1 CAN WE FIX IT (Bob The Builder)
Exactly 54 weeks and 43 Number One singles after Cliff Richard's Millennium Prayer defied present logic and actually climbed the chart to reach the very top, Bob The Builder duplicates the feat. After being denied top honours last week by the very narrowest of margins, the animated TV handyman finally overcomes the sales lead of Eminem to rank as the biggest selling act in the country. I know, it sounds strange whichever way you try to put it. Bob The Builder thus joins a noble line of non-sentient acts to have a UK Number One single. This list includes cartoon characters such as The Archies, The Simpsons and Chef alongside puppets such as Spitting Image, Mr Blobby and The Teletubbies. Bob The Builder further continues the UK tradition of characters from Children's TV topping the close to the Christmas holidays. Back in 1993, Mr Blobby made it to Christmas Number One, in 1997 the Teletubbies were on top just one week before the holiday whilst a year later Chef moved into pole position with Chocolate Salty Balls just after festive week. Needless to say, the increasing sales of Bob The Builder mean that the race to be Christmas Number One this year is wide open. Realistically it is now between two records, Bob and Westlife, whose new single What Makes A Man is released this week, just in time for it to chart for Christmas. Will it follow all their other singles to date and debut straight at the top? Happily I am not entirely convinced it will at this stage and for the first time in a number of years, the Christmas Number One race is perhaps too close to call.
2 STAN (Eminem)
"Just what is it with your country and puppets?" They were reportedly the words of Eminem when he discovered who his main chart competition was last week when Stan was first released. He was furthermore referring back to the release in 1999 of his first single My Name Is... which came out just a week after Mr Oizo's Flat Beat and as a result was forced to peak at Number 2 behind the Flat Eric single. Having beaten Bob The Builder to the punch last week, the American rapper will now have to come to terms with the fact that this week he is once more second best to a TV character although given that back in July it was the Corrs who brought the Number One run of The Real Slim Shady to an end, I'm not completely sure which he would find preferable.
In the wake of last week's comments, several people wrote in to remind me that the first appearance of Dido's Thank You and the probably source of Eminem's inspiration regarding the song was on the soundtrack of the 1998 film Sliding Doors. Funnily enough that film soundtrack (which produced a Number One hit in the shape of Aqua's Turn Back Time) contains at least one more long-lost gem. Ask me to compile a list of the greatest records never to have been hit singles and I guarantee that Peach's On My Own will be at the top.
4 SUPREME (Robbie Williams)
Having teamed up for their last single, Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue now find their release schedules are perfectly in sync and as a result both acts end up with new entries inside the Top 10 this week. Top honours go to Robbie who has the biggest new hit of the week with this, the third single from his Sing When You're Winning album. Robbie Williams and songwriter Guy Chambers have never been shy of making records that are derivative of others and Supreme is no exception, its whole melody being little more than a slowed-down version of disco classic I Will Survive. Those with long memories will be reminded of Erasure's 1991 hit Love To Hate You which did exactly the same thing, right down to the lifting of the string bridge which also forms an integral part of the Robbie Williams single. Spotting the influence is a game you can play all day with this record, and I surely cannot be the only one who can hear elements of Momus' Hairstyle Of The Devil can I? Thanks to a combination of tight release dates and long-running chart careers of past hits, Robbie Williams actually has all three of his singles this year on the Top 75 this week. As well as Supreme at Number 4, Kids slides two places to 37 whilst Rock DJ (a Number One hit in August no less) has recently had something of a second wind and this week rises to Number 66 after re-entering the chart at 72 a week ago.
5 WHO LET THE DOGS OUT (Baha Men)
Back in October when the Baha Men first charted with Who Let The Dogs Out and bucked all current trends by shooting into the Top 10 on their third week on the chart I wondered out loud if the single was still going to be around for Christmas. As it so happens it is. After 11 weeks on sale the single is still selling a strongly as ever and after two weeks stuck at Number 6 the track now rebounds in the wake of increased Christmas sales to reclaim a spot in the Top 5. The single first peaked at Number 2 at the end of October.
9 NUMBER 1 (Tweenies)
Whilst we are on the subject of records that are outstaying their usual welcome, credit is due to the Tweenies who also are carving out a chart career far in excess of usual expectations. Number One entered the chart at Number 6 at the start of November and seven weeks later it is still in the Top 10, the single this week rising one place after two weeks stuck at Number 10. The single peaked (so far) at Number 5 on its second week on the chart.
10 PLEASE STAY (Kylie Minogue)
So with Robbie Williams at Number 4, his erstwhile recording partner has her own new entry at Number 10 to claim her fourth consecutive Top 10 hit of the year. This means that in 2000 she has put together her most consistent run of hits since 1991 when her career-opening streak of Top 10 singles came to a halt at 13. Since then she has never had more than two Top 10 singles in a row - until now. Please Stay is hardly her most spectacular release of the year but is nonetheless a worthy release with an inspired energy thanks to the flamenco rhythms that underscore the production. Reassuringly it still has a soft-porn video and certainly serve to underline her transformation this year from Kylie Minogue - ironic cult singer to Kylie Minogue - genuine chart superstar.
