1 BREATHLESS (Corrs)
...in which our favourite family gathering move ever closer to their destined role as globe-straddling superstars and sound just that little bit more like Fleetwood Mac in the process. The Corrs' new album, the follow-up to 1998s biggest selling long player Forgiven Not Forgotten has actually been in the can for the best part of a year by all accounts, its release held over from last autumn to avoid it becoming swallowed by the Millennium rush (that never actually materialised) and in order that all the pieces can be in place to make this one of the biggest releases of the year. The first single could hardly be any bigger, flying to the top of the chart with almost consummate ease to give the Corrs their biggest ever hit single, beating the Number 2 peak scaled by the remixed Runaway in February 1999. Long term fans may bemoan the way they seem to be moving further and further away from their original folk-based roots (indeed Breathless features Mutt 'Mr Shania Twain' Lange as a co-writer - the fifth UK Number One hit he has helped to pen) but at the end of the day this is a winning formula and you can bet it is going to be milked for all it is worth. Just as long as they don't go _too_ corporate, that is all.
2 THE REAL SLIM SHADY (Eminem)
Just a week at Number One then for Eminem as the Corrs emerge victorious in what is even by current standards a massive week for new singles. One has to feel a small amount of sympathy for him as for the second week running he fails to set a unique chart record. Last week Richard Ashcroft deposed the Marshall Mathers LP from the top of the chart and now this week as its first hit single dips from the summit the album is back at the top of its own chart - Eminem failing by the narrowest of margins to become the first ever rap star to top both charts simultaneously. Can he take consolation from the performance of his labelmates who have the next biggest selling single of the week?
3 TAKE A LOOK AROUND (THEME FROM MI:2) (Limp Bizkit)
Some had this down as an outside bet to be Number One this week and although it falls some way short of that target there is no doubting that this is a major chart achievement for Limp Bizkit. Take A Look Around is of course the theme to Mission Impossible 2 and like Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen before them in 1997, the band have based the single around Lalo Schifrin's original TV theme. Unlike the U2 duo however this is no straight cover as the single mutates quickly into the kind of rampant heads down thrash that fans of the band will be used to. Maybe it is the film connection or maybe the group are trying harder than ever but Take A Look Around neatly crosses the line that divides 'noisy crap' from 'inspired rock song' and is quite deservedly a Top 3 hit. Perhaps surprisingly this is actually the first ever UK single release from the band, two albums into their career and despite the modest chart success of contemporaries such as Korn and Slipknot.
4 SUNDAY MORNING CALL (Oasis)
Single Number 3 from Standing On The Shoulder of giants and the "are they washed up" debate continues. This track is the album's Champagne Supernova, an epic lighters-aloft ballad that features one of the album's few Noel Gallagher vocals. Sadly it isn't quite the classic it clearly hopes to be and when a track has a stronger verse than it has chorus you are entitled to wonder. At the very least though there is nothing too worrying about Oasis' singles performances, Sunday Morning Call matching the Number 4 peak of Who Feels Love from back in April even if you can guarantee that next week the single will charge down the rankings faster than a British tennis player. Meanwhile Oasis plod along towards their summer concert tour. The question is, does anyone still subscribe to the theory that Patsy Kensit ditches her rock star husbands once their careers are in decline?
5 WHEN I SAID GOODBYE/SUMMER OF LOVE (Steps)
The winning formula is still just that as Steps extend their reign of terror, er I mean, run of success ever further with yet another Top 10 single, continuing a run that stretches back to the release of Last Thing On My Mind back in May 1998. Once again the single is a double a-side, covering as many bases as possible, the ballad of When I Said Goodbye sitting alongside the intense Eurodisco beat of Summer Of Love, both tracks sounding like every Abba single you ever loved without ever being directly derivative of any one of them, which is a neat trick if you can pull it off.
6 WOMAN TROUBLE (Artful Dodger)
Hey, when you have a formula why mess with it, particularly when it has been good for combined sales of almost one million copies already this year? Artful Dodger follow up their new year double whammy of Rewind and Movin' Too Fast with this new track, another near perfect four minutes of sweet garage soul. Continuity with past releases is provided by the presence of Craig David on the track but he is joined for the bulk of the vocals by Robbie Craig, another breakout star in the making perhaps? Woman Trouble falls a little way short of the Number 2 peak of their last two hits but Artful Dodger remain the leading producers of the prettiest garage tracks around. Until the long overdue return of Shanks and Bigfoot I guess...
