Monday, June 08, 2009

Number 1s of 2009: 7 June 2009

Oh dear.

That, unfortunately, is "Boom Boom Pow" by the Black Eyed Peas, returning to number 1 for a second run after a two week break. I can't say it's growing on me.

Still, at least it means there's now something peripherally interesting about the record. Not many singles return to number 1 for a second run. It didn't happen at all in the 1970s, or the 1980s. It's been more common over the last couple of decades. I suppose that's because the hype-driven market in the pre-download era led to more one-week wonders which, from time to time, would briefly overtake a number 1 with genuine staying power, before flaring out almost immediately.

Since 1990, eleven other singles have managed to return to the top. And here they are. (Take note, pub quiz fans.) I've linked to the videos, but I'll embed some of the ones that did nothing in America.

1. Shakira featuring Wyclef Jean, "Hips Don't Lie" was number one for a single week in July 2006, before returning to the top for the whole of August. The records in the middle were "Smile" by Lily Allen (rather good), and a McFly double A-side, "Please Please"/"Don't Stop Me Now" (almost totally forgotten, but it was a charity single for Sport Relief).

2. Eric Prydz, "Call On Me" A Europe-wide dance hit with a video that spawned a bunch of imitators paying similar lip-service to the concept of irony. (One even hired the same dancers.) The sample is from "Valerie" by Steve Winwood. It was number 1 in October 2004. The interrupting single was "Radio" by Robbie Williams, which I haven't heard in ages, but it's one of his better ones.

3. Daniel Bedingfield, "Gotta Get Thru This." This UK garage record kickstarted the career of New Zealand songwriter Daniel Bedingfield, who subsequently turned out to be more of an MOR balladeer. He hasn't released anything since 2005, but his sister Natasha seems to have taken his place. "Gotta Get Thru This" was number one at Christmas/New Year 2001-2, and the interrupting single was the Christmas release "Somethin' Stupid" by Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman.

4. S Club 7, "Don't Stop Movin'" S Club 7 were a Monkees-style pseudo-band created for a BBC children's show, but they did have some reasonably good material. Occasionally. Strangely, their only American hit was "Never Had A Dream Come True" (no, me neither), but they did have international success in Australasia and parts of Europe. One of them, Rachel Stevens, went on to a middling career as a solo artist. "Don't Stop Movin" was a hit in spring 2001, and the interrupting single was "It's Raining Men" by Geri Halliwell.

5. All Saints, "Under the Bridge"/"Lady Marmalade" Girl band All Saints were huge in the late nineties, and this was the second of their five number 1 singles. Their only significant American hit was the previous single, "Never Ever". Good choice, America. There's really no excuse for this plodding R&B rendition of the Red Hot Chili Peppers classic. Their version of "Lady Marmalade" is better, but hardly essential, and nobody's felt the need to play it since Moulin Rouge came out. The videos are designed to be watched back to back, and were actually given a cinema release as a supporting feature - they were booed when I saw them. The band's career eventually sputtered out in a disastrously unsuccessful film, and an attempted relaunch in 2006 got nowhere.

This self-proclaimed epic was number 1 in May 1998. The interrupting record was "Turn Back Time" by Aqua, the theme tune to romantic comedy Sliding Doors.

6. Celine Dion, "My Heart Will Go On", from February and March 1998. As everyone knows, this is the theme to Titanic. I can't stand it. The records in the middle were "Frozen" by Madonna, and the video below, "Brimful of Asha" by Cornershop (on the strength of the Norman Cook remix, of course).

7. Various artists, "Perfect Day." In 1997, the BBC made a promotional schedule-filler video about how great their music coverage was, and roped in a whole load of singers to take part. For reasons which remain somewhat obscure, the song they chose was Lou Reed's drug anthem "Perfect Day." (The subtext may have been missed.) By genuine public demand, the record was released as a charity single for Christmas 1997, and returned to the top in New Year 1998. It's a very strange record, but for some reason Middle England was enchanted.

The interrupting singles were "Too Much" by the Spice Girls and this pester-powered classic.

8. Puff Daddy & Faith Evans, "I'll Be Missing You." The summer 1997 tribute to the late Notorious B.I.G., inexplicably commemorated with a cover version of a song about stalkers. As the British mainstream record-buyer had been wholly indifferent to him in life, this record presumably sold on its perceived intrinsic merits. The interrupting single was "D'You Know What I Mean" by Oasis (the one that sounds like all the other ones).

9-10. The Fugees, "Killing Me Softly" / David Baddiel, Frank Skinner & The Lightning Seeds, "Three Lions." These two singles actually alternated back and forth in summer 1996, and so they hold the unique distinction of interrupting each other's runs at the top. Most people will remember "Killing Me Softly", the Fugees' cover of an old Roberta Flack song. Those outside Britain will probably be unfamiliar with "Three Lions", the official song of the England team for the Euro 96 tournament. With lyrics by comedians Baddiel and Skinner (who were hosting a football comedy show at the time), set to music by the Lightning Seeds, it's actually a surprisingly good song about England fans clinging on to hope even though they haven't won anything in years. For any Americans who might be wondering, the "Jules Rimet" is what the World Cup was called back in the sixties, when England had last won it.

11. Mr Blobby, "Mr Blobby." Less-than-fondly-remembered 1993 novelty single spawned by Noel Edmonds' Saturday evening family entertainment show. Mr Blobby was meant to be a parody of badly-conceived novelty characters, but was so inexplicably popular that he simply became one in his own right. The record that interrupted his run, bizarrely, was "Babe" by Take That, which only managed to stall the novelty juggernaut for a week. What were people thinking when they paid money for this?