Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 38.

I know that I said that I didn’t plan to feature too many American singers in this series, but this is another one who had a lot of hits in this country for over a decade who I enjoyed. Alicia Keys is a singer/songwriter and pianist, whose debut hit “Fallin'” was released in November 2001, which reached no. 3 (and was also her first chart-topper in America).

When your hear this all these years on, it’s still clear to realise why she became an instant star really, and you can imagine the cheering and applause that her performances of this would receive. Not long after, she was given just about as many Grammys as she could hold at once, and this was an indication that she would go on to much more success.

Among her other highlights are March 2002’s “A Woman’s Worth” and July 2002’s “How Come You Don’t Call Me”. In October 2002, there was “Gangsta Lovin'”, which was a duet with Eve, and I do think that this just as good as the one with Gwen Stefani that was a big hit about a year earlier. And in December 2002, “Girlfriend” became her fifth hit single of the year, and this has got to be my favourite of hers.

In December 2003 was “You Don’t Know My Name”, and then it all went rather quiet for a while. Alicia returned in November 2007 with “No One”, which rather surprisingly was her first Top Ten hit single in the UK for over five years, and also was her second US chart-topper. In November 2008 she was invited to perform the theme to the James Bond film Quantum Of Solace. This was “Another Way To Die”, which was a duet with Jack White, but this unlikely combination did result in another big hit.

Then in September 2009 was “Empire State Of Mind”, a duet with Jay-Z which reached no. 2, to become her biggest hit in the UK, and her third and final US chart-topper. December 2009 turned out to be a busy time, as both “Doesn’t Mean Anything” and “Empire State Of Mind Part II” entered the chart. This one was a reworking of the hit from only a few months earlier, now featuring Alicia on her own, with additional lyrics, and more plinky-plonky piano.

In February 2010 was “Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart”, and finally in December 2012 was “Girl On Fire”, which turned out to be her final Top Ten hit single in the UK, over 11 years on from her first. After this, Alicia has only made a couple of minor appearances on the chart in the last decade, she has released eight albums, and she has now won about 250 Grammys.

Down The Dumper – The 2000s Part 14.

Here is another group who caused a stir on the chart for what turned out to be a rather brief time. Modjo were a French production group. Around this time there seemed to be a boom on French dance acts on the chart who were all making great singles, including Air, Bel Amour, Cassius, Daft Punk, and Modjo definitely were among them too.

In September 2000 “Lady (Hear Me Tonight)” was released. This was a great example of a song that had been big all across Europe throughout the summer, meaning that there were a rather large amount of people who were keen to buy this. So there wasn’t much surprise when this became a chart-topper, and this is also part of a rather small group of singles that spent more than one week at Number 1 in 2000.

This sampled “Soup For One” by Chic, and you can’t go far wrong with that group really, they made some great songs, and they are still held in high regard. And this came not long after “Groovejet” caused a sensation. I will always prefer that one more myself, but looking back it’s clear that we were being spoilt with dance classics on the chart at that time.

Modjo also made history by becoming the first-ever French group to have a chart-topping single in the UK, which took 48 years to happen. I don’t know if Daft Punk were disappointed that someone else got there first, but they would go on to have an era-defining Number 1 too, so maybe they weren’t that bothered. They also won at the MTV Europe Music Awards, and then they had another Top Ten hit (sort of).

In March 2001, “Lady” returned to the chart when this was put together with Brandy And Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine” as “The Ladyboy Is Mine” by British production group Stuntmasterz, making this a Top Ten hit for the second time in six months (a similar idea was done in 2015 by 99 Souls when they put “The Boy Is Mine” together with “Girl” by Destiny’s Child for “The Girl Is Mine”, which was a Top Ten hit too).

In April 2001, they had another hit with “Chillin'”, which reached no. 12. This is rather good too, but this has long-since been overshadowed by the success of “Lady”. But in October 2001, “What I Know” was released, and reached only no. 59, to be their final hit in the UK. So even this group’s chart success lasted for barely a year, and Modjo split not long after this.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 28.

This is another American singer who was popular for what turned out to be a rather brief moment. Blu Cantrell (although her first name is really Tiffany) was born in Providence. She had previously been a backing singer, and, er, a model. In November 2001 “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!)” was released. This mustn’t be mixed up with “Oops (Oh My)” which was a hit for Tweet not long after.

Now rappers, singers, and so on around this time were noted for sampling just about any type of genre on their singles, whatever it might’ve been, and however unlikely the combination would seem to be, and somehow some of them did work. This one sounded like a rather old piece of jazz music that had been given a modern R & B twist.

