This week's Official UK Singles Chart

1 WHERE IS THE LOVE (Black Eyed Peas)

What a week. Oh my God what a week. Not only does the chart witness a record-equalling slew of big new hit singles but on top of all that we have witnessed the most back and forth struggle for the Number One position in many a long month. First of all, Black Eyed Peas took an early lead before surrendering it to Rachel Stevens in midweek. Both singles were effectively neck and neck heading into the weekend and to the surprise of many, it is the incumbents who take the honours. Where Is The Love becomes no less than the seventh single this year to spend at least three weeks at the top of the charts, thus matching the total we saw in 2002. We are well on the way to this being one of the slowest chart years (at least in terms of Number One hits) for almost a decade.

2 SWEET DREAMS MY LA EX (Rachel Stevens)

On the other hand, the rest of the chart seems almost as wild as it ever was. Rachel Stevens this week has the honour of being the biggest of no less than seven new entries inside the Top 10 this week. This equals the record for the greatest ever turnover inside the Top 10 with only Black Eyed Peas, Dido and Big Brovaz surviving from last week. The biggest casualty is Gareth Gates who unceremoniously tumbles from third place down to Number 15.

Anyway onto the record itself and this of course marks the solo debut for Rachel S Club. A regular at the top end of "sexiest women on the planet" polls, she was always far and away the most marketable member of the group and a virtual lock to be launched as a solo star. Although never the strongest singer in the group she had her fair share of lead vocals (most notably on Natural in September 2000) and is more than capable of carrying off this pop song herself. S club 7 writer Cathy Dennis has also come with her to the solo world, co-writing this track and prompting many raised eyebrows at the way Rachel Stevens manages to sound just like the songwriter did when having hits in her own right back in the 1990s. OK so this actually isn't the greatest pop song of the year [and yet the most famous Britney Spears reject in history] but it was always destined to be massive and as it turns out, misses out on the ultimate chart prize by no more than a whisker.


4 HEY WHATEVER (Westlife)

Some way away from the titanic battle taking place for Number One is the second biggest new hit of the week - an unfamiliar situation for the band in question. Westlife's phenomenal chart records are by now the stuff of legend, 11 Number One singles from 13 releases and all since 1999. With all that in mind, and given that their last chart single Queen Of My Heart last December was one of those chart-toppers, you would have expected this brand new single from a forthcoming new album to fly easily to the top. The fact that it has not done so will actually attract less comment than it might have done in the past, Westlife's chart invincibility having been wrecked by the failure of 2002's Bop Bop Baby to chart any higher than Number 5. Nonetheless you now have to question whether the Irish stars are ever going to add to their tally of Number One hits. The fact remains that they are a pop band now well into their fifth year of hit-making, well beyond the stage that their core teen audience starts to grow out of them. Add to that the suspicion that the Westlife formula is growing more than a little tired amongst even the casual audience and you have the recipe for this to be Westlife's least successful promotional campaign yet. Still, let us not pour too much cold water on this single. It is after all their 14th successive Top 5 single and a good one at that. It is also an environmentally friendly track, containing almost 80% recycled material. By that I mean that the song was originally recorded and released by the Irish group Relish under the slightly more wonderful title of Rainbow Zephyr. The Westlife version is more of a revision than a cover, featuring changed lyrics and a new arrangement - and crucially it is this one that has become the hit single.


Last time we saw Louise in the charts was September 2001. Her cover version of Stuck In The Middle With You (a Number 4 hit) was taken from her Greatest Hits collection and represented the amicable end of her contract with EMI records. Two years later and the former Eternal star is still without a major new deal, hence this single being released using the Emma Bunton route of being financed by her management in an attempt to get her back in the shop window. That it has most certainly done and the Top 5 performance of the track will surprise some observers who had expected it to fail. There is no doubting her continuing appeal, this is after all her ninth solo Top 10 single. Amazingly enough we are just a couple of weeks shy of the tenth anniversary of her first ever chart appearance, Eternal's debut single Stay which charted in October 1993.

6 SOMEDAY (Nickelback)

As the nation braces itself for the Darkness to turn their album sales into singles success as well, the Top 10 plays host to two long awaited nu-metal returns of its own this week. Leading the pack are Nickelback with a triumphant return to the Top 10 with this brand new single. It is their third top tenner in total and arrives just two places short of the peak attained by their celebrated debut How You Remind Me which famously had an 11 week run inside the Top 10 in 2002. Unusually lead singer Chad Kroeger can claim more Top 10 hits than his bandmates, thanks to his solo credit on the Spiderman theme Hero which also hit Number 4 in June last year.

8 SUPERSTAR (Jamelia)

Leaving aside the metal for the moment, new entry number 5 goes to a lady who just a few months ago was looking at chart oblivion. Jamelia's long awaited chart comeback made a serious misfire back in June when the single Bout made a lowly Number 37 before crashing out altogether. Those of us who wrote her off back then are forced to eat our words as after a promotional rethink she has surged back with this astoundingly catchy pop number. Superstar thus becomes only her second ever Top 10 single, charting just three places lower than the memorable Money which hit the charts in March 2000. Three years on from her debut we are still waiting for her to live up to the forecasts for greatness which were heaped upon her at the time - but make no mistake this chart turnaround is a major step in the right direction.


9 BROKEN SILENCE (So Solid Crew)

After solo projects and offshoots it is time for the Crew as a whole to return. The aptly named Broken Silence is their first release as a collective since Ride Wid Us hit Number 19 back in April last year. Although possibly not their best single ever it does at least return them to the Top 10 for the first time since Haters in January 2002 and is their fifth chart single in all. Whatever the controversy that follows them around, whatever the slightly dubious activities of some of their members, it is a tribute to the overall talent that they have that two years after they came from nowhere with their Number One debut 21 Seconds they are still clocking up the hits.

