Friday, 21 February 2014

The Best Of 2001 - part 1

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

After a brief diversion into the world of '80s one-hit wonders, it's back to the '00s with my top 100 songs for 2001. It was a big year for me - I started work at a new job that pretty much brought my life full circle. Early in the year, I was hired as the deputy editor of Smash Hits, a magazine I read religiously in the late '80s as a primary and high school student.

Kylie scored her biggest hit of all time in 2001

One of the earliest things I remember happening at Smash Hits was that the editor moved the stereo, which had previously resided behind the editorial assistant (who I think used to listen to the radio), next to my desk. That didn't go down very well. No doubt some of these songs received a hammering that year...

Number 100 "Ride Wit Me" by Nelly featuring City Spud
One of the biggest cover stars during my time at Smash Hits was Eminem, but I was never a fan myself. My rapper of choice was this guy, who'd burst onto the scene the previous year with "Country Grammar (Hot Shit)" and "E.I.". "Ride Wit Me" was the first song of Nelly's I really liked and featured one of the members of Nelly's crew, St Lunatics.

Number 99 "Sing" by Travis
The nice guy Scottish group returned in 2001 with their The Invisible Band album - and it's a title that would end up being quite prophetic since Travis would soon fade into the background as Coldplay took over as the UK's favourite indie rock act.

Number 98 "My Friend" by Groove Armada
Another British act up to their third studio album was this dance duo, whose Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub) had already yielded party tune "Superstylin'". This chillout track received a fair bit of airplay but barely dented the UK top 40 and just missed the Australian top 50.

Number 97 "Rapture" by iio
Another dance duo - this time of the one-hit wonder variety. "Rapture" was a big club and chart track for vocalist Nadia Ali and producer Markus Moser, but the pair never managed to follow it up with anything anywhere near as successful.

Number 96 "It's Raining Men" by Geri Halliwell
If her solo singles to date hadn't been quite camp enough, Geri really went all out with the first release from her second album, Scream If You Wanna Go Faster. Her cover of The Weather Girls' '80s classic came complete with a Fame and Flashdance-referencing video, and was featured on the soundtrack to Bridget Jones's Diary. It would also be her last massive hit. In Australia, she only returned once more to the top 40 (with the album's title track peaking at number 40), while in the UK, "It's Raining Men" was her final of four number 1 hits. Despite the "screen grab" below, the video does play.

Number 95 "Come Along" by Titiyo
We saw her way back on my 1990 countdown with "My Body Says Yes" and although Neneh Cherry's half-sister had released music in the intervening years, this was her most successful release since then. Less dance/pop and more guitar based than that earlier record, "Come Along" and the album of the same name were hugely successful for Titiyo at home in Sweden.

Number 94 "What It Feels Like For A Girl" by Madonna
Previously featured here

Number 93 "Eternal Flame" by Atomic Kitten
Mentioned in Part 2

Number 92 "Never Enough" by Boris Dlugosch featuring Roisin Murphy
His remix of "Sing It Back" had given Moloko their breakthrough hit, and so in 2001 that group's vocalist returned the favour and performed on this track for the German producer. Like the previous song of Boris's that I liked, "Hold Your Head Up High" (which featured on my 1997 countdown), "Never Enough" was a club rather than a chart hit.

Number 91 "Don't Mess With The Radio" by Nivea
Wow, who knew this American R&B singer had such an interesting life following her brief flirtation with chart success? Before becoming involved with rappers Lil Wayne and The-Dream, Nivea cracked the Australian top 20 with this debut single - her first hit anywhere in the world. She'd eventually score a US top 10 single in 2002 with "Don't Mess With My Man", which was a pretty fitting title given what ended up happening in her personal life.  

Number 90 "Too Close" by Blue
Mentioned in Part 2

Number 89 "U Got It Bad (Soulpower Remix)" by Usher
The original title of Usher's third album had been All About U, which would have been incredibly appropriate for many reasons - one of which was that most of the singles lifted from it started with the letter U.
A Napster leak resulted in the delay of the album and a name change to 8701, but "U Got It Bad" duly followed "U Remind Me" (number 115 on this list) and preceded "U Don't Have To Call" and "U-Turn" into the charts. "Pop Ya Collar" (number 101) was skipped over as a single in the US, but charted in Australia and the UK.
Usher became so big in Australia in 2001, that he was one of the first African-American artists to feature on the cover of Smash Hits - a far cry from the days when most R&B tracks weren't even released locally.

