Friday, 28 February 2014

The Best Of 2001 - part 3

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

While 2001 was a great year for me personally and professionally, it was also a year that featured the most shocking event of recent history: the September 11 attacks on America.

Their outfits might have been questionable,
but Bardot's songs got better and better in 2001

Like everyone, I can remember where I was (watching The West Wing on TV) when the planes flew into the World Trade Center, and over the next days, weeks and months, life as we knew changed forever. This isn't the forum for an in-depth discussion of those events, but I mention it because any time you think of 2001, it's hard to do so without remembering the tragedy that defined the year.

Number 50 "Romeo" by Basement Jaxx
Basement Jaxx followed up their breakthrough album, Remedy, with 2001's Rooty, which would feature another batch of genre-pushing singles. This track, which featured Kele Le Roc (who we saw in my top 100 for 1998) on vocals, was the lead single from the album and gave the duo another top 10 in the UK. Australian success finally came with Rooty's third single, "Where's Your Head At?" (number 129 on this list).

Number 49 "Free" by Mya
In 2001, Mya emerged from being just another R&B singer with a pretty voice to one of the genre's biggest names - thanks in no small part to her involvement in the Moulin Rouge soundtrack hit, "Lady Marmalade". She even landed an Australian chart-topper with "Case Of The Ex", but it was this follow-up that I preferred. Then, just as quickly as she became a force to be reckoned with on the world stage, Mya blended back into the crowd with subsequent albums failing to have anywhere near as much impact.

Number 48 "Everytime You Need Me" by Fragma featuring Maria Rubia
Mentioned below

Number 47 "Halfway Around The World" by A*Teens
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 46 "More Than That" by Backstreet Boys
Mentioned below

Number 45 "All I Do" by Cleptomaniacs featuring Bryan Chambers
Beyond the fact that this UK dance trio was comprised of Brian Tappert, John "Julius" Knight and Marc Pomeroy, I know nothing about Cleptomaniacs or the featured vocalist on this vocal house tune. What I do know is that it was a brilliant cover of the 1980 Stevie Wonder album track - a song I'm surprised was never released as a single until this point.

Number 44 "He Loves U Not" by Dream
In 2001, Puff Daddy became P.Diddy and added a new girl group to his Bad Boy Records roster in the wake of previous signing Total's split. Quartet Dream were much poppier than three-piece Trio, but despite a good start with this debut single (which reached number 2 in the US), it was quickly downhill from here with member changes, cancelled singles and the inevitable parting of ways with Bad Boy.  

Number 43 "Do You Love Me?" by Mademoiselle
French disco was still going strong in 2001, and this track by the French duo of Martin de Volanges and Rami Mustakim was another great addition to the genre. Fun video, too.

Number 42 "Just Another Day" by Jonathan Wilkes
In the end, it would seem that having Robbie Williams as his best mate might just have worked against actor/singer Jonathan Wilkes, with this much-hyped debut single bombing in the UK despite being a pretty good tune. This was Jonathan's one shot at a music career, with his label dropping him after "Just Another Day" peaked at number 24 in Britain - although he did pop up later in the year on "Me And My Shadow" from Robbie's album, Swing When You're Winning.

Number 41 "I Need Somebody" by Bardot
Despite the inevitable girl group line-up change when Katie Underwood left the Popstars band to star in a production of Hair that never ended up making it to the stage, Bardot were actually better than ever in 2001. Singles like this and "ASAP" (number 52 on this list) proved the girls had what it took to outlive the shadow of the TV show that spawned them, and it began to look like the project had real legs. I actually got to visit the set of the "I Need Somebody" clip for a Smash Hits story, although unfortunately Sophie didn't perform her awesome motorbike dance while I was there.

Number 40 "Let's Dance" by Five
As one pop group went from strength to strength, another came to a sad conclusion as infighting caused Five to implode just as they released their third album, Kingsize. The cracks were pretty obvious when Sean didn't even appear in the video for "Let's Dance" - a fact that was glossed over at the time but was fully explained in last year's The Big Reunion.
"Let's Dance" was as good as anything the boy band had released up until that point and, had the guys not been at each other's throats, many more singles might have been issued from Kingsize. Instead, "Closer To Me"/"Rock The Party" was released as a double A-side with very little fanfare and music videos that didn't require the participation of the band members, followed by a greatest hits album that was hastily rushed out in time for Christmas.

Number 39 "Buggin' Me" by Selwyn
He didn't make the cut for Scandal'us, but Popstars season two finalist Selwyn caught the eye of Sony Music Australia, who snapped him up for a solo deal and, true to form, turned him into Australia's very own watered down version of Craig David. This debut single was easily the best pop/R&B song to come out of Australia up until that point (CHECK) and Selwyn himself was a nice guy who didn't mind one bit when our Smash Hits art director decided to pour a glass of milk over his head for a photo shoot. Bigger hits (including a cover of Hall & Oates' "Rich Girl" followed), but this was my favourite from his short-lived career.

