1 TOCA'S MIRACLE (Fragma)
You know there is nothing better than a Number One record with a story behind it, and trust me this is a story and a half. It begins back in 1997 when Coco was set to become the next uberbabe of dance music. With a not unmusical voice and the looks of a supermodel she had been paying her dues in the industry for a while, working as a backing singer for the likes of East 17 and being the featured singer on Way Out West's single Domination. In November 1997 she was ready to go solo and her first single was released - I Need A Miracle. Indeed she did as the track (a pleasant enough pop song) mysteriously floundered at Number 39.
We move now to summer 1999 and European clubs have gone trance crazy. One of the many tracks that blasted into the UK charts after the summer was an upbeat trance track called Toca Me, performed by Fragma. It was given a commercial release and landed nicely at Number 11 in September, unfortunately in the same week as the entry of tracks such as Blue and Get Get Down so it largely passed without comment. One person who did notice it was Nottingham-based DJ Vimto who had an idea for a bootleg after he noticed that Toca me fitted quite nicely with the vocals from I Need A Miracle (which itself for one reason or another had briefly come alive again in terms of dancefloor popularity last summer).
Thus a new hit was created, a legitimised bootleg to follow in the footsteps of OnePhatDeeva's In And Out Of My Life - two old singles joined together to create a chart smash, and what a chart smash it is too. Having been on the radio for what seems like an eternity the newly retitled Toca's Miracle began flying out of the shops on Monday at a faster rate than any single so far this year. It duly shoulders the still impressively-selling Craig David out of the way with a sale pushing 200,000 copies, turning Fragma into Number One hitmakers and quite possibly relaunching the career of Coco. When you see a picture of her you will be as glad of that as I am.
[A video embed from a rather different source this time as the original is nowhere to be found on YouTube. Whilst I could just put the TOTP performance up here that would mean I can't share the fun trivia fact that the women's 5 a side match depicted in the clip for this most amazing of Number One singles is supposed to be a re-staging of the Chelsea v Arsenal fixture from earlier that season, with Chelsea having taken a 2-0 lead at half time only for Arsenal to surge back to win with a Kanu hat-trick].
2 FILL ME IN (Craig David)
Deposed from the top after just a week, it is still worth looking at one other aspect of Craig David's Number One hit that many sections of the media focussed on last week. His age. At just over 18 years old Craig David can claim to be one of the youngest male soloists ever to top the UK charts. Despite a plethora of teenage female stars, turning a young male into a hitmaker is not something that is attempted very often by record companies so teenage male singers are relatively thin on the ground. In fact the last time a teenage male soloist topped the UK chart was in 1988 when Glen Medeiros hit Number One with Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You when he was barely two weeks beyond his 18th birthday. Far and away the youngest solo male to hit the top was of course Little Jimmy Osmond who was 9 years and 251 days old when Long Haired Lover From Liverpool hit the top in December 1972. Honourable mention must also go to Frankie Lymon who was 13 when Why Do Fools Fall In Love hit the top in 1956 and also Kelvin Grant of Musical Youth who was around 11 years old when Pass The Dutchie topped the chart in 1982 and who therefore can probably claim the title as the youngest British male to perform on a Number One hit single.
3 THONG SONG (Sisqo)
Presenting the least subtle ode to the juicier parts of the female form since Baby Got Back. The second biggest hit of the week sees the Dru Hill frontman dribble his way through a tender ode about barely covered bottoms, complete with the requisite tongue in cheek video. Heaven only knows what the string quartet who play the backing made of it all... The Thong Song charges into the Top 3, easily eclipsing the Number 14 peak of Got To Get It, his first solo single which was released back in February. It also ranks as his biggest hit single of any kind, Dru Hill having reached Number 4 with These Are The Times in February 1999.
7 I WANNA LOVE YOU FOREVER (Jessica Simpson)
A Top 10 debut this week for the first single from the latest singing American teenager to escape to these shores. Her biographical twist is that whilst contemporaries such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera started out on The Disney Club, Miss Simpson failed the audition, a fact she seems more than happy to play on in interviews. As if in sympathy she has chosen an almost totally opposite musical style as I Wanna Love You Forever is a power ballad in every sense of the word, the kind that Whitney Houston built her career on in the 1980s and which almost turned Mariah Carey into a cliche in the 90s. Still it works, and there are more danceable mixes around for those who find it all a little bit too cloying. Oh yes, and her other marketing point is her fiercely-guarded cherry. Who cares, Coco is better looking.
