Archive for the ‘…Revisited’ Category

h1

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.

 

untitled

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.

408875

 

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.

 

570822

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.

 

29334341

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.

 

daftpunk

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.

 

Advertisements
h1

1998 Revisited, Part 4: Aqua, Five, Billie Piper…

October 17, 2008

And so viewers, we reach the climax of our four part revisit to 1998. Seeing us out of our look back this week at the year where Bill Clinton lied like a rug about Monica Lewinsky and suckers for a love story everywhere weeped over Leo and Kate in “Titanic”, are a quintet of suitably cheese-tastic pop acts from this year who by all accounts were the biggest in their field, and one of them, rather like several others that year, was from Denmark, and that was the act who were the Marmite band of the year – Aqua. Chances are you were either jumping for joy upon hearing their Mattel bothering, plastic fantastic worldwide #1 smash “Barbie Girl” upon it’s release in November the previous year, or you were grinding your teeth in agony.

 

Still, it didn’t stop Lene, Rene, Claus and Soreen from topping the charts a further two times over the course of 1998 – first with their follow up single to “Barbie Girl”, February’s “Doctor Jones” (UK #1, video above), and then their rather good song from the soundtrack to Gwyneth Paltrow flick “Sliding Doors” – May’s “Turn Back Time” (UK #1), both of which were on debut album “Aquarium”. However, July’s “My Oh My” (UK #4) and November’s “Good Morning Sunshine” (UK #15) both failed to make the impact their predocessing chart toppers did, and after two more hits in 2000 with “Cartoon Heroes” (UK #6) and “Around The World” (UK #27) from their flop second album “Aquarius” the band appeared to fade from view. Or so they would have us believe, as they have since announced a reunion tour of Europe and the Far East, as well as a forthcoming greatest hits due out before this year’s end.

 

Brought to us by the father/son team of Bob and Chris Herbert, the same management team that were the first victims of girl power in the early days of the Spice Girls when aforementioned Spices walked out on them for their deal with Simon Fuller at 19 Management, Ritchie, J, Sean, Scott and Abs, otherwise known as Five, arrived on the popworld and filled in the big boyband spot left vacant at RCA/BMG Records by CBBC favourites North and South (who were dropped this year) with their eponymous, chart topping debut album in this year after a string of successful hits, which they repeatedly entered the top 5 with during 1998.

First, at the tail end of the previous year, was “Slam Dunk Da Funk” (UK #4, November 1997). Next was “When The Lights Go Out” (video above, UK #3, February 1998), swiftly followed by July’s “Got The Feeling” (UK #3), September’s Joan Jett sampling “Everybody Get Up” (UK #2) and November’s “Until The Time Is Through” (UK #2). However, like with All Saints, rumours of inter band strife continually dogged not only their public being, but also cemented their reputation as pop’s “bad guys”, something that would manifest further the following year after an alleged punch up with Westlife in a bar in Dublin.

 

However, this wasn’t the only drama surrounding Five – so too, was Ritchie’s relationship with a young lady who quickly became a hate figure for their target audience almost as quickly as she had become a figure of adulation (see her boo-ridden performance at that year’s Smash Hits Poll Winners Party for evidence). Hailing from Swindon, then ex-Sylvia Young graduate/former Smash Hits ad girl/Madonna devotee Billie Piper came out of nowhere to become the youngest female singer ever to top the UK charts with her debut #1 “Because We Want To” in July at the tender age of 15. Again, like Aqua, the song divided the nation – you either loved the playground chants of “Why you gotta play that song so loud?/BECAUSE WE WANT TO, BECAUSE WE WANT TO!” or you detested it with a passion.

However, the future Rose Tyler, assistant to Doctor Who, earned herself four more chart smashes off her debut top 20 album “Honey to the B” over the course of 1998 – October’s also chart topping “Girlfriend” (UK #1), December’s “She Wants You” (video above, UK #3, which was backed with a legendary cover of Wham’s “Last Christmas”), and finally, the album’s title track which also reached the top 3 the following March, and would then, thanks to recent chart rules about any song being eligible to chart if available for download, then creeped back into the chart in January last year at UK #17 thanks to a campaign by Chris Moyles’ breakfast show on BBC Radio 1 (for our overseas fans, that’s a bit of a big deal, depending on whether or not rasping beer bellies first thing in the morning are your thing or not.)