But this did manage to reach no.12, and this was also her first and only Top Ten hit single in America. There were no hits for her in 2002 though, and just when I thought that she was going to become a one-hit wonder, it turned out that she was actually on the brink of the peak of her career. “Breathe” was a collaboration with rapper Sean Paul. Just give me the Blu.

Now at this time he seemed to be the guest rapper on just about every other single on the chart. I also remember when Mark And Lard were particularly amused by one of his songs when it sounded like he said “I’m an ugly number two“, which they thought was rather honest of him. Such was the anticipation for “Breathe” that an imported version made the lower end of the chart for three weeks.

And when this was finally released in this country in August 2003, “Breathe” wasted no time in becoming a chart-topper, and stayed there for four weeks. This was all rather pleasing, although the video was rather odd as her voice didn’t seem to be going with her mouth. Oh, and this sampled Dr Dre’s “What’s The Difference”, I almost forgot about Dre.

Also in 2003, her second album “Bittersweet” made the Top 20. Next in December 2003 was “Make Me Wanna Scream”, which also featured a contribution from Inner Circle. But this one made only no. 24, and didn’t hang around for that long on the chart. This turned out to be Blu’s third and final hit single in the UK, but at least one of them was one of the most successful of its era.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 10.

Now as I have said, I am not really interested in rock music, but I wanted to feature this one because again I thought that it was an interesting example of marketing and genres. 2001 was the year that I turned 18. It was around this time that I read the weekly music magazines for a short while. I remember they insisted that there was a constant battle on the singles chart, where supposedly credible rock/indie music was competing against dance/rap music and the like.

Of course the magazines came down on the rock/indie side, and people used to write to their letters pages (and also Teletext’s Planet Sound) to prove that they were a “real” music fan by making shock revelations like “I don’t like Westlife”. Way to smash the system. Indeed, Melody Maker seemed to take this idea to the extreme, making music genres seem “us versus them” to an uncomfortable level, and promptly closed soon afterwards.

NME did continue though, and 2001 was a curious year (they had a fancy award-winning website where music news was updated every hour!). They always defended their cover choices by saying that they featured whatever was interesting on the scene at the time, whatever genre it was in. This meant that they gave a cover to the group that were formed by ITV’s Popstars, as they tried to investigate the newly-formed manufactured TV pop genre. vlcsnap-00292

They also gave covers to a lot of R ‘n’ B acts including Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child, and Missy Elliott, and they probably wouldn’t have got near the cover in any other year. But NME‘s roots were in rock, which is why they were rather overcome when The Strokes and The White Stripes came on to the scene, and they could claim “rock is back, no really, it is this time, honest!!”. But then there was this. vlcsnap-00293

Andrew WK was a young American rock singer. His philosophy was that life should simply be a party, and done to the full. He had rather long greasy hair, and always wore the same rather mouldy t-shirt. He just liked to put his all into all of his performances. He meant it, man. His gigs were something too. If he didn’t end with a serious head injury, covered in someone else’s blood, and a ripped pair of jeans, then it had been a disappointment. vlcsnap-00294

So when the time came for him to release his single “Party Hard” in October 2001, the hype machine went into overload (“we do what we like, and we like what we do!“). Look out Boyzone, your time on the chart is up! NME said he was “so good we put him on the cover twice!”, along with an interview where he spoke about his love of music and partying. The response from readers was that he was just about laughed out of town, with most of them saying “who is this guy?”. There was also a bizarre theory that all of his songs were made by Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters as a secret side project. vlcsnap-00295

“Party Hard” reached no. 19, his only Top 40 hit in the UK. In November 2001 his much triumphed album “I Get Wet” barely made the Top 75. He sliced his head open for nothing. Curiously, NME went rather quiet about Andrew WK after that, as of course the next “saviour of rock” came along, and the hype cycle started once again. Andrew is still out there and making albums though. And he still probably hasn’t changed his t-shirt.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 9.

Here’s a group that did something rather unusual on the pop music scene in the early-2000s. The Avalanches are an Australian group that formed in the late-90s. They made several songs that took samples from various sources, added a few beats, scratches, and general other odd noises taken from old records, and then stuck this all together to create something that sounded like little else that was on the scene at that time.

