Great Moments In Pop – The 2010s Part 2.

Here’s someone else who burst on to the pop music scene in the early-2010s. But despite this, there’s a chance that my favourite single of hers was actually released in the 2000s decade, before she was fairly well-known. Katy B (or Kathleen if you’re a relative I suppose) was born on 8 May, just like Elsie was, but I don’t know if her birthday has ever won for her.

In August 2008 “Tell Me” by DJ NG, and featuring Katy B and MC Versatile in another one of those rather crowded singles was released, but this failed to reach the Top 100, which was a disappointment. It does remind me once of when I was doing some channel hopping one evening, and this was being played on BBC Radio 2, which really was a surprise, for a moment I thought that my ears were deceiving me. vlcsnap-00381

It seems that this was being featured on a late-night urban music show, but for a brief moment they seemed to be trendier than BBC 1Xtra. This unexpected exposure didn’t help this become a hit though. Katy did finally have her first hit single though in September 2010 when “Katy On A Mission” reached no. 8. And there was also “Lights On”, which featured Ms Dynamite, who by this point hadn’t been on the scene for a while. vlcsnap-00383

“Broken Record” went on to be Katy’s third Top Ten hit. And then in April 2011, the debut album, also called “Katy On A Mission”, reached no. 2. In April 2014 second album “Little Red” was a chart-topper. It’s rather a surprise to discover that the final hit single that Katy has been involved in was also a chart-topper, which was “Turn The Music Louder (Rumble)” in October 2015. vlcsnap-00384

This one also featured many other contributors including Tinie Tempah, who had plenty of chart-toppers too, his aunt was so proud. In 2016 the third album “Honey” was released, but this missed the Top 20. Katy has now been absent from the singles chart for rather a long time (hopefully she isn’t still in the cloakroom), and just like Jessie J, who I featured in this series recently, I hope that we’ll hear from her again one day soon.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2010s Part 1.

Now this for me really is a great moment in pop music, and it’s also significant because it’s just about the last one that I remember, because this is one of the final pop stars that came on the scene that I took an interest in, before I felt that I was too old for all of this really. Jessie J is someone who launched a pop career in the early-2010s, and I became a fan right away.

Why is this? Well I know that image isn’t really the most important thing, but if I had to compile what I thought a great female pop star would look like, then Jessie would be rather close. I mean, that hairstyle and everything… well I better get on with sharing the story of some of her songs, because believe or not some of them are actually rather good too. vlcsnap-00383

The debut “Do It Like A Dude” was released in December 2010, and this reached no. 2. The opening lyric was “stomp stomp I’ve arrived“, which really is a great way to announce that you’ve come on the scene. Jessie’s next single was a chart-topper, which was really great. Because I was fan and wanted to discover more, I did something that I don’t usually do, and bought one of those unauthorised biographies put together in about five minutes. vlcsnap-00382

This featured lots of stories and pictures and cost… oh no, I forgot about the price tag. Also around this time, Jessie won a Brit Award. I started to feel that it was a shame that she wasn’t around when I was younger, it would’ve been great seeing her feature in magazines including Smash Hits and be asked very important questions including “is a Jaffa Cake a biscuit?”. vlcsnap-00384

In March 2011, Jessie released her debut album “Who You Are”, and of course I didn’t hesitate in buying this one. She finished off her most successful year on the chart with “Domino” which was her second chart-topper, and also made the Top Ten in America. After this, Jessie went on to have several more hits, including collaborations with various rappers, and her and second and third albums also made the Top Ten. vlcsnap-00385

I was rather surprised to discover that Jessie hasn’t featured on a big hit single since 2015 though. She did announce a new single recently, and as great as it is to welcome her return to the pop music scene, a lot has changed since her debut, I wonder if today’s current record buying (and streaming) generation will be interested in her work. Let’s hope so.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 11.

Who is the best pop star to have come out of Iceland, a country that is not exactly known for its music… or anything else, really. Well of course, it is… Alda! Who did you think I meant? Miss Olafsdottir is someone who had previously been in various groups, and came on to the pop music scene in the UK in the late-90s, when she had two hit singles.

