Reviewing Number One Singles from the Year 2001 (Part 1)

Reviewing British Number One Singles from the Year 2001: January-End of June

Date of Number 1: 13.01.2001
Number of weeks at the top: 1
Artist: Rui Da Silva feat. Cassandra
Song: Touch Me
Fact: First Portuguese act to top the UK charts
Over zealous top voted Youtube comment relating to how much better music used to be:

‘Back in the day when a dance music video wasn’t about pornography’

My Take: Not off to a strong start in 2001. An example of the lyrical wisdom: ‘you’ll always be my baby…I’m always thinking of you baby…yeah, yeah…’ Ok, English ain’t their first language and it clearly functions as a floor filler for a Friday night (that is a lot of f’s) but apart from the delirious cry of ‘touch me in the morning’ it is not especially memorable and the noises behind the vocal that build and build brought on an anxiety attack. Not impressed so far 2001. Not impressed.

Did I own it: Nope.

Could I sing along now: I successfully recalled the ‘touch me in the morning’ refrain. Go me.

Worth Remembering: No

Date of Number 1: 20.01.2001
Number of weeks at the top: 1
Artist: Jennifer Lopez
Song: Love Don’t Cost a Thing
Fact: Had two top 10’s in the UK prior to this but this was her first number 1
Over zealous top voted Youtube comment relating to how much better music used to be:

‘What happened to songs like this? The music now is garbage!’

My Take: Remember back when she was everywhere?? I was her target audience and I couldn’t stand her. I always felt irritated when she was on my TV. Which was a lot. As someone who was very into singing and dancing I felt aggrieved that she was so successful when she wasn’t especially gifted at either. Plus despite her insistence that Love Don’t Cost a Thing and she was Real and Jenny from the Block…she was most famous for marrying/dating lots of rich, famous, profile enhancing people and acting like a diva despite the thin vocals and truly appalling dancing. My childhood friend who called Jen-Jen her ‘idol’ insisted I was wrong about this as J-Lo was a ‘trained dancer.’ My counter argument? Look at the moves she is doing in the video and tell me they are in any way impressive and what you would expect from a professional dancer. She ALWAYS edited the videos to make it look like she could dance but WATCH HER SHE’S TERRIBLE!

Sorry. The song.

It is…ok. The chorus is pretty bombastic and fun, and I remember learning a routine to this song for an audition which was most enjoyable. The message of the song is silly though. Not because it is wrong but because of the messenger. ‘The last thing I need is another bracelet’ she whines in the video, failing to out act a mobile phone. So she shows him by throwing her icky materialistic jewels into the sea. What a woman. And yet her insistence that she is not all about money and status is somewhat undermined by her public persona which, as I mentioned, is as artificial as it gets. So if your soul is as beautiful as you say J-Lo, I am going to go ahead and never buy any of your albums. I know you will love me anyway.

Sorry. The song.

It is fine. End of review.

Did I own it: After all that, yes. Sort of. I didn’t buy the single but I had it on an album called Funky Divas that I got one Christmas.

Could I sing along now: Her voice is so meh it is hard to make out most of the words in the chorus. I am pretty sure she is saying at one point ‘If I wanna floss I got my own’ which demonstrates that although she has taken much from the world at least she takes dental hygiene seriously.

Worth Remembering: Not really no. Sorry Jenny-Jen, you average son of a gun you.

Date of Number 1: 27.01.2001 (Number 1 when I turned 13)
Number of weeks at the top: 2
Artist: Limp Bizkit
Song: Rollin’
Fact: This band are, so I am told, nu metal. At least it is different. And this was their only UK number 1.
Over zealous top voted Youtube comment relating to how much better music used to be:

N/A. I checked the first 6 videos and all the top comments are puns on the word Rollin’.

My Take: Huh. This kind of comes out of left field doesn’t it? Was it brought out in association with a film or something? I checked it out and while it wasn’t it did have Ben Stiller in the video. For…reasons. Ok so what do I think? I’m not a fan. I always found Fred Durst a charisma vacuum and the song’s angry bluster is somewhat undermined by its crowd friendly chorus. It all seems very polished for nu metal, although I am not terribly familiar with the genre in all honesty. I’d be interested if anyone who knows more could fill me in on if they were ever respected artists in their time? I can’t imagine it. It is like a metal band as imagined by Hollywood. However I can’t deny that is nice to review something where I get to head bang.

Did I own it: No. I think my brother had their album with the rude name though.

Could I sing along now: I think I have the chorus nailed down, sure.

