Great Moments In Pop – The 80s Part 23.

After the end of The Housemartins in the late-80s, it turned out that Norman “FatBoy Pizzaman” Cook wouldn’t be the only member who would go on to have further chart-topping success. The frontman of The Beautiful South was Paul Heaton, who was also their main songwriter, and various female vocalists would be used over the years too.

Their style of songs is typically “British”, it is difficult to describe, but although they do seem cheery on the surface, when you listen to the lyrics a little closer, they are rather wry and cutting, a combination that not many other groups have been able to do. They started off as they intended to carry on when in June 1989 their debut single “Song For Whoever” was released.

This was about interchangeable love songs, and this reached no. 2. They followed this with “You Keep It All In”, which was another Top Ten hit. They finished off 1989 with “I’ll Sail This Ship Alone”, and by this point, The ITV Chart Show felt that they deserved the honour of Best New Act. But they had their biggest success in October 1990 when “A Little Time” was released, and this went on to be a chart-topper.

This was a two-way between vocalists Dave Hemingway and Briana Corrigan, I hope that Paul wasn’t too jealous that he wasn’t involved. This also won them a Brit award for the memorable video. They went on to have further hits in the early-90s including “Old Red Eyes Is Back”, “Good As Gold (Stupid As Mud)”, and a cover of “Everybody’s Talkin'”.

And in November 1994, their best-of album “Carry On Up The Charts” was released, and this was famously rather successful. This honestly couldn’t have flown off the shelves any quicker if there had been a sticker on the cover that said “Free £50 Note Inside”. Going into the mid-90s they had further Top Ten hits with “Rotterdam” and “Don’t Marry Her”. Their last big hit was in October 1998 when “Perfect 10” reached no. 2.

Paul was always considered to be a rather personable and down-to-earth interviewee. I do remember in the days of Teletext’s music pages Planet Sound, there was a letters page. Most of the comments would consist of people trying to prove that they were “real music fans” with their edgy hard-hitting opinions like “I don’t like Westlife” and “James Blunt isn’t real music”. But Paul is the only actual pop star that I can recall who took the time to write that page to offer his views.

The Beautiful South continued to have hits going into the 2000s, although they weren’t as big, and some started to feel that their formula was beginning to become a little tired after more than a decade. They eventually split, and Paul has gone on to release several more albums, and go on tour, where he as a remarkably large amount of popular hits to choose from to perform.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 31.

This is an American singer who has done some rather quirky things over the years, and he became known for his songs that were little like anything else on the chart at the time, accompanied by his bizarre lyrics. But although he has never had a Top Ten hit single in this country, he has been acclaimed, and he has achieved some amount of mainstream success.

Beck first appeared on the UK chart in March 1994 when “Loser” was released, and this reached no. 15. I do remember when Nick Abbot was on the radio on Saturday evenings, and wondered what the National Lottery result was, and after discovering that as usual he had no numbers, he would get rather annoyed, and play a short burst of “Loser”, which is definitely an interesting interpretation of this one.

This was also used on a trail on MTV that was shown rather frequently, and this was almost as amusing the 100th time you saw this, as it was the first. And when Danny Baker was on the radio once and asked people what the best opening lyrics to song were, he felt that few could match “in the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey“. How marvellous.

Beck would have further success in 1996 with “Where It’s At” and “Devil’s Haircut”. He’s got two turntables and a microphone apparently. More hits in 1997 were “The New Pollution” (which made the Top 20), “Sissyneck”, and “Deadweight”. By the end of 1997, everybody wanted to namecheck him as an influence, and collaborate with him, and he was starting to win Grammy and Brit awards.

Music magazine Select did a list of The 100 Most Important People In The World, the hottest people who were going to lead us boldly into the next millennium and that, and ahead of all of the footballers, scientists, comedians, and so on, Beck came out on top. Some critics were surprised by this, arguing that he was so trendy and in demand that they just wanted to look good by choosing him.

He often appeared in magazines, but he was something of an eccentric interviewee, and several writers found it hard to track down where his head was exactly at any point. His next hits were “Tropicalia” and “Sexx Laws”. In NME, there used to be a column called Why I Love…, where people explained their fondness for a musician. One week, Harry Hill went for Beck.

He said that at one point he liked to perform “Sexx Laws” as part of his stage show, although most of the crowd looked on baffled by this. Beck went on to have a few more hit singles going into the 2000s including “Mixed Bizness” and “Girl”. He definitely is someone who has made a unique contribution to music, and he is still making successful albums, maybe he isn’t such a loser.

