Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 32.

Following on from Whale who I looked back at recently, this is another rather bizarre rock group from Sweden (I do have to wonder what’s happening up there) who caused a stir in the 2000s. This is a group who are notable because some music magazines at the time made sure that they received the great honour of “most overhyped group of the week”.

I do wonder how this was determined sometimes, maybe they put every group who had a single out that week into a hat, and whoever they picked out were put on to the cover, and were determined to be the new big thing. But in the case of The Hives, who had actually been around since the mid-90s, they were worthy of the hype, because they really were a crazy bunch of guys!

What stood out about them was that they all dressed the same! One of them had a moustache! One of them appeared to be a question mark, and his actual role in the group (if indeed he existed at all) was the cause of much speculation for about five minutes! What more could you need? Oh well, maybe actually the music might help somewhat.

They really burst on to the scene in February 2002 when “Hate To Say I Told You So” was released, and this reached no. 23. Hooray, rock is back! I bet that Gareth Gates and all of those other so-called pop stars were shaking in their shoes and horrified because they were all about to be swept out of the chart at last by the big rock revolution!

It was no surprise that their totally crazy frontman, the man they call Howlin’ Pelle, was soon rivalling Sven-Goran Ericsson as the most famous Swede in this country, or something. And their album, the rather cheekily titled “Your New Favourite Band”, soon began to live up to its title and accelerate up the chart. Next in May 2002 was “Main Offender”.

This one was rather remarkable, because the vocals could be described as Squealin’ rather than Howlin’, and this reached no. 24. This also soundtracked a lingerie advert starring Kylie Minogue that definitely got the pulses buzzing. They returned in July 2004 with “Walk Idiot Walk”, which reached no. 13, to become their biggest hit single in the UK.

And their album “Tyrannosaurus Hives” was their second to make the Top Ten. So it was a surprise that their final two hit singles didn’t make the Top 40, and their 2007 album “The Black And White Album” didn’t do as well as the others. They haven’t been heard of much since, but for a brief moment they did live up to the huge hype, coming across as entertaining and unpredictable.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 30.

This is someone who I thought I would feature because although she was never really an A-list pop star, she did have a decent amount of hits, and it’s interesting to look back at what it must’ve been like to be an up-and-coming singer on the scene in the early-2000s, around the time that the chart was beginning to be swamped by a lot of music talent show acts.

Amy Studt is a singer/songwriter from London (who coincidentally was born on the same day as my brother, but not the same year though). She was discovered by pop bigwig Simon Fuller, and there seemed to be a lot of work put into making some decent singles for her, and hoping that she’ll be the next big thing. In July 2002 her debut single “Just A Little Girl” was released.

It seems that the video for this was directed by Sophie Muller. Now you might remember that she was behind a lot of the highlights of Shakespear’s Sister’s career, and I presume that her services don’t come cheap. I noticed someone say that they got an American McGee’s Alice vibe off this video, and I can definitely see that. So when this reached no. 14, there was probably a little frustration.

Her second single wasn’t released until June 2003, almost a year later. It seems that there had been a rethink, and they were now sure that this would be the one that would finally break her into the Top Ten. And “Misfit” reached no. 6, to become her biggest hit single in the UK. What might’ve helped is that the video (another one directed by Muller) seemed to be on Freeview channel TMF very frequently.

In July 2003 her debut album “False Smiles” was released, and this made the Top 20. For a brief moment she was the most famous Amy on the pop scene. Next in October 2003 was “Under The Thumb” (co-written by Alisha’s Attic’s Karen Poole), which reached no. 10, and turned out to be her second and final Top Ten hit single. The next single was a cover, which might’ve disappointed Amy because she was also an aspiring songwriter at this time and probably wanted more chances to show off her skills.

In January 2004 “All I Wanna Do” was released, a cover of the Sheryl Crow hit from 1994. I do remember that the lyrics had to be altered from “I like a good beer buzz” to “I like my caffeine buzz” because she was still under 18 at the time. And this definitely met the approval of Sheryl herself as she provided some backing vocals for this version. This didn’t contain much of the angst of her previous hits though.

