Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 31.

This is another female American singer, who was briefly popular in the UK, particularly in the rather crowded R & B genre, but ultimately didn’t have a huge number of hit singles. The Massachusetts-born Amerie Rogers had her first couple of hits in collaborations with rappers. In November 2002 there was “Why Don’t We Fall In Love” with Ludacris.

And this was followed in February 2003 by “Paradise”, which was with LL Cool J. Both of these made the Top 40, but didn’t attract a huge amount of attention. But it was in June 2005 when Amerie finally made the breakthrough, and had her first big hit single on her own. This was “1 Thing” which reached no. 4, and was her most successful single in both the UK and America.

It definitely helped that the video barely seemed to be off the music channels, and the radio stations were rather fond of this one too, I almost didn’t mind hearing this 50 times a day. It is also great to know that “1 Thing” was a new entry in that historic week when “Axel F” by Crazy Frog also entered the chart, undoubtedly the most revered and significant chart-topper of its era.

Around the same time as this, her second album “Touch” was released, and this made the Top 30 (her 2002 debut failed to chart). Next in September 2005 was “Touch”, which reached no. 19, and it was a surprise that this didn’t make the Top Ten. I do remember the video being rather steamy, and although this was a time when a lot of videos were like this, this still managed to stand out.

After a break in 2006, Amerie returned in May 2007 with “Take Control” which reached no. 10. This was her second and final Top Ten hit in the UK, but it’s still one more than she had in America. It was good to have her back on the scene, and her third album “Because I Love It” made the Top 20, although this spent half the time on the chart that the previous album did.

And in July 2007, “Gotta Work” was released, and like many of her other singles, this one contained a sample, which in this case was from a song by Sam And Dave. This reached no. 21, and this turned out to be her final hit single in the UK. At a time when there were a lot of similar singers on the chart, I felt that she was one of the better ones, although little has been heard from her in recent years.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 22.

Here’s another British group who went on to have some success after a quiet start. Kaiser Chiefs formed in Leeds in the late-90s, and their frontman is Ricky Wilson, whose stage performances are rather energetic, and involve a lot of running around and jumping. In 2004, they had two minor hit singles with “Oh My God” and “I Predict A Riot”. I did like these, but they didn’t do that well, and I presumed that this would be that was heard from them.

And then they made a breakthrough, when in March 2005 “Oh My God” was rereleased to become their first Top Ten hit, and in 2007 this became a Top Ten hit again after being covered by Mark Ronson and Lily Allen. Then in May 2005 “Every Day I Love You Less And Less” became another Top Ten hit. Pleasingly, their career was now quickly on the increase. vlcsnap-00443

This was followed in August 2005 by a rerelease of “I Predict A Riot” which also made the Top Ten, meaning that their two earlier singles finally got the success they deserved, and a shinier second video was made for both rereleases. They finished off their great year in November 2005 when “Modern Way” was another hit, and their debut album “Employment” spent a rather long time at the higher end of the chart. In 2006 they won three Brit Awards, which was proof that they were now a big deal. vlcsnap-00444

They returned in February 2007 with “Ruby”. Now most groups in a genre like Kaiser Chiefs don’t have chart-toppers, and there have been some examples of similar groups whose most famous single reached no. 2, often only behind what people consider to be a much inferior song, agonisingly missing out by the narrowest of margins. But they managed to go one better, with “Ruby” being a chart-topper for one week. vlcsnap-00445

They then had further hits in 2007 with “Everything Is Average Nowadays” and “The Angry Mob”. They returned to the scene in 2008 with “Never Miss A Beat”, which turned out to be their final Top Ten hit, as this was just before all of the rock and indie groups dropped off the singles chart. Kaiser Chiefs are still together though, and they have now released seven albums, including two chart-toppers. In more recent years Ricky has been a judge on The Voice, and I didn’t even recognise him at first. Being sat in that big chair gives him little opportunity to jump up and down all the time though.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 18.

Here’s the story of yet another late-90s act who suddenly hit the big time on the chart when it looked like his moment had passed. Les Rhythmes Digitales was a producer who used the name Jacques, although he was actually the French-born but English-raised Stuart Price. In August 1997 “Jacques Your Body (Make Me Sweat)” was released, but this barely made the Top 100. This one would eventually become more famous though.

