Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Best Of 2003 - part 3

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

Fifty songs down, 50 to go as we get closer to my favourite single for 2003. Although I've got the odd hip-hop song in my list, it's nothing compared to the way Australia embraced the genre that year.

What a difference a new member made for The Black Eyed Peas

Of the 50 highest-selling singles for the year locally, more than 20 were either fully or partly rapped, and names like Chingy, Sean Paul, Ja Rule, Missy Elliott, 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes cluttered up the weekly top 10 listings. Here are more songs that cluttered up my own rankings for 2003...

Number 50 "Ignition (Remix)" by R. Kelly
Even a child sex scandal didn't get in the way of this track becoming a global number 1, with many music fans (myself included) looking past Robert Kelly's real-life issues to enjoy his best single since before he started releasing drippy ballads like "I Believe I Can Fly" and "If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time". The "(Remix)" tacked on to the end of the title is to distinguish the song from "Ignition", another version of the track found on the Chocolate Factory album. Since "Ignition (Remix)", R. Kelly has been as prolific as ever, especially when it comes to his Trapped In The Closet series, which is now up to its 33rd chapter, but with diminishing returns.

Number 49 "Where Is The Love?" by The Black Eyed Peas featuring Justin Timberlake
From one artist getting a final big hit to another R&B act landing their first... In 2003, The Black Eyed Peas added Stacy Ferguson (aka Fergie) to their line-up after making use of singers like Macy Gray and Esthero for singles from previous album Bridging The Gap. Although, a lot of the success of "Where Is The Love?" was due to the presence of the world's hottest young male vocalist. Among its many achievements, the song ended the year as Britain's highest-selling single and started a decade of global chart dominance by BEP. At the time, no one had any idea of the horrors that would involve.

Number 48 "Baby Likes It" by Isaac James
It occurred to me that despite reviewing this single in Smash Hits, I never did discover anything about Australian dance act Isaac James at the time. Luckily, there's a grossly exaggerated bio still online which reveals the remixer/producer used to be a drummer and a few other interesting facts. Unfortunately for Isaac, there was only room for one paulmac in Australia and "Baby Likes It" didn't manage to crack the ARIA top 100.

Number 47 "Easy" by Groove Armada
I can't think about this song without recalling it being blasted out at 3am by my next-door neighbours on a couple of occasions around the time of its release. By the second or third time it happened, I could only think, "Don't you own any other songs?" Thankfully, it didn't ruin the track for me, and it became the biggest hit from the duo's Lovebox album.

Number 46 "Jump" by Girls Aloud
After trouncing their reality show rivals, One True Voice, on the British charts, Girls Aloud spent 2003 proving they had staying power. Their second single, "No Good Advice" (number 23 on this list) maintained the surf guitar pop of their debut single, "Sound Of The Underground", while this cover of the classic by The Pointer Sisters (taken from the soundtrack to Love, Actually) kept the energy up after the speed bump that was ballad "Life Got Cold".

Number 45 "Maybe" by Emma Bunton
Just when you think the Spice Girls solo projects are done and dusted, another of the five rears their head and prolongs the chart legacy of the iconic girl group. In 2003, it was the turn of Baby Spice to return with a new album - and the retro sound of tracks like "Maybe" and "Free Me" (number 117 on this list) suited Emma's sweet but thin voice perfectly.

Number 44 "Nothing Fails / Love Profusion" by Madonna
Previously featured here

Number 43 "The Way (Put Your Hand In My Hand)" by Divine Inspiration
It's about time for some pop/trance, and this track was a top 5 hit in the UK for the British four-piece. "The Way" started off as an instrumental track before singer Sarah-Jane Scott was roped in to provide vocals.

Number 42 "Miracles" by Pet Shop Boys
Previously featured here

Number 41 "Inferno High Love" by Kelli Ali
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 40 "Am I On Your Mind?" by Oxygen featuring Andrea Britton
One good pop/trance track deserves another - and this is yet another release from the multi-aliased Rick Simmonds and Stephen Jones, who have popped up on my year-end charts as Chakra, The Space Brothers and Ultra High. In this guise, they used the services of vocalist Andrea Britton, who's worked with more than her fair share of dance acts, including Lost Witness, 4 Strings and Darren Tate (in his guise as both DT8 and Jurgen Vries).

Number 39 "Give Me A Reason" by Triple 8
The late-'90s/early-'00s boy band wave was petering out in 2003, but that didn't stop new five-piece all-dancing, some-singing combos from trying their luck on the charts. Triple 8 did well enough, all things considered, landing back-to-back UK top 10 hits with "Knockout" and the far superior "Give Me A Reason", but it wasn't enough for their record label to bother releasing a full album from the boys.

