1 NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN (Melanie C featuring Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes)
To my mind it may not have been the most obvious choice for the next single from Mel C's solo album Northern Star but the decision to go with it has certainly paid off. The Spice Girl, accompanied by TLC's Left-Eye crashes in to the top of the chart for her first ever solo Number One and, as almost seems par for the course in this day and age, carves a huge swathe through the record books in the process.
Let's start with the obvious first of all as the headlines will be made by the fact that Spice Girl has replaced former Spice Girl at Number One, Geri Halliwell's Bag It Up slipping to Number 4 this week. As you may guess, for individuals who have topped the charts together as a group to replace one another at Number One is a very unusual occurrence indeed. In fact, a similar set of circumstances has only arisen once before. January 1963 when Jet Harris and Tony Meehan topped the chart with the instrumental Diamonds. Their place in chart history was further assured thanks to the record that they displaced from the top - Dance On performed by the band both Harris and Meehan had left a year before, The Shadows.
Another chart record that has been equalled also relates to the fact that Mel C and Geri were once members of the same group. Melanie Chisholm is the third member (current or otherwise) of the Spice Girls to top the charts in her own right, Geri Halliwell having had three of her own and Melanie Brown hitting the heights with I Want You Back in 1998. Only one other chart-topping group has seen more than two of its former members go on to have solo Number One hits, and they are of course The Beatles. Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison have all had Number One singles in the past with only Ringo Starr letting the side down, his biggest solo hit being Back Off Boogaloo which annoyingly peaked at Number 2, although it should be noticed that all four Beatles have had solo Number One hits in America. Plenty of other acts have come close, Take That having seen Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams spin off for solo Number One hits for example but for the moment the achievement of the Spice Girls and The Beatles (and what a combination that makes) remains unique.
2 THE TIME IS NOW (Moloko)
Until last summer the hitherto hitless Moloko would hardly have been considered a dance act. That changed thanks to the Boris Dlugosch remix of Sing It Back which took a while to catch fire but eventually did so in style, hitting Number 4 in September last year. For the follow up the group have aimed for the dancefloor on their own terms and have landed themselves a monster, charging in to the runners-up slot for their biggest hit to date. The Time Is Now is such a breath of fresh air it defies belief, dance music that does not rely on electronics but instead is being performed by what can be termed 'proper' instruments, the entire groove carried by an acoustic guitar and lightning flashes as strings. The track is quite possibly the first ever organic dance classic. Are Moloko suddenly the best band in the world?
3 SMOOTH (Santana featuring Rob Thomas)
Just like comedians, musicians sometimes have to learn the art of good timing. Carlos Santana's celebrated comeback album, the globe-conquering Supernatural is at the end of the day little more than a slightly updated take on everything he and the group had done before. What turned the album into a phenomenon was the fact that it happened to coincide with last summer's latin music craze and next to the manufactured product of the likes of Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez quite rightly sounded like a work of genius.
Needless to say, Britain didn't get it. Whilst Supernatural and the single Smooth were racing up charts all around the world, this little island remained indifferent to the sensational comeback of the legendary axeman and watched him amass a cupboardful of Grammy's with something approaching bemusement. Smooth was released as a single in October and stiffed beyond belief, peaking at Number 75. As it turns out this was probably down to timing again. Bad timing. Both the single and the album are perfect sunshine grooves, music that is genuinely seasonal and arguably only works when the weather is fine and the sangria is flowing like tap water. In the middle of October, amidst the cloud and the rain and the onset of winter the record simply doesn't work. Come the spring and it is a different story altogether.
Back in January in an attempt to drum up interest in the album, the only major territory where it had failed, Santana played a one-off showcase concert. This proved to be the catalyst for Britain to finally wake up to Supernatural. Since then the album has been written about, raved about and most importantly bought in ever growing numbers, finally making the Top 10 about a month ago and this week ascending to Number One for the very first time, coinciding nicely with the re-release of it's best track. The reactivated Smooth charges straight into the Top 3 to become far and away Santana's biggest hit single ever. Before now he/they had only ever had four chart singles, only two of which had made the Top 40. Until now the biggest Santana hit was their cover of the Zombies' She's Not There which made Number 11 in late 1977. Funnily enough the long-overdue success of Smooth also marks a reversal of fortunes for Rob Thomas who as lead singer of Matchbox 20 has until now has had just one Top 40 single - the Number 38 Push.
