1 RISE (Gabrielle)
Despite a number of strong challenges, Gabrielle manages to hold firm at the top of the UK charts this week, giving Rise a second week at the top. Compared to recent events this is an astonishing level of consistency for a record released at the very start of the year. Rise is only the third new Number One of the year yet has managed more than a week on top. Compare that with 1999 when the first single to last beyond a week was Britney Spears' Baby One More Time, the 9th chart topper of the year at the end of February. 1998 and 1997 both saw us having to wait for the 6th Number One of the year for such a situation to arise. Something tells me that a third week on top for Rise may well be wishful thinking given the arrival in the shops this week of singles from the likes of Oasis and Eiffel 65 - which is actually something of a shame as the last solo British female singer to spend three weeks at Number One was none other than Gabrielle herself - way back in 1993.
2 ADELANTE (Sash!)
The biggest new hit of the week is a welcome return to form for the German producer whose singles are almost as absorbing as the exclamation mark in his name. Sash! first hit the chart back in 1997 and went on a run of successive five successive Top 3 hits with Encore Une Fois, Ecuador, Stay, La Primavera and Mysterious Times, the first four of which incidentally made him unique as all were sung or voiced in different languages. The run fizzled out when Move Mania 'only' reached Number 8 in November 1998 and last year he missed the Top 10 for the first time ever when Colour The World staggered to Number 15 in April. The slide is now reversed with Adelante which has been whipping dancefloors into a storm with its whirling gypsy rhythms but which perhaps unbelievably is his fifth Number 2 hit. He has yet to top the chart in this country and if any other chart act has had five Number 2s without once hitting the top then I confess I cannot call them to mind at this precise moment. Never mind, there is hope yet. Could this herald the start of another Top 3 run? Encore Une Fois...
3 SWEET LOVE (Fierce)
Could 2000 mark the start of the big breakthrough for Fierce? The three girls made their chart debut just over a year ago with Right Here Right Now which made a respectable enough Number 25. Two Top 20 hits followed in the summer in the shape of Dayz Like That and So Long but despite tireless promotional work the Londonders were unable to persuade people to regard them as any more than "just another British R&B act". All that could well change now as their decision to cover Anita Baker's 1986 Top 20 hit has turned out to be an inspired one. The soul smoocher receives just the right amount of updating and suits the voices of Fierce perfectly - well good enough anyway to give them a Top 3 entry and their biggest hit to date. Hardcore soul fans needn't worry, I've not gone soft and yes, Sweet Love was one of those records that was hitherto regarded as an untouchable classic, but the song has helped to raise the profile of Fierce and you never know may even help to lift them to TLC levels of fame. That's no bad thing.
6 HAMMER TO THE HEART (Tamperer featuring Maya)
Remember these guys? Their two hits to date came in 1998 in the shape of the Madonna-sampling If You Buy This Record Your Life Will Be Better and the unforgettable (so this reminder is probably unnecessary) Feel It which topped the chart in June that year. Their silence since the end of that year was as a result of singer Maya going back to her day job and taking a starring role in the West End production of cult musical Rent. Now she is back in the fold (albeit temporarily) and this wonderful piece of pop can now see the light of day. The cheeky sample this time is from Abba's disco classic Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie and the central synthesiser riff is used as the basis for another infectious piece of danceable pop which if anything is probably a far more worthy of a place at the top of the chart than any of the other singles released this week. Still, Top 10 is good enough for now and you can add Hammer To The Heart to the list of records that have managed to combine rock guitars and dance beats in a way that actually doesn't sound completely daft.
[Unusually I've embedded a fan upload here, as all the 'official' videos on YouTube are of an international mix which had to delete the Abba samples as they couldn't be cleared outside Europe. It isn't half the record it was without them].
9 AISHA (Death In Vegas)
However if it is a more credible fusion of rock and beats you are after then look no further than this gothic masterpiece. Death In Vegas is the collective name for producers Richard Fearless and Tim Holmes and whose success to date has been confined to that of cult status. They escaped having mainstream hits by the skin of their teeth in 1997 when the singles Dirt and Rocco had a brief wander around the bottom end of the Top 75. With the release of Aisha their cult status had to end and a massive hit was assured. The attraction is the spoken vocal contribution of no less a figure than Iggy Pop who growls his lyrics like a pissed off Leonard Cohen whilst big beats and crunching guitars go to work underneath him. The result is quite unique and easily the most stirring record you will have heard in a long time. OK a small confession here, for the rest of this month I'm presenting on a temporary rock station in Huddersfield (106.6 The Edge if you happen to be around) and so for a little while at least this kind of thing is my bread and butter. Although he is uncredited on the chart listings, Aisha ranks as Iggy Pop's first chart appearance since the re-released Lust For Life made Number 22 in March 1998 and effectively the biggest chart hit of his long career - eclipsing even the Number 10 peak of Real Wild Child from January 1987.
