BIT THAT'S NOT ACTUALLY ABOUT THE CHART:
Did you know there are actually two of us that do the job of writing about the charts each week? One of them is Alan Jones whose words of wisdom can be found in the pages of dotmusic's printed sister publication Music Week every week and who is rightfully regarded as the unquestionable authority on all things chart-related. He has probably forgotten more about chart facts than I have ever had time to learn. The other person is me, the chap whose name you see at the top of this window and who is occasionally guilty of writing columns whilst still badly hungover from the Unique Broadcasting company awayday (don't ask). The only reason I point this out is that when I write something that differs in some way with established perceptions of the facts it is Mr Jones whose phone often rings off the hook with people helpfully trying to correct him. I'm sure that annoys him as much as it entertains me...
[Alan Jones remains the king of chart analysis and the one writer whose style the rest of us are destined simply to copy. He and I have only ever briefly crossed paths, but this week was indeed one of them when he dropped me a polite note grumbling that whenever I make an error (of which there was one in particular the previous week) everyone thinks it is him doing it].
1 NEVER HAD A DREAM COME TRUE (S Club 7)
S Club 7 certainly don't believe in milking albums for singles do they? Despite the fact that every single track they have ever recorded sounds like a Top 10 hit in waiting, their debut album only spawned three hits and now after just two releases from 7 they have moved on to more new material. Let's be nice here because it is all for charidee mate, the tenth different Number One single in as many weeks is a track that was the official theme to this years' BBC Children In Need telethon which meant that it (and the group) have had plenty of television exposure over the past few weeks. Small surprise then that the epic and lushly produced ballad has little difficulty in charging to the top to give the TV-created pop group what is only their second Number One hit (the first being their debut Bring It All Back in June 1999). Those that are fans of fun coincidences may well have noted that S Club 7's last single Natural is still on the chart after 12 weeks and this week slides down three places to Number 75, thus giving the group the distinction of being simultaneously at the very top and very bottom of the official chart listings.
Never Had A Dream Come True is the 884th single to top the UK charts since 1952 which means it is always possible we will be witnessing the 900th such record as soon as March or April next year. Such speculation is all for the future though as it will not have escaped your attention that there are just a few short weeks left until Christmas. This means it is time for the annual game of guessing what single will be topping the charts in Christmas week (which this year will conveniently be the chart published on December 24th to nicely cover the last shopping week before the holiday). Given that Westlife are releasing a new single just in time for that chart, many people are writing off the competition before the race has even begun. Whilst there does seem to be an air of inevitability about it all there is still plenty of room for surprises. After all as last weeks chart proved, not even Ronan Keating is guaranteed a Number One hit, so why should the same be true of Westlife?
2 INDEPENDENT WOMEN (Destiny's Child)
Just to clarify the facts surrounding last week's Number One hit which ended up being confused by some late changes I made to the text and some daft typing errors, Destiny's Child were indeed the first female American group to top the UK charts since The Bangles with Eternal Flame back in 1989 with Sister Sledge coming before them with Frankie in 1985 [the original upload of the column missed out The Bangles, although it is the corrected one that I ended up archiving thank goodness]. In fact taking chart history as a whole, Destiny's Child can claim to be part of a very select band of acts indeed. Since 1952 when the first chart was published only 10 female groups have ever topped the chart: Supremes, Three Degrees, Baccara, Sister Sledge, Bangles, Shakespear's Sister, Spice Girls, All Saints, B*witched and now Destiny's Child. To this list you can also add the St Winifred's School Choir who were also all female even if their average age was around 8 years old plus the likes of Althia and Donna, Mel & Kim and Elaine Paige & Barbara Dickson. Those acts were not 'groups' as such but if duos like Baccara and Shakespear's Sister are to count then so should co-credited female duettists. Honourable mention must also go to Eternal who would have counted but for the fact that their only Number One single came with a man (Bebe Winans) sharing lead vocals. Anyone who doubts the way the Spice Girls opened the floodgates for male-free acts should note that there were more all-girl groups at Number One in the 1990s than in the whole of the 50s, 60s and 70s put together.
4 DON'T TELL ME (Madonna)
Good grief. All the fuss, all the hype, the number of friends who called me up asking if I had access to tickets (I didn't) and in the end Madonna's celebrated Brixton Academy gig in London this week turned out to last all of half an hour and for a handful of songs. Forgive me for being a little underwhelmed. Handily all the publicity coincides nicely with Maddy's new single which doesn't become her third Number One of the year but instead does nicely enough to give her yet another Top 10 hit. Don't Tell Me is now her 48th UK Top 10 hit and one which means she is fast catching up on the two men that head this all-time list. The only other chart acts to have more are Elvis Presley (who has been stuck on 55 for the last 20 years) and Cliff Richard for whom the Millennium Prayer was his 65th Top 10 hit. Keep going Madonna, the competition are in sight.
