1 2 BECOME 1 (Spice Girls)
Three weeks on top and for the moment apparently no stopping them. Sales of this single have now pushed close to 900,000 copies, a total it is likely to exceed over the coming week. Significantly no act has ever sold over a million copies of their first three singles, Frankie Goes To Hollywood having come close in 1984 but falling short. Both Wannabe and Say You'll Be There are both well past the million mark leaving the girls tantalisingly close to becoming one of the most successful singles acts of all time.
2 PROFESSIONAL WIDOW (IT'S GOT TO BE BIG) (Tori Amos)
This is a record you either love or hate. Professional Widow began life as a track on the Boys For Pele album released at the start of last year. One of the angriest tracks on an outspoken album, it was widely regarded as a direct attack on people like Courtney Love. Last summer a bootleg remix of the track [by Armand Van Helden, of which I was strangely ignorant here] began to circulate, a remix which was quickly snapped up by East West records who released it commercially in a double a-side with Hey Jupiter. The single made Number 20 in August last year but like most Tori Amos singles vanished as quickly as it came. Interest still remained in the remix which the artist herself had indicated she loved and so to capitalise on the traditional new year slump in sales it has been released as a single in its own right - thus Professional Widow becomes the first big new single of 1997 and gives Tori Amos her biggest ever UK hit. Actually to refer to this as a Tori track is stretching the point as the dance track uses all but two lines of the original song, sampled repeatedly throughout. Nonetheless, she has full credit on the single and a hit in her name it is.
3 SATAN LIVE (Orbital)
Orbital are Paul and Philip Hartnoll, the innovative techno duo who first famously charted in 1990 with the instrumental Chime, a track that they claimed cost little more to make than the price of the tape it was mastered on. Since then they have had a string of hits as well as being one of the few dance acts to regularly tour and actually perform to a crowd using live samples and an incredible array of visuals. Satan was first released in January 1991 when it made Number 31 but has remained a crowd favourite ever since and a track which the pair were forced to reintroduce to their live sets by constant clamours for its performance. With a new album due shortly, their first for several years, a live issue of the track appeared timely and duly it appears and takes advantage of the seasonal lull to rocket into the Top 3. Satan Live is far and away their biggest hit single ever, the Number 17 peak of Chime the closest they had previously come to a Top 10 hit. The single is one of three 'new' entries inside the Top 40 this week which actually leap from places way down the larger Top 200 listing. Many singles released in the last week were actually delivered to shops during Christmas week to ensure their availability come their official release date. Owing in part to the lack of any new singles at all during the week of Christmas Day itself and the confusion of having boxes of new stock well in advance, many copies found their way onto shelves regardless and registered sales for chart positions. Hence this single is technically not a new chart entry at all but a climber from an unofficial position of Number 111 last week.
5 DON'T LET GO (LOVE) (En Vogue)
It seems to be a week for biggest ever hits. The third-highest new entry of the week is this single from En Vogue, making their first chart appearance since they scored with Salt N' Pepa on Whatta Man in March 1994. The soundtrack song shoots straight into the Top 5 to give them their highest new entry ever and just one place short of becoming their biggest ever hit, that honour being reserved for My Lovin' which reached Number 4 in May 1992.
8 I CAN MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD (Kavana)
Much of the current interest in Kavana surrounds the fact that he is the latest protege of Nigel Martyn-Smith, the svengali behind none other than Take That and who is now seeking to work his magic on new teen sensations. So far the typically pleasant-voiced and pretty enough Kavana has had a respectable start, charting two Top 40 singles during 1996, the biggest of which was Where Are You which made Number 26 in August. To start 1997 he goes for the jugular with this fairly straightforward cover of the Shalamar song that first reached Number 7 in March 1982. Although beyond the memories of most of the current pop generation it is still a killer dancefloor song and the magic works once again here, sending Kavana straight into the Top 10 for his biggest hit to date. Peter Andre clearly has a run for his money in the solo pretty boy stakes.
10 DON'T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA (Madonna)
In the week before Christmas, I stated that Julie Covington's version of this song was the only Andrew-Lloyd Webber song ever to top the charts. This was actually wrong but is an error worth correcting. As I said before Christmas, Julie Covington's original of Don't Cry For Me Argentina was certainly the first song from a Lloyd-Webber musical to reach the summit but it was belatedly followed in 1992 by Jason Donovan's version of Any Dream Will Do from the revival of "Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat". Mention should be made in passing also to the co-writer of both of those hits, Tim Rice who also topped the charts in 1985 as one of the writers of I Know Him So Well by Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson. Lifted from the musical "Chess" and written in conjunction with Benny and Bjorn from Abba, the song remains to this day the best-selling female duet ever. Both Rice and the recently ennobled Lloyd-Webber have been involved in chart hits outside musicals of course, Tim Rice most recently collaborating with Elton John on the soundtrack to "The Lion King" and a whispered reference should also be made to Bombalurina's astonishing take on Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini which made Number One in1990 and for which Lloyd-Webber was Executive Producer and creative spark behind the track.
12 EASY (Terrorvision)
The most famous band in Bradford held a celebratory homecoming concert just before Christmas and now celebrate the start of 1997 with a brand new single. It follows on from the three they notched up during 1996 and becomes their fourth consecutive Top 20 single, just falling short of the Top 10 placings of Perseverance and Bad Actress.
24 IN YOUR CAR (Kenickie)
Amidst all the re-releases, remixes and dance remakes it is nice to herald the arrival of a brand new band. Doubtless the first of many 'next big things' for 1997, Kenickie get in before the crowd with their first single and score an instant Top 30 hit. The single is actually rather fabulous, a perky piece of power pop that bodes well for their future releases. Face it, any band that names themselves after a character from "Grease" deserves to be massive. [I hear their lead singer is destined for great things too, even if she's less well known for her singing these days].
28 TRICKY KID (Tricky)
The first single of 1997 from Tricky, who is rapidly becoming something of a serial collaborator. He was last seen in the charts back in November, contributing to Garbage's Top 10 hit Milk and the stage is set for his latest celebrity engagement, working with none other than Grace Jones on her new album due for release later this year.
30 THE GREATEST FLAME (Runrig)
A timely re-release from the band who seem destined to remain Scotland's best kept secret. Stars north of the border, the have consistently struggled to set the charts alight over here, despite the odd purple patch. Their most notable singles success came in May 1995 when their early recording An Ubhal As Airde became a Top 20 hit thanks to its use in a TV commercial. The Greatest Flame was first released in May 1993 when it made Number 36, the anthemic ballad having since become something of a scarf-waving concert favourite.
31 ONE MORE CHANCE (One)
Another new teen band, this one coming from a rather unlikely source. One are actually the fictional creation of breakfast television and have over recent months starred in their own Monkees-style series of adventures. No TV show worth its salt features a band without releasing a single to coincide and so here is the debut hit for One, a pleasant enough teen-pop song that one can only criticise for sounding slightly formulaic. Even the novelty of what is a relatively minor TV connection won't help this to climb much further but this is one concept that could well grow and grow.
36 SHE DRIVES ME CRAZY (Fine Young Cannibals)
Following on from the new song The Flame the now-defunct Fine Young Cannibals continue the promotion of their Greatest Hits with the re-release of this track. Arguably one of their finest pop moments, She Drives Me Crazy was first released in January 1989 when it reached Number 5 to give them their biggest hit single ever. The track's re-release is buoyed up by a series of dance remixes but given that the Fine Young Cannibals aren't exactly the coolest club act around you can expect a relatively short chart life for this release.