Well, praise the Lord. I actually mean that in any number of ways as not only does the Frankee and Eamon expletive you right back saga finally come to an end after seven weeks of dominating the singles chart, but the song to replace it is sung by a man who hails from one of America's most famous gospel music families. Unusually Mario Winans has not followed the hugely successful spiritual music path of most of his family but has instead turned his talents to pure R&B, and doing so extremely successfully as it turns out, his debut album going Top 10 here on the back of its US success. Now with this single Mario Winans lands himself a massive Number One smash, although the most notable thing about I Don't Wanna Know is the way it can be linked to a whole string of other Number One hits.
So let's see how many we can come up with. The single first of all features a rap by P.Diddy, in actual fact making this the second time the two have collaborated on a single together. Mario Winans' debut chart appearance came back in November 1999 when he guest starred on the then Puff Daddy's Number 24 hit Best Friend. Puff Daddy has, of course, topped the charts himself once before, going to Number One with I'll Be Missing You on two occasions back in 1997. Also getting herself an artist credit on the track is Ireland's own Enya, this due to the fact that the single samples her vocals from Song For Bodecia. Enya too has previously topped the charts under her own steam, hitting the heights with Orinoco Flow back in 1988, thus giving her a 15.5-year gap between Number One appearances. Having said that, this is not the first time a Number One hit single has used Song For Bodecia as a base as it formed a central part of the Fugees' track Ready Or Not which topped the charts in September 1996. Finally, there is, of course, the family connection, Mario Winans is the son of Vickie and Marvin Winans, members of the famous Winans gospel clan. His uncle is Bebe Winans who starred alongside Eternal on their 1997 Number One hit I Wanna Be The Only One. So there, I make that four other Number One hits to which I Don't Wanna Know has a direct musical connection. Did we forget to mention what a good track it is as well?
Next up at Number 3 is the resurgent Peter Andre who after years in the musical wilderness (or "Cyprus" as it is sometimes known) returned to the charts with a bang following his stint on the ITV1 show "I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here" which resulted in the chart-topping re-issue of his most famous hit Mysterious Girl back in March. During his spell in the jungle, he was very keen to extol the virtues of the song Insania which he claimed he had just written describing the feeling of being semi shut away from civilisation and his desire to record it once they were all released. A few cynics pointed out that a suspiciously similar sounding song called Insania was on a series of demos that his management had been touting around record companies since the start of the decade but hey, nobody ever died from a bit of PR spin after all. Consequently, with a brand new deal and a new album to promote, Peter Andre hits the charts with the now notorious track and in the process landing his first brand new chart hit for six long years. The re-release of Mysterious Girl aside, the track is his biggest hit single since All About Us also made Number 3 in August 1997. A massive sex symbol first time around, Andre's stock fell quickly once he tried to make the move from lightweight pop star to serious R&B artist. It remains to be seen whether this comeback is just a TV-inspired flash in the pan or the long overdue rediscovery of a great lost talent.
Stop smirking. [Right now, nobody is laughing. Just weeping].
Bringing us back down to earth are Faithless who are fast approaching the ninth anniversary of their first chart singles. The trio of Rollo, SisterBliss and Maxi Jazz (plus assorted collaborators which have included Dido in the past) have dabbled with changes of styles in the past but have always sounded at their best when they marry their trip hop with an edgy sound with the hypnotic musings of Maxi Jazz (who at the age of what is it, 46? 47? must surely rank as one of the oldest rappers on the chart). Mass Destruction marks the release of their first new album for three years and its first single is a worthy choice even if the track is in danger of disappearing up its own backside in political terms at some stages. Still, if you want to hear what the most chilled out man in music sounds like when he has something to be angry about, now is your chance. The single actually becomes their second Top 10 hit in a row (something they have only managed once before in their career) following on from their last single One Step Too Far which hit Number 6 in April 2002 thanks to the appearance of a certain famous sister of Rollo Armstrong on lead vocals.
Another welcome return is at Number 8 with a brand new single from the Beastie Boys. Once seen as novelty bad boy rappers (despite being one of the musical phenomenons of 1987 - and controversial with it too, Eminem had nothing on these guys back then), the group spent the early 1990s trying torecapture their early form before hitting musical paydirt with the 1998 album Hello Nasty which spawned the Top 5 hit single Intergalactic. Six years on (although it hardly seems like five minutes) the boys are back with a brand new album which they have produced for themselves for the first time. Their appeal it appears is undimmed and the anticipation for their network has pushed Ch-check It Out into the Top 10, perhaps incredibly enough only the third time they have charted this high and enough to make this single their second biggest hit ever.
