As Syco prepare to use the biggest sales week of the year as their PR department's personal fiefdom, let's go back ten years to a time when the festive list wasn't controlled by svengalis and television-dictated one-offs. Pause for irony to sink in with those that jumped ahead to look at the top three, and continue.
40 Blackstreet - (Money Can't) Buy Me Love
All hail New Jack Swing, Teddy Riley's group perhaps the last to get a huge name producer a co-credit on a massive hit and not make a big thing about it, Dr Dre guesting on No Diggity. Nobody calls these 'vocal groups' any more.
39 Will Smith - Just Cruisin'
The biggest star in the world for quite a bit back there, but doesn't seem to have done much since The Pursuit of Happyness and you're doing well if you remember his two top 20 singles just two years ago.
38 Aerosmith - Pink
Should be as celebrated as Des'Ree's ghost/toast business for the spectacular inanity of its lyrics, we say. Observe: "As pink as the sheets that we lay on/Pink is my favorite crayon....Pink when I turn out the light/Pink, it's like red but not quite." Come on, Tyler, you're not on the heavy shit now.
37 Spice Girls - Spice Up Your Life
And while we're on the topic, "we moonwalk the foxtrot then polka the salsa"?
36 Fountains Of Wayne - I Want An Alien For Christmas
'Holidays' power-pop greatness from mid-market monthly music magazine favourites still some years away from "American Busted" tag (not like the Jonas Brothers, who covered several Busted songs, that's what Teletext called them when Stacy's Mom was released)
35 Levellers - Dog Train
No such thing as crusties any more, so off they went into mere cultdom. Note though that the open policy of their Metway studio is often cited as one of the causes of Brighton's alt upswing this decade.
34 Sting & The Police - Roxanne '97
'Lute', you feel, is becoming a joke reference for the ages, perhaps even replacing 'tantric' on Sting's personal satire index card.
33 U2 - If God Will Send His Angels
From the album Pop, where they discovered there is such a thing as too little perspective.
32 Rakim - Guess Who's Back
And then away he went again.
31 Gala - Let A Boy Cry
They did Freed From Desire, and that was about it.
30 Propellerheads feat. Shirley Bassey - History Repeating
Bassey seems to think this is her own song now, but then she's never seemed the share and share alike type.
29 Bryan Adams - Back To You
The Groover From Vancouver - and if you know of a worse musical nickname, let us know - was briefly hip at this point, attempting to establish himself as a celebrity photographer as well as someone for whom the yacht rock period finishes about ten years too early.
28 PF Project feat. Ewan McGregor - Choose Life
Dance producers sample famous Trainspotting monologue. Everyone loses.
27 The Verve - Lucky Man
'History' is rewritten by the whingers.
26 The Seahorses - You Can Talk To Me
Famously their name is an anagram of He Hates Roses, although John Squire surely didn't think about it that much. Much of his painting is just throwing the stuff about, if that's any indication.
25 Paul McCartney - Beautiful Night
From Flaming Pie, one of Macca's many, many 'returns to form' of the last fifteen years.
24 Hot Chocolate - You Sexy Thing
It was the year of The Full Monty, and the air was rich with the sulphur of cash-in. Prince Charles arse-making wasn't far away.
23 Backstreet Boys - As Long As You Love Me
This is the one with the video where they're auditioning girls, and then the girls start auditioning them, and consequences ensue.
22 Sheryl Crow - Tomorrow Never Dies
Slinky Bondian torch balladry from evergreen occasionally MOR songstress, back after early stage breast cancer treatment in February, it says here.
21 Louise - Let's Go Round Again
Like a less eager Charlotte Church, Ms Nurding/Redknapp was always easier to like when she wasn't singing, and nobody watching her on whatever UKTV channel The Clothes Show is on probably won't change that.
20 Steps - 5, 6, 7, 8
Not to be confused with Young & Lost Club rock'n'rollers The Steps, not that anyone will ever do that, this was their debut single from when they were a one-off project cashing in on the brief vogue for line dancing with those plastic box things. Pete Waterman only got involved after this. By the way, Pete, what did happen to that Sheilas single? Number 91, you say?