Worth Remembering: No. Although if I am wrong may Satan shame me when I arrive. (Sorry. I really don’t know what nu metal is)

Date of Number 1: 10.02.2001
Number of weeks at the top: 4 (!)
Artist: Atomic Kitten
Song: Whole Again
Fact: This was their 5th release and a last ditch attempt to win people over before they were dropped by their record label for not selling a lot of songs. It wasn’t looking good when founding member Kerry Katona abandoned ship during promo for the song to have a Westlifer’s baby. But then they brought in another blonde and…
Over zealous top voted Youtube comment relating to how much better music used to be:

‘Yes! This beats One Direction and Little Mix’

My Take: I liked this song SO much that I bought it when it had Kerry Katona on the song. So before, I think, it hit number 1 with replacement blonde Jenny Frost. And what do I think now? It is a solid three minute pop song with a very sweet chorus, even if the rhymes are strained, with a terribly pleasant and catchy melody. I personally don’t think it was the charisma of the Kittens that made this song a huge success. I think it could have been done by anyone and it still would have sold brilliantly cause it is a nice pop song that has been very cleverly put together despite the CASIO keyboard rhythm section in the background. It wins because it is recognisable, you can learn it after hearing it once or twice, and it is generally quite sincere. I think there are several more songs like that in this era, where the artist got very, very lucky with a great song they didn’t write. I am looking at you S Club 7, Liberty X and many more!

So as you can probably tell I have mixed feelings about this song. It clearly came at the right time, it is still the 4th most successful song by a girl group in the UK, and I do still belt along with it. But it isn’t…special. It is sweet, melancholy and pleasant to the ears (even if you are not a fan of the group, it is hard to object to the vocals even if you cannot be blown away by them) but it has no lasting impact either. I could live my whole life without hearing it again and not be too fussed. Maybe that’s what they should name the sequel.

Did I own it: Yes and still do actually. I rarely listen to it though. Oddly I prefer Kerry’s speak-sing Middle 8 to Jenny’s speak-sing middle 8. I don’t know why. I just think Kerry is more vulnerable. And she was quite sweet when she was 19. It all went a bit odd didn’t it?

Could I sing along now: Yes. And do.

Worth Remembering: Um…Er…Kind of. It is cool it did so well and saved their career and I have a soft spot for girl bands in trackies… and…Oh, ok. Yes. I like it enough to keep it around.

Date of Number 1: 10.03.2001
Number of weeks at the top: 1
Artist: Shaggy feat Rikrok
Song: It Wasn’t Me
Fact: This was the best selling number 1 of 2001. Well done everyone.
Over zealous top voted Youtube comment relating to how much better music used to be:

There is the usual ‘Still listening in 2013’ stuff but the most intriguing top comment was: ‘You know your song is good when it is loved by Michael Jackson’ Huh? Tell me more mistahiphop flimz, my good man.

My Take: Wow. This song is brilliantly funny. I’d forgotten it existed and then I saw that it was the next song on my list and I got super excited. It is actually better than I remember for 2 reasons…

1. The middle 8. Where Rikrok (the featured artist who does 90% of the vocals) tells Shaggy his advice sucks and he should just apologise to his girlfriend and hope for the best: ‘You may think that you’re a player but you’re completely lost.’ I missed that the first time round.
2. What the fuck is Shaggy saying??? I have heard parodies of this song that don’t even come close to capturing how absurd his vocal actually is.

I hope it isn’t insensitive or mean spirited to say, but Shaggy literally performs his bit with all the fineness of a toddler who has drank too much ribena. And it is glorious. Despite the horrendous and explicit sexist overtones I feel I want to give the duo the benefit of the doubt as it seems to be intentionally ridiculous and over the top. Just to be clear: This does not mean it is not misogynistic and gross. It is. But look at Rikrok. Listen to his voice. Do you really, REALLY believe that guy has ever had sex with anyone up against a counter? He sounds like Carlton from the Fresh Prince. Plus it is funny. The idea that she was filming her boyfriend cheating and he doesn’t look up. And he asks Shaggy to picture his friend butt naked…How is that important to the story? This song is outrageously fun and enjoyable and if that makes me part of the problem then I am sorry. Truly I am. All I can say in my defence is…It wasn’t me. Ha ha ha ha…

Did I own it: No. But as I recall it was always on the radio so I think I heard it a lot.

Could I sing along now: A lot of it even though I didn’t remember how, um, descriptive it was. Maybe there was a radio friendly version. Almost certainly, in fact. Plus I can’t sing Shaggy’s bit but then neither can Shaggy.

Worth Remembering: Yes. It is genius. That is all. Awful, awful genius.

Date of Number 1: 17.03.2001
Number of weeks at the top: 1
Artist: Westlife
Song: Uptown Girl
Fact: Their 8th number 1 after their last song, gasp, only made it to No 2. Ha!
Over zealous top voted Youtube comment relating to how much better music used to be:

N/A There are not enough comments to have a top voted comment. Ha.

