This week’s chart offers us an object lesson in fanbase loyalty. When a band have been going for a number of years, and have – to be frank – lost their bloom somewhat, and when the singles they release are sub-par outings, either ill-advised excursions into fresh genres or sickly reminders of former glories, then it is time for the ‘core fanbase’ to step in and save the day, commercially speaking.

Certainly I can offer no other explanation for Iron Maiden getting their 29th top 40 hit with “Out Of The Silent Planet”, which at a life-endangering stretch might be some sort of ecology parable, but is basically an excuse for riffing and Bruce Dickinson to bellow weedily about “demons of creation”. Complete rubbish but you have to admire the doggedness of the singles-buying fans, who must realise that Maiden these days are as heavy as a feather pillow and about as good at aiding sleep. I am very much in favour of the riff as a tool for rockin’ fun but Maiden have always seemed a joyless, blustery crew and this single does nothing to remedy that.

We grit our teeth and move higher up the charts (pausing only to note a satisfyingly enormous plunge for Blur). Gabrielle‘s wafty “Should I Stay” (Ans: No) limps into the teens; Coldplay and their nasty balladic bombast cling to the 10; Ricky Martin‘s “She Bangs” lands surprisingly high for a man I had pegged as a definite one-shot; and the Wheel Of Limp Motown Pastiche has been spun once again and pointed to Martine McCutcheon, to the delight of far too many.

And that’s it. Oh? What’s that? A new number one? Yes, damn it. The Spice Girls have scalped the chart once again – if only one of the other companies had had the guts to send proper opposition up against the pitiable “Holler” this might have been prevented, but Martine it was, and so the inevitable happened. We spend a whole day last week raking over why this is their weakest ever single, no need to spend any more time on it.

ALL SAINTS – “Black Coffee” (9)
EMINEM – “The Way I Am” (18)
AZZIDO DE BASS – “Dooms Night” (23)
FATBOY SLIM – “Sunset (Bird Of Prey)” (24)
PINK – “Most Girls” (25)