In April 1998 he made the Top 75 for the first time with “Music Makes You Lose Control”, which was followed in October 1998 by “(Hey You) What’s That Sound?”, and then in June 1999 his second album “Darkdancer” just missed the Top 50. By he really caught my interest for the first time in August 1999 when “Sometimes” was released, which featured a guest vocal from Nik Kershaw (not to be confused with Howard Jones), and reached no. 56. vlcsnap-00433

I became familiar with this one after seeing the video on MTV, when I had access to that channel in my mid-teens, and I barely watched anything else for about two years. Among the various shows on that channel at the time was one hosted by Zane Lowe. And if like this one, you got your song endorsed by Zane and the video was on his show, then you really were rather trendy. vlcsnap-00435

I also group this one in with “1st Man In Space” by All Seeing I which was released around the same time, because like “Sometimes”, that featured a guest vocal from an 80s pop star, who in this case was Phil Oakey. And despite having plenty of success as a producer and songwriter, it had been a while since Kershaw had a big hit single, so it was good seeing him and Oakey back on the scene again. vlcsnap-00436

And then in October 1999 “Jacques Your Body” was rereleased, doing a little better this time, reaching no. 60. I did like this one because it had something of a synthpop vibe, and I don’t think that Daft Punk themselves could’ve done any better really. I could only imagine what his recording studio looked like at the time, it was probably full of shiny keytars. The big hit that I felt he had deserved still eluded him though by the end of the 90s. vlcsnap-00437

And then, over eight years on from the original release, In September 2005 “Jacques Your Body” was rereleased yet again after being used in an advert for Citroen, and reached no. 9, to finally earn him a Top Ten hit, just when I thought that this one would remain a 90s lost gem. By this point, he had gone on to work on several other musical projects, and he was also a much in-demand producer, including being one of the few people on Madonna’s rolodex, and he has also won some Grammy Awards.

Down The Dumper – The 2000s Part 10.

Here’s another group that didn’t have a huge amount of success on the singles chart, but they did make two really good songs, although one did better than the other. Planet Funk were an Italian production group, and they definitely didn’t make funk music. They did make dance records though, and apparently they had seven members, I wonder if they were all able to fit in the studio.

In February 2001 they had their first hit single in the UK, which was also their biggest. “Chase The Sun” reached no. 5, and this has also been adopted as an anthem by several sports, being played at darts tournaments and everything inbetween. But it was their third and final hit single that really interested me. I know that sometimes songs don’t do as well as you’d hope, but this one really does fall into the “how on earth did this not make the Top 40?” category. vlcsnap-00364

In August 2003, “The Switch” (not to be confused with a short-lived ITV daytime game show of course) was released, and reached only no. 52. I don’t remember this from the first time round though. But I did hear this a while later when I had the radio on one day, and it really caught my attention, I just thought to myself that I really had to find out what this one was. vlcsnap-00365

In March 2005, a remixed version of “The Switch” was released, and this was also used on an advert for Mitsubishi cars. It seems that there was more of a push to promote this second time round. I even bought the single on CD, and this was something that I wasn’t motivated to do that often (and I was running out of chances as this was around the time that physical sales began to slump and were surpassed by downloads). vlcsnap-00366

Also featuring is the video, and I did think that it was a clever idea to be able to play a CD and hear the song, and then put this into a computer and watch the video. Although looking back now this is barely better than smudgy postage stamp-sized quality, it was a good piece of technology at the time and we’ve now long left this behind. I would definitely say this was one of the singles of 2005 for me. vlcsnap-00367

So I was really surprised when “The Switch” actually reached 14 places lower on the chart than the original version. That was a disappointment. After this Planet Funk would have no more hit singles in the UK, but they have gone on to do what many other production groups have done, concentrating on remixing songs for other groups, and they have released six albums too.

The One-Hit Wonders – The 2000s Part 10.

It’s time to leave UK Garage behind for now, and go on to the mid-2000s to share the story of one of my favourite singles from this era. This one is not only a one-hit wonder, but it is not that far off being a one-week wonder on the chart too, which was disappointing, as this failed to make the Top 40. Bugz In The Attic were a British group seemingly consisting of nine members, I’m not sure what they all did.

As this song by is another rather “faceless” production group there isn’t much to say about, instead I’ll set the scene of where the singles chart was in January 2005 when this was released. It was actually a bizarre period. This was just before downloads were added, so only physical sales still counted, which were falling by this point, resulting in some of the smallest-selling chart-toppers of any era. vlcsnap-00339

And this was also when Elvis Presley, who wasn’t exactly a promising newcomer by this point, had a chart-topper with a the rerelease of a very old song thanks to his dedicated fanbase, before being knocked off Number One, by, er, another song by Elvis. It was all rather odd, and not really reflective of current trends, it’s why things ended up changing. vlcsnap-00342

Bugz In The Attic’s “Booty La La” really is a great dance song with a stylish female vocal that deserves more appraisal, and the video is very enjoyable and rather unusual too. It would seem that their fanbase consists of rather a lot of flies, so there was literally a buzz around them, ha-ha. There isn’t that much else to say about this really, although this did reach no. 44, spent only two weeks on the chart, and that was it. vlcsnap-00340

It’s a shame that this wasn’t bigger, maybe they should’ve done a duet with Elvis as it seems that’s all people wanted at the time. Bugz In The Attic went on to do what most other briefly popular production groups have done that I’ve featured in this series, going on to release the album “Back In The Doghouse” in 2006 that wasn’t a hit, and also being in-demand remixers who have worked on several other songs.

