1 RISE (Gabrielle)
To tell this story properly it is necessary to go back to early 1993. A white label dance record began circulating in clubs, a laid back mellow groove that featured a sweet female vocal over the sampled guitar riff of Tracy Chapman's Fast Car. The track turned out to be called Dreams and was to become the first ever hit single for Gabrielle. It finally became a commercial single in June that year, shorn of the sample due to licensing issues but still sounding a classic. The track shot into the Top 3 (at the time the highest ever new entry by an unknown act) and within a week was a massive Number One single. Since then Gabrielle has had a respectable chart career with several Top 10 hits to her name, the most recent of which was back in October with the Number 9 hit Sunshine. This week, six and a half years since her debut, she finally claims a second Number One hit single. By a strange irony Rise uses a similar format to the original version of Dreams, a sweet ballad based around chunks of the melody from another classic. In this case it is Bob Dylan's famous song Knockin' On Heaven's Door which provides the base for the single. Dylan himself had to give permission for the release of the track and reportedly liked it so much he waived half his royalties. Not that he needs the money of course. This marks the first time since his Bobness has had a writer's credit on a UK Number One single since December 1996 when one of his songs was covered for the Dunblane charity single - the song of course being Knockin' On Heaven's Door.
3 THE GREAT BEYOND (REM)
Funnily enough this week's second highest new entry is also part of a story that began in the early 1990s. Man On The Moon was a track from REM's Automatic For The People album, the single reaching Number 18 in October 1992. Although most people in this country probably didn't realise, the single was a direct reference to the late US comedian Andy Kaufman. When the story of his life was to be made into a film (also called Man On The Moon) it made perfect sense to invite REM to contribute to the soundtrack. This they have done, not only with new versions of Man On The Moon but also with some hitherto unreleased material. One such track is The Great Beyond which this week charges straight into the Top 3. Incredibly enough this is enough to make it their biggest ever hit single in this country, eclipsing nicely the Number 4 peak of 1996's E-Bow The Letter. For a band whose last album was best regarded as "a difficult listen" the success of this single (easily the most commercial record they have released for years) is a very welcome surprise.
4 GLORIOUS (Andreas Johnson)
Last week some were talking about the very real possibility that this single was a contender for the Number One slot. In the event it falls a little way short but does well enough to ensure Andreas Johnson makes an immediate impact with his first ever UK hit single. The Swedish-born American resident has actually been around for a while, his first album failing to catch fire commercially. Something tells me his second offering is set to do much better, especially if this single is anything to go by. Imagine Bono singing the most uplifting Manic Street Preachers record ever and you will have a pretty good idea of the appeal of this single.
6 GIRL ON TV (Lyte Funkie Ones)
After making their UK breakthrough last September with their second single Summer Girls, the Lyte Funkie Ones have bided their time before releasing the follow-up. The strategy appears to have paid off as Girl On TV has nicely avoided the Christmas rush and becomes a major hit single just as the post-seasonal lull is starting to ease off. This single follows the same formula as the first, a simple guitar and piano arrangement backing up the laid back, part-sung part-spoken part-rapped vocals, making the band a sort of less in your face Fun Lovin' Criminals. Girl On TV duly becomes their first ever Top 10 hit after a whirlwind of promotion and quite deservedly so.
8 OOH STICK YOU! (Daphne & Celeste)
Are these girls the anti-Britney? Daphne & Celeste are two teenagers from New Jersey who appear to be being promoted as the antidote to the squeaky clean female pop stars of which America appears so enamoured. Hence their first single is a riotous mix of anti-parent, anti-school attitude as if to prove that being disaffected needn't make you miserable. They have a Top 10 hit single first time out but despite the sense of fun this single inspires I can't help but whether their appeal is based on short-term novelty value. Those with long memories may recall that Shampoo had a handful of hits in the mid-90s with a similar kind of image before they faded into obscurity and as the Spice Girls so nearly proved at the start of their career, it is possible for female attitude to also be classy. [A hugely significant moment this, for without Daphne and Celeste we would not have had the greatest festival moment of summer 2000 and perhaps indeed all time. But we'll get to that].
