1 MAKE LUV (Room 5 featuring Oliver Cheatham)

Where there is a TV ad so too there must be a smash hit single. The validity of this truism appeared to have taken a knock a few wee ks ago when the Mock Turtles' reissued single could only creep into the Top 20. Now it appears we must modify the rule to read: Where there is a TV ad so too thre must be a BRAND NEW smash hit single. Yes, thanks to a series of commercials for Lynx Deodorant (of all products), this club track from Room 5 has suddenly become the most in demand single of the moment, the exposure of the memorable adverts helping it cross over far beyond the audience who would normally have snapped up this delightfully retro disco-funk track and turning it instead into a mainstream pop hit. With total ease the single debuts at the very top of the charts, in the process effectively become the first pure club track to top the listings since DJ Sammy's Heaven back in November last year. The roots of the single go back much further than most people realise as Make Luv began life as Get Down Saturday Night, singer Oliver Cheatham taking the track to Number 38 in July 1983. Despite that lowly chart position the song has remained something of a soul classic ever since and has been known to find its way into the sets of certain superstar DJs as an end of night novelty. Room 5's reworking has been done with the full backing of the American star who now lives in the UK and who has enthusiastically helped with its promotion. Born in 1948, Cheatham is now almost 55 years old, making him the oldest man to have a Number One single since Cliff Richard topped the charts with the Millennium Prayer at the age of 59 back in 1999.
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2 SPIRIT IN THE SKY (Gareth Gates)

Gareth Gates' charity single takes a tumble from the top this week but that of course still means that Spirit In The Sky spent two weeks at the top of the charts, as noted last week the fifth successive Number One single to last longer than seven days at the summit. So why this sudden slowdown after several years of an unprecedented rate of change at the head of the listings? Well to find some kind of answer it is best to look at the 1990s and the number of different singles that topped the charts in each year. By far the slowest year was 1992 when just 12 different singles made Number One - an average of one a month. During that year we saw an 8 week run for Shakespear's Sister, two 5 week runs for KWS and Erasure, a 6 week run for Snap and of course the year ended with the first part of Whitney Houston's 10 week tenure at the top with I Will Always Love You. It is almost certainly no coincidence that 1992 also represented one of the industry's all-time sales nadirs with sales of singles tumbling in such a dramatic fashion that it led many to believe the death of the format was just around the corner. When record sales are high, public interest in a song expires very quickly and this creates a need for ever more new product to take its place - just look at the phenomenal rate of change in 1999 and 2000 with almost each week seeing a new Number One single selling anything between 100,000 and 200,000 copies - and sometimes more - to do so. Even in a sales slump the average sale of a Number One single tends to remain the same - 150,000 copies during the time it is topping the charts. If sales are so low that singles only sell 60-70,000 copies a week to top the charts then inevitably it will take two or more weeks at the top to sell the expected total.

This phenomenon is almost certainly what is overtaking the charts at the moment. The potential is now there for singles to sell at far more gradual rates. Their total sales may still end up being somewhat less than they would be in a boom, but the best performing singles will still sell in respectable enough amounts albeit at a slower pace. This actually suits the industry quite well, allowing it some breathing space and in a way helping the sales charts to start doing their job again - helping singles gain exposure to new audiences by registering a presence in the most popular listings for longer periods at a time. Just take the Junior Senior single, holding this week at Number 5 in its fifth week on release. Three years ago this would have been unlikely, now the track is selling in consistent numbers to an ever growing audience and with each passing week establishing the duo as an act of note. When throwaway pop stops being so throwaway it is then that you see interest start to climb once more.
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3 TONIGHT/MISS YOU NIGHTS (Westlife)

Make up your mind lads. Right from the release of their seasonal Greatest Hits collection at the end of last year, the plan was for Unbreakable to be the first single (which it duly was, topping the charts in November last year) to be swiftly followed by a cover of the old Cliff Richard track Miss You Nights. The boys even performed the track on TV a few times and were gearing up for its promotion when they apparently decided that in actual fact the track wasn't much cop and would be a poor choice for a single. Hence it has been relegated to the b-side of this release with the new track Tonight promoted as the main focus of the promotion. Would they have been better going with the original plan we wonder as Tonight/Miss You Nights becomes only the third Westlife single ever to not debut at the top of the charts. Something tells me that the manic stories of this "failure" will be rather slow in materialising. Given that prior to this the group had an astounding track record of 11 Number One hits from 13 releases even the most ardent fan was probably starting to get a little bored at the predictability of it all. This therefore is a refreshing change, a Westlife single not destined for the top although of course it is worth remembering that the success of Unbreakable in topping the charts before Christmas was hailed as a turnaround after Bop Bop Baby only hit Number 5 in June last year. Be afraid though, chances are that all the stops will be pulled out to ensure that their next single (whatever it may be) does not suffer a similar fate. After all, they have a reputation to maintain. Incidentally this track is now the 13th different song to hit the singles chart under the title "Tonight". The word used to be the record holder before being overtaken by "Crazy" a few years ago and indeed songs with a common title is a theme we shall return to later.
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9 CLOCKS (Coldplay)