The first was in August 1998 when “Real Good Time” was released and became her first and only Top Ten hit in the UK, which also led to a Top Of The Pops performance. Now there is a rather odd reason as to why I remember this one, but hopefully you will realise what I mean. As I have said before, in the late-90s, I was a regular listener to Capital Gold’s particularly noisy football coverage. vlcsnap-00375

This was fronted by Jonathan Pearce and his remarkably big mouth. I remember there was a trail which featured “Real Good Time”, with the “maybe I squeal…” part, followed by a clip of Pearce yelling “absolutely magnificent!” about some long-forgotten goal presumably, and then going into the “but I enjoy making some noise…” chorus. Well that’s one way to interpret the lyrics of this one I suppose. vlcsnap-00372

And looking back at this again now, I really did notice Alda’s rather remarkable hairstyle, which was blonde and long. It’s not that far off being similar to the hairstyle of Justine, the rather mysterious woman who only released one single in 1986 that I spotted online a while ago, I never did find out any more about her. Is there a chance that they are related, or maybe Alda was Justine all along!! a1

In December 1998 Alda’s second and final hit single “Girls Night Out” was released, which just made the Top 20… and guess what, this sounded exactly the same as “Real Good Time”! Well if it worked a first time, so why not a second time. Also around this time there was the album “Out Of Alda”, but this wasn’t a hit, and barely four months on from her debut she was never heard of again. vlcsnap-00376

I suppose in a way Alda had the perfect pop career really. Turn up suddenly, have two hits that sound the same, make sure they stick in people’s heads, sell some records, feel that you’ve done your bit, vanish off the scene. What a great way to do it. Although for all I know she could’ve had about 23 Number One singles back in Iceland. Somehow I doubt it though.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 10.

This is a group that first found fame on the chart in the mid-90s, and I was rather pleased that they did. Divine Comedy were formed in the late-80s, and released the first of their 12 albums as early as 1990. Their frontman was Neil Hannon, although after several line-up changes, he essentially became the only regular member, and also played various instruments.

Before having a hit, Hannon wrote the theme to sitcom Father Ted, was namechecked in an episode, and also performed “My Lovely Horse” which featured in Ted and Dougal’s dream, which is a great achievement. Another song was briefly used as the theme to Tomorrow’s World. In May 1996, their fourth album “Casanova” was the first to be a hit. Their first hit single was in June 1996 when “Something For The Weekend” reached no. 14, which is one of my favourites by them, and indeed is one of my favourite hits of 1996. vlcsnap-00368

Around the same time, Super Furry Animals released a single with the same title, so this was amended to “Something 4 The Weekend” to avoid confusion, although I don’t know if that’s right or not. Shall I make the inevitable “how on earth is that now 25 years ago?” comment? Well I just did. I also looked forward to the follow-up singles which were “Becoming More Like Alfie” and “The Frog Princess”, and these were very good as well. vlcsnap-00369

Hannon was someone who was rather witty and stylish, although he was insistent that he was never, ever a fop, nor indeed a rake either. In 1998 he contributed a head-spinning version of “I’ve Been To A Marvellous Party” to a Noel Coward tribute album, and it was by this point that he was appearing on magazine covers. In September 1998, “Fin De Si├Ęcle” was their first album to make the Top Ten. vlcsnap-00371

And in February 1999, “National Express” became their first and only Top Ten hit single, a fascinating tale about coach travel. Later in 1999, a best-of album was released, which reached no. 3. Hannon has continued to release many more singles and albums since. And in 2009 he launched the side project The Duckworth-Lewis Method, which makes concept albums about cricket. The most recent Divine Comedy album “Office Politics” did make the Top Ten.

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.

Down The Dumper – The 2000s Part 9.

Here’s yet another group that briefly hit the big time, yes, another one. Hot Chip are a British group who have worked in various genres including Synthpop. They got their name from that scene in Only Fools And Horses when Rodney did a bad impression of a woman’s expression who he thought was flirting with Del Boy, who replied “it looked like she had a hot chip in her mouth”. Well of course that’s not true, but it would be good to think that it was.

Hot Chip have made a lot of quirky songs over the years, and their frontman is Alexis Taylor. One of their earliest hits was “Over And Over” in 2006, and also in this year their second album “The Warning” was released, which was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. Someone clearly thought that “Over And Over” would be the one that would be the big success, so this was rereleased at the end of 2006, and peaked only five places higher, but still nowhere near the Top Ten. NME loved it though, so that’s nice.

They would have to wait until February 2008 for their first and only Top Ten hit single in the UK. This was when “Ready For The Floor”, which was the first single from their third album, was released, and this reached no. 6. People seemed to be rather surprised by this, but overall rather pleased. There weren’t many other groups on the scene at the time making music like this, not even McFly would you believe.