15 DON'T FALTER (Mint Royale)
Although they have never had a hit single under their own name, Mint Royale have been responsible for one massive chart single, namely Terrorvision's Tequila which they remixed in quite dramatic style to give them a Number 2 hit in January last year. 12 months on and it is time for them to have a career of their own and thank goodness they did, otherwise we might never have heard the best single of the week. Don't Falter is as far removed from Tequila or even a dance remix as it is possible to get, the single inspiring memories of Saint Etienne at their most laid-back best. The female vocal on the track is supplied by none other than Lauren Laverne, former lead singer of Kenickie and now sometime TV presenter. Ironically Kenickie never had a Top 20 hit, the highest Laverne's old band ever climbed was Number 24 with In Your Car in January 1997.
16 NOTORIOUS (Notorious B.I.G. featuring Puff Daddy)
Just when you thought the stock of unreleased tracks had dried up... Almost 18 months after his last hit the late Biggy Smalls makes yet another posthumous return to the charts. The premise for the single is perhaps the most obvious one yet, Notorious raps about himself to the accompaniment of Duran Duran's 1986 Top 10 hit Notorious. Simple but effective and it duly becomes his fourth Top 20 hit single, all of which have come since he died in 1997. How many more tracks are left in the archives though?
17 HEAR YOU CALLING (Aurora)
Dance music is notoriously fickle when it comes to the popularity of its genres. No sooner has one particular style become cool then it is deemed to be on its way out with another style, rhythm or tempo ready to step up and take its place. Not so trance it seems as almost a year since the first trance records started to chart, new ones are arriving all the time. The latest of these is Hear You Calling, the brainchild of DJs Sacha Collisson and Simon Greenaway who both spent last summer in the clubs of Ibiza. Both men apparently met and contrived the idea for the single in legendary Ibiza club Manumission - the same place that singer Natalie worked as a dancer.
18 SHINE 2000 (Space Brothers)
...and bizarrely enough the early trance singles are starting to come round again. Actually credit where credit is due as the Space Brothers were having hits with trance records long before it became the dominant dance sound of last year. Shine was first released in May 1997 when it reached Number 23. In reality the single had hardly dated at all but this ever so subtle remix is enough to bring it bang up to date and propel it into the Top 20 to become their biggest ever hit single.
24 TEARDROPS (Lovestation)
It is dance re-release time yet again. Lovestation's club cover of Womack And Womack's 1988 classic was first released in August 1998, reaching Number 14. Late last year a new set of remixes were released to clubs and the single began to appear on club charts again, building up anticipation for the single to be re-released. Thus with a few new squeaky bits here and there the track enters the chart once more, albeit somewhat lower than first time around.
25 BEST THING (Adam Rickitt)
Now don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with pop acts churning out singles to a particular formula. The likes of Steps and Westlife in their own different ways do it all the time and have had spectacular success as a result. The problem is that the strategy only works if said formula is actually one which gives you big hit singles. This is where Adam Rickitt has a problem. His formula is bouncy eurodisco tracks that showcase his own breathless vocals through a series of electronic effects, the kind of stereotypical gay disco music that given the right circumstances can sound pretty damn wonderful. The only trouble is that the hits are just getting smaller. His first single I Breathe Again made Number 5 back in June last year but after that the novelty appeared to wear off. Everything My Heart Desires made a brief chart appearance at Number 15 and now this third single fares even worse, even if it does maintain his record of having every single peak ten places lower than the last. There is still a great potential for the former soap actor to become a recording star but maybe, just maybe, he needs to find a new magic formula.
27 17 AGAIN (Eurythmics)
Three weeks ago the Pet Shop Boys became the first act to have a Top 40 hit single in the 80s, 90s and 2000s and they are joined this week by Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox. This single is the follow-up to I Saved The World Today which made Number 11 in October and is also taken from their reunion album. 17 Again may only be a minor footnote in their long career but is worthy of comment if only for the magical way that the song (which is all about the things that inspire the memories of when you are young) subtly turns into a rendition of Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), one of their very first hit singles from 1983.
