and for that reason alone he has my eternal respect [yeah but then she ditched him for Jade from Damage so he lost out long term].
16 WHY DOES MY HEART FEEL SO BAD (Moby)
Sooner or later people were going to cotton on to the fact that Moby's current album contains some absolutely off the wall gems. His last two singles Run On and Bodyrock were great examples of this but could only reach Numbers 33 and 38 respectively earlier this year. Now the man explodes into the Top 20 with this rather astonishing bluesey slice of melancholia that positively drips with strings and piano figures in a manner that is quite inspired. All the better then that it should become his first Top 20 hit since his debut single Go peaked at Number 10 in 1991 and really if there was any justice this would become his biggest hit single ever. I doubt that will happen somehow.
21 OUT OF CONTROL (Chemical Brothers)
Given that they got a reference above it seems appropriate that the boys should land in the chart themselves this week. True to form their best releases always seem to wind up as their smallest hits (reference: Elektrobank) as Out Of Control boasts the vocal talents of New Order/Electronic singer Bernard Sumner over this frantic techno cum-disco backing. Sadly the single is set to be a footnote in their chart record, a major comedown from the Top 10 placings of Hey Boy Hey Girl and Let Forever Be earlier this year.
22 ON THE RUN (Big Time Charlie)
Hmm funny this, we haven't had a dance single in the chart this week. Time we had one then and sliding in just outside the Top 20 comes this single from Big Time Charlie. It is hardly a new track, effectively a remixed version of JXs 1995 Top 10 hit Son Of A Gun. The original stands tall as a mid-90s dance classic and this new version doesn't take away too many of the best bits of the original. It does at least get a minor thumbs up from me.
23 NEW DAY (Wyclef featuring Bono)
Urgh. I hate this bit. I have to be rude about a charity single. New Day you see is the official NETAID release, made available as a tie-in to last week's globally broadcast charity concert that claimed to be the biggest event of its kind since Live Aid. Live Aid you may remember had its own tie-in single, David Bowie and Mick Jagger's big selling cover of Dancing In The Street. NETAID has a similar celebrity duet, Wyclef Jean and Bono collaborating on this track which was I suspect supposed to be an inspired mix of styles but instead comes off sounding like an unholy mess. Lou Reed, Grandmaster Flash and Pink Floyd samples and references abound whilst Messrs John and Hewson ad-lib over the top. This kind of free-form rap and pop combination can sound devastatingly good when done properly (Wyclef's version of Another One Bites The Dust) is a case in point but sadly here the effect is less than the sum of its parts. This was supposed to be a massive worldwide smash to add many thousands more to the charity's coffers but over here at least it has sputtered into the Top 30 and is sadly a very minor hit.
35 WORLD IN UNION (Shirley Bassey and Bryn Terfel)
World In Union was first written back in 1991. It was one of the tracks featured on a concept album linked to the Rugby Union World Cup which was held in Britain that year. The tune of course is Holst's Jupiter, commonly known as the patriotic hymn I Vow To Thee My Country and the new lyrics have persisted as a song of inspiration ever since, their sporting connection easily transcended. The original singer was Dame Kiri Te Kanewa and her version reached Number 4 when released as a single to coincide with the World Cup in 1991 (the fact that it was the theme to the TV coverage in this country helped a great deal as well). Four years later the competition came around again, held in South Africa this time and so Ladysmith Black Mambazo were drafted in to provide the musical accompaniment. They actually released two singles around this time, a version of Swing Low Sweet Chariot which reached Number 15 and simultaneously a new version of World In Union which sadly failed to scale the heights, reaching Number 47. Four years further on and the Rugby Union World Cup is underway again and once more World In Union is used as the theme to the championships. This time the honour of recording the song falls to Shirley Bassey and Bryn Terfel and this week they creep inside the Top 40 with the 1999 version. Whilst Welsh tenor Terfel is one of Britain'sbetter-knownn opera singers he has never before charted a hit single. Ms Bassey of course is rather better known and this week has her first Top 40 single since she appeared with the Propellerheads on History Repeating - a Number 17 hit in December 1997.
36 COWBOY (Kid Rock)
12 years this guy has been around. 12 years as a white boy rapper desperately searching for the breakthough that would give him mainstream acceptance. In the last year his career finally seems to have taken off and brought him to mainstream attention and this single is one of the reasons why. Listen to this and feast your ears on the first country-rock rap single as Cowboy comes over as the result of a collision between Run DMC and the Eagles. OK so it has only just scraped inside the Top 40 but this may be a hint of better things to come. Anyway, how many other rap singles shout "radio edit" over the swearing in the sanitised version?