1 ROLLIN' (Limp Bizkit)
Make all the excuses you want. Point to the fact that it is a slow time of year for record sales. Point out that Limp Bizkit topped the chart last week with one of the lowest weekly sales in the last 12 months. Insist still that the record is nothing more than three minutes of noisy crap if that makes you feel better. Nothing, however, can take away from the fact that the metal track has achieved what only seven singles did last year and this week spends a second week as the nation's best-selling single. This is possibly more significant than it might at first seem as full on hardcore rock is not a musical genre that traditionally achieves large scale crossover success in the manner that Limp Bizkit appear to be edging towards (heck, even the album has topped the chart this week). Indeed if you scan back through the list of chart-topping singles the number of entries that can easily be categorised as "rock" are few and far between. Babylon Zoo? Possibly. Meatloaf? Sanitised commercial balladry. Bryan Adams? Ditto. In fact you have to go back to 1991 to find the last time metal could claim anything approaching chart domination when both Iron Maiden and Queen had lengthy runs at the top. Is a third week on top for Limp Bizkit on the cards? Instincts would tempt me to say no, but then again it was apparently only a foolish man who would have predicted them to stay safe at the top one week ago.
2 POP YA COLLAR (Usher)
Your sympathy then for Usher who was widely tipped to secure the top slot this week but who in the event has to settle for being the runner-up (which once again it must be stressed is really no disgrace). Still, it is not as if he hasn't topped the chart before. His elevation to stardom came three years ago last week when You Make Me Wanna rocketed out of nowhere to the very top and in a way helped to cement the notion that records from just outside the mainstream were able to top the UK charts with something approaching consummate ease. Strangely enough, there was only ever one other single release from Usher's 1998 album My Way - Nice & Slow only reaching Number 24 as the follow-up to his Number One single. After a brief foray into the world of movies, Pop Ya Collar is thus his third Top 40 single and the second biggest hit of his career. Will he manage more than one other Top 30 single this time around?
3 THE NEXT EPISODE (Dr Dre featuring Snoop Dogg)
Dr Dre had two Top 10 singles in 2000, each with a different collaborator. First came Still Dre featuring the talents of his former protege Snoop Dogg which reached Number 6 to rank as his biggest hit ever (at least the biggest with Dre as top billing). Then came Forgot About Dre which "featured" Eminem although there appeared to be more Eminem than Dre on the single - this one reaching Number 7. So it is that he begins 2001 in much the same way, once again enlisting Snoop Dogg on co-rapping duties. The effect this time is to give him far and away the biggest hit single of his career, this Top 3 chart status far eclipsing anything he has produced under his own name or in collaboration with other acts. The Next Episode also cements the current chart domination of Interscope records, also home to Limp Bizkit and Eminem. The American label this week has two out of the Top 3 singles.
6 PLAYED A-LIVE (THE BONGO SONG) (Safri Duo)
Now if this had failed to become a hit there would have been no justice in the world. Having been a smash in the clubs since well before Christmas (indeed Judge Jules claims to have been playing it as far back as last August), the bongos a go-go single charges straight into the Top 10. Entertaining though the record is, it is the people behind the thundering track that provoke the most comment. No baseball cap wearing, down with the kids superstar DJ producers are involved. Instead, the Safri Duo are two Danishmen: Uffe Savery and Morten Friis who are both classically trained percussionists and who have spent the last few years touring the world to wide acclaim and have played in such prestigious locations as the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Albert Hall and Carnegie Hall. Having felt they had gone as far as they could in the classical world, they have turned their attention to dance music - and Played A Live is the result. Dance music inspired by drumming has been done before of course, one thinks of Goodmen's Give It Up from 1993 and Apollo Four Forty's Krupa from 1996, but I doubt that anyone has ever quite managed anything as inspired as the Safri Duo's debut single.
7 ON THE RADIO (Martine McCutcheon)
Shrugging off tabloid coverage of her love life and instead striking back with a high-profile series of interviews, the singer turned actress turned singer once more this week follows up November's No.2 hit I'm Over You with the second single from her second album. On The Radio is a fairly straightforward cover version of the track that Donna Summer took to No.32 in March 1980. Coincidentally this is the second time that a former Eastenders cast member has had a hit single with a version of a Donna Summer song, Sophie 'Diane Butcher' Lawrence having had a No.21 with Love's Unkind in August 1991. That single was incredibly bad, whereas Martine McCutcheon's record comes across as merely bland. This is really where her problem is of course, as she has an incredibly powerful voice that was shown off to good effect on her early singles such as Perfect Moment. As a balladeer though she is no Celine Dion and to have a pop career she has to make pop records along the lines of I'm Over You and On The Radio - all of which results in her just being another soulless pop singer with no real gimmick other than her preexisting celebrity. For the moment she has little to worry about, after all On The Radio is her fifth successive Top 10 hit, but how long is she going to last without submitting herself to a Kylie Minogue-style reinvention?