What is the true sign that a single is set to become a huge mainstream smash? Is it frequent airplay on radio stations with a variety of different formats? Possibly. I'm tempted to suggest that it is also when you hear the piece of music used in a strange variety of different contexts as this week Coldplay's Clocks reached my ears as the backing for a promotional trail for a new ITV drama and also as the soundtrack to a particularly dramatic scene in ER. It isn't hard to see why, even shortly after the release of the album, Clocks was highlighted as one of the standout tracks. Jacking the tempo up slightly and with a central piano figure that evokes memories of Bronski Beat's Smalltown Boy this is the kind of track that proves not every release from Chris Martin's band has to be steeped in melancholia. Instead this is the kind of mid-tempo track that U2 wish they had written and one that may even have the most die-hard nonbeliever admitting that they are indeed one of the best British groups on the planet. Needless to say the single is an easy Top 10 hit, beating the Number 10 peak of its predecessor The Scientist from last November. This is now the groups 5th successive Top 10 hit.
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12 WEEKEND (Scooter)

To think you thought we had seen the last of them. Scooter's last single Posse (I Need You On The Floor) struck a decidedly middling Number 15 back in December, leading us to speculate that OK maybe the novelty has worn off once again and that the 2002 Scooter revival was just a quickly passing fad. On the strength of this release, maybe not. Weekend is indeed exactly the same single as before and follows the Scooter formula to the letter and yet that is still enough for the single to charge into the charts and land nicely just outside the Top 10. I find it hard to hate them given the way they wind up dance music snobs so very effectively but tracks such as The Logical Song and Nessaja were far easier to love.
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17 BOY (I NEED YOU) (Mariah Carey)

Mariah Carey's second single from her post-breakdown comeback album and the followup to Through The Rain which made a spectacular entrance at Number 8 last November before making an almost equally spectacular exit, dropping 8-21-28-36-45-out in fairly short order. The presence of Cam'ron on the track tries to give the single a bit of RnB credibility but in truth this is really Mariah by numbers and hardly too far removed from the material that the world decided was shit back in 2001.
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19 I CAN (Nas)

Nas makes a return to the singles chart after over a year away, his last hit being Got UR Self A which made a relatively disappointing Number 30 in February 2002. I Can returns him to Top 20 status and is actually his biggest hit single since Hate Me Now hit Number 14 almost four years ago in May 1999.
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23 BEAUTIFUL (Snoop Dogg)

I can see it as a pub trivia question now: who is the only artist to have appeared on singles by both Britney Spears and Snoop Dogg? Pharrell Williams is the answer of course, here with a cameo appearance on the followup to Snoop's November 2002 single From Tha Chuuch To Da Palace (how do you turn the spellchecker off on this thing?) You could be forgiven for expecting this to chart a little higher, most of Snoop Dogg's biggest hits have come in collaboration with other rappers, appearances alongside Dr Dre on Still D.R.E. and The Next Episode being his only Top 10 appearances to date.
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25 BANDAGES (Hot Hot Heat)

We all know that the first casualty of war is truth. Lesser known is that the second casualty is pop music as radio stations inevitably shy away from certain tracks that are either likely to prompt accusations of bad taste or even which could be connected with the conflict in any way. The 1991 Gulf War of course famously saw Massive Attack release their most famous single Unfinished Sympathy as simply "Massive" and on a lesser scale this time around it is Canadian band Hot Hot Heat who have found airplay for their debut single shall we say "restricted" owing to the unfortunate title of the song. Not that this will have harmed them too much I don't think and if the publicity of their "restriction" steered a few more people into checking out this energectic stab of rock then that is no bad thing really.
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31 EL SALVADOR (Athlete)

Still at the bubbling under stage it seems, the fame of Athlete takes another step forward with the arrival of El Salvador in the Top 30. It becomes their biggest hit to date, sailing past the Number 37 chart peak of You Got The Style from last year and indeed I suspect to the relief of many who watched their last single Beautiful stall at Number 41 back in November. Funnily enough had that single made the upper end of the listings it would have made three different singles in the last six months entitled Beautiful to have reached the Top 40, Christina Aguilera and Snoop Dogg both in the Top 30 this week under that title. Prior to this year the only people to have used the word as a song title were Marillion and Matt Darey.
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36 HELP ME MAMA (Lemonescent)

...oh yes and Lemonescent whose own single Beautiful hit Number 70 in June last year. The four Scottish girls are an interesting phenomenon, a pop band apparently being given several bites at the cherry. A girl group in the Sugababes/Girls Aloud mould albeit with more of a club flavour to their music, this is actually their third chart single, the previous two having performed rather disappointingly on a national level, November's Swing My Hips (Sex Dance) reaching an improved but still rather crap Number 48. This single therefore marks their Top 40 debut but all the Box votes and radio roadshows in the world won't kick start an indifferent public without a little bit of extra magic.
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39 LETTERS TO YOU (Finch)

Bringing up the rear this week is the debut single from Californian rock band Finch. Their official site calls them "a perfect union of post-hardcore angst and melodic rock dynamics." I call them "in at Number 39 this week".
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JAMES MASTERTON