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On This Day in…2003

September 15, 2008

Rachel Stevens releases her debut solo single

So, hope you all enjoyed our launch post yesterday viewers. We now have the first of our “On This Day In…” posts. These posts see us hop aboard our imaginary pop time machine to find out what was happening on a given day at a given time in pop history – who was being born, who was being launched, who was releasing a significant single/album etc. And today, on this very day 6 years ago in 2003, one former S Club 7 beauty and general baton of pop goodness, Rachel Stevens, was emerging into the spotlight with her debut solo single “Sweet Dreams My L.A. Ex” (video below).

The story of the song starts where S Club came to their untimely end in May earlier that year after a movie, greatest hits and *sniffle/blub* final #2 single with “Say Goodbye/Love Ain’t Gonna Wait For You”. Rachel was almost immediately signed back up to Polydor and Simon Fuller’s 19 Management stable as a solo artist, and sort of rush embarked on recording what would be her first solo album, “Funky Dory”, which also celebrates it’s 6th anniversary as an original release next week (it was repackaged twice to reach final sales of a quarter of a million copies in the UK alone following the cringey #26 chart showing for it’s title track, the second time round it included new cover artwork and the addition of her 2004 Richard X helmed mega hit “Some Girls” and the less interesting but otherwise well executed cover of “More, More, More”).

In a interview for the Sunday Times in February 2005, she admits at the time that, “I wish I’d taken a bit more time with it in some ways. But then, I’m kind of a control freak like that. I have to know what I’m doing and where I’m at so to speak.” A Latin tinged pop number with flashes of electronic synths, “L.A. Ex” actually started life in sessions for Britney Spears’ fourth studio album, “In The Zone”. It’s writer, Cathy Dennis (Can’t Get You Out Of My Head/About You Now and Never Had A Dream Come True for Rachel when she was in S Club) wrote it as a response to Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me A River”, which had been percieved to be a response to his much publicized break up with the Spears. The lyrics Dennis had in mind for retaliation included lines such as “What planet are you from?/Accused me of things that I’ve never done/Listen to you carrying on/Cheating in another love song”.

Britney however, deciding to rise above it all in the far inferior “Everytime”, rejected it, and when presented to Rachel, she knew that “it had to be the first single, cos’ it was still pop, but it was, erm, pop with a difference I think.” Rachel went about her launch with a world exclusive first performance of the track on Top of the Pops (see above) and a headline grabbing cover shoot for Arena magazine in a barely there leather kilt and elbow length leather gloves (and it certainly wasn’t to be the last time in her solo career that she frolicked about in gloves either).

After then spawning a short lived dance craze involving some Cat’s cradle-esque ribbons and a few pouty looking girls, “L.A. Ex” then leapt into the UK charts at #2, just behind Black Eyed Peas’ peace anthem “Where is the Love” and went onto become one of the biggest selling and most recognised tracks of the year with 10 weeks on the chart and sales in excess of 200,000 copies, plus nominations for “L.A. Ex” at Record of the Year and the BRITs 2004 for Best British Single, where it lost out to Westlife and Dido respectively. Here’s to hope against hope then, that Rachel will return with new material off the back of her appearance on the brand new series of Strictly Come Dancing that gets going this Saturday.

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