The One-Hit Wonders – The 2000s Part 12.

Here’s a look back at another act who had a brief moment of fame on the chart in the late-90/early-2000s, at the time when I was really interested in pop music, and tried to take in as much as I could when there was a very quick turnover of hits during my teenage years. Raissa (which as well as being the name of the singer, seems to be the name of the actual group too) was born in London.

It seems that they had already been on the scene for a while by the time I first came across them. Their first single was released as early as 1994, their debut album “Meantime” was in 1996, and they had a single that almost made the Top 150 in 1997. But it was in September 1999 when they really caught many people’s attention for the first time with “Walk Right Through”.

Now I really did like this, and I wasn’t the only one, as one critic described this as “flavoursome synth horns and an infectious retro-soul spin”. Raissa did appear on a few shows to promote this, including CBBC’s Fully Booked (which was just about still going), and she even turned up on ITV2’s Bedrock. Now you might remember me saying about this show that I enjoyed in the early days of digital TV, so it was good seeing her take part.

And she even got on to BBC Radio 1 when Mark And Lard seemed to be fond of this, and played this rather frequently. Well they didn’t start making banging or shrieking noises, and they didn’t even play fart sounds all the way through as they did with most of the playlist, which really is a surprise. But once again, a song they that they championed had the “reverse Midas touch” when “Walk Right Through” very frustratingly narrowly missed the Top 75.

Another album was released around this time, but didn’t chart. In February 2000 the next single “How Long Do I Get” was released. There was a video made for this, and it was make or break time now, there was plenty of expectation that this had to be the one to turn them into stars. But this didn’t really happen, although this did reach no. 47, to become their first and only hit single.

Although I must admit that I will always prefer “Walk Right Through”, it was good seeing that her and her group did make the chart, even if it was for only one week. “How Long Do I Get”? It turned out not to be that long really. After this, in more recent years, Raissa has gone on to work on other projects, including The Mummers, who haven’t had a hit, but got her back on the radio.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 35.

This is the rather interesting story behind another chart-topping single that I am fond of from the 2000s. In October 1999, the German production team Fragma released “Toca Me”, which was (just about) an instrumental, and this really can be described as a dance anthem that seemed to be everywhere during that summer. This reached no. 11, and that seemed to be the end of it really.

And in November 1997, a British group called Coco released “I Need A Miracle”. This had already been on the dance scene for a year or two by this point, and was tipped to be a success, but this reached no. 39, and was their only hit single. Then, one day, a club DJ realised that the instrumental of “Toca Me” and the vocal of “I Need A Miracle” went rather well together.

And then, the two songs combined was released in April 2000 as the single “Toca’s Miracle” under the Fragma name. This was essentially what would become known as a “mash-up”, just like what “Freak Like Me” was a for Sugababes couple of years after this which spectacularly revived their career. The Coco vocalist, who probably didn’t expect to be back in the spotlight, appeared in the football-themed video as well.

However, it was unclear which version of “I Need A Miracle” was used for this, so there was a chance that she was performing a vocal that she didn’t perform for a group that she wasn’t a member of. But this sold very quickly, even in an era of big CD singles sales (which wouldn’t last much longer) this was flying out the door at a pace which was rather remarkable.

I remember being a big fan of this, and I was always pleased when the video turned up on the music channels. This was a chart-topper for two weeks, which was something of a rarity in this quick-moving period, and I felt that this was well-deserved. Fragma did go on to have some more hit singles, which were rather good too, although “Toca’s Miracle” would always be the best one.

In January 2001 “Every Time You Need Me” reached no. 3, in May 2001 “You Are Alive” reached no. 4, and in December 2001 “Say That You’re Here” reached no. 25. That was it for a while, but then there was another twist in the story. In April 2008, eight years on, a remix of “Toca’s Miracle” was released. To make things more confusing, the original vocal was used, but a different singer performed this in the video! This reached no. 16, to become the sixth and final UK hit single for Fragma.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 34.

This is an American singer whose career on the chart turned out to be fairly long-running, and also contained plenty of ups and downs. Because she has had over 20 hit singles in the UK, I shall pick out some of my highlights. I first came across Kelis around the beginning of 2000, when I was probably still in a daze following all of that millennium excitement, and I was keen to discover who was tipped to be the next big thing.

I do remember that her debut single “Caught Out There” was played rather a lot on the radio, and there were a lot of people insisting that there was no doubt that she was going to be a success. This one definitely caught people’s attention, there was little else like this on the chart at the time, and she even had green hair and everything (not as great as blue hair of course, but still rather notable).