Their first single in the UK was “Since I Left You”, which was released in April 2001 and reached no. 16. Among the samples was “Holiday” by Madonna. This was highly acclaimed and accompanied by a rather memorable video with some dancing miners, which won several awards, including the MTV Europe Music Award for Best Video. Also in April 2001, their first of three albums, also called “Since I Left You”, was released, and this reached no. 8, to become their first album to make the Top Ten in the UK. vlcsnap-00282

But it was what they did next though that interested me the most. In July 2001 the follow-up “Frontier Psychiatrist” was released, and this reached no. 18. I was a fan of this one, not only because of the bizarre range of samples (including an old sketch from a comedy double-act), that somehow all worked, but also because of the rather strange video (that was on MTV rather often for a short while). vlcsnap-00284

The video featured this song performed on stage with some rather unusual interpretations of the samples. If any of their videos deserved to be festooned with awards (why are awards always “festooned”, I don’t know) then it was this one. And how can you not admire a song that rhymes “juice on your chin” with “violin” (that is a couplet that deserved to win several major awards in itself). They don’t make them like that any more. vlcsnap-00285

“Frontier Psychiatrist” turned out to be the second and final hit single for The Avalanches in the UK though, although I’m not really sure how they could’ve topped this. After a long break and various line-up changes, they did eventually return to the pop music scene though, and in more recent years they have gone on to have some more successful albums.

The One-Hit Wonders – The 2000s Part 5.

When another year begins, I wonder if there will be anything coming along that I’ll enjoy in pop music. What will the big genres be, who are the newcomers on the scene, is there anything that’ll take my interest. This one came along right at the start of 2001, and I decided that if there are more singles around that I’ll enjoy as much as this one, then there’s definitely a chance that it’ll be a good year.

In January 2001 Rui Da Silva released “Touch Me” (not to be confused with “Tuch Me” by Fonda Rae that I looked back at recently), and this was no. 1 for a week, although this was at what was traditionally a quiet time for the chart. This also led to a Top Of The Pops performance. Da Silva is a Portuguese dance DJ and producer, and as far as I know, he was the first act from Portugal to have a hit single in the UK, never mind a chart-topper.

This one was also enhanced by the vocal from English singer Cassandra Fox. When I saw the video, I discovered that this one sampled “Chant No. 1” by Spandau Ballet, but the actual single version doesn’t seem to, it appears that there were some licencing problems (although this means that Gary Kemp is credited as a co-writer). This was indeed a great way to start the year, and the combination of all this is one of my favourite hit singles of 2001. It still excites me now.

It was something of a surprise then that Da Silva went on to have no further hits in the UK at all, meaning that he joined the elite club of being a one-hit wonder and also a chart-topper. “Touch Me” also featured on several dance compilations when that was a rather overcrowded market. I’m sure that I would’ve liked anything he had to offer that was a follow-up single, but nothing else caught people’s attention or made the chart.

We did hear from Cassandra again on the chart though, but not until November 2006, almost six years on from this, when her first solo hit single rather curiously was a cover of her own song “Touch Me”, now rerecorded without Da Silva, and this reached no. 52. Cassandra would go on to have only one more hit. Something that briefly sounded like the future of music is now long in the past.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 7.

When another British girl group with a fancy misspelt name came on to the crowded pop music scene in the early-2000s, I didn’t take too much notice at first. Mis-Teeq were formed in the late-90s, and were a trio consisting of Alesha, Su-Elise, and Sabrina (fourth member Zena left around the time of the first single, although she did go on to have a minor solo hit in 2003). In January 2001 “Why” was released, and this went on to be the first of their seven consecutive Top Ten hits.

I did enjoy this as it was another piece of entertaining UK Garage, and I soon realised that this was a group whose fortunes would be worth following. They kept up the standard with more great singles including “All I Want” and “One Night Stand”. In November 2001 their first album “Lickin’ On Both Sides” was released, and soon they were being described by many as “the British Destiny’s Child”, which was rather good.


Their hits continued into 2002, including “B With Me”, and a cover of Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It”. After the second album “Eye Candy” was released in April 2003, they had another big hit with “Scandalous”. But in November 2003, “Style” (that sampled “West End Girls” by Pet Shop Boys) surprisingly became their first single not to make the Top Ten, and it was also their final hit all together.


Their final chart activity was in May 2005 when a rather half-hearted and little-noticed “Greatest Hits” album was released (even though they only made two albums). Now here’s the next part of the story. In August 2006, after Mis-Teeq had gone their separate ways, Alesha launched a solo career and released “Lipstick”, which didn’t do too badly. However, the next single “Knockdown” didn’t make the Top 40 which was rather disappointing, she was dropped by her label and her album “Fired Up” wasn’t released.


Deciding her next move and aiming to revive her career, in 2007 Alesha went on Strictly Come Dancing, and became the overall series champion. Maybe her single flopping was the best thing that could’ve happened to her. In November 2008 her pop career was given another chance, the good news was that she had two more Top Ten hits, her album “The Alesha Show” did well too, and she became a judge on Britain’s Got Talent. I was pleased that was Alesha was still having hits a decade on from “Why”, but very little has been heard from her groupmates since the split by comparison.

The One-Hit Wonders – The 2000s Part 4.