8 I PUT A SPELL ON YOU (Sonique)
The diva from the DJ booth rounds off her year with a third straight Top 10 hit. Like the massive Number One smash It Feels So Good, this single is also a re-release as I Put A Spell On You was her first solo hit single, reaching Number 36 in June 1998. The song itself is a rather magical reworking of an oldie, the song having first been turned into a hit by Nina Simone back in 1965. Her version only made Number 49 and it was left to Alan Price to take the song to Number 9 the following year. Nina Simone's version finally became a Top 30 hit in 1969 whilst more recently it was covered by Brian Ferry who reached Number 18 in March 1993.
9 PHATT BASS (Warp Brothers vs Aquagen)
Now this is a bizarre one. Listen to this new entry by the Warp Brothers vs Aquagen and follow it immediately with an airing of Public Domain's Operation Blade (which this week stays solid at Number 5). It is very hard to ignore the fact that they are both fundamentally the same record, both based extensively around the thundering bassline of New Order's 1983 hit Confusion. The true story behind just how there came to be two dance records based around the same principle has yet to emerge into the realm of solid fact but the current theory is that Public Domain based their record on an obscure unlikely-ever-to-see-the-light-of-day white label pressing that subsequently emerged as Phatt Bass. Either way there seems little point in arguing as at the end of the day the only people who can claim rights to a particular sample are the people who recorded it first - in this case New Order who are clearly perfectly happy to sit back and collect their share of the royalties. What is more fascinating is the fact that two tracks which are essentially identical are in the Top 10 at the same time. Cover battles do break out in the charts from time to time but usually there are clear winners and losers, for example in 1996 the Los Del Rio version of Macarena easily saw off a spoiler version from Los Del Mar whilst in 1995 the reverse happened when the original European hit version of Living Next Door To Alice by Gompie found itself overtaken in the charts by Smokie's own re-recorded version. Occasions when two versions of the same song are actually in the Top 10 together seem to come in pairs. April 1996 saw both Mark Snow and DJ Dado in the upper reaches with the X-Files Theme, just four months after both Oasis and Mike Flowers Pops were slugging it out with rival versions of Wonderwall. Believe it or not the end of 1987 also saw it happen twice within the space of a few months. October that saw Steve Walsh at Number 9 with I Found Lovin' whilst two places above were the Fatback Band with their original version of the track. Two months later Rick Astley's cover of When I Fall In Love had to compete with a re-release of Nat King Cole's classic version and in Christmas week both singles claimed a Top 10 placing.
11 WHASSUP (Da Muttz)
Not quite on the same scale as the Phatt Bass/Operation Blade axis but just as fascinating is the race to get records based on the Budweiser adverts into the chart. One aspect of the battle was won last week when True Party became the first act to chart when Whazzup made Number 13. This week Da Muttz go two places better and charge in at Number 11 with a track that is based around the same Rick James sample which was used to such great effect by MC Hammer on U Can't Touch This exactly ten years ago. Just don't try to sing along kids or you will damage your vocal chords for good.
12 THANK YOU FOR LOVING ME (Bon Jovi)
However many people smile at the way a stadium rock band with their roots in the 1980s are anachronistically having hits in the year 2000 you cannot deny that Bon Jovi have been amongst this years most consistent hitmakers. Thank You For Loving Me is their third Top 20 single of the year, following on from It's My Life and Say It Isn't So which were both Top 10 hits. This single sees the band in full on power ballad mode and was the song to which two fans married live on stage at one of their gigs during the summer.
18 IF THAT WERE ME (Melanie C)
Now what is the betting that this single is going to inspire even more lazy headlines about how the Spice Girls are all utterly finished as a chart force? True, this latest single from Melanie C now holds the dubious honour of becoming the lowest charting Spice-related single to date, landing four places lower than "Melanie G" who reached Number 14 with a cover of Cameo's Word Up in July 1999. The truth of the matter is that If That Were Me is actually the fifth single to be taken from Mel C's solo album Northern Star and it has probably proved to be a cut too far in terms of singles potential, even though her last single Never Be The Same Again was an easy Number One back in August. What is more fascinating is that the process of promoting her solo project of last year has continued despite the release of the new Spice Girls album towards which you would expect most promotional efforts to be directed.
29 CHARLIE'S ANGELS 2000 (Apollo Four Forty)
Independent Women may be the smash hit of the Charlies Angels soundtrack but in common with most movie remakes of classic TV shows the film itself opens with a modern day take on the original theme. Nominated acts for this are Apollo Four Forty whose talents at taking the most unlikely of inspirations and turning them into storming dance hits are well documented. This is by no means the first time that they have been called upon to rework an old TV theme for cinematic purposes as their transformation of the Lost In Space theme made Number 4 in August 1998 to coincide with the release of that particular nostalgia trip.
30 SHAKE YA ASS (Mystikal)
Mystikal may be the latest rap sensation on the other side of the pond but here his UK debut is rather more understated with this single just scraping a place in the Top 30. Still it isn't every week that the lowest new entry of the week is still a Top 30 hit, the fact that most big guns are holding off for a few weeks so they have a good run at the Christmas market means that this week has been rather thin on the ground for new releases. You can bet that things will hot up soon... see you next week when the action is set to centre around the mysterious figure of Stan.