1 PURE SHORES (All Saints)
Well if ever confirmation were needed that All Saints are in a position to sweep all before them then look no further than the top end of the singles chart this week. Pure Shores spends a second week at Number One in the face of some of the stiffest competition imaginable. No less than five new entries occupy positions 2-6 on this week's chart, all of last week's big hits having been swept aside by this tidal wave of big new singles. The exception is Pure Shores which stays resolutely locked at the top. Bizarrely enough this creates a new trivia question: What have All Saints achieved that Oasis have not? The answer is two consecutive weeks at Number One. Note that consecutive is the operative word here as Under The Bridge/Lady Marmalade managed to notch up two weeks at the head of the listings in May 1998 but they were separated by Aqua's Turn Back Time which had one week at the top in between these two weeks. So can Pure Shores manage a third week? On current evidence that looks doubtful, unless the universal wave of disdain that has greeted Madonna's treatment of American Pie turns out to be more than just reviewers' hype...
2 MOVIN TOO FAST (Artful Dodger & Romina Johnson)
So what of these five new entries, the largest block of new singles at the top end of the chart since that week in October 1998 when the entire Top 5 consisted of brand new hits. They are lead by the Artful Dodger who quickly cash in on the sudden overground surge of support for some of last year's underground garage smashes. Indeed this single has arrived on the chart with what seems like almost indecent haste as their pre-Christmas smash Re-Rewind is still on the Top 40, sliding to 34 this week. Far from being formulaic this 'new' single takes half a step into the realm of mainstream pop thanks to Romina Johnson's addictive vocal and the single quite deservedly becomes a smash, matching the peak scaled by Re-Rewind last December.
3 SHOW ME THE MEANING OF BEING LONELY (Backstreet Boys)
Next in line are the Backstreet Boys who with this single demonstrate the current level of their support for this is an IIP - Import Impacted Release. Eagle-eyed chartwatchers may have spotted that Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely actually hit the chart last week at Number 66, on import of course, thus inspiring memories of the crazy days last summer when several big hits would register on the chart well in advance of their official release date. As I have explained before, this is a wonderful example of market forces acting out of record company control, their strategy of building up anticipation for a single's release several weeks in advance is resulting in record stores sourcing stock from overseas to satisfy the demand as soon as they are able. Far from damaging long-term sales of the official single there is a general feeling that import copies can actually add to the anticipation for a record as their severely limited availability can make the single an even more sought after item and thus provoke a rush for it the moment it is finally released for real. Certainly the Backstreet Boys haven't suffered, the ballad which would come across as rather weak-kneed in the hands of an act with half their following smashes straight into the Top 3 to better the Number 5 peak of last October's Larger Than Life. This is their 7th Top 3 hit in total.
4 CAUGHT OUT THERE (Kelis)
A small element of surprise surrounds the Number 4 placing of Kelis' hit single as most indications were that Caught Out There was set to become the biggest new hit of the week. Certainly the anticipation was there, the single also landed on the chart last week thanks to import sales, charting at Number 52. Note that both Kelis and the Backstreet Boys are still listed as new entries, those import copies qualify as separate releases for chart purposes and hence these official copies get brand new chart placings. Back to the single itself and Caught Out There fully deserves the hype, a more biting R&B track you would be hard pressed to find, heck even the sleeve dedicates it to "all the women who've been lied to by their men..." Although this is Kelis' first solo Top 40 hit she made a more or less uncredited cameo on Puff Daddy's Number 13 hit PE 2000 which charted in August last year. On the strenth of this single she is about to become R&Bs next breakout star, and if nothing else Caught Out There is in serious danger of displacing Alanis Morrissette's You Outta Know as the anthem of the seriously, seriously pissed off woman.
5 MONEY (Jamelia)
19 year old Jamelia's first chart hit came in July last year when I Do made a rather understated chart appearance at Number 36. Waiting 8 months to release the followup was clearly a smart move as in the intervening period she has transformed herself from being the next British R&B star in waiting (as went her original record company hype) to a lady about whom people are getting very excited indeed. Heavy radio support from both dance and mainstream stations has meant that Money was always destined to be massive and so it proves, charging straight in to the Top 5. Incidentally the breakneck rap in the middle of the song is provided by Beenie Man, here making his first chart appearance since his brief flurry of fame in 1998 when he made Number 10 with Who Am I?
6 LIKE A ROSE (A1)
Presenting the new Westlife who are... A1? Strange though it may seem the fourth hit single from A1 is virtually indistinguishable from anything served up so far by the Irish superstars. Like A Rose has all the elements of the perfect teen ballad, sweet harmonies, aching sentiment and even a moment of silence before the climactic key change. In short, it falls just on the right side of blandness and gives the band a fourth Top 10 hit in a row, albeit one which in the face of stiff competition can only match the Number 6 peak of their first hit Be The First To Believe and slightly down from the Top 3 position of their last hit Everytime which currently stands as their biggest to date. The only question left is to wonder exactly what musical direction they are going to follow as although their last two singles have indeed been ballads, for my money the Eurodisco stomp of Be The First To Believe was far and away their most inspired release and which suggested that there was more to them than being just another set of pretty boy clones. Is balladry really the only thing that will sell these days?