However, this reached only no. 21, and shortly after, Amy was dropped by her label. All that effort into promoting her and building her fanbase, and then she just vanished off the scene. Not much has been heard of Amy since, but after recovering from this setback, she remains in the music business as a musician and songwriter, and her third album was released a few years ago.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 29.

There were a rather large amount of dance acts to have had hits in this era, and I feel that this is one of the more interesting stories. The button pusher in this case was Josh Abrahams, an Australian who was better known as Puretone. In January 2002 “Addicted To Bass” was released, which had already been on the scene for a few years by the time this was a hit.

Now I know that when a popular song reaches no. 2, people claim that it is something of an injustice, as they feel that it is a much better song than the one that has actually topped the chart, and sometimes they might be right about this. But ultimately it is fair, as they simply did not sell enough copies to reach the top. But there have been occasions were there were computer or record label errors.

This meant that a song had missed out in what were less than fair circumstances. I have already said about the Deee-Lite incident in 1990 when “Groove Is In The Heart” missed out by the narrowest of margins which was hugely disappointing. In this case, some copies of “Addicted To Bass” leaked out to record shops a week early, meaning that they could actually be bought before the official release date.

This meant that this unexpectedly entered the chart at no. 68. And then a week later, this leapt to no. 2, which is one of the biggest climbs in the Top 75 that there has ever been. But if the leaked copies were sold in the week that they were supposed to be, I believe that this would’ve been a chart-topper. This must’ve been very frustrating for everybody involved.

I do think that this was definitely good enough to be a Number 1 single, this is one of my favourite dance hits from this era, and for a brief time this barely seemed to be off the radio. And the video is rather memorable too. Something similar happened in 2002 when “I Would Die 4 U”, a remix of a Prince song by Space Cowboy, missed out on making the Top Ten after the CD version was disqualified.

But to make up for it, they appeared on Top Of The Pops anyway, with their chart position saying “!” where the number would usually be. In May 2003, “Stuck In A Groove” was released, and this was on a different label to “Addicted To Bass”, I don’t know if that had anything to do with the mess-up with the previous single, but this reached only no. 26, not causing as much of a stir, and that’s where Puretone’s hits came to an end.

The One-Hit Wonders – The 2000s Part 7.

This is the final story of a girl group that I plan to feature, promise (probably). Recently, I wrote about the amount of girl groups on the chart (along with the ones that didn’t make it) around 2000 in a rather overcrowded market. Well just a year or two later things had changed a lot in pop music. Popstars had launched, and now if you wanted to audition for a group you could also get yourself on primetime TV.

And what would become Girls Aloud were put together on Popstars: The Rivals. Now we know that they went on to make many great pop singles, it almost makes me wish that I had watched this at the time. This was a group who came along just before that though, what would they have to offer? Smoke 2 Seven (who were originally called Holy Smoke) were a British female trio consisting of Beverley, Jo, and Vikki, who were barely out of their teens at the time. vlcsnap-00327

In March 2002 their debut single “Been There Done That” was released. I do remember hearing this on the radio a few times, and I thought that it wasn’t too bad as far as these things go. I was a little surprised though at the lyric “I won’t take your crap“, it didn’t really bother me, but it probably hindered their chances of appearing on all those children’s TV shows (and indeed channels by this point). No Blue Peter appearance for them. vlcsnap-00328

“Been There Done That” reached no. 26, not that incredible, but it was a Top 40 hit. However, in March 2003, their follow-up single “Envy” failed to reach the Top 75, why even look at this when Girls Aloud were on the up, they must’ve been rather jealous of them. After this, Smoke 2 Seven went their separate ways, not even getting as far as releasing an album, and once again, another group failed to fill their potential (they don’t even have a Wikipedia entry). vlcsnap-00329

It must be a rather odd feeling to have got into a business where you’re just about past it at the age of 22 when you think you know everything, it must be brutal. And with that, they were left to pop music history. They were no Sugababes unfortunately, nor even a Madasun. Some of them did go on to have further success behind the scenes though, including management and songwriting.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 6.