 

Girlbands and the world of clothes and fashion seemed to go ever more predominantly hand in hand in 1998. Whilst Posh Spice was tarting it up in a little Gucci dress, and All Saints were moodying it out in combats and Doc Martens, over in the corner marked “B*Witched” it was all about the denim for the four young girls from Ireland who set chart records over the course of 1998. Edele, Keavy (sisters of Boyzone’s Shane Lynch), Lindsay and Sinead saw their self dubbed brand of “Irish hip hop pop” take them to the top of the charts between May this year and March the following year a record four times.

First was “C’est La Vie” (UK #1, May 1998), then Rollercoaster (video above, UK #1, September 1998), then the heartfelt “To You I Belong” (UK #1, December 1998) and finally, “Blame It On The Weatherman” (UK #1, March 1999), all of which were from their self titled debut album and all of which came accompanied with a different style of denim for each of their videos. However, by the time their ill fated, Afro-celt inspired second album, 1999’s “Awake and Breathe” was released, the denim had gone, as had the hits, and Westlife had overtaken their chart record by 7 UK #1 debuts. Proof the charm of the Irish really does (and occasionally doesn’t) work wonders viewers.

 

But meanwhile, fashion wasn’t high on the agenda at all of 1998’s other big new girlband, sisterly, jester hat and goggle wearing trio Cleo, Zainam and Yonah, otherwise known as favourites of Madonna, Cleopatra. First coming to industry attention after winning a talent contest at Notting Hill festival in 1995, bigwigs at Warner Music took notice and had soon signed the girls up to record a debut album, and then go onto sign a US deal on the aforementioned queen of pop’s now ex-record label, Maverick.

The first fruit of their labour from their debut, catchphrase titled UK top 20 album “Comin’ Atcha” was February’s “Cleopatra’s Theme” which hit the top 3, to then be followed by two more top tenners with “Life Ain’t Easy” (video above, UK #5, May 1998) and an inspired cover of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” (UK #7, August 1998). However, in spite of a successful Monkees style TV show on ITV1 the following year, and after flopping with their fourth single, the following February’s “A Touch of Love” (UK #29) and their comeback single, “Come and Get Me” which hit a dismal UK #27 in July 2000, they were all but no more. They did however, reunite for ITV1’s reunion themed reality series “Hit Me Baby One More Time” in 2005, only to be beaten by the likes of Tony Hadley and Tiffany, who would go onto win the show.

And that, as they say viewers, is that. Starting soon will be the next four part Revisited, where we’ll be going back to the more recent past as we relive what was one of the best years for pop so far this century – 2005. Make sure you don’t miss this one, it’s gonna be huge.

 

h1

1998 Revisited, Part 3: Natalie Imbruglia, Another Level etc…

October 8, 2008
And now we make a much delayed return to our 1998 Revisited series today viewers, looking this week at 5 more rather well performing chart acts from the year that saw army combat wear come back into fashion via All Saints, and the year that Denise Van Outen was very annoyingly everywhere, including on the ill fated and completely unfunny ITV1 sitcom Babes In The Wood.

 

It was a good year for the Aussies again this year in the charts. Although both Kylie and Dannii Minogue were to both be dropped by their respective record labels this year after the underperformance of the final singles from their commercially maligned new studio albums – “Breathe” from Kylie’s “Impossible Princess” album and “Disremembrance” from Dannii’s “Girl” album which reached #14 and #21 respectively in the UK singles chart – it was a fruitful year for the lady who would go on to be Neighbours’ second biggest chart star after Kylie.

 

Reknowned for playing the role of Beth on the popular Aussie soap until the mid 90’s, Natalie Imbruglia first came to our musical attention at the end of the previous year when her debut single, the timeless radio favourite/scorned woman classic “Torn” rocketed to UK #2 and became the first ever single in UK chart history to sell a million copies and never reach the top spot. Still, this bittersweet achievement didn’t stop Natalie from releasing three more fantastic singles from her best selling debut album “Left of the Middle” in 1998 – first with “Big Mistake” (UK #3, March 1998), then “Wishing I Was There” (video above, UK #17, June 1998) and finally, the poignant piano pop of “Smoke” (UK #5, October 1998), all of which helped build a following that would reward her with two BRIT award wins the following year.

 

 

 

 

The other big Aussie chart act of the year were a band who could probably sympathise with the situation that Gabriella Cilmi and Sam Sparro now must be in after their hits, “Sweet About Me” and “Black and Gold” respectively, have become bigger than them and possibly prevented them from undeservedly ever getting another chart hit of similar chart performing proportions again. In Savage Garden’s case, their never ending hit of the year was the Dawson’s Creek soundtracking mid tempo “Truly, Madly, Deeply” (UK #4).