Down The Dumper – The 2000s Part 15.

This is an American duo who did some exciting things on the chart in the 2000s decade. Outkast consisted of Andre 3000 and Big Boi. They had actually released their first single in America as early as 1993, but in February 2001 “Ms Jackson” entered the lower end of the UK chart on import, such was the anticipation for this one. And then in March 2001, “Ms Jackson” became the song that turned them into big names.

This reached no. 2, to become their biggest hit in the UK, although this was a chart-topper in America. Going into 2002, next up were “So Fresh So Clean” and “The Whole World”. Now although these weren’t among their biggest hits, they are among my favourites by them. As well as the music channels, I remember the video for “The Whole World” being shown on ITV2.

This was on a show called Chart Choice, where they would show a music video or two when they had a five or ten minute gap in the schedule, and I always hoped that this one would turn up (and don’t forget Killer Mike, is he related to Stereo Mike from Bran Van 3000?). They were also appearing on the cover of NME by this point, bad luck for all those indie bands supposedly shaking the scene, but there’s no doubt that they were doing something rather innovative.

And they were also making the Grammy awards in the rap and urban categories their own, winning them for their songs year after year. After two more minor hits, by 2003, Outkast split… except they didn’t. They released a double album, that was actually two albums recorded individually by them, and then they were grouped together under the Outkast name, which offered rather different sounds.

In November 2003 “Hey Ya!” was released. And, in what was a rarity for this time, this seemed to go up the chart for several weeks, as the word spread that this was one of the catchiest hits on the scene. This reached no. 3, although this was another long-running chart-topper back in America. They continued to win several awards, and they probably argued over who got to keep them.

Going into 2004, they had further acclaimed Top Ten hits with “The Way You Move” and “Roses”, and they really were having twice the success of most acts. But by September 2006, “Morris Brown” missed the Top 40, and little has been heard of Outkast since. “Ms Jackson” briefly returned to the chart in February 2013, but that’s been it really. Maybe they really did split for good this time.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 30.

This is a group who were rather popular in the early-90s, before they launched an unlikely comeback. The Farm had actually formed as long ago as the early-80s, but they didn’t have any chart success until 1990. They were often described as being leading figures in the Baggy genre. And in September 1990, “Groovy Train” was released, which for me, is their best hit.

This was a year that featured rather a lot of great singles, and this is one of them. Also featuring in the video were some cast members from Brookside, and that is definitely an endorsement. This reached no. 6, to become their first Top Ten hit single. But the follow-up to this is the one that has endured more. In December 1990, “All Together Now” was released, which reached no. 4.

This was a song about the Christmas Truce, and was produced by Suggs from the nutty boys of Madness. In March 1991, their album “Spartacus” was released, and this was a chart-topper. However, this puts them on a rather short list of acts to be an album one-hit wonder, although they did release further albums and best-ofs, none of them made the chart. Also on this list are Johnny Hates Jazz, and they must be really pleased to be in that company.

They went on to have further hits in 1991 and 1992, the most successful of them being their cover of The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”. They had one further hit in 1993, but not long after this, The Farm went their separate ways, and little was heard of them for the next decade. But then, in June 2004, when there was a football tournament in Portugal, it was decided that there should be an official song that supports England.

Somebody must’ve remembered that “All Together Now” was a song about football to some extent, so it was decided to revive this one. This was now in the same group of songs as New Order’s “World In Motion”, The Lightning Seeds’s “Three Lions”, and most excitingly, Ant And Dec’s “We’re On The Ball”. The Farm had to pretty much reform to get involved with all of this.

This version was remixed by DJ Spoony (if you saw my piece on The Dreem Teem, you might wonder if he worked on this in his bedroom in Bethnal Green), and this was accompanied by The SFX Boys Choir. “All Together Now 2004” reached no. 5, one place lower than the original. Yet somehow England weren’t inspired to victory. They have had no further hits since, but this has gone on to be covered by various other acts, including Atomic Kitten. Er, great.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2010s Part 3.

It’s time to look back at a pop music success from more recent years. Jess Glynne is an English singer who first found fame when she was the guest vocalist on Clean Bandit’s “Rather Be” single in 2014. This did rather well, winning a Grammy, spending over a year on the chart, and being one of the more acclaimed chart-toppers from this era.