In February 2000, “Caught Out There” appeared on the lower end on the chart on import, such was the anticipation to buy this. And then in March 2000, this reached no. 4, and it began to look like a new star really had been discovered. This was followed by some more great singles in 2000, including “Good Stuff”, “Got Your Money”, and “Get Along With You” (although the video to this one freaked me out somewhat).

But by the time that “Young Fresh ‘N’ New” was released in November 2001 and reached only no. 32, and then her second album tanked, it began to look like her career was faltering a little. She was always good value in interviews though, informing one helpless hack around this time “these questions are horrible. You’re horrible. Who are you?”.

Thankfully by August 2003 she had a boost when she collaborated with really hot producer Richard X on “Finest Dreams”, which returned her to the Top Ten for the first time in a while. But what would come next is for many the song that defines her career. In January 2004 “Milkshake” was released, and this went on to spend four consecutive weeks at no. 2.

Although I must admit that I will always prefer “Caught Out There” myself as it was the one that so memorably launched her, this is considered to be one of the classics of its era, and this was also her first and only Top Ten hit single in America. June 2004’s “Trick Me” was equally great, and this also reached no. 2. Suddenly, she was in demand and collaborating with lots of big singing stars.

These included Andre 3000, Nas (briefly her husband), Busta Rhymes, and Cee-Lo. She was still having hits over a decade on from her debut when in April 2010 when “Acapella” made the Top Ten. But little has been heard from her since, her most high-profile appearance in more recent years was when she appeared on The Masked Singer and finished in eighth place, just ahead of Teddy Sheringham. Er, great.

The One-Hit Wonders – The 2000s Part 11.

Although I didn’t plan to feature many non-UK acts in these series, I did wonder if there were any more American singers in the urban genre that I liked, and as there were plenty of them on the chart in the early-2000s, I thought that I might as well pick one. I have chosen this one because beyond her only hit, it turns out that she has had a rather varied career.

Kandi Burruss started out as a member of the group Xscape, and then went on to launch a solo career. In November 2000, “Don’t Think I’m Not” was released, and this reached no. 9, to become her first and only Top Ten hit in the UK (earning her a Top Of The Pops appearance), doing even better than in America where this reached no. 24. This was taken from the first of her two solo albums. And according to the video, when Kandi was at home, she liked to play boxing computer game Ready 2 Rumble. vlcsnap-00377

Now to go on a diversion for a moment, because when I think back to this one now, I always get this mixed up with something else. Not long after the success of “Don’t Think I’m Not”, “Heard It All Before” was a hit for Sunshine Anderson, another briefly popular American female urban singer. This caught my attention, partly because for a long time I thought the lyrics were “packing my shoulder“, which always made me wonder how such a thing was possible, when it was probably “patting my shoulder” all along. vlcsnap-00378

I know this is coming too close to being like those “have you ever misheard a lyric?” features that have been done by every other radio presenter ever, maybe I should’ve sent this one in because it was so amusing and I could’ve won a t-shirt or something. I can only hope that her shoulder’s been unpacked and is all better now. For a long time I’ve felt that I’ve needed a new pair of ears. Oh right, maybe I should get back to the career of Kandi. vlcsnap-00379

She has also had plenty of success as a songwriter, including being on the team behind big hits for the likes of Destiny’s Child (“Bills Bills Bills”) and TLC (“No Scrubs”), and she has also won a Grammy for this. And in more recent years, Kandi has appeared in various TV shows and films, and she also won the third series of the American version of The Masked Singer, which has got to be a bigger honour than a Grammy I imagine.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 16.

What is my favourite Number One single of them all, you probably haven’t wondered? Well it’s a tough choice, but there’s a good chance that it’s this one. The story of how this came to be a success is one of the more interesting ones of its era as several unlikely things happened. Firstly, the situation on the singles chart in 2000 was rather curious. This was the year when there were 43 chart-toppers, the highest-ever turnover.

Sales were good, but the way that songs were marketed around this time meant that they were played on TV and radio far in advance of their release, and many big acts avoided each other, meaning that if you looked at the future releases list you could probably predict what would be Number One for the next six weeks. Everyone got their brief turn at the top, and it was all rather predictable.