14 AT THIS TIME OF YEAR (Craig)
When the Big Brother TV series was launched in this country we were treated to all manner of tales about how the series had become a phenomenon in Holland where it originated and how all the contestants had ended up as stars in their own right, some of them even making chart records. Surely the same could not happen here. Oh yes it did, and the show has now proved to be good for several chart hits, of which this is the third. First came Element Four with the theme to the show, a Number 4 hit in September. Not long after that was Nichola Holt whose rather terrible dance record The Game thankfully only made Number 72 in October. Not long after that came the news that Craig Phillips, the affable scouser who became the ultimate winner of the show had signed nothing less than a five-album deal with WEA records [complete bollocks naturally, nothing more than an epic wind up on the part of the label in order to flag up this one-off charity single. But you'd be amazed how many people bought it completely. Including me it seems]. This single is the first product of that deal and at the very least it is set to wind up as one of only two Christmas-themed singles to be on the festive chart this year. Beyond that it is actually pretty terrible I'm afraid, a saccharine ode to family togetherness as crooned by a man whose voice is almost drowned out by what appears to be every piece of voice processing available in the studio at the time. You cannot be too rude, especially as half the profits of the single are going to Craig's favourite Downs Syndrome charity but I struggle to find many redeeming qualities about this record. Word has it that some of the people who helped make the TV show actually feel the same way.
17 MY LOVE (Westlife)
With the release of their new single due next week it may be a little surprising to see their last hit still so high in the listings and indeed this week rebounding to reclaim a place in the Top 20. The turnaround in the chart fortunes of My Love can be directly attributed to the annual Record Of The Year show which was televised last weekend - a live national telephone poll to select a winner from ten shortlisted records. For the second year running Westlife emerged the victors, My Love just managing to see off competition from the likes of Ronan Keating and Robbie Williams. Hence the sudden surge in sales of the single which may be enough to ensure the boys have two Top 20 hits for Christmas next week, regardless of whether they actually make Christmas Number One for the second year running.
21 STORM ANIMAL (Storm)
With one or two exceptions dance music appears to have been pushed onto the back burner for the Christmas holidays with Public Domain's Operation Blade the only hardcore club single in the Top 10. Nonetheless landing just outside the Top 20 are Storm, aka Jam and Spoon who follow up their summertime Top 3 hit Time To Burn with this frenzied four minutes of not-trance. Enough to break the ice at Christmas parties at least.
25 WALK OF LIFE (Billie Piper)
How annoying. She begins a fling with DJ/Presenter Chris Evans just a week too late for it to affect the sales of her new single. Has she learned nothing from Geri Halliwell? Seriously though, Billie Piper can consider this year to have been a triumph as it was the year she cast off the image of sweet child star and became a starlet instead with a deliberately vamped up image. It meant she had a Number One hit with Day And Night, a Top 5 followup with Something Deep Inside and now this new single which gets rather lost in the mix this week and as a result could well end up her first single to miss the Top 10.
27 WARNING (Green Day)
The second hit single of the year for Green Day, this one following up Minority which reached Number 18 in September. They may not be able to boast a string of big hits but they are at the very least consistent, this track becoming their 12th chart record in this country and maintaining a 100% strike rate of Top 30 hits.
34 DON'T STOP THE MUSIC (Lionel Richie)
The "Lionel Richie goes urban" project continues apace. Following on from the Number 18 hit Angel from October comes this second new single which although it has very much a 70s disco theme is dressed up in an R&B production worthy of a man half his age. For whatever reason nobody appears to be as excited by this modern new Lionel Richie, certainly not to the same extent that Cher pulled off the same trick two years ago but I like these records. Better that a living musical legend is making an effort to make music that still sounds relevant rather than attempting to peddle the same style as his past glories.
36 GIRL YOU KNOW ITS TRUE (Keith N' Shane)
It must be nice to be in a positon to make records that are really little more than one big inside joke. Essentially this is what this single is. Girl You Know Its True was in 1988 the first hit single for the duo known as Milli Vanilli, ostensibly two models/rappers called Rob and Fab but who were in fact just a front for German producer Frank Farian, best known as the brains behind Boney M in the 1970s. The two had a moderately good run of hits in this country but in the States they became superstars, selling millions of records, topping the chart several times and being showered with awards. Until of course their cover was blown and it was revealed they didn't actually sing on the records at which point a great many people became very embarrassed, awards had to be returned and lawsuits began to fly as people - bizarrely - tried to claim refunds on their copies of the records. Anyone who has ever seen the Behind The Music show on VH1 about the story will know the whole affair actually ended up with some rather tragic consequences.
So it is with this background that Keith Duffy and Shane Lynch have recorded their own version. The two gentlemen are best known for each being one-fifth of Boyzone which means that they now follow former bandmates Ronan Keating, Stephen Gately and Mikey Graham into the chart as solo (or at least duetting) stars. The new version of Girl You Know It's True is done very tongue in cheek with most of the words (and indeed virtually the entire melody) changed to namecheck the likes of Gary Barlow, Steps, Five, Robbie Williams and even Ronan himself. The fact that the single has charted so low down suggests that actually it isn't that good or even that funny but you do get the feeling that to have a massive hit single wasn't always the point of the exercise. As a pre-Christmas novelty hit it does nicely enough and at least gives us all the chance to wonder just what on earth is up with the facial hair. See you next week for the big one, the Christmas chart 2000.