This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 LEAVE RIGHT NOW (Will Young)

You know it is funny, when I was younger the run-up to Christmas seemed to almost take forever. Now you have barely time to blink and the festive season is upon us. Two weeks from now the Christmas chart will be unveiled which means it is time for the speculation to begin in earnest as to what record will be topping the charts for the festive season. Interest in the 'race' has dropped off dramatically in recent years with the festive Number One single being little more than a series of dull inevitabilities (even if at times the sales in the week in question have gone down to the wire) with a corresponding loss of interest in the chances of making a killing at the bookmakers. As I write on Sunday lunchtime (before this chart has been published and the odds are revised accordingly) the clear market leader is the Pop Idol finalists single at 2/7 with Michael Andrews & Gary Jules and The Darkness both some way back at 5/1. As an example of just how much of a two or three horse race, it is expected to be, Will Young is not even being given odds by Ladbrokes at present with BlueSquare offering 50/1 on him still being at the top in two weeks time. For the moment Will hangs on to the top, free from the stock problems that almost hampered him last week. You can pretty much guarantee he won't be topping the charts for Christmas (the last single to top the charts at the start of December and remain there until the end of the month was Michael Jackson's Earth Song back in 1995) but at Top 5 for him over the holiday period is pretty much a given.

2 SHUT UP (Black Eyed Peas)

One act who won't be Christmas Number One either are the Black Eyed Peas with no bookmakers offering odds on them at all. Even so, that could all have changed had the follow-up to Where Is The Love duplicated the feat of its predecessor and hit the very top. As it turns out Shut Up finds itself in second place although as a more representative sample of the usual output of the Black Eyed Peas it is unlikely to duplicate the phenomenal sales of Where Is The Love - now confirmed as the biggest selling single of the year to date. With just three sales weeks left in 2003 it is a tough ask for any single to overtake them - although it has been done, Bob The Builder having stolen the crown as the biggest seller of 2000 despite being on sale for just a fortnight.


4 SAY IT ISN'T SO (Gareth Gates)

Sometimes the effort just isn't enough. Despite a huge promotional push for Gareth Gates' new single he just hasn't been able to match the impact made by Will Young last week and instead has to be content with the second biggest new hit of the week. Not that Say It Isn't So is a bad record, far from it and in fact it as a gentle laid back ballad it is far closer to the common perception of a Gareth Gates single than his last hit Sunshine which was an attempt to take him to a more sophisticated level. This isn't the first time Gareth has struggled in the charts at this time of year, of course, his smallest hit to date almost exactly one year ago when What My Heart Wants To Say could only reach Number 5. will give you 100/1 on this being Christmas Number One if you fancy losing money.


The third single from the album Home duly becomes Simply Red's third hit of the year and returns them to the Top 10 after Fake made a disappointing Number 21 back in the summer. Good though his own songs are, Mick Hucknall is never better than when covering a soul classic as this single proves. You Make Me Feel Brand New was originally recorded by the Stylistics, hitting Number 2 back in 1974 and this new version nicely matches the chart peak of Sunrise from earlier this year to give the group their 10th Top 10 hit single after almost 19 years of hits.


With the album having sold so many copies in such a short space of time it is actually something of a pleasant surprise to see its title track give Dido another Top 10 hit, most expectations being that the single would wind up slightly lower down the chart, especially as it is a less immediate track than its predecessor White Flag which of course hit Number 2 back in September. For a lady who sells so many albums to a predominantly adult market, she is surprisingly consistent with her singles success, her only release to not go Top 10 being Hunter which hit Number 17 in September 2001.



Chalk this one up as a third Top 10 hit of the year for D-Side, this following up Speechless and Invisible which hit Numbers 9 and 7 respectively earlier in 2003. With that kind of chart form, you would expect them to be hailed as one of the brightest pop acts around yet you will struggle to find in the mass media anything like the coverage that is granted to contemporaries like Busted. They deserve to be more than also-rans, this Andy Hill-penned ballad taking the Irish group close to Westlife territory with this epic ballad - perfect for the season.