11 THE SOUND OF BAMBOO (Flickman)
Sneaking in just outside the Top 10 is this dance hit from Italy. My ability to write intelligently has been temporarily drained thanks to hearing it. Best we just move on.
13 KEEP THE HOME FIRES BURNING (Bluetones)
A welcome return to the chart for Hounslow's finest, Keep The Home Fires Burning is the first single from the Bluetones since August 1998's Sleazy Bed Track. The band have always nicely straddled the line between commercial appeal and serious musicianship and this single is no exception with an anthemic chorus to nicely offset the rather more restrained verses about a runaway returning home to find it has turned into a battle zone. The single is their 7th Top 20 hit.
18 IT'S OK (Delirious?)
Another band whose presence in the chart is always a welcome sight are Delirous? who are the living proof that it is perfectly possible for a Christian act to find mainstream success, even if most of the time the spiritual element of their music remains a small, subtle part. It's OK takes a leaf out of the Radiohead book of understated angst and ranks as one of their most appealing singles to date and although it is less of a factor here than it has been in America, the track also doubles as the theme to the US TV series Get Real. Above all you have to admire their consistency, their first release since See The Star made Number 16 almost exactly a year ago, It's OK is their fourth Top 20 hit in a row.
19 DANCING IN THE MOONLIGHT (Toploader)
Stars at last. Eastbourne based group Toploader began to generate interest last year with the release of their first two singles. Sadly neither made quite the impact desired, Achilles Heel made 64 and Let The People Know could only stagger to Number 52 last August. All that changes this week with the arrival inside the Top 20 of Dancing In The Moonlight, a quite marvellous single that boasts the production skills of no less a figure than George Drakoulias, famous of course for his work with the Black Crowes. Don't be fooled though, this is no stripped to the bones rock single but instead a rather charming record which sounds like a collision between Joe Jackson and Rod Stewart circa 1978. Stars at last indeed.
22 SUNBURN (Muse)
Bizarrely enough Toploader aren't the only Top 40 act this week to find their chart fortunes in 2000 a dramatic improvement on their form in 1999. No less than 3 Muse singles appeared on the lower reaches of the chart last year, Uno (Number 73 in June), Cave (52/September) and Muscle Museum (43/December). With single Number 4 the three lads from Torquay (just what is it about the south coast at present?) finally come good and land their first ever Top 40 hit, and believe me there are few chart singles this week as epic sounding as this one. Possibly more so than any other act on the chart this week, this mainstream acceptance has come as the result of some long hard slog, support slots with the likes of Feeder as well as some festival appearances last year have all contributed to the long road to a Top 40 single. What is the betting that now we will see the re-release of some of their earlier unappreciated singles?
23 STAND INSIDE YOUR LOVE (Smashing Pumpkins)
Just as some weeks are characterised by a wave of Top 40 entries from dance singles, this week is the one where rock strikes back. Delirious, Toploader and Muse are joined by the long-awaited return of the Smashing Pumpkins. Strangely enough just like the Bluetones, the last chart appearance of Billy Corrigan et al was back in 1998 when Perfect made Number 24. Happily the electronic experimentation of the last album has been abandoned for some good old fashioned crunching rock and it gives the band their ninth Top 30 hit in a row. Admittedly their appeal has taken a step back from the days in 1996/7 when singles such as Tonight Tonight Tonight and The End Is The Beginning Is The End were flying into the Top 10 with ease but it is worth taking a moment to marvel at the way the band are in a position to celebrate their 10th anniversary this year despite the litany of tragic deaths and sacked managers that has characterised their never less than colourful history.
27 VOICES (Ann Lee)
Ten seconds. That is all it takes to identify this as an Ann Lee single although given her sensible faithfulness to the formula that made 2 Times such a smash hit in October last year (half a million copies sold to boot!), this followup makes a somewhat shockingly poor debut this week, barely scraping a place inside the Top 30. This is actually something of a shame as there are few pop records out at the moment that are better than this one. Even if Ann Lee's hitmaking career proves to be short lived, her impact on 90s pop music has been far greater than most people realise, check out the writer's credits on most of Whigfield's hits for a start.
39 CHOCOLATE SENSATION (Lenny Fontana & DJ Shorty)
Just sneaking in at the bottom end of the chart this week is a rather wonderfully retro house single, right down to the way it is based around Loleatta Holloway's Love Sensation. Whereas once this would have been seen as a tired old cliche it seems that now it is safe to use those famous samples as an affectionate nod to dance music's past.