1 IT FEELS SO GOOD (Sonique)
In spite of some strong new releases this week the Top 2 singles hold firm with Sonique clocking up a much sought-after second week at the very top of the pile. It Feels So Good is a single which has the potential to cross over still further and may well remain in the Top 10 for some weeks to come, even if her chances for a third week are looking increasingly slim. Football fever is about to hit the charts once more you see, so get those voices warmed up. *ahem* And Did Those Feet...
3 NEW BEGINNING/BRIGHT EYES (Stephen Gateley)
Overseas visitors will probably have no idea what I was on about there but never mind... You may recall that last week I flagged up the fact that we were set to witness the Battle Of Boyzone. The potential was there for the kind of dramatic head to head chart race similar to the 1995 Battle Of Britpop and last year's Battle Of The Spices. Two members of Boyzone releasing their debut solo singles on the same day? A mouthwatering prospect surely. Yet in the event things haven't quite worked out that way, neither single in the event challenging for the very highest honours and one finishing some way ahead of the other. To the notional 'winner' first of all. Stephen's profile within the band was always second to Ronan but he made headlines last year following his public confession [which is an odd turn of phrase viewed from a modern perspective] of his sexuality. It is on the back of this publicity that he launches his own solo career. His vocal style calls to mind that of Robbie Williams - rather thin and lacking in much in the way of depth. Whereas Robbie overcomes this by the sheer weight of his personality, Gately doesn't quite have that advantage and so New Beginning (written by Simon Climie as it happens) turns out to be little more than a rather pedestrian plod through a song that is hardly the anthem it is attempting to be. At the end of the day however, it is the biggest new hit of the week and gets his solo career off to a flying start and it is hard to argue against that.
4 ON THE BEACH (York)
When York's first chart hit The Awakening made Number 11 last October I think I suggested that they were more than likely to be just another set of one-off dance hitmakers. What do I know anyway... their second single charges into the Top 5 to become this week's second highest new entry. The enhanced buzz is of course due to the fact that the track is the latest in a long line of dance records to be inspired by a more familiar theme - in this case the guitar riff from Chris Rea's 1986 track which itself had to wait for a 1988 re-recording to become a Top 20 hit. Credit here to my dance expert correspondent Rob Johnson who points out that Torsten Stenzel who is one-half of York was also one of DJ Sakin's "friends" on his two hit singles last year.
5 SHACKLES (PRAISE YOU) (Mary Mary)
OK so we've had Irish teen pop and Euro dance anthem. Time now for a double dose of US R&B don't you think? First up are sisters Erica and Tina Atkins who have recently been a minor sensations stateside with their rather spiritual take on the genre. Full marks to Columbia records who have not only managed to make gospel R&B a mainstream success in the states but also turned the single into a smash hit over here. This Top 5 entry perhaps comes as something of a surprise but it is no less welcome for it. Don't let the message behind the single put you off, this is a fine pop record.
6 THERE YOU GO (Pink)
[Does she count as a superstar? I guess so, given the length of her career. This is her debut anyway so sound the klaxon] Well this has taken its time coming out... after being on the radio and in heavy rotation on MTV and The Box for what seems like months, the debut hit single from the latest US R&B discovery finally lands in the UK charts. Pink, as her name suggests, shares the same taste in hair colouring as soundalike Kelis and the same musical appeal as labelmates TLC, the single an infectious and catchy rant against the predictable unreliability of the male sex. The musical equivalent of a "Don't piss me off" t-shirt.
7 FORGOT ABOUT DRE (Dr Dre featuring Eminem)
It is possible that some people are having difficulty keeping track here. In the albums Top 10 there are no less than two American rap albums selling their thousands. One is Eminem's Marshall Mathers LP which features extensive contributions from mentor Dr Dre whilst the other is Dre's own 2001 which features contributions from protege Eminem. This single is from the latter album, the second single to be released from 2001 and one which appears just a few short weeks before Eminem is due to release his own track. Forgot About Dre lands just one place short of its predecessor Still Dre to give the rap legend his second Top 10 hit of the year. Nonetheless in style and tone this is every bit Eminem's record as it is Dre's and his contributions are what make the single so appealing. Needless to say that despite picking up more airplay than the average Dr Dre release, listening to the song on the radio is a rather pointless exercise owing to the fact that in some lines almost every other word is muted. Incidentally Eminem's last chart appearance was on the Top 10 hit Guilty Conscience in August last year - that single effectively a rap duet between himself and Dr Dre. Consider this a favour returned.
12 HANDS UP (Trevor & Simon)
Nothing to do with the faded comedy duo, this is a high speed tranche of dance which borrows from the Vengaboys book of cheesy organ hooks yet manages to retain a fair amount of credibility as well. I would say more but it has been several paragraphs since we mentioned Boyzone...
13 YOU'RE MY ANGEL (Mikey Graham)
So what do we do here? Do we criticise Mikey Graham for not making the Battle Of Boyzone more of a fight or are we sympathetic for his having performed so badly despite having the better record. The third member of the most successful male pop band of the last few years to start his solo career, Mikey Graham does so with a single that sounds like a wonderful cross between Van Morrison and Rod Stewart, a worthy effort but ultimately maybe a bit too mature sounding for his usual pop audience. He has done his best over the past few weeks to generate a buzz around his record but having to cancel some supermarket signing sessions over his recent comments about drugs seems to have been the best he could do. The failure of this single to do any better than it has raises some rather interesting questions, not least what it does for the argument that pop fans are like sheep, flocking to buy the latest releases from their heroes, regardless of what they sound like.