7 WILL I EVER (Alice Deejay)
From the same home as the Vengaboys, here comes the third Alice Deejay single, another identikit euro dance hit in the same vein as last summer's Better Off Alone and the pre-Christmas hit Back In My Life. Formulaic it may be (I'd swear that the single is the same basic tune as the others, just rearranged slightly) but it is inoffensive enough and has been good for three Top 10 hits so far.
10 I WANT YOUR LOVE (Atomic Kitten)
No, I don't care what you think. As far as I'm concerned Atomic Kitten tower above all the other manufactured girl bands and this third Top 10 is one of the greatest pop songs of the year so far. Look at it this way if you will, bemoaning the fact that groups such as Girl Thing, Madasun and Atomic Kitten and indeed their boy band counterparts have been thrown together by a bunch of men in suits does no good at all. They will still continue to churn out records and sell them by the shedload. Instead it is more productive to judge each one on the quality of the songs they are given to sing and this is where Atomic Kitten score big time. Most of their songs are written by the collaborative talents of Stuart Kershaw and Andy McCluskey, men responsible for some of the best pop hits of the 1980s and who are now putting their talents to good use for a new generation. Hence I Want You Love is a sparky, energetic pop record with no less than two different hooks and an inspired bit of sampling which sees the melody based around the spiralling strings of the theme from the classic Western film Big Country. I Want Your Love is by no means the first pop record to borrow the music, MC Tunes' The Only Rhyme That Bites did so in 1990. Actually whilst we are on the subject of samples it is fun to note that the single also borrows a brief snatch of Ricardo Da Force shouting "Bring The Beat Back" which the sleeve acknowledges is lifted from KLFs 1991 hit Justified And Ancient. This does mean that the KLF duo (and notorious art terrorists) Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond are also given writing credits on the track. [I still maintain that the Kerry Katona-featured version of Atomic Kitten was fabulous. But they only got properly famous after she left].
15 I THINK I'M IN LOVE WITH YOU (Jessica Simpson)
Let's be honest here. Jessica Simpson's first hit I Wanna Love You Forever (Number 7 in April) may have been the most saccharine ballad this side of a Whitney Houston compilation but the single did at least contain a dance mix that turned it into a pretty passable pop single. This new track treads the line between the two extremes nicely with a pop record that indeed sounds like Whitney Houston circa 1987. The main hook of the song is the fact that it is based around the famous guitar riff from John Cougar Mellencamp's 1982 hit Jack And Diane, albeit in a recreated form rather than a sample from the original. Not that this hasn't prevented some enterprising DJs from creating their own mixes, substituting the original guitar track. Somehow it seems to sound better.
21 BEAUTIFUL (Matt Darey's Mash Up featuring Marcella Woods)
OK this is a little confusing so let me clarify. Mash Up is the production alias that Matt Darey commonly uses and with which he reached Number 19 last October with Liberation (Temptation - Fly Like An Angel). His last chart single however was From Russia With Love, a Number 40 hit in April but which was credited to "Matt Darey presents DSP" as it was apparently just a side project (this according to my dance music guru correspondent Rob Johnson). The breathless female vocals are provided by Darey's better half Marcella Woods who also sang on Liberation and indeed From Russia With Love, if that doesn't confuse matters even more.
25 NEIGHBOURHOOD (Zed Bias)
Via the relentless plugging of the Dreem Team comes this rather fascinating track from the less commercial end of the UK Garage scene. A strong female vocal verse gives way to a ragga chorus, all of which is intercut with some of the phattest beats heard so far on any Top 40 garage hit. I've run out of jargon now, sorry.
27 IT'S GONNA BE MY WAY (Precious)
This would be the second hit of the year for Precious, UK Eurovision entrants in 1999 of course and who are now trying to reinvent themselves as pop-RnB divas, a process which looked to well underway with April's single Rewind which peaked at Number 11. This time around their chart placing slips somewhat, a reflection on the rather less commercial (yet somehow more credible) nature of this single. I'd never pretend to be the world's most intense student of writing credits so I shall leave it to dotmusic reader Ralph Anker who wrote to point out that It's Gonna Be My Way is credited to Swedish duo Bagge and Birgisson who also wrote Samantha Mumba's Gotta Tell You.
33 IGUANA (Mauro Picotto)
Italian superstar (so we are told) Mauro Picotto returns to the chart under his own name for the first time since the remixed version of Lizard made Number 33 (spook!) in November last year. His last chart hit of any kind came more recently that this of course, February's Number 15 hit single Lizard was by the man himself, even though it was credited under the pseudonym of CRW.