1 JESUS TO A CHILD (George Michael)
Well are foregone conclusions go they don't come better signposted as this. George Michael's first solo single proper for three and a half years soars past all opposition, selling nearly a quarter of a million copies inside a week to become a deserved chart-topper. During the course of his well-publicised dispute with Sony records, Michael released relatively few singles, and all of them in aid of charity. Such was his standing that of course they were guaranteed hits, from TooFunky in 1992 to the chart-topping Five Live EP in 1993. This policy meant that although he has not released a single on his own account since early 1991 he has had two Number One singles, a reflection on his popularity and standing. On to the new hit then, the song first performed in late 1994 at the MTV awards and an obvious choice to be his comeback single. The epic ballad may not be the most commercial thing he has ever released but it shows off his voice to a treat, confirming him as one of Britain's leading singer songwriters and giving him the tenth Number One single of his career, a total that includes 4 with Wham!, three proper solo singles and three hits with artists such as Aretha Franklin, Elton John and Queen. The instant success of the track means it is no less than that sixth Number One single in a row to go straight in to the top slot - the last record to actually climb to the top was Michael Jackson's You Are Not Alone back in September.
7 ONE BY ONE (Cher)
George Michael aside, the biggest new hit of the week goes to Cher who appears to be in the middle of a mini career resurgence after an absence from recording. Following on from her cover version of Walking In Memphis which reached Number 11 in October last year, she releases this track which is quite possibly one of the most pure pop tracks she has ever recorded. It gives her her eighth solo Top 10 hit to add to the 3 she notched up as part of Sonny and Cher and One By One becomes her biggest hit single since Love And Understanding made Number 10 in June 1991.
8 SANDSTORM (Cast)
The string of new hits inside the Top 10 continues with this track from Cast, their third hit following the Top 20 successes of Finetime and Alright in 1995. A great British single from a great British band - how much more straightforward can you get?
9 TOO HOT (Coolio)
The long-running success of Gangsta's Paradise has caused something of a fixture congestion at Tommy Boy records, the aforementioned Number One hit this week sliding out of the Top 10 for the first time since it initially charted. Notwithstanding, here comes the followup, another extremely commercial piece of Gangsta rap and another instant Top 10 hit. My only query is just who decided to release a record called Too Hot in the middle of a freezing cold January?
12 GOT MYSELF TOGETHER (Bucketheads)
Was it really a year ago that the Bucketheads created one of the dance hits of the year? Believe it or not it was, The Bomb having raced to Number 5 on release in March 1995. Now here comes their second hit, and like its predecessor is a mini-reworking of a 70s disco classic - this time in the shape of Brass Constructions' 1976 Top 30 hit Movin'. This new version is not so much a cover as a rearrangement of the original but updates it nicely to give it a 90s feel but staying true to the classic original. Ordinarily I would criticise a release like this for unoriginality, but as an unreconstructed 70s disco fan I think I can afford to be contrary just this once...
13 RELEASE THE PRESSURE (Leftfield)
It seems like this track has been due for release for months. After a long, long time as a dancefloor favourite this new hit for Leftfield explodes onto the chart to give them their fourth Top 30 hit single. It follows on from their two hits last year, Original which made Number 18 in March and the Afro Left EP which made Number 22 in August.
17 HEY LOVER (LL Cool J featuring Boyz II Men)
LL Cool J may be one of America's most popular rap Def Jam stars but his hit-making career here has been sporadic to say the least. He is best known for hit 1987 Top 10 hit I Need Love which stands up to this day as one of raps most enduring classics. Since then he has had a number of smaller hits, the last of these coming in April 1993 with How I'm Coming which reached Number 37. None of them have been as big as this and Hey Lover explodes this week into the Top 20 to give him the second biggest hit of his career. Background harmonies on the track are provided by Boyz II Men who of course are already in the Top 30 accompanying Mariah Carey, making them the second act this week to have simultaneous chart hits.
21 SINGLE GIRL (Lush)
The new year period always gives bands a chance to break through after struggling for a while so it is a warm welcome to the charts for Lush with this new hit single. They have been around since 1990, releasing a number of well-receiving independent singles but only 1992's For Love breached the Top 40, making Number 35 in January that year. This is therefore their biggest ever hit single and impressive it is too. Just don't call them Britpop...
23 LET'S PUSH IT (Nightcrawlers featuring John Reid)
One of 1995's top dance acts makes its chart debut for 1996. John Reid and the Nightcrawlers had three hit singles last year, the biggest of these being Push The Feeling On which made Number 3 in March. Their fourth hit single follows the same format as many of the others but hardly suffers for it. Another hit single created with ease. Incidentally this isn't the only new hit on the chart this week which John Reid has had a hand in...
25 WHITE SKIES (Sunscreem)
A welcome return to the Top 40 this week for Sunscreem. The band first broke through in 1992 with the rather fabulous Love U More and went on to notch up a further 3 hits, the biggest of these being their cover of Marianne Faithfull's Broken English which made Number 13. After a 3 year break they return with this new hit which instantly gives them a fifth Top 30 hit single.
35 CHANGE YOUR MIND (Upside Down)
One can apply the term 'manufactured' to any number of bands but there are some that genuinely court the term actively. One such band are Upside Down, the new brainchild of Ian Levine who has set out to create the next Boyzone. The four lads were recruited via a series of press adverts looking for four good looking young lads with reasonable singing and dancing talents. Several months later they have been licked into shape and are ready to be unleashed onto the public, complete with a single written by John Reid of the Nightcrawlers fame. Having said all that, the result is actually a bit insipid and lifeless. In the middle of an era which is producing British bands capable of producing their own music and selling it to the teen market without loss of credibility (ie Blur, Pulp and Oasis), do we really need a bunch of young lads built from the ground up whose talents so far appear to stretch to taking their tops off on posters. That may account for the rather unimpressive start to this single, despite its sax line that owes quite a bit to Careless Whisper.
36 SPIRITS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD (Pato Banton with Sting)
A year since Pato Banton helped out Sting on his Top 20 hit This Cowboy Song and now it is time for the favour to be returned. Sting pops up to accompany Pato Banton on this reworking of the Police's 1981 Number 12 hit. The track is taken from the soundtrack of the new Ace Ventura film but this alone is not enough to lift the track out of the realms of mediocrity, and what a terrible thing to do to such a classic song.
37 MEN IN BLACK (Frank Black)
The solo career of the former Pixies lead singer has met with a great deal of acclaim but so far without large record sales. He has released a number of singles but until now none have ever made the Top 40. He missed out on 1993 with the brilliant Hang On To Your Ego and to date his only chart placing has been Headache which reached Number 53 in May 1994. This new hit brings him to the upper reaches for the first time solo and for the first time since the Pixies' Planet Of Sound climbed to Number 27 in June 1991 to become their biggest ever hit single.
40 STAY WITH ME TONIGHT (Human League)
A year on from their celebrated comeback and the time has now come for the Human League to prove it was not just a one-off. After a string of hit singles in 1995 their first release of 1996 will probably come as something of a disappointment as Number 40 looks to be as far as it will go...