Number 38 "One Fine Day" by Jakatta featuring Beth Hirsch
Another lovely single from Dave Lee's Jakatta project, this time with vocals from the singer who performed on Air's "All I Need". Surprisingly, after three straight UK top 10 hits with Jakatta's first three singles, "One Fine Day" only just scraped in the top 40 and the alias was abandoned soon after.

Number 37 "Mixed Up World" by Sophie Ellis-Bextor
Time for the difficult second album for SEB, who indeed struggled to maintain the runaway success she'd enjoyed first time round. This lead single from Shoot From The Hip was one of two UK top 10 hits from the album, but sales were much lower for both the singles and album. It would be four years before Sophie released another album, with the birth of the first of her three sons and her marriage keeping her busy in the intervening period.

Number 36 "Not Me, Not I" by Delta Goodrem
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 35 "Miss Perfect" by Abs featuring Nodesha
Out of the ashes of Five rose the pop phoenix that is Richard "Abs" Breen, who wasn't quite ready to give up the fame game and, if memory serves correct, was pretty miffed Five imploded. He wasn't the only one. When Abs visited Australia on a promotional trip to launch himself as a solo star, our winner of the Smash Hits Meet Five competition had to make do with coming face to face with one-fifth of the boy band.
After the reggae-lite of his debut solo single, "What You Got", Abs was just finding his groove with "Stop Sign" (number 58 on this list) and this track when things hit a snag. Abs' album, Abstract Theory, bombed, his planned single "7 Ways" was pulled at the last minute and he was dropped by his record label. It would be years before Abs (now called Abz Love) would resurface when Five (well, four of them) got back together for The Big Reunion.

Number 34 "Loneliness" by Tomcraft
Besides this UK chart-topping dance classic, German DJ/producer Thomas Bruckner has released almost 50 other singles over the years, but "Loneliness" is the only one I've ever heard - and the only one to make a major international impact. The vocal hook comes from "Share The Love" by Andrea Martin

Number 33 "Cry Me A River" by Justin Timberlake
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 32 "Love Story [Vs Finally]" by Layo & Bushwacka!
Mash-up time. On the one hand, we have "Love Story" by Layo & Bushwacka!, which features samples from "Rags And Old Iron" by Nina Simone and "Mongoloid" by Devo; on the other, we have "Finally" by Kings Of Tomorrow featuring Julie McKnight - a track by American DJ/producer Sandy Rivera. Put them together and you have this club classic. 

Number 31 "Too Lost In You" by Sugababes
Previously featured here

Number 30 "Finest Dreams" by Richard X featuring Kelis
The man responsible for Sugababes receiving a second lease of life with "Freak Like Me" continued to raid his record collection for more songs to remake and mash up, including this cover of The S.O.S. Band's "The Finest" from 1986, as well as a combination of "Ain't Nobody" and "Being Boiled" on the Liberty X-featuring "Being Nobody" (number 94 on this list).

Number 29 "Superstar" by Jamelia
As ambitious song titles go, this track is up there with "Number One" and "Greatest Hit". Whether it was The Secret-style wish fulfilment or just the fact that it was Jamelia's best single by far up until that point, it did turn her into a chart star for a short period, with "Superstar" even reaching number 1 in Australia.

Number 28 "We Used To Be Friends" by The Dandy Warhols
Like Moloko, who we saw back in Part 2, The Dandy Warhols have exactly three songs that I like - with this track following "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth" and "Bohemian Like Me" into my good graces. Earning it extra points was the fact that it wound up as the theme tune to one of my favourite TV shows of the '00s: Veronica Mars.

Number 27 "Fighter" by Christina Aguilera
The singles kept coming from Stripped in 2003, and Christina took the Melanie C approach of catering to just about every pop audience there is. From the anthemic pop/rock of "Fighter" to the R&B (with featured rap) of "Can't Hold Us Down" (number 51 on this list) to the big ballad (or cheesy dance remix) of "The Voice Within" (number 115), she really had every base covered.

Number 26 "All In My Head" by Kosheen
Things got off to a good start with this lead single from Kosheen's oddly titled second album, Kokopelli, with the track becoming the trip-hop group's second biggest UK hit (peaking at number 7), but while the album was a solid body of work, it didn't contain any other single-worthy tracks and follow-up "Wasting My Time" missed the UK top 40 altogether.

In Part 4, it was time for another big British pop group to say goodbye, while a goth rock band, two faux lesbians from Russia and a certain ex-boy bander vie for the title of biggest music act in the world.

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