|With her music career a success, it wouldn't be long before Holly Valance gave Neighbours the flick|
Australian Idol was a year away, and Popstars was still as good as it got in Australian talent shows - but the decision to look for a solo artist rather than form a group and kind of include public voting ended up as a bit of a disaster. The talent just wasn't there and although Scott was a great guy, he won more by popularity than due to an abundance of vocal ability. The fact that Popstars had a documentary format rather than a live performance show probably had a lot to do with that. Learning from that mistake, Popstars became Popstars Live in 2003... but we're getting ahead of ourselves. Here's more of my picks from 2002...
Number 50 "Fly By II" by Blue
Mentioned in Part 4
Number 49 "Girlfriend" by *NSYNC featuring Nelly
Mentioned in Part 1
Number 48 "Colourblind" by Darius
It wasn't just Will Young and Gareth Gates who hit the UK number 1 spot after appearing on the inaugural season of Pop Idol, so too did Darius Danesh - who had previously appeared as a contestant on Popstars, famously performed a staggering version of "...Baby One More Time" and becoming known more for his attitude and boastfulness than his voice.
Miraculously overcoming that bad first impression, Darius ended up finishing third in Pop Idol. He didn't sign with Simon Cowell, who naturally wanted him to record an album of Frank Sinatra covers, choosing a deal with Mercury Records instead. This self-penned track (well, co-written) was released as his debut single and, after it spent two weeks atop the UK chart, was proof that you could (kind of) make it on your own after appearing on a TV talent show.
Number 47 "All Eyez On Me" by Monica
Given she was coming off the back of the global mega-hit that was "The Boy Is Mine", as well as US chart-topping follow-ups "The First Night" and "Angel Of Mine", you might ordinarily have expected Monica to enjoy more success with this lead single from a new studio album.
However, it had been anything but an ordinary couple of years for the singer, whose boyfriend shot himself in front of her in mid-2000, and Monica's music became the last thing anyone was talking about.
When this track, which sampled Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T.", didn't live up to her normal level of chart performance in the US, the accompanying album was delayed, retooled and not released until 2003. The video for "All Eyez On Me" doesn't seem to be on YouTube, but there's a link to it on another site in the song title above.
Number 46 "Kiss Kiss" by Holly Valance
Following the well-worn path from Ramsay Street to the music charts, Neighbours star Holly Valance became the latest cast member of the Australian soap to try her hand as a pop star. Her cover of Stella Soleil's English-language version of Turkish hit "Şımarık" was as much a runaway success as the original by Tarkan, which had been a smash on the Continent. "Kiss Kiss" hit number 1 in Australia and the UK, thanks in no small part to the super-sexy video that accompanied the song - but could Holly maintain the chart glory? Only time would tell.
Number 45 "Strange Relationship" by Darren Hayes
Mentioned in Part 4
Number 44 "The Last Goodbye / Be With You" by Atomic Kitten
On the one hand, "The Last Goodbye" was the kind of mid-tempo pop tune the Kittens had become known for following the success of "Whole Again". On the other, "Be With You" was a dancier track that incorporated the melody of ELO's "Last Train To London". The double A-side proved the perfect combination and became yet another UK chart smash for the trio, while in Australia, "Be With You" was released on its own and gave them back-to-back top 10 hits (as the follow-up to "The Tide Is High (Get The Feeling)") - those two singles would be their last major hits locally.
Number 43 "Half A Heart" by H & Claire
Number 42 "Corner Of The Earth" by Jamiroquai
Mentioned in Part 4
Number 41 "You" by S Club 7
Mentioned in Part 4
Number 40 "The Land Of Make Believe" by allSTARS
Originally a 1981 single by Eurovision winners Bucks Fizz, "The Land Of Make Believe" was covered by allSTARS, who fell somewhere between S Club 7 and S Club Juniors on the scale of kid-friendly pop combos. Like the original S Club, the five-piece (whose first names started with the letters S, T, A, R and S) had their own TV show, STARStreet, but had struggled to hit the UK top 10. This remake changed that (hitting number 9), but when the follow-up, "Back When/Going All The Way", only managed to get to number 19, the group (and show) ended shortly after.
Number 39 "A Thousand Miles" by Vanessa Carlton
The problem with massive debut singles is that so often they can become an albatross around an artist's neck - and that's definitely the case with Australian number 1 single "A Thousand Miles". Former ballet student Vanessa has never matched the success of the song with the video featuring the travelling piano, with her second best performance coming as guest vocalist on Counting Crows' cover of "Big Yellow Taxi" in 2003. She did, however, have Stevie Nicks officiate at her wedding ceremony, so that's something.
Number 38 "Smile To Shine" by Baz
It's funny the things I've discovered by doing this blog - one of which is that this British pop/R&B artist (real name: Rosanna Gooden) is the sister of early '90s rapper Monie Love (real name: Simone Gooden). Oh, and their brother is techno producer Dave Angel. Despite the musical connections, Baz's single only managed a number 58 peak in the UK.
Number 37 "Stay" by paulmac featuring Jacqui Hunt
Here's the fourth in a string of perfect dance/pop songs from the man who ended up with my favourite song for 2001. Paul's vocalist of choice for this particular single was the former singer for Single Gun Theory - a band we saw back in my top 100 for 1994, the same year Paul's previous group, Itch-e & Scratch-e, also featured.