It was a track that not only went onto be the 8th biggest of the year in the UK, but after it’s release in February that year stayed on the charts until the end of June. As a result, it ended up eclipsing the success they had with “To The Moon and Back” (UK #3, August 1998, video above) and “I Want You” (UK #12, December 1998) in terms of chart runs and sales performance worldwide. Nevertheless, it helped their self titled debut album tot up worldwide sales of over 4 million copies, something that their follow up, 2000’s “Affirmation” album never quite managed to achieve.

 

This year would also see the prototype being set for a still unformed Blue, as whilst Boyzone occupied the seats Westlife were to occupy a year later and Five were busy being “the bad boys of pop”, Another Level, a London four piece of Dane, Mark, Wayne and Bobak who were more closely associated in sound with the likes Blackstreet and Boyz II Men spent the large part of 1998 soundtracking millions of chav teenage pregnancies up and down the country with their chart topping second single from July that year, a cover of Keith Sweat’s “Freak Me”.

Before and after that though, were a couple of other chart botherers from their self titled debut top 30 album – “Be Alone No More”, a collaboration with a pre-Beyoncified Jay-Z that reached UK #6 in February that year (video above), and the “Lately”-esque “I Guess I Was A Fool” that hit UK #8 in November. Needless to say, despite a few more chart hits and another album, “Nexus” in 1999, after 18 months inside the charts they were soon to be no more, with Dane famously going onto solo greatness vocoder stylee with the True Steppers and a solo Victoria Beckham.

 

After a plethora of success with the likes of “Killing Me Softly” and “Ready or Not” from their multi million selling, Grammy winning debut album “The Score” two years previously, The Fugees all branched into solo ventures over the course of 1998. Wyclef Jean started things off with “Gone Til’ November” (UK #7, February 1998), soon followed by Pras Michel with one of that year’s summer anthems with “Ghetto Superstar” (UK #2, July 1998). But the one that was to eclipse them all, in terms of sales and certifications alike, was Lauryn Hill.

Getting things off to a great start with “Doo Wop (That Thing)” at UK #3 in October 1998, it was the first of three singles from her so far only solo album, “The Miseducation Of” that was to give her the biggest solo success of the Fugees, as well as bag her a few Grammy award wins the following year. She’s remained unusually silent since then with the exception of an MTV Unplugged album, but has since announced that she’s hard at work on a new album that is due for release early next year.

 

Continuing their success following the re-activated hit “Scooby Snacks” from 1997, Fun Lovin’ Criminals released their second album “100% Colombian” in August this year, the follow up to their 1996 debut, “Come Find Yourself” which is noted for paving the way for the likes of Bran Van 3000 and LEN to name but a few. The first single from the second album “Love Unlimited” (UK #18, video below) was then followed by “Korean Bodega” which hit UK #15 in May the following year, however, after one more big hit – 2001’s “Loco” (UK #5), their hits all but dried up and their last album could only reach UK #57.

Next week, we reach the final installment of our look back at 1998, as we look back at two more of that year’s biggest girlbands, Denmark’s biggest act of the year and a girl who was the youngest female to top the UK charts ever in this year. Also coming your way we have another Retro Album Review, so watch this space.

 

 

 

 

 

h1

1998 Revisited, Part 2: The Corrs, Robbie, Sash…

September 21, 2008
Welcome then to the second part of our look back at 1998 here on Popcomments. Last week we brought you a varitable feast of pop from the year that brought us South Park, Eurovision’s first questionable winner in Dana International and also, as we’re about to see, the year that Irish influenced pop music experienced a resurgence of sorts in the UK charts, following the massive success of Riverdance/Lord of the Dance and the success of new material from U2, Boyzone and a reunited Clannad.

