1 BLUE (DA BA DEE) (Eiffel 65)
Few sensations this week. Although the triple threat of S Club 7, Shania Twain and Britney Spears were expected to pose something of a threat Eiffel 65 retain their grip on the top of the chart by a quite comfortable margin. In the process they become the 11th act this year to spend two weeks at the top of the chart with only Ricky Martin to date able to clock up a third. As I have said before the rate of turnover at the top end of the chart in 1999 is without precedent in chart history and we are set for a record number of chart-topping singles by the end of the year. By contrast the rest of the chart has slowed down slightly this year with the Top 10 experiencing fewer new entries than it had by the same stage last year. Does this suggest that the gap between the heavily-promoted big sellers and the rest of the weeks releases is growing ever wider, or does it suggest that the amount of singles activity is reaching critical mass and that the economics of singles releases are in the process of changing? Either way it is worth noting that the lack of any long-running Number One singles has contributed to a slight drop so far in the number of really big-selling tracks. Of all 1999s releases only Britney Spears' Baby One More Time has crept over the magical 1 million mark.
2 S CLUB PARTY (S Club 7)
Interestingly enough the real chart battle this week was not for Number One (where Eiffel 65 held a commanding lead for the whole week) but a place below as S Club 7 slugged it out with Shania Twain for the right to be Number 2. Quite a battle it was as well with the lead changing hands almost on a day to day basis. In the end teen pop wins out over C&W as the nation's biggest pop phenomenon of the moment land their second hit single. Unless you pay close attention to teenage culture it is possible that the S Club 7 phenomenon has passed you by as their penetration into the mainstream has been limited. Read the right magazines and watch the right TV shows and it is hard to escape them. No sooner had the TV show Miami 7 finished on the BBC (on the way becoming one of the most-watched children's programmes ever) than they were filming a 50s flashback series for the opposition [that was a large part of Fuller's genius, ensuring that their BBC contract wasn't exclusive and allowing ITV to jump on the bandwagon too] and are now in negotiations for another BBC series that may or may not be set in Miami again. Meanwhile they have an album to promote as well. Their first single was of course Bring It All Back which topped the charts back in June and is currently one of the ten biggest selling singles of the year and now they land at Number 2 with their second release. S Club Party isn't quite the storming pop single that its predecessor was, instead opting for a more laid-back R&B groove over which the group take turns to introduce themselves. Almost annoyingly catchy, the single actually has more dancefloor credibility than Bring It All Back and is another sign that Simon Fuller's latest creation have enough in them for some long-term multimedia domination.
3 MAN! I FEEL LIKE A WOMAN (Shania Twain)
Yes, it's that song. The ultimate Shania Twain live favourite and the one track from Come On Over that was begging for release as a single. Strange that it should have taken so long really as believe it or not it is the fifth track to be lifted from the album. Of course it is only in the last few months that Shania Twain has gone stellar in this country, largely thanks to the "European remix" of That Don't Impress Me Much which made Number 3 back in May and spent an astonishing ten weeks inside the Top 10, along the way ending up as the third biggest seller of the year to date. In the process it sent the Come On Over album to the top of the chart, over a year since it first hit the shops. All of which has paved the way for Man! I Feel Like A Woman to become her second successive Top 3 hit, just failing by a whisker to hit Number 2. A perfect example of the way the album has been de-countrified for European ears as there are still slide guitars and strings in the mix but they have largely been replaced by a crunching rock backing that makes the song sound more LA than Nashville. It is still a marvellous pop record, one of those songs that are essentially two or three different choruses jammed together to quite wondeful effect. Welcome to stardom Shania, may you stay there for a long time, even if it has now prompted people to come out of the woodwork and say "Well I preferred her when she was Country."
5 YOU DRIVE ME CRAZY (Britney Spears)
After jacking the tempo down a notch for Sometimes, Britney Spears returns to the 80s Eurodisco-inspired sound that made Baby One More Time such an international smash. Technically her new single is the theme to the teen movie Drive Me Crazy but as far as this country is concerned it is just another excellent pop record which gives Ms Spears her third Top 5 hit of the year. Meanwhile we count down the weeks until her fellow Mickey Mouse Club alumnus Christina Aguilera makes her own UK chart debut. As I mentioned briefly a few weeks ago Genie In A Bottle is actually selling strongly on import, still some weeks away from its official release. This week the single charges up to Number 50 and I wouldn't bet against it sneaking into the Top 40 sometime in the next couple of weeks.