Also in February 2008, third album “Made In The Dark” reached no. 4. It was at this point that it was probably something of a relief that “Over And Over” wasn’t released for a third time, instead they probably hoped for mainstream success with some of their newer singles, but they didn’t make the Top 40 again. In May 2008 “One Pure Thought” made only no. 53, to become their final hit single.

As well as working on many other musical projects and several remixes, Hot Chip are still together after two decades, and although their time on the singles chart is up, they have released more successful albums, their most recent being their seventh in 2019. They have also been known for their pioneering videos, although it must be tough for them for their videos to have been nominated for more awards than their actual songs.

Down The Dumper – The 2000s Part 8.

Here’s another indie band that were briefly a success and caught my interest. The Fratellis were a trio from Glasgow, none of them were related, but they all adopted the surname Fratelli (taking this from a character in film The Goonies). They hit the big time in September 2006 when their their second single “Chelsea Dagger” became their first Top Ten hit, reaching no. 5.

I remember that this was on the radio rather frequently at the time, and it probably still is somewhere. The video was rather entertaining too. “The boys get lonely after you leave” was a catchphrase all over for about five minutes. Also in September 2006, their first album “Costello Music” reached no. 2. They finished off their successful 2006 with their second and final Top Ten hit “Whistle For The Choir”. vlcsnap-00348

As far as I remember, they never appeared on the cover of NME, which was a disappointment as I thought that they would be popular enough to do so, although it was possible that they missed out because unlike most of the musicians that were appearing on the cover around this time, they were alive. They were rewarded though when in 2007 they won the Brit Award for Best British Breakthrough. Maybe the drummer could now afford to buy a new vest. vlcsnap-00351

However, it was by this point that their Top Ten hit singles were already behind them. In June 2008 “Here We Stand” became their second album to make the Top Ten. They did go on to release some more good singles including “Mistress Mabel” that as far as I’m concerned proved that they still had it (although this wasn’t about the Mabel who used to review the singles on Teletext), but in August 2008, what turned out to be their final hit single “Look Out Sunshine!” reached only no. 70, and they split not long after. vlcsnap-00358

The Fratellis did reform a few years later, but they have now reached the “album spends only one week on the chart, and it only gets that far because of their dwindling but dedicated fanbase” stage, like what has happened to so many indie bands whose time on the singles chart has long since come to an end. Their sixth album “Half Drunk Under A Full Moon” was released earlier this year.

Down The Dumper – The 2000s Part 7.

I have said before that I have never really been hugely interested in indie bands, although I am aware of how many influential ones there have been that mean a lot to people (although it’s now been a long time since any were regularly on the singles chart). But I do remember this one got my attention, and for a short while they went on to have some success.

Athlete were an English group that formed in 2000, and their frontman was Joel Pott. In April 2003 their debut album “Vehicles And Animals” was released, this just about made the Top 20, and was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. I also remember some of the singles from this album, including “El Salvador” and “You Got The Style” (released twice). But the one I liked the most was “Westside”, released in June 2003. vlcsnap-00353

I remember when I heard this one on the radio, and this took a rather long time to get to the chorus (they clearly didn’t take the advice of Roxette), and when it did, someone shouted “chorus!“, how useful. I have to admit that I was disappointed when “Westside” didn’t make the Top 40. But what would they do next? It turned out that their biggest success was about to come. vlcsnap-00354

When they did return in January 2005, “Wires” was the first single from their second album, which became their first and only Top Ten hit (and also returned to the Top 40 for one week in December 2012 for some reason). And then, a month later, the album “Tourist” was a chart-topper (for one week), and suddenly they had made a mainstream breakthrough. vlcsnap-00355

I remember a magazine interview when Joel was promoting the album which contained a rather awkward moment. This is only from memory but it went something like the question being “do you get disappointed by negative reviews from critics?”, and mishearing, he replied “cricketers? I don’t know about any comments from cricketers”. Oh dear. Their hits began to drop off again after this though. vlcsnap-00356

In May 2005, “Half Light” became their final Top 20 single. They went on to release two more albums, 2007’s “Beyond The Neighbourhood” and 2009’s “Black Swan”, but their final hit single “Superhuman Touch” which was released in August 2009 made only no. 71. Unfortunately not many people were taking notice of them by now, not even the cricketers. Athlete split in 2013, and have go on to work on other musical projects.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 16.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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