 

 

 

 

One of two new acts at the forefront of this movement were family based group the Corrs. Remaining a strictly underground success until this year with 1995 debut “Forgiven Not Forgotten” and their film debut in the independent 1991 production “The Commitments”, Jim, Sharon, Caroline and Andrea (who had a bit part in the 1996 movie version of “Evita”, fact fans) came to the attention of all present after their St. Patrick’s Day concert at the Royal Albert Hall in March of this year was televised on BBC One, attracting massive ratings. After much publicity generated for their cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” on a tribute album, the track was then released as a single, remixed by Todd Terry (see Everything But The Girl’s “Missing” from two years previously) and reached a respectable UK #6 in early May 1998. After which, hits like “What Can I Do” (UK #3, August 1998) and “So Young” (video below, UK #8, November 1998) came off the back of the chart topping success of what would go on to be the year’s biggest selling album – “Talk On Corners”. It even managed to surge back to #1 in the spring of 1999 after their BRIT Award win for Best International Group, and has now sold something in the region of 8 million copies worldwide.

 

Another artist continuing to notch up the multi platinum albums in this year was Sheryl Crow. After the massive success of 1994’s debut “Tuesday Night Music Club” and it’s eponymous 1996 follow up with hits like “All I Wanna Do” and “If It Makes You Happy”, Sheryl’s third album, the Grammy nominated “Globe Sessions” was produced by the legendary Rick Rubin (who would go onto produce for the likes of Justin Timberlake, Shakira and Johnny Cash) and reached #2 in the album chart in September 1998, following the success of UK #9 hit “My Favourite Mistake” (video below). Another top 20 hit followed in “Anything But Down” (UK #19) the following January, and the album was then re-released as a tour edition in Australia, which included, amongst other things, her cover of Guns ‘n’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine”.

 

 

Paving the way for Alice Deejay, Ian Van Dahl and erm, Scooter before him in 1998 was German DJ/producer Sash, who, after the success of hits like “Stay”, “Ecuador” and “Encore Une Fois” from his top 10 debut album “It’s My Life – The Album”, continued his success with his second album, “Life Goes On” (UK #5). It gave him three more top 10 hits – the first being “La Primavera” (UK #3, March 1998, video below), then followed by the track which launched the career of one Tina Cousins on “Mysterious Times” (UK #2, August 1998) and finally “Move Mania” (UK #8, November 1998). It was also in this year that he recieved a BRIT nomination for Best International Male, which he was beaten to by Jon Bon Jovi. I know what you’re thinking viewers – did Jon Bon Jovi even release a solo record? If he did, it obviously didn’t do very well, but there you go.

 

 

Though Gary Barlow didn’t release any new material in 1998, the ongoing solo career battle between him and Robbie Williams continued to roll on throughout the year, and the defence case for Gary wasn’t exactly helped by the fact that Robbie was well, doing pretty well for himself to say the least. After the roaring success of “Angels” and “Let Me Entertain You” from his Mercury Prize nominated top 10 debut album “Life Thru A Lens”, Take That’s showman and wild child finally got his first chart toppers in the autumn of 1998 with the release of the single, “Milennium” (UK #1, September 1998) and his second album, “I’ve Been Expecting You” (UK #1, September 1998), which seemed to be a concept album eluding to the sounds of the 60’s and old Bond movie themes. Indeed, it was the album that most proper pop fans agree would remain his best until the vastly underrated “Rudebox” album in 2006. The second single from it, “No Regrets” (UK #5, December 1998, video below) was actually to be the first time he collaborated with Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant – the next would be on the brilliant “She’s Madonna” some 9 years later.

 

Remember me saying last week how north eastern Europe enjoyed a string of successful acts in 1998? Well, one of them was Ace of Base, who returned with a third album “Flowers” in this year. After becoming the first Danish band to top the US Billboard chart with “The Sign” a few years previously, they returned to the UK top 5 in July 1998 with the summery “Life is a Flower” (video below), before then gaining two more top 20 hits with a cover of Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer” (UK #8, October 1998) and “Always Have, Always Will” (UK #12, December 1998). Strangely enough, ten years on from the release of this album they’ve now announced a reunion tour, which kicks off at the beginning of next year.

Next week, we enter the third part of our look back, looking at two Antipodeans that enjoyed a wealth of success in 1998. And it wasn’t the Minogues either, sadly.

N.B. If it seems a bit quiet round here of late then it’s because I’m very busy atm. I will get some posts up soon to compensate, so hold your horses, viewers. 🙂 My first retro album review of Matt Willis’ solo album is on it’s way soon.

 

 

h1

1998 Revisited, Part 1: Manics, All Saints, Des’ree etc…

September 14, 2008

So welcome then, to the launch of Popcomments, the brand new pop history blog where the past is always a present matter, and welcome also, to the first ever blog entry on Popcomments. This is a brand new series of posts called “Revisited” where basically we take you, through the medium of YouTube and the like, on a journey through a great year in pop over 4 seperate parts per year. Today we start our look back at the year best remembered for Madonna’s William Orbit aided Earth Mother figure, the year Geri left the Spice Girls just before the American leg of their world tour, and the year that the Britpop bubble untimely burst. Ladies and gentleman, welcome to 1998.