The football season is finally over and so it is time for football fever to sweep the nation. Yes, the flags, the bulk buying of beer and the hot weather are all combining to build anticipation for another glorious failure by the England team in the European Championships in Portugal. Although New Order finally made football records cool in 1990 with World In Motion, it was not until the 1996 European Championships that the trend for football songs of all types took off. Led by the famous 3 Lions, the charts were flooded with football connected singles, a fad that continued for the 1998 World Cup and even the 2000 European Championships. Suspicions that the public were boring of the parade of songs vying to become stadium anthems were first aroused two years ago when few of the songs dedicated to the World Cup finals set the charts alight. The only one to do anything of note was Ant and Dec's We're On The Ball which drifted into the Top 3 and out again in short order. Hence you suspect the continuing downward trajectory of England anthems. This year's official song isn't even a new recording. Instead, it is a DJ Spoony remix of a track released by Liverpool band The Farm as their Christmas offering back in 1990. All Together Now tells the tale of the famous football match played by the warring armies of World War I during a Christmas truce in 1914 - hence the sporting link. This remixed version adds as a schoolboy choir to the track and in truth actually manages to improve the production of the original and turns it into more of a singalong anthem. In spite of this, the single has made a lowly Number 10 with airplay appearing to come out of a sense of duty rather than genuine love for the track. The chart position will raise eyebrows and cause some nerves for those behind other Euro 2004 themed tracks which are due for release over the next few weeks. You never know, one of them may turn out to be another Vindaloo and wind up almost eclipsing the official offering butI'm not holding my breath.
Still, for The Farm at least it is another entry in the parade of the veterans. The group's last chart hit came way back in January 1993 when Love See No Colour made Number 35. In their 9 hit career, only two were ever Top 10 hits, Groovy Train which hit Number 6 in September 2000 and the original release of All Together Now which was a Number 4 single in December of that same year.
Time for a new chart category: bands whose names sound like a sneeze. Entry number one is Hoobastank who hail from Los Angeles and make their chart debut this week. Their fans will be relieved to see them making headlines of a musical kind after the mini fuss that was generated at the start of last month when their support slot with Evanescence was cancelled at short notice following a disagreement over their commitment to a tour in the States as well as in the UK and Europe. It will be with some satisfaction that the charts will show who has had the last laugh there.
At Number 14 we present Pop!, the brand new brainchild of Pete Waterman and hitherto unsung management guru Tim Byrne. The foursome are quite unashamedly attempting to fill the void left by the departure of Steps. Just as Steps were launched onto the world with a gimmick (first line dancing but which was quickly abandoned in favour of Abba pastiches) so too Pop! have an agenda of their own, their songs designed with the kind of dance steps you see on dance mats in arcades and on home gaming machines. Well, it seems to have worked for the moment and although this debut single hasn't exactly surged into the Top 10 it is a more than creditable start even if the music has a cheese factor of 'high' - pretty much like Steps in that sense I guess.
Emma Bunton's chart career appears to be being written off in some quarters thanks to the performance of her new single. The track Crickets Sing For Annamaria was widely touted as one of the standout tracks on her current album and yet has only wound up being released as its fourth single. In that context, it hasn't actually done all that bad and even though it has failed to emulate the Top 10 status of its three immediate predecessors it has certainly not disgraced itself. The decision of 19 Management to form an itsown record label to release her singles after she failed to find a deal elsewhere was greeted with scepticism but a careful choice of material which positioned her nicely as a Sandie Shaw for the new millennium had paid off nicely. All things considered, it will be a shame if further investment in her is not forthcoming. [As cover versions go this is actually quite an inspired one, and indeed one of her more overlooked singles. The Free Me album was absent from services such as Spotify for some time, making it surprisingly hard to track down].
Single Number four for boy band D-Side does not bode well for them, however. They too have had three consecutive Top 10 singles but now find themselves outside the Top 20 looking in with Pushin' Me Out. They are in good company too as the aforementioned Evanescence find themselves out-charted by their dumped support band as the struggle to recapture the magic of Bring Me To Life continues. Just like D-Side the Number 24 placing of Everybody's Fool is an incredibly disappointing failure to make the Top 10 on the back of three Top 10 hits.
For the first time in many weeks, I'm actually looking forward to the release of several singles this week. Kanye West with the single that is set to confirm him as the discovery of the year, Linkin Park back with their best record ever, two songs from Eastern Europe in the shape of O-Zone and Eurovision winner Ruslana plus the chance to find out if speech radio station talkSPORT's tactic of playing their own Euro 2004 single on every single show they do is going to pay off. I'm off to a darkened room for seven days. Seeya.