14 HIGHER THAN HEAVEN (Kelle Bryan)
Meow! In the weeks prior to the release of her first ever solo single Kelle Bryan has done all she can to drive the knife into the reputation of her former Eternal colleagues. In a series of interviews she has lifted the lid on the bizarre world of the Bennett sisters and the way amongst other things she was sometimes forced to travel and record totally separate from them for fear she would disturb their karma (or something). Whatever the truth you do feel she is better off out of it and so with this release Kelle Bryan becomes the second member of one of the 1990s most successful all-girl groups to leave the fold and pursue a solo career, hoping to at least match the achievements of Louise Nurding who has managed six Top 10 hits to date. Her first solo hit is a fine start, an uplifting pop single that comes complete with a gospel chorus and which has managed a perfectly creditable Top 20 placing. Meanwhile Eternal, now reduced to a rump of Easther and Vernie Bennett still exist and they too have a new single due out very soon. Let battle commence.
16 THURSDAY'S CHILD (David Bowie)
For all the hype, these "special internet releases" always go off like damp squibs don't they? David Bowie's exclusive premiere of his new album via his website this week was met with frustration by most people over here who found that the opportunity to download the entire set was limited to the states. Here's hoping that his new release is worth the wait until it appears in the shops. In the meantime we have to content ourselves with Thursday's Child, Bowie's first Top 40 single since Dead Man Walking hit Number 32 in April 1997. Love him or hate him you have to admire his longevity and the fact that he can stil make singles this good after all this time is something of a marvel. Granted it isn't that much of a departure from much of his 1990s offerings but who am I to criticise a legend for this kind of consistency. Just don't ask me to spend hours online fighting overloaded servers to listen to any more new music. I can't be the only one who is yet to be convinced it is actually worth the effort. [The 1999 internet was a very different place and a frustrating one for those acts such as Bowie who were genuinely trying to be ahead of the curve].
18 UNDER THE WATER (Brother Brown featuring Frank'ee)
Is Scandinavia the new centre of European pop? It certainly seems so of late with Funkstar Deluxe and er... Cartoons and the A-Teens having hit the chart in recent weeks. North West Europe's latest chart invasion comes via Denmark in the shape of this club favourite. Vocallist Frank'ee is the closest anyone has come to being a Bjork clone, her slightly off the wall wailings sitting nicely with the production work of Atla and Henrik who make up Brother Brown. As off the wall as European dance hits get and it sounds all the better for it.
24 LITTLE DISCOURAGE (Idlewild)
To herald their forthcoming third album Idlewild release this new single which just misses out on a place in the Top 20. A shame really as earlier this year they appeared to be on the verge of a commercial breakthrough, hitting the Top 40 for the first time with When I Argue I See Shapes which peaked at Number 19. Still if the the new album contains tunes as good as this there is hope yet for bigger hits yet from the group.
36 DESTINATION SUNSHINE (Balearic Bill)
The parade of Ibiza favourites continues unabated, even if this week's offerings haven't wound up as massive hit singles. Destination Sunshine plods along in the manner of most dance instrumentals, too fast to be proper trance whilst never reaching Sash! levels of joy either.
37 WAITING FOR THE SUN (Ruff Driverz)
The fifth hit single for Ruff Driverz hits the chart this week, the immediate follow-up to La Musica which reached Number 14 back in April. Their usual formula is followed here as tinkling flamenco guitars propel the rhythm along before the track breaks down for a bugle solo (I kid you not). Good as far as it goes but I'm far more inclined to go dig out my old Jam and Spoon albums.
38 WHAT'S MY AGE AGAIN? (Blink 182)
Hailing from California, Blink 182 are seen as the pretenders to Offspring's crown as purveyors of thrash-metal cum quirky pop. Scoring points for appearing naked throughout the video for What's My Age Again they lose most of them for serving up a rather weak-kneed offering that seems to be attempting to build up to a killer chorus that never appears to arrive. They will be back but on this evidence they are not threat to the legacy of Green Day, never mind Offspring. [This one would do slightly better second time around].
40 TELL ME IT'S REAL (K-Ci and JoJo)
After over a year away the two brothers return to the UK chart. Their big hit single was of course All My Life which made Number 8 in April 1998 and Tell Me That It's Real sticks to that well-worked formula, a mellow soul ballad featuring the kind of close-knit harmonies that only siblings seem able to pull off effectively. Blame a lack of promotion of just the current chart climate but sadly this time around they are destined for a very minor chart hit. [Spoiler alert: this track gets transformed by a 2-step garage remix and becomes HUGE in summer 2000].