Then someone at a record label must’ve made a miscalculation as in August 2000 two songs were released in the same week that both had the potential to be a chart-topper. Only one could succeed though, meaning that this was suddenly turned into the most intriguing chart challenge since Oasis v Blur five years earlier. But whose side would I be on? vlcsnap-00348

Firstly, there was “Groovejet” by Spiller, an Italian producer. Now I really liked this, although I didn’t realise at the time that this sampled 1977 disco song “Love Is You” by Carol Williams. I thought to myself how could I possibly like this one even more, and then when I discovered who the vocalist was, I did like this one even more! Critics were impressed by this one too. vlcsnap-00349

Sophie Ellis-Bextor was the vocalist with indie band theaudience, who released some singles and an album in 1998. I do remember them, and Sophie even appeared on the cover of Melody Maker as they were tipped for big things. But then they split in 1999, and I was disappointed as I thought that Sophie had missed her chance to be a big pop star, so it was great to discover that she was back on the scene, although this was a genre change. vlcsnap-00351

Then there was Garage group True Steppers with “Out Of Your Mind”, featuring guest vocals by Dane Bowers from Another Level, and Victoria Beckham, which was notable as this was Posh’s first non-Spice Girls single. As the race got closer, promotion for this single was described as “desperate”, as Victoria visited a Woolworths in Oldham (although I don’t know if they thought the desperation came from the Woolworths or the being in Oldham). vlcsnap-00352

When the chart was finally announced, “Groovejet” had triumphed, I was so pleased for Sophie, and Spiller must be the tallest person to have ever had a UK Number One single. There was only one week at the top, but at least this got there, and I have the maxisingle. Sophie went on to launch her successful solo career in 2001, although Spiller would go on to have only one more minor Top 40 hit.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 15.

This is a group that I wanted to feature, even though I imagine that very few people will remember them (although I don’t like to do pieces with a “you won’t know what this is” tone because someone else somewhere out there almost certainly will do), but I remembered again recently that they did something rather interesting that gained them some publicity rather out of proportion to their chart success.

One of the reasons I used to like watching long-gone digital channel UK Play was because they would show various music videos, and their playlist was slightly more alternative than MTV’s, meaning that sometimes you’d see videos from groups that would get nowhere near the chart, which isn’t exactly what you’d expect in the afternoon. One day I saw a video from an indie duo called Big Yoga Muffin, consisting of Ange and Pim, who had previously been in Hipsway who had some chart success in the mid-80s. vlcsnap-00344

I remember that this was rather quirky, with things like someone playing the keyboard, and then another hand appeared and played along with them, someone in the corner of the screen doing sign language (presumably of the lyrics), and their deep-voiced singer had red hair that made him look a little like Mick Hucknall (but please don’t hold that against him). vlcsnap-00345

“Is That How You Get Off” was released in March 2000, and reached only no. 135. What they did for their next single attracted some attention though. The video to “Boredom Is A Luxury” featured a guest-appearance from a rather high-profile cast member of US drama series ER. No, not George Clooney, or Noah Wyle, but that other one, I never watched that show much I must admit. vlcsnap-00346

I don’t know how they managed to get hold of him, they must’ve pulled a few strings. I remember that this was reported on the TV news page of Teletext, and the headline was something like “ER star in video of unknown band”, which was rather frustrating because I was familiar with their earlier single (even though it was a flop), and in the actual report, they got the group’s name wrong. Again I remember seeing the video on TV, and they also performed this on Channel 4’s TFI Friday. vlcsnap-00347

“Boredom Is A Luxury” was released in June 2000, and this reached no. 129, slightly better than their previous single, but still nowhere near being a hit (the video was uploaded to YouTube over a decade ago and still doesn’t even have 5,000 views). I can only imagine that Melody Maker loved it though. Their album “Wherever You Go, There You Are” also flopped, and Big Yoga Muffin didn’t do much after this. I was just amused that I still remember all this two decades on.

The One-Hit Wonders – The 2000s Part 9.

This is the final song that I plan to write about in this series that is in the UK Garage genre. I know that I have gone on about it a lot, but this really was my favourite music genre on the chart back in 2000, I still have lots of great memories, as I hope many others do, and I have enjoyed sharing them. Here’s another group that only had one hit single at this time, what did they have to offer?

Zed Bias were yet another British production group who were on the scene. In July 2000 their single “Neighbourhood” (not to be confused with the song by Space that I looked back at recently) was released, and reached no. 25, so it definitely wasn’t the most successful out of all the singles in this genre, but despite that it’s still one of my favourites. There was also a video made, but I don’t think they got as far as Top Of The Pops though. vlcsnap-00335

Some vocalists were hired for this one (Nicky Prince and MC Rumpus of course!), which also contains someone saying “selecter!“, which was becoming alarmingly close to being a cliché by this point. Another thing that helped this to have some success was the endorsement by The Dreem Teem. They were a production trio who by this point also had a show on BBC Radio 1. They were innovators in the genre, and had remixed a lot of songs, including releasing some of their own. vlcsnap-00337