The One-Hit Wonders – The 2000s Part 8.

There weren’t that many European groups that had a lot of success on the UK singles chart throughout the 2000s decade, of course there is a language barrier in the way with most of the songs. This group did briefly find some success though. The Caesars were a rock group from Sweden (they formed in the mid-90s and were originally called Caesars Palace, but then changed this because there was already something else called that).

I remember that another group from Sweden that did have some success in this country around this time were The Hives, who did have some good songs, but this piece isn’t about them. The biggest (and indeed only) hit for The Caesars in the UK was “Jerk It Out”, which was originally released in April 2003, but got nowhere near the Top 40. But then, two years later in April 2005, this was rereleased and this time reached no. 8, and even made the Top 100 in America. vlcsnap-00331

I suppose that it’s very clear why there was more success for this the second time around, what helped included much more radio airplay, and the video being frequently shown on all those music channels. The fact that this one featured in a lot of adverts, computer games, and TV shows definitely helped too. It was proof once again of how much songs are (over) promoted sometimes, but it definitely caught my attention. vlcsnap-00334

Among the highlights of “Jerk It Out” for me were the organ, that was rather similar to the sound that featured on a lot of singles by Inspiral Carpets (maybe they borrowed it?), and according to the video, they also had a band member who could play the drums backwards, which was a rather impressive talent. Well it’s easy, once you know how it’s done, he would probably say. vlcsnap-00332

In May 2005 their fourth of five albums “Paper Tigers” was released in the UK, and this made the Top 40, but only just. I expected that they would go on to have some more hit singles, but The Caesars never appeared again on the UK singles chart, I presume that they were rather popular in their native Sweden and across the rest of Europe too, but it was never really the case here.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 8.

A while ago, I got into the 80s cartoon Jem, featuring the adventures of some animated pop stars, and very good it was too. I don’t think that any of the songs from this show were released as singles, although you could get some on a cassette that would be given away with the dolls that you could buy. So in 2005 I was very amused when a pop star called Jem made the singles chart for real. But was she truly outrageous? Let’s find out.

Jem was born Jemma Griffiths in Wales. In March 2005 her first single “They” was released, and this reached no. 6, to become her first and only Top Ten hit single in the UK. I was really pleased that this did well, I don’t have a huge CD singles collection, but this one does take prominence among them, because it’s one of my favourite hit singles of 2005. Well the good news for me is that there was another pop star I enjoyed on the scene. vlcsnap-00277

Also in March 2005 her debut album “Finally Woken” was released, and this made the Top Ten too, becoming by some distance her most successful album. I was very interested in what she would do next, and this included going on tour and appearing at several music festivals. In June 2005 her follow-up single “Just A Ride” was released, and this reached no. 16. And then in September 2005 there was “Wish I” which reached no. 24. vlcsnap-00278

This one became famous around this time for being the theme to Celebrity Love Island, the ITV1 dating show where some vaguely famous people were encouraged to get together, but instead they sat asleep on a beach for weeks, and nothing happened. And of course it was a huge ratings success, probably. It was rather disappointing that Jem had no further hit singles after this. vlcsnap-00281

It turned out that this was a situation where Jem’s pop career ended barely six months after it had started, and it never ceases to surprise me at just how quickly some singers come and go from the chart. She did continue in the music business though, and four years later she made a brief return with her second album “Down To Earth”, although this got nowhere near the Top 40. At that really was it.

Down The Dumper – The 2000s Part 4.

Here’s yet another pop star who burst on to the scene. Daniel Bedingfield was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and moved to the UK not long afterwards. His first single gained some publicity because he produced this at home, and his voice sounded curiously female. “Gotta Get Thru This” was released in December 2001 (there were two videos made for this) and was a chart-topper for three weeks. Not a bad way to start your career.

I thought that this was rather catchy, and well, he went from his bedroom to being a famous singer and getting the crowd into a frenzy on Top Of The Pops in no time. Daniel went on to have more Top Ten hits, and in September 2002 his debut album, also called “Gotta Get Thru This”, was released and made the Top Ten. And he was also an entertaining interviewee on whatever TV shows he turned up on.

He proved he could hop around genres and went on to have further chart-toppers in 2002 and 2003 with “If You’re Not The One” and “Never Gonna Leave Your Side”, but these were much more on the soppier side, as it seems he wanted to be a balladeer too and decided to aim for the “buy this for your loved one to show them how much you care on Valentine’s Day” market.

