Number 1 today in 1997: Eternal – I Wanna Be The Only One

The first ladies of ‘90s UK R&B scored their one and only Number 1 18 years ago.

As any pop act will tell you, getting into the Top 40 at all is a gift, but it’s the big bad Number 1 that they’re really after. It’s the highest height, after all, and even though other songs may sell more, or spend longer on the chart, it’s the Number 1s that go in the record books.

One pop group who had waited patiently to get to the top of the Official Singles Chart was Eternal. First finding success in late 1993 as a quartet consisting of sisters Easther and Vernie Bennett and their mates Kelle Bryan and Louise Nurding, the group, streamlined to a trio following Louise’s bid for solo stardom, were enjoying a run of six consecutive Top 10 singles upon the release of I Wanna Be The Only One.

I Wanna Be The Only One was a slight departure for Eternal – it was decidedly more upbeat than some of their recent singles and it was their first release to feature a guest star. Lending his soulful tones to the track was BeBe Winans, a huge gospel star in his native USA.

The song’s feelgood theme coincided with an early summer heatwave, ensuring I Wanna Be The Only One would soundtrack thousands go bank holiday barbecues.

And the sun certainly shone on Eternal that week: it bounded straight to Number 1 with first-week sales of 149,000, nudging Olive’s You’re Not Alone from the summit after two weeks and keeping emotional ballad Time To Say Goodbye at Number 2 for another week.

This was big news for Eternal – after 12 Top 40 hits, 13 turned out to be their lucky number.

Eternal’s spell in the sun was short-lived. After a week at Number 1, I Wanna Be The Only One was replaced by Hanson’s classic Mmm Bop.

Although few could have seen it at the time, the band were near their end of their hit-scorning period. Only one more Top 10 would follow, Angel Of Mine, which became a big hit in the US for Monica. Kelle departed soon after and an attempt to relaunch as a duo resulted in one Top 40 hit Whatcha Gonna Do (16).

The band reunited for ITV2’s The Big Reunion, performing together for the first time in well over a decade, but while the three ladies sorted out the differences that had led to their breakup, there was no new material to come.

I Wanna Be The Only One has sold 650,000 copies in the UK.

Take a look at Eternal's full chart history

And the rest of the Top 10? All right here. Click an artist's name to see their chart runs.

2: Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli – Time To Say Goodbye 

ChartFact: Sarah’s highest charting single in the UK – she first charted in 1978 with Hot Gossip on I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper (6)

3: Olive – You’re Not Alone 

ChartFact: A previous release of this track in 1996 peaked at Number 42.

4: Rosie Gaines – Closer Than Close 

5: Rembrandts – I'll Be There For You 

6: Cardigans – Lovefool 

7: Shola Ama – You Might Need Somebody 

8: Katrina and the Waves – Love Shine A Light 

ChartFact: The UK’s most recent winning Eurovision entry, it peaked at Number 3 the previous week.

9: Damage – Wonderful Tonight 

A cover of Eric Clapton’s track which stalled at Number 87 in 1987 (spooky!), but a live version managed to reach Number 30 in 1991.

10: R Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly 

This time last year…

Sam Smith scored his third chart-topper with tearjerking Stay With Me, knocking off Rita Ora. There were also new entries from Fuse ODG, Clean Bandit, Coldplay, Little Mix and Nicki Minaj.

See the full Top 100 from today in 2014