2001 Revisited, Part 1: Kylie, Gorrilaz, Blue etc…

November 11, 2008

Now then, I know that I promised that the second instalment of my “Revisited” posts was going to be on 2005, but I instead decided to settle on a year that I feel would be an interesting one to write about in retrospect because of the fact that it was a rather transitional year in the UK charts as the threat of a then illegal Napster loomed over the heads of respective record company executives. It was also probably to be one of the last three years when pop would still have a “market” as it were. Ladies and gentleman, for the next four part Revisited, I welcome you to 2001.



Leading the way this year in the world of pure chart pop – or at least, in the latter part of the year – was the woman who was not only experiencing a career renaissance under her new label, Parlaphone, but would also, despite all the assorted hits in between, release a single that has not only stood the test of time as a 21st century pop anthem, but would finally mean she had one other colossal hit aside from her Stock-Aitken-Waterman produced 1987 UK debut, “I Should Be So Lucky”.



Following up 2000’s medium sized return to chart glory with her 7th studio album, “Light Years”, Kylie Minogue’s “Fever” album was widely heralded as her best one to date, a critical response that was also reciprocated commercially. It’s lead off single, “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” (video above), co-written by former 90’s pop woman Cathy Dennis and ex-Mud guitarist Rob Davis with it’s siren like, irresistable hook of “la la la” was impossible to avoid by the year’s end – but then, when it shot to UK #1 for four weeks in September of that year and then pretty much everywhere else around the world, it’s not hard to see why it was everywhere.



After being in the top 10 bestselling albums of the year two years in a row in the UK with their BRIT award winning second album, “The Man Who”, Glaswegian four piece Travis released their third album “The Invisible Band” in the summer of 2001 and zoomed straight to the top of the charts once again with their infectious and melodic brand of indie rock. In fact, with headlining appearances at Glastonbury and V that year, it seemed as if revellers were going to be chanting the likes of “Why Does It Always Rain On Me?” for some time to come.

Joining that list of crowd pleasing sing alongs was, aptly enough, their new album’s lead off single, “Sing” (video above, UK #3, June 2001), with it’s infamous Q Award nominated food fight video that was then replicated on their Top of the Pops performance of this track, and was then followed by “Side” (UK #12, September 2001) which involved them all getting abducted by aliens, and “Flowers in the Window”, a track that Fran from the band had penned with his wife in mind, which reached #19 the following April.



The song that beat them to “Best Video” at the Q Awards that year was a band with Damon Albarn, but not strangely enough, by a Blur video. Instead it was Damon’s new band, Gorrilaz, the first ever animated band – consisting of Murdoc, 2D, Russell and Noodle – who were the brainchild of the then former Blur frontman along with Dan the Automator and Dangermouse, who would later go onto do the rare and extremely popular Jay-Z and Beatles mashup album “The Grey Album” and be one half of Gnarls Barkley alongside Cee-Lo Green.

Their winning video was the one that accompanied their debut offering “Clint Eastwood” (video above), which, courtesy of a little remix from garage heads Ed Case and Sweetie Irie (or the “Refix” as they so point out at the beginning of their version of the song), propelled to UK #3 in February that year, then followed by “19/2000” (UK #7, June 2001), and then “Rock Da House” (UK #18, October 2001). The following year at the BRITs, thanks to a little 3D trickery, they were also the first animated band to perform live at the BRITs. Not a feat any band will be able to top I’m sure.



With Westlife fast becoming the dullards of boybands and A1 out on a year long break after one more top 10 hit from their second album “The A List” (that being “No More” which hit #6 in February), a new group of impressionable young uns’ was needed to keep the UK’s prepubescent girl population occupied until such times that Busted came along. And that was, quite unprecedently, four virtual unknowns – Lee Ryan, Duncan James, Simon Webbe and Antony Costa – more specifically Blue to you and little us.

Meeting after being regulars on the audition circuit, 2001 was the year they catapaulted to unprecedented success – first with the anthemic “All Rise”, produced by the legendary StarGate production team that hit UK #4 in June that quickly became something of a summer anthem, to then be followed by two UK #1’s – a cover of R&B outfit Next’s “Too Close” in September and then “If You Come Back” in November, all then followed by the release of their debut album, also called “All Rise”, which hit UK #3 in the album charts and then stayed around for pretty much all of 2002 as well, before finally hitting the top spot in May that year.



If dance music for 2001 could be summed up very neatly, then there’s every chance that Daft Punk could have done it. After the success of Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter’s 1997 debut “Homework”, 2001 saw the release of their second album “Discovery” which is still widely regarded as being one of their best to date. After producing one major hit from the album in November the previous year – that being the UK #2 hit “One More Time”, they then hit big with several other singles off the album.

“Digital Love” (video above, UK #14, June 2001) and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” (UK #25, October 2001) along with unreleased favourite “Aerodynamic” were all accompanied with videos that were taken from the band’s Japanimated film “Interstella 5555” that was released on DVD in 2003 and they provided the full score for. Having not seen the film ourselves we aren’t quite sure what it’s about viewers, so we’ll leave that for you to decide. In the next part of our lookback at 2001, we bring you five more pure pop nuggets including the posh indie gal turned disco queen, the Irish R&B pop diva, Britain’s first winners of a reality pop show and the septet that were living it up in Hollywood.




  1. “All Rise” is not only Blue’s best song, but probably one of the best pop songs of that era. I distinctly remember it charting at around #3 or #4 in my end of year singles wrap up of 2001.

  2. Exactly. Blue had two problems – 1) Duncan James being the slimy tosspot that he was and still is. 2) All Rise being their only decent song.

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