This meant that if you got their endorsement, you were on to a good thing (also one of them was called Timmi Magic, which rather inevitably led to Chris Moyles constantly calling him “Timmy Mallett”). This was right at the peak of Radio 1’s “avin’ it laaarge in Ibiza, whoa I’m totally spannered mate” era, when they really wanted to prove that they did know what this fancy dance music lark was all about. vlcsnap-00338

Everyone has their favourites in this genre, and along with the likes of B15 Project, N ‘n’ G, and Sweet Female Attitude, this really is in the elite band for me of UK Garage classics. However, Zed Bias didn’t make the singles chart again, although they did on go to produce lots of remixes themselves, and have released nine albums under various aliases. The place you’d be most likely to hear “Neighbourhood” nowadays is on a compilation probably called “Now That’s What I Call UK Garage 17”.

The One-Hit Wonders – The 2000s Part 6.

Let’s go back again to the year 2000 (I’ve been to the year 2000, unlike Busted, who’ve also been to the year 3000, show-offs), when UK Garage was all over most of the singles chart, and I was rather fond of a lot of songs in that genre. There isn’t really a huge amount to say about this one, but as I really liked it (did I really like it, did I really like it, I’m loving it loving it loving it!), and I can’t be the only one, this is worth featuring.

Firstly I always group this one together with N ‘n’ G’s version of “Right Before My Eyes” (that I also reviewed recently), as that one was on the chart around the same time, this one being released (on the Ministry Of Sound label, which was rather fancy) two months later, and because they’re both UK Garage classics that are among my favourite hit singles of 2000. vlcsnap-00319

B15 Project were a production team from Birmingham. The Official Charts books states that one of them was called Ali Campbell, but I presume that he wasn’t the one who was in UB40, or maybe he was, I have no idea. They took their name from the postcode that their studio was in. They were accompanied by Chrissy D and Lady G, a Jamaican duo who performed the vocals (in a “ragamuffin” style, supposedly). vlcsnap-00320

Well despite the fact that this one was called “Girls Like Us” although they actually say “girls like this” in the song, and all these years on I still haven’t been able to decipher half the lyrics, I’m very fond of this one. I was always pleased when the video turned up on MTV, or this came on the radio, and they also had their moment on Top Of The Pops which was great. vlcsnap-00325

“Girls Like Us” was released in June 2000 and reached no. 7, five places higher than the peak of “Right Before My Eyes”. And unsurprisingly, nothing from B15 Project was heard of on the chart again, although they did go on to release several more singles. I think I’ve still got this one on a mouldy old dance compilation cassette in a cupboard somewhere. What better legacy for a song could there be.

Down The Dumper – The 2000s Part 2.

This piece will start with some of my views on musical genres. When I was in my mid-teens, I was really into pop music, although that’s probably no surprise as that’s the age when most people really into it. Now I don’t know much about how genres are determined, but around this time I was really into UK Garage. Melody Maker seemed to think that all this was the enemy compared to their rock music that they championed, but they closed down soon after.

But I remember someone saying that when you looked at the statistics of where people in the country were buying these songs, this genre could’ve been called “London Garage”, as that’s where it was all happening. Living in London, this scene seemed to be really exciting, as more singles were released and entered the chart, and being there as it all happened really was great.

It could be said, like with most dance genres, that all of the songs sounded the same, but I just really liked the sound. And there were also people who were unsatisfied with the commercialisation of the genre, trying to sort out who were the pioneers, and who simply jumped on the bandwagon for a quick cash-in. But seeing such songs making the Top Ten, whoever they were by, was fine by me. vlcsnap-00100

One of the songs that was among my favourites was “Flowers”, which was by Sweet Female Attitude, a female duo consisting of Leanne Brown and Catherine Cassidy, and released in April 2000. This reached no. 2, narrowly missing out on being a chart-topper, and although it is something of a cliché, this really is the soundtrack to that time of my life, and I was always pleased when this came on the radio (which was rather frequently). vlcsnap-00101

So of course, I was eager to discover what SFA (not Super Furry Animals or Scottish Football Association) would do next, but it turned out that there wasn’t much more. In October 2000 “8 Days A Week” (not the song by The Beatles) was released, which reached only no. 43. It probably wouldn’t surprise you to discover that this sounded almost exactly the same as “Flowers”, but I can’t find a video of this, and UK Garage had just about fizzled out by this point as everyone moved on to the next big thing. vlcsnap-00102

There were no further hits, and no album, and I don’t know much about what SFA did after this, except that curiously “Flowers” spent one more week on the chart in April 2008. In more recent years, “Flowers” has been covered by several acts including Sugababes (or what passes for them nowadays) in an attempt to combine UK Garage with classical music, to try and prove that such songs can be played on more traditional instruments. I was a little disappointed as this moved the song from one of my favourite genres into one of my least favourites, but at least that proves its stature with fans.

