I get letters:
A reader who shall remain nameless writes: Well, I don't know how exactly old you are, but on the photo on your website you don't look like someone who'd remember, for example, the days when the first Beatles single was released.
I'm changing that picture, pronto.
1 WE WILL ROCK YOU (Five & Queen)
As the summer parade o'Number One hits treads its merry path, this week's occupant of the upper reaches is none other than the track that formed the storming opening to this years' Brits ceremony back in February. As is probably obvious, We Will Rock You is a cover of one of the ultimate Queen tracks, two minutes of rock perfection made up on the spot by Brian May and which originally appeared on the album News Of The World. It was released on a single in October 1977 as a double a-side with We Are The Champions although technically the chart only listed the latter track, relegating We Will Rock You to the status of just a b-side as the single charged to Number 2. Nonetheless there surely isn't been a sports side that hasn't used it as an anthem at some point down the line, hence its place as a legendary rock single. Now we have a new version, as performed by a boy band. The potential for disaster is tempered slightly by the fact that the surviving members of Queen have all contributed to the track and indeed all make cameo appearances in the video. As a result Five have their second Number One single, their second in three releases and in the process experience a pleasing reversal in their chart fortunes after their last single Don't Wanna Let You Go ended up their second smallest hit ever. Queen's co-credit on the track means that they too can claim a Number One hit, this being their fifth and the first since 1993s Five Live EP (which featured tracks from the 1992 Freddie Mercury tribute concert). With this single coming just seven months since the chart was invaded by the bizarre remix of Under Pressure, die-hard Queen fans around the globe are left to wonder just how much respect the band have for their own musical legacy. [This record had no business existing, never mind nestling at the top of the charts].
2 LIFE IS A ROLLERCOASTER (Ronan Keating)
Sadly for Ronan he gets just a week to savour the glory of another Number One single although as it turns out he was fortunate to manage even that. In case you missed the story during the week, it turned out that one of formats of the single was chart ineligible. The single was released on cassette and across two different CDs. One was intended to be a limited pressing with CD1 the main release. The problem was it featured a video interview with Ronan as an enhanced multimedia track. Now multimedia tracks are allowed on CD singles as long as they duplicate one of the audio tracks already on the disc. The interview didn't and rendered the format illegal. This meant that the sales of CD1 were discounted when compiling the chart and the single was left to register under the sales of the cassette and rather less widely available CD2. Fortunately the blushes of RCA [Polydor actually, I got such a bollocking for that tiny error] records were spared by the weak competition from the rest of the chart and the fact that they swiftly deleted the offending format and issued a new CD without the interview track. Those who fail to study the chart rulebook and commit its contents to memory are doomed to make headlines it seems.
3 2 FACED (Louise)
For the uninitiated, Louise Nurding-Redknapp's chart career stretches back to 1993 when she was one of the original members of Eternal. She was also the first to leave the band, jumping ship in 1995 for a solo career that has so far produced some rather good pop singles and surpassed the expectations of many cynics at the time. After 8 successive Top 20 hits she announced she was taking a break after the release of her last hit All That Matters (Number 11 in April 1998) but remained in the public eye thanks to her marriage to footballer Jamie Redknapp. Two years on she is poised for a comeback, always a nervous time for any act, never mind an admittedly lightweight pop star such as herself. Clearly there was no need to worry. It helps that 2 Faced is a fine four minutes of biting, edgy R&B pop but Louise has shown that for now her popularity is still intact, storming to Number 3 to land her biggest solo hit ever, beating her cover of Arms Around The World which made Number 4 in October 1997.
5 JUMPIN' JUMPIN' (Destiny's Child)
So just what is it about Destiny's Child that means they cannot hang on to their members? As you may have read on dotmusic over the weekend, just a few months after reconstituting themselves with two new members, Farah Franklin deciding she has had enough of the tedium of being famous and good looking and left the others as a threesome [resulting in the 'classic' Beyonce/Kelly/Michelle lineup we know and love to this day]. Conveniently enough this news comes in the same week as the release of their latest single which duly makes an appearance in the Top 5 as a worthy followup to April's Say My Name which became their biggest hit ever when it reached Number 3. I'm just unsure where the greater entertainment lies... listening to the music or just sitting back and enjoying the soap opera.