Number 38 "All I Want" by Mis-teeq
Mentioned below

Number 37 "Gotta Get Thru This" by Daniel Bedingfield
What an interesting fellow Daniel Bedingfield was (and probably still is). A bundle of hyperactive energy in my interview with him in Australia, he was also the cause of me passing out on the floor of the Smash Hits office one night - I'd drunk way too much at his Sydney showcase and could only stumble as far as my workplace. But enough about me. Starting out as a white label, 2-step track "Gotta Get Thru This" quickly became one of the hottest records in the UK towards the end of 2001, with few probably guessing the guy behind it was a white New Zealander. It went on to reach number 1 in Britain, one of three chart-toppers Daniel enjoyed - although he became more known for ballads and pop songs that club hits like this.

Number 36 "You Are Alive" by Fragma featuring Damae
Their album Toca didn't exactly set the charts alight, but I actually thought it was a pretty good collection of trance/pop tunes, including this fourth and final single, which featured the vocalist who'd go on to be the regular frontwoman for the German group. "You Are Alive" followed previous single "Everytime You Need Me" (number 48 on this list).

Number 35 "My Desire" by Amira
Here's a 2-step classic that had being doing the rounds in various versions since 1997, but it was the Dreemhouse remix (by "Buddy X 99" hitmakers Dreem Team) that caught my attention in 2001.

Number 34 "The Call" by Backstreet Boys
The singles kept coming from BSB's Black & Blue album - this track about a guy being unfaithful to his girlfriend was the second single and ballad "More Than That" (number 46 on this list) was third. Before the end of the year, the boy band released a greatest hits album and new track "Drowning" - and then promptly disappeared for four years. Given their relentless recording and touring schedule since the mid-'90s, they'd probably earnt a rest. Unfortunately, the version of "The Call" on YouTube seems to be The Neptunes remix rather than the far superior original version.

Number 33 "I Lay My Love On You" by Westlife
Mentioned below

Number 32 "All For You" by Janet Jackson
Sampling "The Glow Of Love" by early '80s funk group Change, "All For You" duly became another massive hit for Ms Jackson. And, while its seven weeks at number 1 in the US and top 5 status in many other countries suggested the new century was going to be as kind to Janet as the '80s and '90s had been, this first single from the album of the same name was her last major hit. Sure, other songs from All For You and her three subsequent studio albums made some waves, but this song was her last hurrah as a major force in music.

Number 31 "Airhead" by Girls@Play
Girl Thing had failed dismally in their attempt to become the new Spice Girls but at least they hit the UK top 10. This girl group - sort of a mix between Village People and Spice Girls - barely dented the top 20. So why was I such a fan of this pure bubblegum pop song? Well, the names Mike Stock and Matt Aitken had more than a little to do with it - since the former Hit Factory production duo were behind this debut single for Vicky, Lisa-Jay, Lynsey, Shelley and future EastEnders star Rita. Even I'd lost interest by the time they followed this up with a dodgy cover of Mel & Kim's "Respectable" - although, when I say "lost interest", I mean "bought the CD single on Amazon to add to my SAW collection".

Number 30 "Uptown Girl" by Westlife
Like Backstreet Boys, Westlife continued to churn out singles in 2001, including this Billy Joel cover, which was 2001's official Comic Relief record (just as Boyzone's remake of Billy Ocean's "When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going" had been two years earlier). As a nice nod to the original version, Claudia Schiffer took Christie Brinkley's place as the featured supermodel in the music video. The Irish boy band's other 2001 hits were "I Lay My Love On You" (number 33 on this list) and "Queen Of My Heart".

Number 29 "60 Miles An Hour" by New Order
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 28 "One Night Stand" by Mis-teeq
Just to prove how commercial UK garage had become by 2001, the first girl group from the genre hit the charts with a trio of fantastic pop singles. The first two releases, "Why" (number 55 on this list) and "All I Want" (number 38) were pure 2-step, while third hit "One Night Stand" was a smooth R&B track - with all three featuring one of breakout member Alesha Dixon's feisty ragga raps.

Number 27 "All I Ever Wanted" by The Human League
If nothing else, they were consistent. Their last comeback (1995's Octopus) had followed a gap of five years, so half a decade after their previous single, 1996's "Stay With Me Tonight", synthpop pioneers The Human League returned with this lead single from the Secrets album. Unlike the reception that "Tell Me When" (the first single from Octopus) received, "All I Ever Wanted" was a chart disappointment, missing the UK top 40 completely. But, for my money (and I did buy Secrets online), it was another great addition to their catalogue of singles.

Number 26 "I Feel Love" by Depeche Mode
Previously featured here

In Part 4: someone finally manages to wrestle my year-end chart-topper away from Steps, while two Hollywood A-listers provided me with one of my karaoke favourites.

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