The Singles Jukebox

album Chart Notes: Britney Spears, Norah Jones both re-enter. Linked? Dunno. Here’s the best of Roberta Flack at #16. Then the singles of Counting Crows at #15. Contrast, hmm? Amy Winehouse (she’s from Croydon, just like me and Katie Melua and Des’ree) makes her first appearance in the top 20 at #13, despite her album having been out forever and having been promoted for twice as long. The Coral are new at #5 with Limited Edition Thing. Air are the highest new entry at #2. Wes doesn’t play anything off either of those albums, because he has to play us all of ‘Where Is The Love?’ again, because we may have forgotten it. Katie Melua is still #1. So we get the whole of ‘Closest Thing To Cray-zee’ again too. Lush.

New Entries Outside The Top 20: P Diddy ft. Lenny Kravitz and Loon and Pharrell #35 (P Diddy has a bigger car than you. Loon has bigger shoes than you. Lenny Kravitz shouts a bit. Pharrell… is apparently involved somehow. This isn’t very good); Tube & Berger ft. Chrissie Hynde #29 (sounds like it should be advertising crisps, but in a really quite good way. Second favourite German dance record of the year after Boogie Pimps); Razorlight #27 (“hotly-tipped London fourpiece” —not the most promising billing, and this more or less fulfils it, sounding as it does like a somewhat lesser Libertines single); Incubus #23 (“you’re no Je-suss, you’re no El-vuss”… step aside Big Brovaz, there’s a new king in town); and Mr On vs. Jungle Brothers #21 (bootleg of ‘Breathe and Stop’ and ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’, but with Q-Tip replaced by The Jungle Brothers. This is not a good idea).


20) THE OFFSPRING – Hit That

Am now starting to agree that this is as rubbish as everyone says. Please stop saying “baby momma.” Thanks.


This will probably leave the top 20 next week. Wes will probably still play it in full. Tosser.

18) JOSS STONE – Fell In Love With A Boy (NEW ENTRY)

16-year-old from Devon with precociously talented voice, all depths and highs, re-reading ‘Fell In Love With A Girl’ in the old-school soul-style fashion, etc… however, some of you probably read broadsheet newspapers, so you know this already, eh? Her voice is something dead special, though. The way it trills on “riverside” really is something to behold…people are all “she’s boring” and so on, but fuck it, this is lush. What will she go on to do? No idea. Could go well, could go not-well. Should be interesting to see in any case.

17) MAROON 5 – Harder To Breathe

Haven’t posted a picture on this for a while. This is as good a place as any. Here’s Andy Fordham winning the World Darts Championship (BDO version) a few weeks ago:

16) JAIMESON – Take Control (NEW ENTRY)

Most of this sounds like his other two singles, i.e. fairly serviceable garage-pop. The female vocals clip along at a fair old rate, it sounds like Mis-Teeq on a good day. Then Jaimeson decides to rap.

I don’t stop
I just keep going

Renaissance men just ain’t what they used to be.

15) SCISSOR SISTERS – Comfortably Numb

At this juncture I should point out next week’s rundown will be a little late, due to me going to Birmingham to see this very band play live. I would normally feel a bit regretful, but there’s fuck all out next week and the Scissor Sisters are fantastic, so I win.


Also—won’t have to listen to this, and it might go out of the top 20 the week after. Bonus!


They were on Popworld this morning. The singer looked to be a right mardy git. Doesn’t lessen this one’s lustre in the slightest, mind, he just didn’t seem like a particularly nice person.


I won’t hear this next week either, which is a bit of a shame, but not much.

11) PINK – God Is A DJ (NEW ENTRY)

She’s the new Liberty X. Anyway, this looks to have had Sophie Ellis-Bextor moonlighting on the lyrics:

If God Is A DJ,
Life is a dancefloor,
Love is the rhythm,
And you are the music

The backing sounds like the Bootleg Beatles doing ‘Just Like A Pill’, and the field for Worst Single Of The Year gets ever wider.