Musical Memories – 25 April 2000.

The next date that I have picked at random is 25 April 2000. I have decided that I might as well review two or three charts from each year from 1985 to 2012, so by the end the dates that I pick won’t be so random, but as this is the first chart from 2000 that I will be reviewing, let’s take a look at what was happening on the singles chart top 100 in this week.

1 (non-mover) “Toca’s Miracle” – Fragma. There were a ludicrous amount of chart-toppers in 2000, the turnover was ridiculous and over 40 songs ended up making number one in that year. This is one of the rare songs that spent more than one week at number one in 2000 but it deserved it as it was definitely one of my favourite hits of that year, being essentially a “mash-up” of Coco’s “I Need A Miracle” and Fragma’s own “Toca Me” to create a brilliant single that I still love to hear 15 years on. 44803-raw

8 (down 4) “Flowers” – Sweet Female Attitude. I know that some of the entries on these pieces are rather simplistic in that they usually just consist of “I liked this one, it was great”, but when I look at these old charts, I go through the songs, and then occasionally when I see one a feeling goes through me of when I first came into contact with a song that I really liked at the time, whether it reminds me of the first time that I heard it on the radio, or when I saw it on TV. As I was in my mid-teens at this time and had access to MTV and UK Play via On Digital, I would watch them an awful lot as I was interested in the musical trends of the time. This song by SFA (not to be confused with Super Furry Animals) was one of the best from the genre known as UK Garage which I was really into and seemed to clog up most of the chart at the time as most here today/gone tomorrow genres do. I still love this, and their follow-up “Eight Days A Week” (not a cover of the Beatles song) was just as great, but didn’t make the top 40, and that was the last we ever heard of this duo which was a shame. 44799-raw

16 (down 4) “Say My Name” – Destiny’s Child. I did enjoy lots of the hits of this American girl group. This wasn’t my favourite of all of them, but they were on a great run at this time, and this is a good as anything that Beyonce has done in her subsequent solo career.

25 (down 9) “The Time Is Now” – Moloko. Another act that I’ve always found interesting, and this was one of their biggest hits, it’s just as great as the instant dance classic “Sing It Back” that caused a sensation a year earlier, another one of my all-time favourites. 

43 (down 7) “Movin’ Too Fast” – Artful Dodger Featuring Romina Johnson. Another Garage classic (see I told you it was all over the place at this time) from the group that also launched Craig David on us (who had just had his first chart-topper with “Fill Me In”), but I think because this song is so great I can forgive them for that.

46 (down 26) “The Facts Of Life” – Black Box Recorder. Around this time I liked to listen to Mark and Lard in the afternoon on BBC Radio 1. They always liked to have a Record Of The Week, but hardly any of them were successful, and Mark Radcliffe once said that record companies were asking him not to make their records his Record Of The Week as it instantly killed them off. I think this was one of them though, but if not I still remember it being played regularly on his programme, and it was a rare top 20 hit that they backed. Also, I remember about a year or two later “The Facts Of Life” had a second wave of success when rather bafflingly it was used as the theme to MTV’s live request show Select in its final days when it was hosted by the likes of Natalie Casey and Russell Brand. 40565-raw

48 (down 15) “Right Before My Eyes” – N ‘n’ G Featuring Kallaghan. Sorry to keep banging on about this, but this is yet another Garage classic that I am really fond of, a cover of the 1989 minor hit by Patti Day, which I am fairly sure was also on a volume of “Deep Heat”, the successful dance music compilation series of the late-80s/early-90s. 17695-raw

61 (down 9) “Caught Out There” – Kelis. The debut hit for the American singer. Now this one definitely made an impact on me when I first heard it on the radio as this song mostly consists of Kelis famously yelling “Aaaarggghh!! I hate you so much right now!!“, which is something that you don’t forget hearing in a hurry.

79 (down 3) “Sweet Love” – Fierce. This was a super cover of the Anita Baker song by the girl band. Curiously though, even though this became their biggest hit they split not long afterwards. I was fond of a few of their other songs including “Days Like That” and I don’t know why their promising career stopped so abruptly. 17605-raw

Well that was a pleasingly enjoyable chart to reminisce about, I can almost forgive all the awful boy bands that took up the majority of the other top 100 places. More soon.