Official Chart Flashback 1997: Eternal score their long-awaited Number 1 with I Wanna Be The Only One

The first ladies of ‘90s UK R&B scored their one and only Number 1 20 years ago this week.

Most pop acts will tell you that 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 release coincided with an early summer heatwave, and its feelgood vibe made it the go-to soundtrack of the UK's bank holiday barbecues that weekend.

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 Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli's 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.

MORE: Look back at Eternal's complete Official UK Chart history

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, who charged straight to the top with their equally summer-y debut single Mmm Bop.

I Wanna Be The Only One has sold 603,000 copies in the UK and has been streamed two million times since records began in 2014. It seems some of you are still discovering its groove: last week it was downloaded by 47 of you and was played 17,800 times on streaming services. 

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).

MORE: The UK's Official Top 40 biggest songs of 2017 so far

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.

Elsewhere on the UK Top 40 this week 20 years ago, The Rembrants' I'll Be There For You (i.e The Friends theme song) will in the middle of a chart resurgence, leaping back into the Top 10 at 5.

The Top 20 saw new entries from Warren G, Faith No More and Basement Jaxx, the latter of which landed at Number 19 with their debut single Fly Life. 

Check out the full Top 100 Official Singles Chart from this week in 1997

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Article image: Rex