12 BREATHE AND STOP (Q-Tip)
As hardcore and funky as rap gets but a Top 20 hit single nonetheless for the first single to give a solo credit to Q-Tip. This will be his first qualification for his own entry in British Hit Singles but he is of course better known as one part of A Tribe Called Quest, not to mention the man who supplied the rap on Janet Jackson's Got Til It's Gone which made Number 6 in October 1997.
14 GOT TO GET IT (Sisqo)
This seems to be a week for former frontmen with the letter Q in their name to have solo hits. After Q-Tip comes Sisqo whose previous chart appearances have been as one part of tight harmonied R&B stars Dru Hill. Any fears that his high pitched vocal style would be out of place without the support of his fellow bandmates can be laid to rest as Got To Get It drives along with plenty of energy to work on a pop as well as an R&B level. Just to break things up, rappers Make It Hot supply the odd intervention. Bets on when they will have a hit of their own are being taken now...
18 COMMUNICATION (Armin)
A nice illustration of the way music and lyrics can be copyrighted but song titles cannot comes in the way Armin can chart with a dance single called Communication barely a month after Mario Piu did exactly the same thing. Fortunately there are no mobile telephones on this one, just twinkling keyboards of the kind that made Jean Michel Jarre a millionaire two and a half decades ago.
24 FALLING AWAY FROM ME (Korn)
Theme of the month for Serious Music Writers appears to be the seemingly insurmountable divide between the popular music tastes of the UK and the US. A good reference point for this is the success of Korn. Whereas disaffected American youth think the sun shines out of their backsides, the majority view of death metal as practiced here by Jonathan Davies and his bandmates is that it should be filed under "Unholy racket." Despite this they haven't done too badly over the last few years and indeed Falling Away From Me is now their sixth successive UK hit single, all of which have charted between 22 and 26. This single is their first hit since Freak On A Leash also made Number 24 in May last year - their biggest hit remains A.D.I.D.A.S. from February 1997. Welcome them at the very least as a band full of people playing real instruments but don't hold your breath waiting for them to charge into the Top 10 anytime soon.
27 WHATEVER YOU NEED (Tina Turner)
A rather lowly new entry this week for the second single from Tina Turner's current album and the follow-up to When The Heartache Is Over which made Number 10 back in October last year. Whatever You Need is as close to Tina by numbers as you can get, anthemic chorus, heartfelt vocals and the overwhelming feeling of 'meaning' with which she manages to infuse all her vocal performances. The problem is of course is that all of this doesn't prevent it from being anything more than just another Tina Turner single which means that her next massive hit will have to wait for a single that is either a) brand new or b) extraordinarily good.
31 LOVE WILL COME (Tomski)
Wasn't he one of the Wombles? Tom Jankiewicz (bless you!) is better unknown as one of the members of Chicane, purveyors of trance tunes such as Saltwater and Offshore to the masses. This solo single is essentially more of the same (presumably this time around he programs all the computers rather than just his own) complete with the obligatory haunting female vocal. Love Will Come is incidentally the second Tomski single to hit the chart, his first coming in April 1998 in the shape of 14 Hours To Save The Earth which reached Number 42.
32 THAT'S THE WAY LOVE IS (Byron Stingily)
Just what is it that inspires people to release new versions of songs they have recorded in far superior versions in the past? Just a few short weeks after the Brand New Heavies (featuring Carleen Anderson) hit the Top 40 with a new version of Apparently Nothing (original artists: Young Disciples (featuring Carleen Anderson) comes Byron Stingily with this reworking of That's The Way Love Is. Said song is rightly regarded as a classic, one of a number of now-classic Deep House records that flooded the chart in the first few months of 1989. The song made Number 8 as the first ever hit single for Ten City and although their later singles never quite lived up to this promise it was enough of a start to enable their lead singer to get a solo record deal when the group broke up. His name? Byron Stingily. So it is that almost exactly two years since he last charted with a cover of You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), Stingily hits the Top 40 with a new rendition of the song that first made him famous. Although the raw soul of the original composition remains intact and his voice is still as lovely as ever this new version cannot help but pale in comparison with the still much-loved original. I would have preferred to hear him cover Apparently Nothing to be perfectly honest...
33 OTHERSIDE (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
A third hit single in succession for the Red Hots and indeed one which manages to beat the Number 35 peak of Around The World back in September last year. Believe it or not the band who once titled a Best Of... collection What Hits? have now racked up 9 successive Top 40 singles in a run dating back to the Top 10 appearance of Give It Away back in 1994. A far cry from the days when they could hardly get arrested in this country. Even with the socks.