Number 88 "I'm Real" by Jennifer Lopez
Mentioned in Part 2

Number 87 "Stay" by Stephen Gately
For his third single, the Boyzone member got his Britney on with this pop track produced by StarGate, who were beginning to rival Max Martin and his Cheiron pals for their ubiquity on the charts. Despite that, it was his first release to miss the UK top 10 and he was dropped from his solo record deal shortly after.

Number 86 "Nobody Wants To Be Lonely" by Ricky Martin / Christina Aguilera
He'd spearheaded the Latino music craze of the late '90s, while she'd got in touch with her own Latin roots on her second solo album, Mi Reflejo - so it made perfect sense for Ricky and Christina to team up for this duet. This was, of course, back in the days when collaborations still felt organic and weren't as frequent (or cynical) as they are now. The song in question had originally featured as a solo track on Ricky's Sound Loaded album, but as we'd see repeatedly over the next decade, there was nothing like a bit of added Christina to increase interest (and vocal acrobatics) in a song.

Number 85 "Another Chance" by Roger Sanchez
Mentioned below

Number 84 "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" by Kylie Minogue
Yep, I'm aware this is Kylie's highest-selling single globally but as much of a fan as I am, this track never really connected with me the way it clearly did with millions of other people. It doesn't even rank in my top 25 Kylie singles of all time. Previewed during her On A Night Like This tour (which I watched from the front row in Sydney), "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" became the lead single for Fever, which remains Kylie's best-selling album. There is one more song from Ms Minogue to come on this countdown - "Your Disco Needs You", which was released in a handful of countries as the final single from Light Years. It won't be popping up on this list for some time, though.

Number 83 "Bass Has Got Me Movin'" by [Love] Tattoo
This Australian dance track was one of the records nominated for Best Dance Release at the 2001 ARIA Awards (losing out to The Avalanches). The alter ego of the heavily tattooed Steven Allkins (thus the name), [Love] Tattoo also included producer Justin Shave, who we'll see again in my 2003 countdown with Etherfox.

Number 82 "Freelove" by Depeche Mode
Previously featured here

Number 81 "Soul Sound" by Sugababes
The fourth and final single from Sugababes' debut album, One Touch, was also the last single by the original line-up of the band, with Siobhan quitting at the end of a promo visit to Australia (it wasn't our fault!). Both this track and previous single "Run For Cover" (number 16 on this list) hinted at great things still to come from the girls - and while it was a relief the group continued, none of us could have had any idea just how many girls there would end up being in Sugababes.

Number 80 "In My Pocket" by Mandy Moore
After her bubblegum pop debut, Mandy experimented with her sound for album number two (or three, if you include So Real and I Wanna Be With You as separate albums) and unleashed this more mature Middle Eastern-influenced track as the lead single. A decent hit in Australia (it reached number 11), "In My Pocket" and the accompanying self-titled album weren't so well received in the US or UK, and her chart career was effectively over in both countries. Although she's continued to record music ever since, she's now better known for her acting and voice roles.

Number 79 "What Took You So Long" by Emma Bunton
Mentioned in Part 2

Number 78 "You Are My High" by Demon vs Heartbreaker
Demon is French producer Jéremie Mondon while Heartbreaker's real name is Nicolas Lemercier - and together they produced this cool slice of French disco. The only other thing I have to say about this song is that my CD single of it fell down behind some built-in shelves at my former home a couple of years after in was released, which in the pre iTunes era was kind of a disaster.

Number 77 "You Can't Change Me" by Roger Sanchez featuring Armand van Helden & N'Dea Davenport
A big-name DJ since the mid-'90s, Roger's career as a recording artist took off in 2001 with his First Contact album and lead single "Another Chance" (number 85 on this list), which turned Toto ballad "I Won't Hold You Back" into a club anthem. I preferred this follow-up, which featured fellow DJ/producer Armand van Helden and sometime Brand New Heavies vocalist N'Dea Davenport - but it wasn't anywhere near as big a hit.

Number 76 "In The End" by Linkin Park
One of my karaoke favourites (the singing bit, not the rapping part), this was the fourth and final single from Linkin Park's debut album, Hybrid Theory - and the first track of theirs I liked since it's pretty much a pop song. Like Eminem, the band was enormously popular with Smash Hits readers in Australia - and I once prided myself on known all six of the members' names and roles. It was also the first of many CD singles (and then downloads) by the guys I added to my music collection without ever owning one of their albums - so a singles collection-style best of would be great whenever you're ready, guys.

In Part 2: two of the biggest female superstars of the '00s (although one would claim she was "small and humble"). Plus, a cartoon band and Australia's newest (at the time) pop creation.

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