After recovering from a serious car crash in New Zealand, Daniel returned to the scene in 2004, and he won a Brit Award for Fanciest Beard or something. Also in this year, his younger sister Natasha made her chart debut. In August 2004 she reached Number One with “These Words” for two weeks, making them the only brother and sister to have individually had a chart-topping single in the UK. In November 2004 Daniel’s second album “Second First Impression” was released, and this also made the Top Ten.

In June 2005 though, what turned out to be his final hit solo single “The Way” (not a cover of the Fastball song) was released, and somewhat surprisingly this didn’t make the Top 40, reaching only no. 41. Natasha went on to have hit singles for another year or two, but Daniel went back to this bedroom. In more recent years he had has success as a songwriter, he has also been a judge on the New Zealand version of The X Factor, and performed in a stage musical.

The One-Hit Wonders – The 2000s Part 3.

This is someone who it turns out has had a rather varied career, taking in more than pop music, and her constant name and image changes make it all rather complicated, but I think I’ve got the basics right. Natalia Cuppuccini was born in 1986. She started out as an actress, and appeared in various high-profile TV shows, but her most regular role was in the rubbish BBC1 sitcom All About Me, starring Jasper Carrott. As this point she was credited as Natalia Keery-Fisher.

After this, she became a rapper, and released a single under the name Verbalicious. “Don’t Play Nice” was released on the All Around The World label in March 2005 and narrowly missed the Top Ten, reaching no. 11. This was a good one, and her TV appearances to promote this included CD:UK. A while ago I found an old music compilation from the mid-2000s called “Pop Princesses 2”, featuring one CD of songs by female singers who were big at the time, and also a DVD featuring lots of videos. vlcsnap-00121

I have to admit that out of all of them “Don’t Play Nice” was just about the first one that I selected to watch, and it gave me something of a flashback. Not long after this, she changed her name once again to Natalia Kills. It seems that she actually did have a hit under this name, but although technically this means she wasn’t a one-hit wonder, because it was in the 2010s decade, it was under a different name, I don’t remember it, and I’m tired now, I thought I’d still feature this. vlcsnap-00123

After this, in 2015 she suddenly hit the headlines again when she was involved in a scandal, and by this point she was known as Natalia Sinclair, I do hope you’re keeping up with all of this. For some reason her and her husband were on the panel of the New Zealand version of The X Factor, and they were both sacked after just one show for heavily criticising a hopeful contestant. That’s a rather unusual career swerve. vlcsnap-00125

So although Natalia or whatever she’s called this week has been in the music business for a long time now, her most successful time as far as the singles chart goes was when she was starting out, and it seems that having tried out several musical styles and personas, along with writing songs too, she has left this behind somewhat now, which is a disappointment as it would’ve been good to have heard more from her in her Verablicious persona.

Musical Memories – 6 February 2005.

Time to have another look back at a top 100 singles chart, this time the date picked at random is 6 February 2005 which is almost 11 years ago now. Let’s go back then…

1 (new entry) “Like Toy Soldiers” – Eminem. This is a chart-topper that I only really remember because it sampled “Toy Soldiers” by Martika which was a hit in 1989 which led to everyone saying “who’s Martika?”. Honestly.

4 (down 2) “Only U” – Ashanti. One of my favourite singers around at this time, this was one of Ashanti’s biggest hits in the UK which is something that I was really pleased about. 38478-raw

16 (down) “Shine” – Lovefreekz. Another great dance hit, this one sampled ELO’s “Shine A Little Love”, but again I don’t remember this act having any more hits. Terrific video, too.

26 (up 14) “One Night”/”I Got Stung” – Elvis Presley. Something rather odd happened in the singles chart at the start of 2005. The decision was made to re-release all 18 of the Elvis singles that topped the UK chart one week at a time, and some of them topped the chart again, including this one, meaning that this is officially the 1,000th UK Number One single.

30 (down 2) “Strings Of Life (Stronger On My Own)” – Soul Central featuring Kathy Brown. Another great dance song that sampled Rhythim Is Rhythim’s 1989 hit “Strings Of Life” with additional lyrics added. 

45 (down 16) “What You Waiting For” – Gwen Stefani. The debut solo single from Gwen who was also the frontwoman of No Doubt. I was a big fan of a lot of Gwen’s solo singles including this one which made the top ten. 38090-raw

83 (down 7) “My My My” – Armand Van Helden. This is another song that had a second wave of success a couple of years after it was originally released when it was re-released with additional lyrics, and both versions are great.

92 (down 8) “Put ‘Em High” – Stonebridge featuring Therese. Another dance classic, and pleasingly the follow-up “Take Me Away” also features on the chart in this week and was a big success too.

Well that’s the end of this look back at some of the best songs on this chart for now. There’ll be more musical memories on here soon.