Let’s go back once again to 2002, a year that is clearly turning out to have had more than its share of great pop moments. First of all, this is an English singer called Rhianna. Now although it seems that it has happened a lot over the years, she is not to be confused with the Barbadian singer Rihanna, who went on to have a huge amount of hit singles. I suppose it’s an obvious thing to say, but it would been great if she’d had even a tenth as many hits as her near-namesake.

Rhianna came on to the scene in June 2002 when “Oh Baby” was released. She was in her late-teens at the time, and the word that best describes her hairstyle was “frizzy”. Now once again, this is one that really stood out to me when I heard this on the radio, and it seems that this was given a big promotional push. There was a lot of hope that this one would do well, it definitely deserved to, and this was even used on an advert. vlcsnap-00194

As well as appearing on Top Of The Pops and CD:UK, Rhianna also appeared on The UK Top 40 on the early days of the CBBC Channel, which was good. “Oh Baby” reached no. 18, which was almost disappointing in a way, but she almost certainly would build on this and have more hits. But somehow, this would be her only Top 40 hit. Next in September 2002 was “Word Love”, which I only remember hearing about once on the radio by comparison, and this reached no. 41, which turned out to be something of an anti-climax really. vlcsnap-00570

Also around this time, her only album “Get On” was released, but this didn’t make the Top 75, the minimum placing to officially be a hit. In February 2003 she was given one last chance with “I Love Every Little Thing About You”, which I don’t remember at all from the time, and again, this didn’t make the Top 75, and that was it really, another one who could’ve been a really big star passes us by. vlcsnap-00196

There’s little doubt for me though that “Oh Baby” will always be one of my favourite hits from this era. After this, Rhianna did stay in the music business, going on to work with some other groups about a decade later (but they didn’t have any hits either), and also being a backing singer. Just don’t ask her to sing “Umbrella” though, because, that wasn’t her.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 5.

There are great moments in pop, and then there are great moments in pop, and then there is this one that is definitely up there as one of the greatest moments of its era for me, the way that something terrific unexpectedly happened. There are several elements to this story. In 2002, there was a genre that suddenly appeared on the scene, and it was even more exciting than electroclash, if you can believe such a thing is possible.

This was bootlegs, where the vocal from one song was added to the instrumental of another, and some of the combinations were perfect examples of something that shouldn’t really work, but somehow it does, leading to some startling results (this wasn’t an entirely new idea though, “You Got The Love” by The Source is an early and successful example of this).

Some of the best examples that I heard were “Bootylicious” by Destiny’s Child and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, “Genie In A Bottle” by Christina Aguilera and “Hard To Explain” by The Strokes, “Romeo” by Basement Jaxx and “The Magnificent Seven” by The Clash, and this one. The best of all of them for me was “Freak Like Me” by Adina Howard and “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” by Tubeway Away. The buzz when I first heard this, rather late at night on Kiss, was remarkable, it was so innovative.

I was already familiar with “Freak Like Me” from the UK Garage cover by Tru Faith & Dub Conspiracy that was a hit in 2000. This version was credited to the rather mysterious Girls On Top and retitled “We Don’t Give A Damn About Our Friends”. There were hopes that this could be released as a single, but it seemed rather unlikely. Then there’s the other part to this. vlcsnap-00188

This is a female pop trio whose first member to leave was called Siobhan, it is, of course… Sugababes! Who did you think I meant? They had their first hit single in 2000, but I didn’t take too much notice of them at first, considering them to be another run-of-the-mill girl group on the overcrowded scene. By 2001, Siobhan had left, and they were dropped by their label, it seemed that their moment had passed and they were a duo left wondering what could’ve been. vlcsnap-00189

Then Heidi joined, and they were invited to rerecord the vocal part of “Freak Like Me” to help an official release and to relaunch their career, with what would be the first single from their second album. This was released in May 2002, and well, would you believe it, this only went on to become the first of their six chart-toppers and they never looked back! That turned out to be a smart career move. vlcsnap-00191

Sugababes would remain high-profile pop stars for many years to come. Gary Numan from Tubeway Away congratulated them on their success too. I suppose this is a moment up there with “Love Like This” for a “wouldn’t it be great if this was a chart-topping single” and then unexpectedly achieving that (thanks to Fatman Scoop’s “Be Faithful”). Maybe the record buying public do sometimes have good taste, this is definitely one of the best songs of the whole 2000s decade.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 3.