11 REWIND (Precious)
The Eurovision Song Contest may well have launched several massive careers in the past but just as equally it has been the kiss of death for many acts who have appeared. Many are the British entries who have had one hit single with that particular song and then nothing else since. So take nothing away from the fact that Precious have emerged from the shadows of their defeat in last year's contest with Say It Again with the record that may well turn them into stars. Rewind is the girls transforming themselves into the British equivalent of Destiny's Child, a wonderfully produced piece of R&B that leaves the likes of Fierce trailing in their wake. The Europop of Say It Again remains their biggest hit (it peaked at Number 6 in May last year) but this single marks the start of phase II of the career of Precious and very welcome it is too. [History records that this was as good as it got for Precious, although Jenny Frost had rather more enduring success when she joined Atomic Kitten Mark II].
12 RIGHT BEFORE MY EYES (N'N'G featuring Kallaghan)
Garage time again, except that this single varies the now-standard formula slightly with the trademark two-step rhythm buried deep in the mix if indeed it is there at all. Those looking for at least an element of familiarity will be pleased to know that the single features an appearance by MC Neat who himself scaled the charts with A Little Bit Of Luck just after Christmas. As a result of this NC Neat also adds himself to the unusually long list of people appearing on two different Top 75 singles this week. The Vengaboys and Artful Dodger also have older hits at the bottom end of the listing alongside their current chart records whilst Lisa Left-Eye Lopes appears on both Melanie C's single and Donnell Jones' U Know What's Up which is also still on the chart.
14 CRASH AND BURN (Savage Garden)
Another consistent chart performance from the Australians as Crash And Burn slides into the chart four places below the peak of last November's I Knew I Loved You. The single is their seventh hit to date, none of which have peaked below Number 16.
15 FEELIN' SO GOOD (Jennifer Lopez)
The third hit single for Jennifer Lopez, albeit one which lacks the sensuality of If You Had My Love or the pop sparkle of Waiting For Tonight. The end result is a bit 'meh' and this Top 20 placing although respectable is probably the best the single could have hoped for. Still, as long as she waves her arse about in the video then all is right with the world I suppose.
16 DON'T SAY YOU LOVE ME (M2M)
The Pokemon film isn't due out here for a little while but that hasn't stopped promotion of the soundtrack. Its first single is this track from M2M, two girls from Oslo who fall nicely into the teenage girlie-rock drawer with this single, which comes across like a multitracked Natalie Imbruglia or one-half of Hepburn if you prefer. Jangling guitars and a soaring chorus make for a tuneful if unmemorable pop record. Just don't ask me what it has to do with computer games or trading cards.
24 KILL ALL HIPPIES (Primal Scream)
More dark musical meanderings from Primal Scream with the second single from their album Exterminator. This is the follow-up to Swastika Eyes which made Number 22 back in November.
33 THE CEDAR ROOM (Doves)
Just sneaking into the Top 40 to coincide with their current national tour is the second single from Doves, a vast improvement on the Number 73 peak of Here It Comes which charted in August last year. Currently receiving good writeups from the inky music press, you should avoid at all costs confusing them with other similarly named acts such as Dove or even the late lamented Thrashing Doves who in the early 1990s mutated into The Doves, but not these Doves. These Doves you see are actually the dance act Sub Sub whose biggest hit single came in 1993 in the shape of Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use) but dance their music certainly isn't these days...
39 SINGING IN MY SLEEP (Semisonic)
Gee what happened? We all thought Semisonic were going to be such superstars. Secret Smile may have been a sleeper hit but it certainly picked up more than its share of airplay when it peaked at Number 13 in July last year. The follow-up was the even lovelier Closing Time but it disappointed with a Number 25 peak in November. Their third single sadly fares even worse despite being just as tuneful and just as melancholy. Some things were just not meant to be clearly.