However, whilst the Britpop bubble was bursting on the likes of Sleeper and er, Menswear, it was far from bursting on Wales’ finest, Manic Street Preachers. In September of this year they returned with their fifth album and follow up to their fourth album “Everything Must Go”. Produced with Mike Hedges, the BRIT Award winning “This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours” topped the album charts in this year, and so too, did it’s lead single, “If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next”, a song about the Spanish Civil War with lyrics that were far from typical of anything that was topping the charts before it in that year, such as the line “So if I can shoot rabbits/I can shoot facists”. Interesting stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree, but it was actually one of their biggest airplay successes to follow “A Design For Life” from 1996, and quite rightly, when it remains one of their best singles to this day.

It’s funny how everything comes full circle though. Just like today in 2008, when Alphabeat, Annie and a few others are dominating our charts, North Eastern Europe was proving to be a founder of numerous chart acts over the course of 1998 (as we’ll see over the next few days with another group of Swedes and one group of Danes). Aside from a young Swede by the name of Robyn – you may be aware of her viewers – there was another Swede making his way into our charts, and that was brother of Neneh, Eagle Eye Cherry. Appearing from quite literally nowhere, the acoustic led ditty “Save Tonight” was a long stayer in the charts over the summer of 1998, reaching a #3 peak and being followed by the release of his debut album “Desireless” (which hit the top 20) and the follow up single, “Falling in Love Again” which reached #7 in November. Sadly no video to embed here as those eegots at SonyBMG’s YouTube channel have prevented me from doing so.

As already mentioned, the Spiceworld was falling apart at the seams after Geri’s much publicized departure during a break before the American leg of their world tour in late May 1998. Though the Spices were to gain two more chart toppers in this year – “Viva Forever” in late July and the festive pole position with their tribute to Geri, “Goodbye” – it was now the turn of the band largely seen as their rivals, All Saints, to break through. By the time the end of the year rolled round, their self titled debut album was one of the top 10 selling albums in the UK for 1998 – far exceeding further sales of “Spice” and “Spiceworld” in the UK put together. Helping it along was a string of fantastic #1’s – “Never Ever”, “Under The Bridge” and “Bootie Call”, as well as this soulful number, “War of Nerves”, which featured that rare thing in a song from All Saints’ first era together as a band, a co-write from the group’s tabloid tagged “party animals” Nicole and Natalie Appleton. Believed to be the group’s response to the life and death of Princess Diana, the track reached #7 in early November 1998.

It was rather quiet on the soulful Brit girl front in this year – Shola Ama took an unprecedented amount of time off, and Beverley Knight was still struggling to make herself a hit at the time in spite of a Mercury Prize nod for her debut album “Prodigal Sista”. It was better news, however, for Des’ree, who after about a trillion re-releases of her Vauxhall ad soundtracking “You Gotta Be” returned with her second top 20 album “Supernatural”, biggest hit off it being “Life”, which reached #7 in July of this year, followed by “What’s Your Sign” reaching #14 in October. However, listeners of BBC 6Music voted it as the song with the worst lyrics in music history recently, winning lyric being the immortal “I’m afraid of a ghost/It’s the sight that I fear most/I’d rather have a piece of toast/And watch the evening news”.

It was in this year also, that a trend developed for sampling old songs on quite amazing and completely new records. Cases in point extending out to The Groove Generation sampling Leo Sayer’s “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”, Bus Stop sampling Carl Douglas’ “Kung Fu Fighting”, and The Tamperer, courtesy of vocals from former Broadway actress and singer Maya, first sampling Jackson 5’s “Can You Feel It” on their chart topping “Feel It” in May this year, and then sampling Madonna’s “Material Girl” on the follow up that, bar the Manics, had one of the best long song titles of the year – “If You Buy This Record, Your Life Will Be Better”, which reached #4 in early November. Their next hit after that, “Hammer to the Heart” beat Madonna by approximately 5 years in April 2000 when it sampled ABBA’s “Gimme Gimme Gimme”.

Next Sunday, we continue our look back at 1998, including our first look back at when Irish pop experienced a renaissance of sorts in the charts.