10) SEAN PAUL ft. SASHA – I’m Still In Love With You

Somehow this doesn’t fit in… and I can’t work out how. But hearing something this sunny, this straightforward, in the middle of the top 20 just doesn’t make sense anymore. Which is weird.

9) 2PLAY ft. RAGHAV & JUCXI – So Confused

I just can’t seem to see hits coming anymore. This has been in the top ten for three weeks now. How much hype do you remember it getting? And Raghav, the feller that does the singing, has got a solo single out in a few weeks. What odds that does really well too?

8) LOSTPROPHETS – The Last Train Home (NEW ENTRY)

And who saw this coming? Perennially hotly-tipped Welsh nu-metallists come back with shouty Wildhearts-esque (ooh, I’m gonna cop some shit for that) anthem, and… it isn’t that bad. The singer makes the wise choice to hold back on the whiny creaks and groans that nu-metal types love to lob in all over the place most of the time, just leaving a huge slab of … thing instead, cruising along with a billion tween-to-teenagers in tow. Not the best thing ever, not even close, but far better than it should be.

7) EMMA BUNTON – I’ll Be There (NEW ENTRY)

Meanwhile, here’s the best single of the year thus far. It’s like some evil record company man decided to be a bit Faustian and tell the producer, “Right, we’ll let you do whatever you fancy – so long as it features the vocals of Emma Bunton.” Then he cackles and disappears in a puff of smoke, or something like that. This is quite possibly the least threatening Faustian pact of all time. What we end up with is Bunton making a decent enough job of the vocals, but behind her is the most beautiful backing… The intro is this ultra-sad, ultra-eighties piano, soft brushed drums, then she starts singing, and then – STRINGS! They go in time with her voice! They go in tune with her voice! They lift, and lift, and lift into the chorus, where The Most Appropriate Use Of A Backing Choir By Anyone Associated With The Spice Girls Ever comes in and brings the backup to her fairly ordinary vocals, while the string section goes all Silverado in the background. There’s this perfectly timed pause after the first chorus. After the second chorus—guitar solo! Then—harmonica solo! It’s all so unutterably delightful that you just can’t quite believe it, that someone’s come up with something this amazingly realised, maybe even more so cos it’s got Emma chuffing Bunton chirping over the top of it. There’s people all over the globe that would kill for a tune this killer… and Emma Bunton’s got it. Is this fair? No idea. But my word, it really is very special.

6) BOOGIE PIMPS – Somebody To Love

Meanwhile, this has been in the top 10 for ages as well. And it’s still great.


But this… this record at this chart position sums up Your Top 40 so far this year. Snow Patrol used to be co-runts of the Jeepster records litter alongside Salako, Looper and The Gentle Waves, all somewhat dwarfed by Belle & Sebastian. Jeepster dissolved and Snow Patrol got picked up by A Major Label. They released on album on said Major Label two or three years ago, which saw them getting a bit of a hype. Not enough to put them anywhere near the top 40, though. Last year they released another album, called The Final Straw, which continued their run of getting a bit of hype, but not really doing anything. They sort of went away and were forgotten about, shunted off into student-radio-land, maybe get a low-end top 40 hit. When ‘Run’ appeared on the Radio 1 B-List, that seemed to be how it would go.

This, as you may have noticed, is not a low-end top 40 hit. Snow Patrol have suddenly become bigger than anyone would ever have dreamed of them being. It’s not even like this is the indie equivalent to Jamelia or something, because Jamelia has been hyped several times as “the future of British R&B.;” No-one has ever been that hyperbolic about Snow Patrol. They have always been one of a hundred also-rans (case in point—they’ve just been touring with Athlete), seemingly destined to be in the middle of the bill on the second stage at V2002 forevermore. And yet, this song has out-charted a genuinely heavily-hyped guitar act (Razorlight), a fistful of highly established chart acts (Bunton, Pink, Jaimeson, P Diddy), and a guitar band that have been clogging about for a while and have built up a pretty rock-solid fanbase (Lostprophets). Which does once-more raise the question, “Do the singles charts actually mean anything anymore?” It is an astoundingly hoary old chestnut that no-one really buys singles anymore—it certainly seems possible that the UK’s #1 single now has comparable weekly sales figures to the NME. It is quite plausible that this could be a ‘buy-in’, i.e. buyers employed by the record company to buy the single, thus boosting its sales figures considerably. There will be innumerable people queuing up to point at Snow Patrol reaching #5 as the final sign that we are all at the gates of the apocalypse, that a band of such prior insignificance can get this high in the chart is a sure sign that singles sales don’t mean fuck all anymore.