She then went on to have further hits on her own, and there is one highlight that I want to pick out because it brings back a rather specific memory for me. When The Chart Show ended on ITV in 1998, it was an end of an era, but it was actually nowhere near the end of the story. It seems that the website continued, and there might have been versions produced for other countries that continued too.

But by the time of digital TV expanding in the early-2000s, there was the launch of the channel Chart Show TV. This showed music videos of course, but there was excitement when some editions of The Chart Show from the 90s were repeated, and there was even an attempt at reviving the original format. But I had never seen this channel for myself.

But as channels have constantly come and gone from Freeview over the years, for a short while Chart Show TV (or whatever it was called by this point) turned up, and I was so pleased. A music channel that actually shows music videos! And it’s a distant relative of The Chart Show! I decided I must watch this channel, especially on a Saturday evening, when they showed a selection of big dance hits.

This was a great way to catch up with what was on the chart and discover some new songs, maybe other music channels could try doing this one day. In July 2014, “Right Here” was released, and this did turn up rather frequently in this slot, but I always enjoyed seeing this, and this definitely became and remains one of the sounds of that summer for me, and this reached no. 6.

Flame-haired Jess went on to have several more chart-topping singles, including “Hold My Hand” and “Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself”, and statistically at least she is one of the most successful British female singers that there has ever been. Her 2015 debut album “I Cry When I Laugh” did very well too. But there’s no doubt for me at what her highlight is.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 29.

This is a British group who had various successes, before suddenly hitting the big time, with one hit that will always overshadow their others. By the time that The Lightning Seeds formed, frontman Ian Broudie had already been in the music business for several years. He had previously been in the group Big In Japan (and no, they never recorded a song called “Alphaville”, stop it), along with contributing to several albums (including the one by Bette “Mrs Suggs” Bright).

In July 1989, “Pure” was their first hit single, which reached no. 16, and this was also their first and only Top 40 hit in America. After a few flops in 1990, they returned in March 1992 with “The Life Of Riley”, which reached no. 20. This would eventually become better known as the theme to Goal Of The Month on Match Of The Day, and Danny Baker when he had a career said that he played an instrument on this, but then he once insisted that he was joining EastEnders as Alfie Moon’s brother, so I don’t really believe him.

There were further hits throughout the mid-90s, including “Sense”, “Lucky You” (which was also used as the theme to a game on Mark And Lard’s BBC Radio 1 show, and made the Top 40 at the second attempt), “Change”, “Marvellous” (which seemed to be used on a lot of adverts), “Perfect”, and “Ready Or Not”. But these were all fairly modest successes, plenty of them making the Top 20, but none the Top Ten. Then, in June 1996, Broudie was invented to perform the anthem for England at Euro ’96.

Also contributing would be Frank Skinner and David Baddiel, the hosts of BBC2’s Fantasy Football League. “Three Lions” turned out to be a big success, becoming an enduring chart-topper. Then there was a return to the smaller-sized hits with “What If” and “Sugar Coated Iceberg”. And then in April 1997, “You Showed Me” was released, a cover of a 60s song which had been a hit for Salt-N-Pepa earlier in the decade. This reached no. 8, to become their first and only non-“Three Lions” Top Ten hit. So it was a surprise that next single “What You Say” missed the Top 40.

But then something rather odd happened. In November 1999 “Life’s Too Short” was released, which launched a new sound for The Lightning Seeds, and a new image. This was in much more of a dance direction, and Broudie no longer wore glasses or had a beard, which people thought was rather weird. And they also wondered why Broudie, who was now in his 40s, suddenly wanted to make songs that sounded like Daft Punk and the like, when he was always going to come off second best.

In March 2000 “Sweet Soul Sensations” was released. This got nowhere near the Top 40, but this is redeemed by the fact that him who used to be in Hollyoaks appeared in the video, and anyone who gives him work has to be commended. Since then, Broudie has concentrated on his production work, and every couple of years, “Three Lions”, the song that must now be his pension, returns to the chart as anticipation for another football tournament increases.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 28.

This is someone who has been on the pop music scene for a long time, eventually becoming a pioneer in the dance genre. Norman Cook first came to fame as a member of The Housemartins, whose hits included “Caravan Of Love”, which was performed a cappella, and was a chart-topper in December 1986. This was expected to also be the Christmas Number One, but was surprisingly beaten at the last minute by a piece of plasticine.