One interesting thing about pop music in the late-90s/early-2000s is the amount of French dance acts that were on the scene. Some of the most famous include Air, Cassius, and of course Daft Punk. But this group’s contribution mustn’t be overlooked either. When trying to do pieces about dance acts from this era, it’s rather difficult to find much information about them because they’re mostly various interchangeable producers, but as I really like this one I thought it was worth telling its story.

Bel Amour were a trio, and in May 2001, their first single, also called “Bel Amour”, was released, and this reached no. 23 in the UK, its highest chart position anywhere in the world. I remember that this was also featured on some dance compilations when that was a rather overcrowded market. This was also featured on the final edition of ITV’s entertaining series The Dance Years that looked back at some of the biggest hits of 2001, and there was a reference to “the screaming bassline”. Not literally I hope. vlcsnap-00133

This was also about the only time that I can remember seeing some of the video on TV, which had a rather unusual idea. This featured two people who both had blow-up dolls, although they kept doing the wrong things with them, and they deflated. Don’t play darts with them because they’ll burst, right. Disappointed, they both leave their house to get rid of their doll, and they look at each other and decide a real person is much better. That’s an image that definitely stays with you. vlcsnap-00135

Also notable about “Bel Amour” is that the 1979 disco song “The Mystery With Me” by Jo Bisso was sampled. And the vocalist is Mani Hoffman, who later in 2001 would become better known for his contribution to “Starlight” by Supermen Lovers, which was a Top Ten hit and had a video that famously starred a potato. I can’t believe that both these songs are two decades old now, how did that happen. vlcsnap-00134

This turned out to be Bel Amour’s only hit single. As always with songs like this, there was a lot of hope that this would be the club anthem of the summer that would be blaring out of the radio here, there and everywhere endlessly, but this wasn’t to be. It seems that there wasn’t much more released under this name, apart from a few remixes, but they never reached this level of success again, and there was no album either.

Musical Memories – 7 December 2001.

The next date that I have picked at random is 7 December 2001, so let’s review what was on the singles chart in that week.

1 (new entry) “Gotta Get Thru This” – Daniel Bedingfield. At last we open with a number one single that I do like. The debut hit single for Daniel who burst on to the scene late in 2001. I remember there being a rumour at the time that he produced this song in his bedroom. Daniel went on to have a couple more chart-toppers, but I think that this was the best of them, and his sister Natasha’s had one too, making them the only brother and sister to have separately had UK number one singles. I don’t know what Daniel is up to nowadays though, maybe he is back in his bedroom. 18620-raw

9 (new entry) “Where’s Your Head At” – Basement Jaxx. Another great dance single in the top ten in this week, one of many from this act.

13 (new entry) “Crying At The Discotheque” – Alcazar. This was another one that I liked, mostly because it sampled the disco classic “Spacer” from Sheila B Devotion. 18627-raw

17 (down 2) “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” – Kylie Minogue. One of Kylie’s biggest hits and one of her seven chart-toppers, it really did seem to be a phenomenon at the time and it still sounds great.

19 (down 9) “Rapture” – Iio. Another great dance song that was popular at the time but once again like with most dance acts they only had about one more hit after this. 18569-raw

31 (down 8) “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops)” – Blu Cantrell. The debut hit for this singer, she didn’t have many more hits but this is one of my favourites by her, and she did have a UK number one in 2003 with “Breathe”. 

36 (down 11) “Bohemian Like You” – Dandy Warhols. This is a curious one, the Dandy Warhols were an American group who I remember had a few hits in the late-90s, but when this song was originally released in 2000 it missed the Top 40. But then guess what, a year later it was used on an advert for Vodafone, re-released, and suddenly they’re in the top ten for the first time. I think they were also helped by the fact that Virgin played it about once an hour for a while so everybody became very familiar with it. In 2006 “Bohemian Like You” returned to the chart as a “mash-up” with Mousse T’s “Horny” as “Horny As A Dandy”.

40 (down 8) “One Night Stand” – Mis-Teeq. Hooray, it’s great to review a chart which features one of my favourite girl bands. I was really into them at the time, although they were only together for about two or three years. After this Alesha Dixon went solo and released a couple of great singles, but they weren’t big hits which was a shame, although of course her career would eventually become a big success. 18553-raw

77 (up 12) “Young Fresh ‘N New” – Kelis. This is another singer who I’ve really enjoyed over the years. This was another great one but unfortunately it didn’t do very well which was a shame, although Kelis did eventually return to the top ten since which is great. 18567-raw

89 (down 34) “Has It Come To This” – The Streets. This group who were fronted by Mike Skinner really made an impact on me right from the first time I heard this which was their debut hit. They went on to have lots of great singles, and when a few years after this they went on to have a chart-topper with “Dry Your Eyes” I was really thrilled, it was terrific.