19 Five - Slam Dunk (Da Funk)
Don't want to do the Britain's Worst Neighbours anecdote again. Five were originally sold as the first "lad band", because they sat next to girls in videos and wore basketball tops.
18 Reds United - Sing Up For The Champions
And they wondered why everyone hated them.
17 Lutricia McNeal - Ain't That Just The Way
You'd think she was up there with Billie Myers and Donna Lewis in 90s female one hit wonders, but you'd forget Stranded was an even bigger hit, which perhaps sums her impact up.
16 Celine Dion - The Reason
Soon to be the subject of a 33 1/3 book, albeit one that doesn't seem to actually be about Celine Dion.
15 Chicken Shed Theatre Company - I Am In Love With The World
This was pretty much favourite for number one on the basis of being for the Diana memorial fund, the recently deceased princess being their patron. Then people heard it.
14 Vanilla - No Way No Way
Ah! Frances, Alison, Alida and Sharon by name, the most infamous of the late 90s girl group explosion and their Piero Umiliani cribbing, folk tale being they were the result of a bet between record producers as to who could get the worst record into the chart. There was a follow-up, True To Us, which crawled into the top 40 shortly afterwards and was chiefly notable for a shortlived attempt at acapella on a kids' programme.
13 Barbra Streisand & Celine Dion - Tell Him
Not the same as, or as good as, Caroline Quentin and Leslie Ash's Tell Him.
12 Steven Houghton - Wind Beneath My Wings
Was in London's Burning, like John Alford. As nobody cares about Steven Houghton, what happened to John Alford after he came out of jail?
11 Elton John - Candle In The Wind '97/Something About The Way You Look Tonight
Probably still in the Canadian top ten.
10 Mase - Feel So Good
One of Puffy's lot, and hence subject to Diddy's usual man-distracted-while-reading-paper rapping style, not that he was much better himself.
9 Boyzone - Baby Can I Hold You
Never mind this schlock, Tracy Chapman, whose this is, re-recorded it with Pavarotti, just to show them how to really misjudge the tone of a song.
8 Natalie Imbruglia - Torn
Controversies rarely came smaller than the significant tabloid and Chris Evans shitstorm that blew up when it transpired someone else had written the song and given it to minor European singers to record long before Imbruglia had a shot. Pop facts: both of Zero 7 worked on the track, Katrina off the Waves is on backing vocals and it was released four years after she left Neighbours.
7 Robbie Williams - Angels
The widely accepted story is the song was actually written by Williams with an Irish writer called Ray Heffernan, Guy Chambers brought in as a fixer, Heffernan was paid off for a reported £10K and Chambers now has a career out of writing this one song. Never anywhere near number one, you forget.
6 Aqua - Barbie Girl
The bald bloke's making a solo album! Run for your lives!
5 Janet Jackson - Together Again
Odd cove, Janet - even leaving the whole nipple issue aside, that she's one of the world's biggest selling female singers ever just doesn't seem to register. Wikipedia quote of the day, on claims of a secret child from before her career took off: "Jackson has since denied this claim, but many people claimed that in a magazine, they remember when her stomach was big." Lynne Truss, where are you now?
4 All Saints - Never Ever
Last heard of being abused to no great effect by Girls Aloud in interviews, followed by the writer assuring that this quote-friendly cattiness for cattiness' sake is what makes GA such a great band, rather than people trying too hard to reinforce shitty stereotypes. Who really cared enough about the All Saints comeback to launch waves of attacks on them?
3 Various Artists - Perfect Day
It's not really explicitly about heroin, is it? Like There She Goes, which gets played at wedding receptions fair enough. The only other source of controversy about the Children In Need effort came from complaints from several sources about Michael Hutchence's cameo, even though it was actually the very much living at the time Evan Dando.
2 Teletubbies - Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh!
The biggest selling single by a non-human group. Mind you...
1 Spice Girls - Too Much
Ho ho! You could argue this is the now renationalised five-piece version's least well remembered single, being largely released to tie in with the Spice World movie. Yeah, the people currently woodworming each other out in those Tesco adverts were once trusted as leads in a film.