17 WE'RE REALLY SAYING SOMETHING (Buffalo G)
Actually the Stephen Gateley and Mikey Graham singles aren't the only new entries with a Boyzone connection this week. Buffalo G are the latest act to spring from the almost prodigious Lynch family which have already given us Boyzone member Shane, twin sisters Edele and Keavey (one half of B*witched) and er... Fab, about who the least said the better. Buffalo G you see are baby sister Naomi along with her friend Olive Tucker who appear to be being pitched as a British (oh no hang on... Irish) version of Daphne & Celeste. Without the bubblegum. Their first single is a Y2K remake of the Motown classic Really Sayin' Something, originally recorded by the Velvettes but which is more famous in this country as the song that helped to launch the career of Bananarama in 1982. It is worth noting that the Lynch family have now produced four different chart acts, bringing the Dubliners onto the same plane as the likes of the families Jackson and Osmond.
21 AMAZED (Lonestar)
This has been brewing for some weeks and the strange, erratic but somehow rather wonderful chart career of Lonestar's hit single ventures into uncharted territory. For those of you not familiar with it, here is the story so far: Amazed was released in early April with only a small amount of fanfare, the US chart-topper landing initially at Number 24. A week later it climbed to 23 before setting off down the chart, the single coming to rest at Number 36 on its fourth week on the chart. Since then the track has been upwardly mobile, climbing 32-30-28-26 in nice regular steps until this week it shoots up with a bullet, landing now at Number 21 to claim its highest chart position to date. [If memory serves this final surge was a direct result of the single being stocked by Woolworths for the first time since its release]. The extra interest this is likely to generate means that the story is far from over and Top 20 is certainly a possibility in the next few weeks. Amazed is the classic example of a sleeper single, one which has the potential to cross over to an audience far beyond the usual mass of singles buyers and which is doing so slowly but surely thanks to a handful of radio stations which have stuck with the track as an airplay staple over the past two months. It may not wind up being one of the biggest hit singles of the year but you can guarantee it will be more than just a footnote when the story of 2000 comes to be written.
26 AROUND THE WORLD (Aqua)
*sob* Could this be the end? You may remember when Aqua's last single Cartoon Heroes charted I made the point that an act such as Aqua can only rely on success whilst their novelty persists. The moment their releases turn into "just another Aqua single" then they are sunk. This could well be the problem here as Around The World is simply just another Aqua record, no more and no less. A fine bubbly pop single for sure but at the end of the day one that sounds like little more than a mid-table Eurovision entry. Needless to say it is far and away their smallest hit single ever, short even of the Number 18 peak of Good Morning Sunshine from December 1998. There are better tracks on the album so don't bet against them being back but the over 1.5 million plus sales of Barbie Girl seem like a distant memory. Incidentally Around The World is well on its way up the list of one of the more popular song titles of all time, this being the fifth different song in chart history to bear that name with a further four different songs called All Around The World (plus one called Been All Around The World) having also been hits in the past.
28 CRYPTIK SOULS CREW (Len)
Steal My Sunshine was the first Len single of course, released back in December after being discovered as one of the hidden gems of the Go soundtrack. It reached Number 8, made the Top 10 twice either side of Christmas and still sounds as fresh today. Can the follow-up manage to be just as classic. Not for the moment it seems, Cryptik Souls Crew is a world away from Steal My Sunshine, a 'meet the band' rap over a wicked 70s funk groove. A fine single but hardly a commercial smash and it can do little more than creep into the Top 30.
29 SAVE ME (Embrace)
Now you see Embrace have something of a dilemma. On the one hand their last single You're Not Alone was a Top 20 hit, was easily their most lavish production to date and is certainly destined to rank as one of the year's most enduring rock anthems... not least because Sky TV are using it extensively in their endless adverts for digital satellite systems. On the other hand, they are clearly only too aware that their rather emotive tendencies are in danger of becoming a little passe. How else to explain this single which is straight out of the Primal Scream book of otherworld weirdness. Easily the most unusual Embrace single to date, Save Me also sadly has the rather unwanted honour of being their smallest chart single since the Fireworks EP made Number 34 just over three years ago.
32 CATCH THE SUN (Doves)
The third chart single and second Top 40 entry for Doves, the band who grew out of the ashes of dance outfit Sub Sub and who are the current darlings of the weekly music press, their every move praised to the hilt. Whilst it is true that amongst the current crop of new British bands they are undoubtedly the cream, the Doves' popular appeal has yet to catch up with the hype. Hence this single falls just short of a place in the Top 30, one place above the peak of their last single The Cedar Room. Their time will almost certainly come, but it isn't here yet.
33 CARMEN QUEASY (Maxim)
Presenting the first ever Prodigy spin-off. Maxim's impressive debut release features a vocal turn of Skin from Skunk Anansie, who at times manages to sound almost like Mel C with a sore throat - or maybe it is just Mel C who has been aping Skin all this time. Anyway, this may not be the biggest hit in the world to kick off this project but it promises much for the future.
38 GET OFF (Dandy Warhols)
Nice to see this lot back, the Dandy Warhols returning to the Top 40 for the first time since 1998. They released three singles from their first album Come Down, all of which fared moderately well, the biggest being the second, Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth which reached Number 13. Somehow you get the feeling that the long delay whilst their forthcoming new album was recorded will have hurt them a little, the support they generated during their initial chart forays may well have lost interest during their time away. The fact that this single can only just creep into the Top 40 speaks volumes...