Thing is though… why Snow Patrol? What would possess someone to decide that it should be this lot and not, shall we say, The Raveonettes that become huge? And if it really is such a piece of piss to get to #5, why didn’t Pink do it? Why couldn’t P Diddy break the top thirty? Joss Stone has been bigged up almost everywhere lately, so why didn’t her single make the top ten?

Is it the song itself, then? There has been much muttering about it being a clone of Coldplay and Travis. To an extent this might be true. The intro is dulled-up strumming, some fairly half-arsed drumming, then Gary Lightbody comes in with some aggressively ‘subtle’ whispered vocals. And he’s the key to this record. Travis and Coldplay both have vocalists who reckon they have really good voices. In the popular songs of Coldplay and Travis, the vocals are turned up really quite loud. They have BIG IMPORTANT LYRICS and MASSIVE VOCAL RANGE. ‘Run’ isn’t like that. Ostensibly it’s pretty similar to ‘Yellow’ or ‘Driftwood’ or ‘In My Place’. However, you sense Gary’s not really that sure if he’s much good at singing. The focus here is the guitars and the strings, which are big and loud and dramatic and so on and so forth. His voice sort of sits in the middle jumping up and down trying to get itself noticed. ‘Run’ is different to all the songs people liken it to because ‘Run’ is not actively boring. It keeps itself going along steadily enough that it doesn’t drag. It’s a big, hefty ballad, but it’s not the kind that Coldplay and Travis make—it doesn’t think it’s clever. It’s just there, and it goes along amiably to its conclusion, without ever giving you cause to wish for it to get out of the way so you can listen to… something else instead. ‘Run’ is not disagreeable, but not in the aggressively non-disagreeable way that Dido or David Gray or whatever are. It shoots, it misses, but it’s none the less likeable for it. Anyway, it sounds a little bit like the Delgados (nowhere near as good, not in its wildest dreams), and the Delgados haven’t ever got near the chart either. If it were the case that they charted… I would be so happy that I just can’t find the words. Suffice to say it’s making me a wee bit weepy now.

Course, if this a buy-in, then what’s the point of the chart? Singles sales are that low that calling it a reflection of the musical tastes and mood of the nation is ever so slightly over-ambitious. You could then ask what the point of me doing this is. To which I would say, “… piss off.”

4) OUTKAST – Hey Ya!

#4 two weeks running. There’s fuck all out next week. Maybe, just maybe it might go all the way…

3) MICHELLE McMANUS – All This Time

Ding-dong, the pish is dead… now we just get to be put off by the corpse’s smell for the next few months.

2) KELIS – Milkshake

In this world of ups and downs, Kelis is still #2. Three weeks on the spin, what odds on it being four? Think Milli Vanilli might have done that once upon a time. You can probably invent your own joke about that.

1) LMC vs. U2 – Take Me To The Clouds Above (NEW ENTRY)

Which actually makes perfect sense. For ages, there hasn’t been a shit dance track at number one. Step forward LMC, who take their quite decent ‘Take Me To The Clouds’ instrumental, resplendent with natty bass hum and occasional stabs of NASA-style synths, and plonk a woman hollering some Whitney Houston lyrics on top of it, which doesn’t go in the slightest. Dave Pearce loves this. Oh well.

By: William B. Swygart
Published on: 2004-02-02
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