Happy new year, and welcome to the most singularly bizarre chart of the year. The week when nothing at all happens. The reasoning behind this is fairly obvious of course, this chart covers the sales week of 24-30 December when there is often little point in releasing new product (especially as Monday was Christmas Day when the shops were closed) for fear it will get swamped as everyone races to spend money on older product in the Christmas sales. For there to actually be a chart in this week is a comparatively recent innovation, until 1984 the chart remained static for a fortnight after Christmas and virtually all reference books simply plug the gap by assuming the new year chart is an exact copy of the Christmas one. With modern technology of course there is no need for anything to shut down so the listings are produced as normal, even if it makes for some very dull reading.
1 CAN WE FIX IT (Bob The Builder)
For the Number One position there is no change at all, Bob The Builder clings on for a third week to cement (sorry) his status as the biggest chart star of the moment. Three weeks at the top means he equals the record set by Sonique's It Feels So Good as the longest running chart-topper of 2000 (even if technically the date of this chart means Can We Fix It is the first Number One single of 2001). The single also equals the 3 week run of Do The Bartman and The Chicken Song by The Simpsons and Spitting Image respectively. The only single by a non-sentient chart act to stay at the top longer was Sugar Sugar by the Archies which had an 8-week run in 1969.
4 WHAT MAKES A MAN (Westlife)
After failing to top the chart last week, Westlife do indeed look as if they have shot their bolt as far as their record-stretching run of Number One hits is concerned. Not only do they fall to No.4 but also suffer the indignity of seeing two singles which were released over a month ago overtake them in sales on only their second week on the chart. Once again it must be stressed that it would be wrong to write them off just yet. Stranger things have happened in the first week of January than a pre-Christmas release suddenly vaulting to the top. If the All Saints can have a Number One hit with a single that has already sold over 900,000 copies over the holiday period (as they did two years ago) then why cannot Westlife grab the top slot next week? Watch this space...
5 WHO LET THE DOGS OUT (Baha Men)
A third straight week at Number 5 for the Baha Men on what is now their 11th straight week inside the Top 10. This officially makes Who Let The Dogs Out the longest running Top 10 single since Cher's Believe clocked up 12 weeks in the upper reaches in early 1999.
6 NO GOOD 4 ME (Oxide & Neutrino)
One act who could be a little disappointed at not doing better this week are Oxide & Neutrino. In an attempt to take advantage of the traditional post-Christmas sales lull the record company used a strategy which is hardly seen these days - staggering the release of one of the formats. Hence the appearance in the shops last week of CD2 of No Good 4 Me which contained some mixes not available elsewhere. Whilst this will have given sales of the single an extra boost, the tactic has done little more than help them to remain static at Number 6, suggesting that a sharp decline may well have been the case under ordinary circumstances.
That as they say is that, as far as significant activity inside the Top 40 is concerned, however, there is one single at the very bottom that might raise a few eyebrows...
72 THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL (Steps)
This record should not be here. The new single from Steps actually gets its official release this week. However many shops will have been serviced with stocks of the single several days ago to ensure they had them in time. Despite being plastered with huge labels that say "do not sell until January 1st 2001" some copies did find their way onto shelves and subsequently into the hands of the paying public. The charts do not discriminate between leaked and officially released tracks and so the sales have registered and the single has been given a chart position. This kind of accidental leak isn't completely unknown. For example, in January 1992 the Prodigy's Everybody In The Place EP was made available prematurely leading to it charting at Number 48 the week before release and then rocketing to Number 10 the week after. Normally, however, the numbers involved mean the single ends up with a premature unofficial position of 156 or similar. This week sales levels are on such an artificial low that the leaked copies of the Steps single are enough to give it a Top 75 placing. Now this is an official chart position which means that wherever the record charts next week it will be listed as a climber from No.72. Is it possible that Steps are going to write themselves into history and register the biggest ever leap to No.1?
[This actually marked one of the few times I single-handedly broke a mainstream news story. Having written that piece up, dotmusic spotted the story and posted it (complete with quotes from me) as a news item in its own right. This was then picked up by other news outlets desperate for material at the dead time of year. Suddenly the story of Steps and their hit that wasn't supposed to be was all over the Entertainment news pages].
OK then space filling time, given that the commentary is so short this week. A few weeks ago I suggested that Peach's On My Own would be top of any list of the greatest singles never to have been major hits. This prompted a flurry of emails from people wondering what the others would be. In truth, I could list hundreds of tracks that were either turntable hits or just totally ignored back in their day. It all depends, how far back you want to go with this. Do we stop at the early 80s for the likes of Radio Java's Why Do You Always Haunt Me or maybe Six Months In A Leaky Boat by Split Enz. The late 80s inspire memories of Icehouse's Electric Blue, Babakoto's Just To Get By or Soulsister's Way To Your Heart. From the early 90's you could have Airhead with Funny How or maybe Tyrrel Corporation with Waking With A Stranger.
Confining the list to the past 3 or 4 years though aside from the so-good-it-hurts Peach single I can name three singles which deserved more attention than they were given at the time:
- Loreta - Trouble With Boys
- Bachelor Girl - Buses And Trains
- Merril Bainbridge - Mouth
Have fun disagreeing violently with those. See you on the other side for the first sales week proper of 2001.