After releasing a few singles under his own name in the late-80s, he formed Beats International, who in February 1990 released “Dub Be Good To Me”, which was also a chart-topper. He then worked under various other aliases throughout the 90s, including Freak Power, Mighty Dub Katz, and Pizzaman. But his most successful time working as a DJ and producer was under the name FatBoy Slim.

This started out fairly quietly, when in September 1996, “Better Living Through Chemistry”, which was his first album under this name, reached only no. 69, and he had a few minor hit singles in 1997. It was in 1998 when he suddenly became an in-demand remixer, these are two of the highlights. In April 1995, British producer Roger McKenzie, under the name Wildchild, released “Legends Of The Dark Black Part 2”, which reached no. 34.

This was re-released in October 1995 as “Renegade Master”, even though this was exactly the same song (a touch of the “Combat Dancing EP”/”Mr Kirk’s Nightmare” unusualness like what 4Hero did in 1990). This earned him an appearance on Top Of The Pops, but barely a month on from this, Roger died at the age of 24 from a heart condition. In January 1998, “Renegade Master” was back once again when this received the FatBoy Slim treatment, reaching the Top 40 for a third time.

Another triumph was Cornershop’s “Brimful Of Asha”. This had previously reached no. 60 in August 1997, but in February 1998, the FatBoy Slim remix became a chart-topper. Although they had already been around for several years, this virtually unknown group were now at the top of the chart, and they seemed as surprised as anybody else about this (people were also amused by the fact that the lyrics contained the word “bosom”, kind of distracting from the point that this was trying to make).

Suddenly everything he remixed turned to gold (discs). But pleasingly, he also saved a few classics for himself. In June 1998, “The Rockafeller Skank” became his first Top Ten hit single under his FatBoy Slim name, and this seems to have been played on the radio at least once every single day since. “Gangster Trippin'” was another great one, and his second album “You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby” was a big success, being a chart-topper for four weeks.

Further hits followed in 1999, including Number One “Praise You” (meaning that he had now had a chart-topper as a member of three different acts), “Right Here Right Now”, and the lesser-remembered “Badder Badder Schwing”, a collaboration with Freddy Fresh that Chris Moyles used as a bed on his BBC Radio 1 show for a while. Going into the 2000s, he had plenty more hits, and the video for “Weapon Of Choice” seemed to win dozens of awards too.

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.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 33.

This is another British group, although it is rather hard to determine what genre they fit into, are they indie, are they dance? Well whatever they were, it was a rather good sound, but once again, their moment of fame turned out to be rather brief. There had already been a group called Klaxons, they were from Belgium, and they had a minor hit single in 1983.

But this Klaxons formed in London in the mid-2000s, and they were one of the last indie-type acts to succeed on the chart and get there through the cycle of people buying their CDs, their music videos being shown on the TV, and appearing on the cover of music magazines when there were still plenty of new bands to champion (and it’s remarkable how quickly that all changed).

It seems that the line-up boasted some people including Captain Strobe and The Colourful Swan, so how could they fail. In November 2006, they had their first hit single with “Magick”, although it was 2007 that was really going to be their year. In January 2007 “Golden Skans” was released, and this reached no. 7, to become their first and only Top Ten hit single in the UK (or indeed anywhere else).

It was rather exciting to see them going up the chart, and their fanbase was increasing. In February 2007 their album “Myths Of The Near Future” was released, which reached no. 2. And this would also win them the Mercury Music Prize. Now this has got to be considered to be their most high-profile award, and this seemed to be a rather popular choice of winner.

Their next single in April 2007 was “Gravity’s Rainbow”, which reached no. 35, but it’s what they did next that I felt was a rather special moment. In June 2007, “It’s Not Over Yet” was released. In the mid-90s, there were a lot of great dance singles around, and one of my favourites was “Not Over Yet” by Grace, which was a production group that featured some rather talented knob-twiddlers.

When I realised that this was a slightly-retitled cover of that one, I was unsure of how anyone could possibly match the original, especially as this was going to be in a different genre. But I was rather pleased with how all of this turned out, you can’t really go wrong with this song, this was indeed an exciting take on this classic, and this reached no. 13.

But after this, Klaxons never made the Top 40 again, and once again it was rather disappointing that their success dropped off so quickly. They did release some more singles and albums, but they were nowhere near as successful, after hoping that they would continue to do well, they didn’t really, and they eventually split in 2015. I can only wonder where The Colourful Swan is now.

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.