If we are in the market for predicting the first musical trend of 2004 then pure voiced female singers may well be it. The millions of records sold by Dido, the surprise success in 2003 of Delta Goodrem, and of course the global phenomenon that was the posthumous success of Eva Cassidy has led labels to discreetly hunt for home grown female singers who can be fed to the all important Radio 2 audience who are hungry for the next coffee table phenomenon. Hence excited stories in the press about the potential of Erin Rocha and the appearance in the Christmas Number One betting market of one Katie Melua. Discovered by producer Mike Batt, the schoolgirl singer already has a hit album and this week makes her singles chart debut with this rather beautiful acoustic track that is as far removed from the world of pop as it is possible to get and yet which arrives as a welcome breath of fresh air inside the Top 10. There could be more of this to come as the temptation to turn Hayley Westenra into a singles artist is surely there, alongside Radio 2's saturation airplay for Erin Rocha's Can't Do Right For Doing Wrong[Katie Melua was a Radio 2 project too, the single apparently not even due out until the new year but brought forward thanks to Terry Wogan's relentless plugging of it and insistence that it could be Christmas Number One. But we got chart stardom for Katie Melua out of it, so we all won in the end. Perhaps more than any other record this sums up Christmas 2003 for me].


17 HYSTERIA (Muse)

After six new entries inside the Top 10, it is just as well we have had a seven place breather. The biggest of the five chart also-rans this week is the second single of the year from Muse, this following up Time Is Running Out which hit Number 8 back in September. Chalk this one up as the best single about the end of the world you will hear all year.

18 NOT ME NOT I (Delta Goodrem)

Hey, speaking of pure voiced female singers, here is a fourth single hit for Delta Goodrem who with just one album has shattered the perception that all Aussie soap stars turned singers have to be in the cheesy pop mould. Instead, she has charted high with a series of pop ballads that have defied categorization but which all have been some of the most memorable hits of the year. Not Me Not I is perhaps inevitably the smallest, her first single to miss the Top 10 but as long as her well reported illness does not put her out of commission for too long you can almost guarantee that there are more to come.

22 YOU RAISE ME UP (Daniel O'Donnell)

It would hardly be Christmas without the infusion of the MOR regulars, would it? Cliff Richard is on his way before the holidays kick in but to keep the seat warm for the moment here is Daniel O'Donnell with what is surprisingly his first chart single for almost three years. The Irish crooner was last in the Top 40 in December 2000 with his rendition of Morning Has Broken and now breaks his silence with a track that becomes his biggest hit since A Christmas Kiss made the Top 20 in December 1999. In all this is his 18th chart hit single since 1992 although in all that time he has only made the Top 10 once - that hit coming in 1998 when the charity single Give A Little Love made Number 7.

24 MAKE ME WANNA SCREAM (Blu Cantrell)

Memo to many artists: late November/early December is a bad time to release the follow-up to your surprise Number One hit single (unless of course, you are the Black Eyed Peas). First, it was Tomcraft, then Room 5 and now Blu Cantrell finds herself with a somewhat lesser starred follow-up to her smash hit Number One single Breathe which was at the summit for no less than four weeks over the course of the summer.

Many thanks to everyone who responded eagerly to the question I posed last week about the worst ever follow up to a Number One single (even if Ian in the dotmusic offices spent the week being bombarded with submissions via the main feedback forms). Plenty of people were keen to cite examples such as Partners In Kryme, Doop and Robin Beck who saw their follow-ups sell so poorly that they did not even make the official Top 75 but for our purposes, we are looking for the singles that did actually reach the chart, albeit rather lower than their chart-topping predecessor. The record is actually one which cannot be beaten under the present chart system, German Eurovision winner Nicole having topped the charts back in 1982 with her winning entry A Little Peace only to see the follow up Give Me More Time land in the basement at Number 75 later than same year.

First to email with the Nicole answer was Mark Wyman with Mark Brentnall, James Aukett and Thomas Hoheisel following hot on their heels. Commiserations should also go to Gerry from Glasgow who suggested the single that is the second worst performer - Jim Diamond's I Sleep Alone At Night which made Number 72 in February 1985 as a follow-up to the chart-topping I Should Have Known Better (we're not counting Jason Nevin's remix of Run DMCs It's Tricky which hit Number 74 as that was just an import). If nothing else that was a fun exercise and if things are quiet over the new year period I may well throw a similar poser out.

28 SWING LOW (UB40/United Colours Of Sound)

A mention in dispatches for UB40's World Cup anthem which this week experiences another sales surge seemingly out of nowhere. After re-entering the Top 40 at Number 37 two weeks ago the single went up a mere one place last week but now it rockets 8 places to reclaim the Top 30 ranking it last had at the start of November when first released. The single has still yet to beat its original Number 23 peak but with the victory parade set to take place through the streets of London this week, who knows what effect this will have.

36 IZ U (Nelly)

To bring up the rear this week here is Nelly who has been pretty much lost in the shuffle it seems after hitting Number 10 last time out with Shake Ya Tailfeather. This will be the rappers lowest charting single ever, smaller even than Batter Up which made Number 28 in September 2001.