8 AFFIRMATION (Savage Garden)
Still the debate rumbles on. Do Savage Garden make fine, tuneful Australian pop music or are they just a bit naff? The problem is of course that it doesn't matter how immaculately produced your songs are, if the track itself is incredibly dull then there is hardly any motivation to purchase it. This is where the Affirmation suffers, well performed though the title track from their current album is, it is still little more than corporate pop by numbers with little to commend about it beyond that. Not that the band haven't produced some inspiring material in the past, The Animal Song or I Want You for example and in a sense of fairness it must be pointed out that this does give them the fourth Top 10 hit of their career and their biggest hit since To The Moon And Back made Number 3 in 1998. Nonetheless Affirmation is blandness personified, so much so that you want to walk up to them and shout IS THAT ALL THERE IS?
12 SING-A-LONG (Shanks & Bigfoot)
Shanks & Bigfoot might not be able to claim to have had the first ever garage single but they were certainly the first to have an absolute smash 2SG hit. Sweet Like Chocolate was the track, a Number One hit single from May last year and one which demonstrated how you could turn a cute, almost nursery rhyme-like song into a dancefloor sensation. Strange then that they never really followed it up, apart from a re-release of their earlier track Straight From The Heart. Instead the pair buried themselves in the studio to record their debut album whilst in the meantime the garage phenomenon exploded for real and turned the likes of Artful Dodger and DJ Luck & MC Neat into stars as they fought for the crown of Kings Of Garage that really was there for the taking by Shanks & Bigfoot. Hence you cannot help but wonder if this was an opportunity wasted. Sing-A-Long repeats the formula to perfection, right down to the way the song leaves you with a huge grin on your face even after the first thirty seconds. You could even be forgiven for wondering from which Disney film the song is taken. It really is that cute. However chart positions do not lie and far from a Louise-esque sensational comeback the single is something of a chart also-ran, sneaking in just outside the Top 10. In a way that is nothing less than a shame.
16 TASTE IN MEN (Placebo)
The spirit of glam rock lives on in the world of Placebo, returning to the chart with the first single from their forthcoming new album which is due for release in October. Taste In Men duly slots in as their sixth Top 20 hit in succession. This is rock music that pulls off decadent with such style you cannot help but find it appealing.
29 COME AND GET ME (Cleopatra)
Remember this lot? Cleopatra are the three teenage sisters from Manchester, fronted by the astonishing lungs of Cleopatra Higgins and who made such a splash when their first album came out in 1998 that they signed to Madonna's label in the states and ended up with their own cartoon series. Two years on and of course they have grown up a little which means that the Billie Piper rule comes into effect and they are entitled to wear less clothes when promoting their records. You can see something of a theme in this week's chart. Louise storms back into the Top 3 after two years away. Shanks & Bigfoot stutter a little after a year between releases but Cleopatra appear to have suffered the most and the Number 24 peak of their last single A Touch Of Love from February 1999 was clearly not a one-off. Ironically one of their best singles to date turns out to by something of a flop. Maybe the problem was that at first they were marketed as a teenage group, despite a musical sophistication that belied their tender years (just look at the video to their first hit Cleopatra's Theme which saw the girls singing into hairbrushes in their bedroom). Turning them into sex sirens once they all turned 16 may have been the logical way forward but as a consequence the 12 year old girls who bought the first album may no longer be interested.
32 SEVEN (David Bowie)
Well if you needed any more proof that Hours... is Bowie's best album for years then look no further. It's third single arrives on the chart in a slightly remixed form thanks to Mario De Vries but those few deft touches manage to transform it into something that bit special, even if it sounds worryingly like a Nick Lowe record at times. I complained when Survive charted back in February that I struggled to understand what distinguished a good Bowie record from a bad one. Now I think I'm getting it.
36 DANCE TONIGHT (Lucy Pearl)
Presenting the latest in a small but perfectly formed line of R&B supergroups. After Jay Kay of Jamiroquai refused to join the lineup it fell to former En Vogue singer Dawn Robinson to hook up with Ali Shaheed Muhammed (formerly of A Tribe Called Quest) and Raphael Saddiq (ex of Tony Toni Tone) to help Lucy Pearl record their debut album. Their first single is a pleasant taste of things to come, a sensual R&B track in which the voices of all three members mesh in a not unpleasant manner. It hasn't quite had the push that would have been required to turn it into a bigger hit but I don't think this will be the last we hear of Lucy Pearl in this country.