It’s September kids, and the summer season – hiatus – pissing off on holiday whatever you may call it has finished. Here, riding over the hill like some Combined Science Teacher who couldn’t get another job, is Pop-Eye. Its been a while since said eye had surveyed the UK single charts and so certain NYLPM writers have been able to make ludicrous statements like ‘The best top ten in a while’ and the like. But rather than merely pot its shots at the new entry the return of Pop-Eye busies itself with the current state of play – what exactly is the UK Top Ten on the 1st of September 2002.

Ten: Oakenfold – Starry Eyed Surprise. Starry-eyed is a phrase which suggests wonderment — so this offers on the face of it a wonderous surprise. Its delivery is weak — especially when you realise that the stoned rap isn’t going to go away. One of the people vying for the biggest career as a musician despite only being good at playing records next to each other – this is a rancid excuse for a Capital Radio jingle. As a Capital Radio jingle it bears the same relation to proper pop music as the big headed mannikins of Dr Fox and Chris Tarrant do to the DJ’s. It is slinky like a spring, not like the Sly Stone off-cut it wants to be. And it certainly doesn’t work for more than twenty seconds.

Nine: Nickelback – Too Bad. Certain records come wrapped up for the critic with a bonus fish in a barrel for shooting if having a go at it was too hard. Such a record is Nickelback’s second single – coasting pretty much on the success of the first. I can imagine that it is one of the better tracks on the album – but that doesn’t and shouldn’t make a top ten single.

Eight: Madhouse – Like A Prayer: This is here merely to prove its own opening line – life is indeed a mystery. What a Balearic cover of Like A Prayer with absolutely no redeeming features is doing here is had to fathom – though it is nice to see 80’s Madonna stuff becoming standards. Madhouse – no relation to A House, Icehouse or even Russ Abbott (anyone done that Atmosphere bootleg yet?) – hired a singer with not enough gobstoppers in her mouth to make this palatable. It’s a great song in a third division rendition.

Seven: Abs – Whatcha Got: Now this is more like it. The pop sensibilities of Abs, a man named after his most prominent muscles – and Althea and Donna’s Up Town Top Rankin’ is at least the kind of single that I expect to see in the 2002 charts. Abs is cheeky and charming, and even if the backing singers essaying A&D via Deptford are charmless they at least do a good Khaki/Car keys joke.

Six: Darius – Colourblind: Perhaps too much has been made of Darius’s hand in writing this effort. True he was the Popstars AND the Pop Idol loser who had more star quality in his lower torso that Will or Gareth – but this is still pretty lacklustre. So Darius has heard Tell Me by Madonna, and so he has read a primary school book on metaphor. Doesn’t make this better than average.

Five: Ms Dynamite – Dy-Na-Mi-Tee: Finally, pop perfection in the top ten. The best kind as well, the kind that when broken down to its constituent parts seems highly unlikely. This is a song that doesn’t so much start as collapse into view. This features a lyric which is about having a good childhood sung in a style whose closest ancestry is skat-jazz. And a vocal hook which is simplicity in itself. Pop music history has told us that if you are going to give yourself an alias, give yourself one that can also be made into a song. If Capital had been smart this would have backed their summer ads – not Oakenfold.

Four: Truth Hurts – Addictive: Almost the opposite of Dy-Na-Mi-Tee, this is all about the production and very little about the much touted and stupidly named artiste. This is all filmi, tabla and Rakim showing that one rap can go a very, very long way. She may be Dre’s new protégé but she needs to do more in her own tracks. Especially since they didn’t clear the sample and their arses are going to be sued by the nice people over in Bollywood. It follows the line that any song with the word contagious in its lyrics is indeed hard to shake off.

Three: Sugababes – Round Round: Too many column inches have been written about the ‘babes in the last three weeks – and most disappointed. Round Round is still a good single, and certainly shows the Sugababes actually using the strengths of all three of the voices in the band. Even if they do have to sing a different song in the middle of it. A brilliant contrast between the usual bored Sugababes sound for the bulk of the song and the torch song breakdown. And everyone loves a chugga-chugga locomotion sound. Not the worst track on the Greatest Hits album

Two: Blazin’ Squad – Crossroads: Now here is a track that would never cross-over to the US. Even if they embraced UK garage to the fore – the UK Garage ballad is a Frankenstein’s monster made up of too many parts school talent show than actual decent MC-ing. And who is going to accept a Boys-II-Men who are actually 11-Man-Boys. If people are still allowed to take lighters in at UK garage gigs – and this is pretty unlikely – this is when they come out.

One: Atomic Kitten – The Tide Is High: The top of a bottle of wine is always a manky cork – and this is one of the mankiest we’ve had this year. A marketing and local radio record at best (a territory that The Sugababes are now mapping out too) another half-arsed cover from ver ‘Kitten really does leave cats piss over all the previous versions. ‘When they suggested it to us’ said Natasha ‘we said we don’t do pop-reggae’. Too fucking right you don’t. Debbie Harry’s ice-bitch reading of the previously misogenistic dumping song is ripped up in favour of three Scousers going out to catch a fish supper. Not content with imparting no meaning in the standard lyrics they even knock out a special verse of their own which merely adds the depth to the song that some other words in the world rhyme. I can only assume that the constant repeating of the words Number One were a liminal message to the punters to make it go to the top for a second time – it was never worth a number one even when Blondie did it.

So what does this say about the charts on the day we found out that David Beckham’s second child was conceived in the back of an Alfa Romeo? Well that they were pretty much the same as they ever were. There are a couple of lousy cover versions. There are some slightly more intelligent interpolations of previous styles and music. There is a terrible rock track and a terrible dance track. And after you’ve slotted in the odd okay pop song there is still room for two or three really good tracks. Remember the truism round Pop-Eye towers: if it goes in at number five – it should have been number one.