28 SURVIVE (David Bowie)
Here's the thing. I always liken David Bowie singles to Japanese wrestling matches. I know that there are a great many of them. Some are rather average and some are quite superb, amongst the best in the world. The problem is that the critical ability to distinguish between the two appears to be quite beyond me. As far as this person is concerned they all seem to be as good or as bad as each other. Hence the as the follow-up to Thursday's Child lands on the chart (incidentally meaning that Bowie has now had hit singles in four decades from the 1960s onwards) all I can do is tell you that it comes from his most critically acclaimed album for years and to the hardcore Bowie fan is a very good single indeed. Everyone else will probably prefer to stay neutral (although admittedly the production on the song is magical - combining both electric and acoustic guitars). Me? I'm off to watch an old IWA tape and get confused again.
31 APACHE (Starfighter)
Dance singles from Belgium? It happens you know. This track has been around for some time, one of the bigger crowd favourites at last year's Berlin Love Parade. Hey, if nothing else Starfighter is a fantastic name for an act don't you think? Almost as good as Atomic Kitten.
36 SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND (Fred & Roxy)
Thanks to a media blitz, most people will be familiar with the career to date of Fred & Roxy, the two sisters who worked as receptionists at Chrysalis records and who persuaded their bosses to listen to their demo tape. Bizarrely I seem to have been around for most of their path to fame. They spent most of last summer touring the country on radio roadshows, meaning I met them briefly on two occasions. Last autumn they went down the tried and tested route of performing at school assemblies to drum up advance support for their single. The BBC did a short news report on this back in November and if you search the news site carefully enough you will find an video report which features a short piece to camera by Yours Truly (or rather my evil twin John Masterton) about why performing in schools is A Good Thing. At least it was supposed to be a good thing, as despite all their hard work and despite a fair amount of hype the debut single from Fred & Roxy has performed rather disappointingly. It is not that it isn't an appealing pop record with the right kind of bright, bubbly party chorus that characterises a good pop single, it is just that you get the feeling that this is a record trying so hard to be a pop smash that it misses the target altogether and comes off as being uninspired. Here's hoping for better things next time around anyway as on past evidence I'm likely to get membership of the Met Bar at around the same time they do.
37 LOVE SONG (Utah Saints)
Tim Garbutt and Jez Willis form the Utah Saints, two DJs from Leeds who in the early 1990s were on the verge of becoming the biggest superstars in dance. This was thanks to their early hits which took sampling to new heights, eschewing the usual cliches to create records out of the most unlikely sounding classics. Granted, everyone and Will Smith is doing the same today but back then it was an inspired move. What Can You Do For Me (sampling Annie Lennox) made Number 10 in August 1991, Something Good (sampling Kate Bush) made Number 4 in June 1992 and Believe In Me (sampling The Human League) hit Number 8 in May 1993. Although not hits, their hybrid of rock and dance did big business in America too and the Utah Saints were genuine superstars. Then the hits tailed off, their last single coming in 1995 when Ohio could only reach Number 42. Now after five years they are back with a brand new single that features a cheeky sample from the Average White Band's Pick Up The Pieces. Not as big a hit as it might have been it must be said... maybe this is one occasion when remixing their older hits may well have paid bigger dividends. [Mystic Masterton strikes again... eight years later that's exactly what happened].
40 WON'T LET THIS FEELING GO (Sundance)
Not the most well known of production duos but Sundance have managed one or two chart singles to their name over the last few years. Their first release was er..Sundance which made Number 33 in November 1997 and then Number 49 when remixed a year later. Last year they briefly made the Top 75 with The Living Dream which peaked at Number 56 in February. Finally their second Top 40 hit single arrives in the shape of this trance-inspired single complete with the required female vocal. Sadly I have nothing left to say that is either relevant or true. Until next week.