9 DREAM TO ME (Dario G)
Remember these guys? Dario G were the threesome who first exploded into the charts with Sunchyme, the No.2 single based around an old Dream Academy sample which was one of the club smashes of 1997 and led to them being hailed as geniuses. They proved it was no fluke a year later when Carnaval De Paris became the soundtrack to the World Cup whilst their album track Voices became one of the central musical themes of last year's cult movie The Beach. Since those heady days things have changed a little and Dario G now consist of sole founder member Paul Spencer and new regular vocalist Ingfrid Starumstoyl. This new hit is the first release from Dario G Mark II and is er, a trance cover. Dream To Me is essentially a new version of the Cranberries' single Dreams which first reached No.27 in May 1994, the chiming guitars of the original replaced by swirling synthesiser figures which thankfully do nothing to detract from the beauty of the original song. It isn't a bad record, far from it in fact but in terms of musical impact it is no more inspired than Aurora's similarly styled cover of Ordinary World from last year. Given that this is from the same act that made inspired use of samples from the likes of David Bowie, Dream To Me almost seems like half the record it could have been. Still a Top 10 hit is not to be sneered at and perhaps bizarrely it marks the second time that a Cranberries single has been given club cover treatment. Cast your mind back to July 1995 when A.D.A.M featuring Amy had a No.16 with a techno version of Zombie, just 10 months after the original had reached No.14.
11 NOT THAT KIND (Anastacia)
Anastacia's debut album Not That Kind makes a flying leap up the album chart this week to reach the Top 10 and in tandem with it comes the title track which duly becomes her second hit single. It has a great deal to live up to. The first was I'm Outta Love which was released in September last year, peaked at Number 6 and then spent a quite impressive 17 weeks on the Top 75, the last of which was only just last week. Just one question though, am I the only one who thinks that on this single she sounds like Stevie Wonder wearing an incredibly tight pair of trousers.
12 BOOM SELECTION (Genius Cru)
Forget two-step. Underground garage producers moved on from that a long time ago once it became commercial. This is now the new sound of UK Garage, a more intensive mix of beats and vocals that can barely be described as rap. Imagine Re-Rewind meets the Architechs with some gangsta rap thrown in for good measure..
14 YOU ALL DAT (Baha Men)
The Baha Men of course need no introduction. They are of course the act behind Who Let The Dogs Out, the novelty record which became an ingrained part of popular culture at the end of last year. Seventeen weeks after it was first released it is still a Top 40 record, falling to No.30 this week. Against this background comes the follow-up, another piece of Caribbean doggerel that sounds like it would have been a perfect party record had it only been released a month earlier (which you suspect might have been the intention had Who Let The Dogs Out had a conventional kind of chart run). Despite entering at a not to disrespectful No.14 this is unlikely to repeat the Top 3 success of its predecessor although having said that their first hit began life as a Top 20 entry, only catching fire after it had been on the chart a fortnight. Lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Does it?
15 BOYS (B.O.N.)
Be very afraid as there is clearly always room for really tacky European pop records in the UK charts. This pair are German duo Guy and Klaus and B.O.N. is apparently short for Band Ohne Namen or Band Without A Name. Their debut single is notable not so much for the way it sounds (like an identikit British boy band to be perfectly frank although it grows on you after a while) but for its video which sees the pair running around naked in front of some shocked convent girls. Suddenly all my childhood wishes to be a pop star have been reawakened. I wonder what the German is for Band Without Second Hit? [Someone genuinely emailed me to tell me].
17 DANCING IN THE MOONLIGHT (Toploader)
They were worthy of a mention last week for holding firm at No.21 for three weeks running. This week Toploader beat even that with a four-place rise to regain a place inside the Top 20 on their 11th week on the chart. The single is now at its highest chart placing since early December and indeed this is now the third time in its current chart run that the single has claimed a place amongst the 20 biggest sellers of the week. I've long been a Toploader fan and even boldly proclaimed live on television last year that their album would be topping the charts all summer long (which it would have done if they had called themselves Coldplay). Fingers crossed the long-running and somewhat unexpected success of this re-released single may well be the catalyst that takes their career to the next level.
19 BLOOD IS PUMPIN' (Voodoo & Serano)
A new entry notable not so much for the way it sounds (hard house with all the subtlety of a chainsaw if you are curious) but for the fact that it is the second single to be released on Xtravaganza's new offshoot label Xtrahard, designed to be the home for tracks of this genre. The first from the label was Public Domain's Operation Blade which was a Top 5 hit at the start of December although interestingly enough the printed charts only ever credited the parent label.
23 ALL I DO (Cleptomaniacs featuring Bryan Chambers)
House supergroups are where it's at baby. Cleptomaniacs are a loose collection of US producers, none of whom really have much in the way of name value in terms of mainstream pop in this country. Until now. Last year they produced a bootleg mix that featured an old Stevie Wonder track All I Do (from the legendary Hotter Than July album) set to a new storming house beat. Defected records picked up the licence for the track but then ran into problems attempting to get the sample cleared. In all honesty you wonder why Stevie Wonder did not want his long-buried career given a shot in the arm like this but still, the version you hear in the charts features singer Bryan Chambers who does possibly the most dead on Wonder impersonation ever. The new version of the single works just as well as the original mix did and if nothing else proves that when Stevie Wonder was good he was absolutely timeless.
24 OH NO (Mos Def/Nate Dogg/Pharoahe Monche)
I'm sorry, my mistake. Rap supergroups are where it's at baby.. and to prove it here comes a collaboration from three stars who have had varying levels of chart success in their own right. Top of the list has to be Nate Dogg who has been something of yesterday's man since the G-funk era ended. His previous chart success came in summer 1994 when he rapped on Warren G's Regulate as it slid its way to No.5. Pharoahe Monche made his Top 40 debut almost a year ago with Simon Says which reached No.24, the followup Light doing less well and crashing out at No.72 in August. Finally there is Mos Def who has never before had a Top 40 hit. He did chart two singles last year though, Umi Says which reached No.60 in June and Miss Fat Booty Part II which even the presence of Ghostface Killah couldn't help any further than No.64 in November.