8 JUST AROUND THE HILL (Sash!)
This is a shame in a way, weren't you just waiting for Sash to rack up yet another Number 2 hit single to further compound his reputation as the unluckiest man in pop? As it turns out his second hit single of the year makes a more understated chart debut, which is sad as Just Around The Hill is his least conventional single to date. It's a ballad you see, a mid-tempo ballad crooned perfectly by Tina Cousins who last teamed up with Sash in 1998 on Mysterious Times. The single is Sash's ninth chart hit and ranks as one of his lower charting singles, his second smallest in fact, matching the peak of Move Mania but seven places higher than last year's Colour The World.
13 FREAKYTIME (Point Break)
The third hit single for Point Break and something of a comedown for them given that their last hit Stand Tough charged in at Number 7 back in January. Maybe the change of style is to blame as they take a step back from the in yer face pop-rock of their earlier hits for a more sophisticated groove that sounds a little more credible yet isn't quite as effective as a pop record.
18 SISTER (Sister 2 Sister)
Chris and Sharon Muscat are the real identities of Sister 2 Sister, the two, er sisters hail from Sydney and became something of a chart sensation when their debut single was released down under at the back end of last year. Said record is now given a release over here and doesn't perform too badly, a placing at the bottom end of the Top 20 is certainly good enough to be going on with. Best to wait to see what happens to them next time around.
20 THE FACTS OF LIFE (Black Box Recorder)
The first chart hit for Black Box Recorder, even though it is the title track from their second album. The single is possibly the first proper trip-hop track the charts have seen for years, a dreamy backing accompanies the whispered half-spoken female vocal to create what is nothing less than a rather wonderful hit single. Thank Radio One DJ Mark Radcliffe for this one as the single has arrived in the chart via his relentless plugging.
24 ONLY THE LOOT CAN MAKE ME HAPPY (R Kelly)
Just as Satisfy You dips out of the Top 40, R Kelly maintains a chart presence with the release of his first solo single (the 8th - count 'em! - from the album R) since the global smash If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time. He does so in a rather notable way as the single is what could be quaintly termed a triple a-side. All three tracks - Only The Loot Can Make Me Happy, When A Woman's Fed Up and I Can't Sleep Baby - are listed with equal prominence on the sleeve of the single and have equal billing. Of course in this CD age the concept of a-sides and b-sides is something of a throwback but it is still common to see singles in the charts which bill two tracks equally. Three is more unusual and by my reckoning this is the first single to be listed on the chart in this manner since Robson and Jerome topped the chart in 1996 with What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted/Saturday Night At The Movies/You'll Never Walk Alone. R Kelly is actually no stranger to using unusual marketing methods on singles. Back in 1995 he released an EP called 4 Play which featured seven tracks spread across two CDs. Because both had one track (Your Body's Calling) in common their sales counted together as if they were one single, although ultimately the EPs only peaked at Number 23.
29 SLICE OF DA PIE (Monie Love)
Presenting the winner of the award for welcome return of the week. Battersea-born Simone Johnson can stand proud as one of the few British rappers to make it big in the states. After the release of her first single I Can Do This (a Number 37 hit in 1989) she moved to New York and was taken under the wing of the likes of Afrika Bambaata and the Jungle Brothers. For several years she divided her time between New York and London, working with producers and writers from both sides of the Atlantic. Her biggest hit single came in 1990 when It's A Shame (My Sister) scaled Number 12, she teamed up with Adeva in 1991 for Ring My Bell (Number 20) but has been silent since 1993 when Born To B.R.E.E.D. became her last sizeable hit single, peaking at Number 18. So can she still cut it seven years later? The answer seems to be a qualified 'possibly' for the moment. Mousse T provides the production wizardry on this comeback single which shows her attitude is still in place after all these years along with her ability to make rap singles you can dance to or even treat as pop records. Maybe the track was a little underhyped, it certainly deserves better than Number 29.
31 AFTER THE RAIN HAS FALLEN (Sting)
The third single from the Brand New Day album slides into the Top 40 on the back of the Number 15 peak of Desert Rose. At least his singles sales are still conforming to the usual pattern - a couple of mid-table hits and then some rather low charting followups. Of which this is certainly one.
40 FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (Matt Darey presents DSP)
Nothing to do with Matt Monro, although that would have been fun wouldn't it? Instead this epic trance track is the second chart single from Matt Darey who last October was "presenting" Mash Up on the Number 19 hit Liberation.