"Stay" (the album version of which you can hear below since the single remix isn't on YouTube) followed "Gonna Miss You" featuring Leonardo's Bride vocalist Abby Dobson (number 72 on this list) and the two singles performed by Peta Morris which ranked on my top 100 for 2001. There was another single from 3000 Feet High - "Heat Seeking Pleasure Machine" (featuring Tex Perkins) - but it was the only release from the album I wasn't that enamoured with.
Number 36 "DJ" by H & Claire
As many members of boy bands, girl groups and mixed gender combos have discovered, just because your group might be successful, doesn't mean the public want to hear from you as a solo artist. For every Cheryl Cole and Justin Timberlake there's a Jo O'Meara and Lee Ryan - but what about a duo formed out of the debris of a group?
When Steps fragmented at the end of 2001, Ian "H" Watkins and Claire Richards stuck together, signed a deal as a two-piece and... spectacularly failed to live up the success of their former group.
Three singles, "DJ", "Half A Heart" (number 43 on this list) and "All Out Of Love/Beauty And The Beast" (number 61), all made the UK top 10, but they had fleeting chart appearances - in one week and out the next. After the album stalled at number 58, the writing was on the wall and the spin-off project was over before it really began. We'll pick up the story of Steps' aftermath in a little while...
Number 35 "Hungry" by Kosheen
Their career off and running following the eventual success of "Hide U" and "Catch" in 2001, Kosheen lifted two more excellent singles from the Resist album - this track and "Harder" (number 113 on this list), which showed a softer side to their trip-hop sound.
Number 34 "Sound Of The Underground" by Girls Aloud
Previously featured here
Number 33 "Point Of View" by DB Boulevard
Mentioned in Part 4
Number 32 "Baby Don't Dance" by Steps
Not a commercial single - but since I owned a promotional CD single, I deemed it eligible for my chart - "Baby Don't Dance" was one of four new tracks on Gold: Greatest Hits, Steps' retrospective collection (yes, released after just four years). For me, it would have been a much better choice than "Words Are Not Enough", which, as the group's last official single, meant they went out with a whimper instead of a high-energy bang.
Of course, the Steps story didn't end there. Emboldened by Take That's triumphant return in 2006 and subsequent reunion with Robbie Williams in 2010, Steps staged their own documentary-led détente with H and Claire coming face to face with Lisa, Faye and Lee, the three band-mates they'd abandoned to go it alone, and the five putting aside past grievances to go on tour in the UK. I must track down that series on YouTube some time.
Number 31 "At Night" by Shakedown
A dance hit triple-play now, and first up is a duo from Switzerland, not a country you often hear much from musically. Brothers Stephan and Sebastien Kohler comprised Shakedown, who hit the UK top 10 with this club hit.
Number 30 "Die Another Day" by Madonna
Previously featured here
Number 29 "Shake Ur Body" by Shy FX and T Power featuring Di
Next, with an intro that's always reminded me of the Sex And The City theme tune, this collaboration between drum and bass artists Shy FX (aka Andre Williams) and T Power (Marc Royal) also reached the UK top 10 - and like the Shakedown track, was the only major hit for either act.
Number 28 "My Vision" by Jakatta featuring Seal
Our third dance track comes from an artist who did manage more than just the one big hit - and under more than one name. DJ and producer Dave Lee had already scored with "American Dream" (which sampled the music from American Beauty) and "So Lonely" (which sampled the Monsoon track, "Ever So Lonely") before releasing his best single to date under the Jakatta moniker: "My Vision" featured the silky vocals of Seal, who hadn't had a big hit since 1997's "Fly Like An Eagle". Dave also visited the charts as Raven Maize, Joey Negro and a myriad other aliases.
Number 27 "Fantasy" by Appleton
Their contribution to All Saints was always debatable, but Nicole and Natalie Appleton managed to produce my favourite release out of any of the spin-off projects from the girl group with their debut single. Like H & Claire, there was safety in numbers for the sisters, who enjoyed a higher UK chart position (number 2 for "Fantasy") than either of their band-mates, Shaznay Lewis and Mel Blatt.
Number 26 "Love Will Find A Way" by Bardot
Although All Saints have reunited a couple of times since 2002, here's a girl group that's yet to head back into the studio or perform together again. "Love Will Find A Way" was the final single from Bardot, and like the other releases from Play It Like That, which we saw in my top 100 for 2001, it was a solid pop song that suggested the girls could have stuck around a good while longer if they'd wanted to.
As it was, they had to be satisfied with out-lasting season two Popstars group Scandal'us - but only just, as Sophie, Tiffany (who became Tiffani), Sally and Belinda split in April 2002. Only Sophie has gone on to any real success since the group, with a short-lived solo career, and some acting and radio work, while one of the other three called me in mid-2005 when I was leaving Smash Hits to ask what was involved in the editor's job and whether she should apply for it.
In Part 4, a pop act spawns a younger version of itself, Gareth Gates wins the post-Pop Idol battle (for the time being) and five "flopstars" become bigger than the group formed in the UK's Popstars series.
MY YEAR-END CHARTS