10 EAT YOU ALIVE (Limp Bizkit)

Finally they return. Avid followers of Fred Durst's men (minus Wes Borland of course) must have at times despaired of their new album ever seeing the light of day. The follow-up to 2000's Chocolate Starfish And The Hotdog Flavoured Water (which pushed them decidedly into the mainstream and arguably kicked off the whole Nu-Metal chart invasion) has had more projected release dates and more probable track line-ups than most of us have had changes of underwear. Indeed the album was all set for release back in the spring with the single Crack Addict having been released to radio before the group had yet another change of heart and moved things around again. Finally though things are set in stone and Limp Bizkit have returned to grab you by the balls and swing you around a bit, all with a knowing wink and a cheeky grin of course. Eat You Alive arrives in the Top 10 efficiently enough but it cannot help be something of a disappointment, at least to those who were expecting something as chart friendly as Rollin' or My Way. Eat You Alive is actually more of a step back to the harder sound of their earlier hit-free albums and so as such will probably satisfy die-hard fans more than their mainstream audience. Artistically this may be fulfilling but from a pop point of view it is actually rather a shame. Still, let us not quibble. The track duly becomes their fourth Top 10 single, albeit only just. The sneak preview that the radio only track Crack Addict gave us earlier in the year suggests that they have not totally lost the ability to make a catchy sing-along hit so maybe there is better to come, or at the very least their cover of The Who's Behind Blue Eyes.

13 SENORITA (Justin Timberlake)

Right then, out of the Top 10 we go to the singles that to all intents and purposes are the also-rans of the chart this week. Quite shockingly Justin Timberlake is one of them. After three successive Number 2 hits, plus his Top 10 collaboration with Nelly it is nothing short of a major shock to see Senorita languishing inside the Top 20. In truth though it was a bold choice for a single, a Latino inspired track so stripped to the bone you can smell the blood and a world away from the 21st-century funk of his earlier solo work. The one thing Senorita does have in its favour is the last minute when the song is all but abandoned in favour of Justin leading the crowd in a boys vs girls call and response session. That is actually enough to make it one of the most inspired hits of the week, even if it ain't the biggest. [A small hit indeed, but one that became one of the first of many defining moments in Timberlake's solo career].


17 THE GOLDEN PATH (Chemical Brothers/Flaming Lips)

Just like the Trousersnake single above it, the chart placing of this offbeat collaboration will have many expressing frustration at how what is potentially one of the singles of the year is destined to become a rather more minor hit than was hoped. This collaboration came about after Tom and Ed found themselves in something of a creative cul-de-sac with a new track they were recording for a forthcoming singles collection. Inspiration came when they handed the track to Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne and asked him what he could do with it. The result is this self styled emotional wide-screen track that somehow sounds like nothing else you have heard this year. It is far removed from the Flaming Lips and yet also takes the Chemical Brothers in a whole new direction themselves (although when you consider this is the group that will feature the different worlds of Star Guitar and Block Rocking Beats on their singles collection it is hard to suggest what an expected direction would be). I was first played this track over two months ago and only had a lukewarm response to it at the time. Those who insisted it was an automatic Number One hit were always going to be disappointed but the Golden Path probably deserved to have Top 10 in its destiny rather than being shunted down the order like this.

18 LOVE AT 1ST SIGHT (Mary J Blige featuring Method Man)

Of the nine new entries on the chart so far, no less than seven are celebrating their first chart appearance of the year. The latest of these is Mary J Blige, here with her first hit since Rainy Dayz made Number 17 in August last year. Of course it would not be a Mary J Blige single without another of the endless permutations of possible guest stars, Method Man getting his obligatory co-credit on the track. This is actually the second time the pair have been credited together on a track although the first one came no less than eight years ago. Back in 1995 it was Mary J Blige who was the guest star, helping Method Man's own I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need To Get By to Number 10, a single which remains the rappers biggest ever chart single, even if Mary J has since managed to climb higher.

27 SPECIAL NEEDS (Placebo)

The unusually high number of new entries at the top end of the chart means that the bottom end is by and large dominated by tracks that have been displaced, leaving little room for many new hits down the basement. Nonetheless one or two sneak through, including Placebo's third hit single of the year. It seems a shame that all their singles appear to have come and gone without being noticed as there are many acts that would kill for the kind of consistency that they have shown this year. Special Needs charts slightly lower than its predecessor This Picture but makes it three out of three in terms of Top 30 hits for the band in 2003.


Sting on the other hand can be forgiven for being disappointed and frustrated at this chart position. Send Your Love had received favourable reviews just about everywhere, being as it is a long awaited return to collaborating with producer Victor Calderone, the main who made Desert Rose such a memorable track in 2000. Send Your Love's dancey vibe made it a sure fire smash in many eyes, especially as it comes on the back of both Craig David and the Sugababes sampling elements of Shape Of My Heart and having hits as a result. End the event the single can barely scrape the Top 30, at the very least one place higher than his last solo hit After The Rain Has Fallen from April 2000 but a less than impressive start to the promotional campaign for his forthcoming new album.

34 E SAMBA (Junior Jack)

Finally to bring up the rear this week and to underline just how much on a back foot club singles appear to be at the moment, Junior Jack returns to the Top 40 with his first credited hit since Thrill Me hit Number 29 in March 2002. And that's all I have to say about that.