This isn’t a song that I was incredibly excited by at the time personally, but I do remember this one and wanted to feature it because this gives me a chance to write about genres and hype during this era. At this time, music magazines used to enjoy putting bands into various genres, and sometimes these seemed to be invented on the spot. The bands involved seemed to be surprised too, especially when they insisted that they didn’t want to be pigeonholed.

Readers often wrote in to ask why various bands and genres were being covered, and they would defend this by saying that it doesn’t matter about the origin, as long as they felt it was something new and exciting, they would cover it. In 2002, there was briefly a lot of buzz about “electroclash”, with a mildly desperate “this really is the most exciting scene around!”, and this group were pushed to the forefront of all this. vlcsnap-00179

It all seemed to centre on them as to whether this would be a success. Indeed, they might’ve actually been the only group in the genre, which featured some fancy electronic noises. Fischerspooner were an American duo that formed in the late-90s, consisting of Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner. In July 2002 they released “Emerge” (for a second time) from their first album “#1”. vlcsnap-00180

Their stage shows also caused something of a stir, they were reported to be rather expensive to mount, taking things to the extreme, with lots of sets, elaborate costumes, and sparkly bits everywhere, they soon gained a fairly trendy fanbase who liked to dress like them. They felt that as well as the music, the look and performance was just as important, as how songs are interpreted is a piece of art in itself, and they definitely stood out, even if this could be seen to be an extreme example of style over substance. vlcsnap-00181

“Emerge” reached no. 25, and you can imagine how much joy there was from the fans, can you believe it, this really was the pinnacle of the genre! This led to a memorable Top Of The Pops appearance that turned out to be their three minutes of fame. And somehow, even though they released many more singles and albums, Fischerspooner had no more Top 40 hit singles, although “Emerge” has featured on several film and TV soundtracks, and they split in 2019. People weren’t really surprised when this overhyped genre vanished as soon as it appeared. Maybe it never existed at all.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 1.

Let’s go on into the 2000s decade, for some more of my favourite pop music memories. I was unsure about including non-British acts in this series, because there’s less chance that they will have done the promotional rounds of appearing on TV shows that I’ve watched, or being interviewed in magazines that I’ve read, and so on. But as I really liked this song from almost two decades ago now, I’ve just got to include it.

Princess Superstar was born Concetta Kirschner in New York in 1971. She was a rapper who came on to the scene in the mid-90s, and her first album was released in America in 1996. She first came to our attention in this country in March 2002 when “Bad Babysitter” was released, from her fourth album “Princess Superstar Is”. Ooh, but it was rather naughty though. vlcsnap-00174

Among the highlights in the amusing lyrics for me were the chorus “I’m a bad babysitter, got my boyfriend in the shower/I’m making six bucks an hour“, and of course, “you look like Jar Jar Binks!“. “Bad Babysitter” reached no. 11. I was a little disappointed that this narrowly missed the Top Ten. This did earn her all kinds of accolades though, including “the female Eminem”, and she is yet another pop star who can claim to be rather similar to Lady Gaga long before Lady Gaga herself came along. vlcsnap-00176I remember that she did do some promotion in the UK though, including a charismatic interview in NME, she appeared as a guest on BBC Choice’s Liquid News, and “Bad Babysitter” was also featured on a “Now Dance” compilation. This was all enjoyably quirky, but I don’t remember there being any news of any follow-up singles. But then, almost five years later, in January 2007, “Perfect (Exceeder)” was released. vlcsnap-00177This was two songs put together, the instrumental “Exceeder” by Mason, and the lyrics of Princess Superstar’s 2005 single “Perfect”. This reached no. 3, so long after I expected that it would ever happen, she did finally make the Top Ten, fantastic! It’s just a shame that she actually wasn’t in the video. Princess Superstar has released nine albums (I don’t think she’s ever had a hit in America though), and she is now 50 years old (oh yes, I went there). Nowadays you’re more likely to see her mucking about on social media sites, but then, aren’t they all.