My Take: Just as I was starting to enjoy myself…They’re back. Not fair. Even though it was for charity it was still ANOTHER sodding cover. Of a Billy fucking Joel song. This was actually a charity song for Comic Relief and yet Billy Joel’s mullet tastic orginal video is a hell of a lot funnier. They can’t even do a funny video well. When they are singing a clearly ridiculous song. It is just bland and uninspired. They annoy me cause they make me repeat myself. They are not even bad enough to bring out the best in me creatively. They just are. Are they even pretty? I never thought so. Bryan in particular always looked especially gormless.

Did I own it: Hell no. Fuck the ‘its for charity’ shit I just bought a red nose and paid my £1 to not wear my school uniform.

Could I sing along now: Only cause everyone knows this song. Not cause Westlife did it. Can’t stress that enough.

Worth Remembering: Come on 2001…no more Westlife. Please? At least me off the hook until summer…

Date of Number 1: 24.03.2001
Number of weeks at the top: 3
Artist: Hear’Say
Song: Pure and Simple
Fact: The biggest selling debut single ever at that point. Also I believe they were the first UK reality TV show creation to launch their song on an unsuspecting world.
Over zealous top voted Youtube comment relating to how much better music used to be:

There was the usual crap about childhood memories coming flooding back but my favourite was ’10 years since Iraq’ This guy measures important historical events in Hear’Say songs. I like him.

My Take: At least it wasn’t a cover version. No seriously, their album may have been rushed beyond belief and the marketing plan of picking a pop band through television the start of all hell breaking loose on the charts (more on that in years to come) but at least some people actually bothered to write them a song. That was for them. Or was it? Let me check…

Ok. I take that all back. It was a cover version. Although it was a cover version of a song by a little known girl band called Girl Thing, created by Simon Cowell to make up for the fact that he turned down the Spice Girls. And, oh how cruel, this group were dropped to make way for Hear’Say. That’s show biz kids.

Right so now my respect for the people behind the song has dropped slightly, it is also been brought to my attention that the song bares a startling resemblance to both ‘All Around the World’ by Oasis and ‘Never Ever’ by All Saints. Oh dear. This isn’t looking great is it?

But cast your mind back to this time. Do you remember the programme Popstars? You might think you do. But you probably don’t. While researching (in the loosest definition of the word) this piece I found quite a few bad quality Youtube videos of the show and it was kind of fascinating.

It wasn’t made during the days of X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent. There was no Ant and Dec, no Dermot and no Simon Cowell. On screen at least. Crucially there was no public vote. We had no say in the line up and therefore no stake in the outcome. It was filmed in local town halls and sometimes less than 20 people showed up at the auditions. The judges were not big personalities (except possibly Nigel Lithgow who was like a low rent Cowell) and were refreshingly transparent about what they were looking for. Therefore if someone ‘had a great look’ but couldn’t hit those tricky top notes of ‘Reach for the Stars’ they put them through anyway. Cause they knew it didn’t really matter if they could all sing. Just as long as one or two of them could.

The show did not end after the group were informed of their success. They filmed them in their new house, they filmed them hearing they were at number 1, they filmed them making their album…And watching it now it is fascinating to me that when they get their number 1 they act like they have made it and life from now on will be coming up Milhouse. But even if you don’t know any of this, you will at least know what happened next…

Like so many products of pop manufacturing they were worked into the ground and their people panicked trying to get songs out before interest waned and so, tired and fed up, one of them quit to launch a solo career. If you watch the video for Pure and Simple it won’t surprise you which one. Then they tried the ‘mature’ sound and look. Which is never a great idea and always stinks of desperation. And so it all ended. After about 18 months. The dream was over. This won’t be the last time I say this about a reality TV winner.

But was the experiment a success or a failure? Well that is another essay for another day, so what of the song? Well lyrically it has little going for it but melodically it is quite the ear worm but mainly cause it steals from two better songs (and I don’t like Oasis). Even at the time did they really believe in it? Did they think: ‘This song is the start of longevity. A long and prosperous pop career I shall have!’ It is the kind of song you tap on your steering wheel while nodding your head but you are not going to scream the words back to the Popstars during their 8th arena tour while crying your eyes out are you? The vocals are relatively inoffensive, but nothing interesting. The quality of the production is quite cheap and karaokesque due to the rush to get it out an issue that would define the work of the group. So now? It is pure and simple: If you want to be a pop star, slow and steady will often win the race. And Hear’Say learned the hard way that if you start at the top there is only one way it can go.

Did I own it: Yes. Bet you didn’t see that coming! I liked it at the time. I still think it is ok, just in case that is not clear.

Could I sing along now: Yes. Actually every word. Which is worrying.

Worth Remembering: Never Ever is. Pure and Simple is not.

Date of Number 1: 14.04.2001
Number of weeks at the top: 2
Artist: Emma Bunton
Song: What Took You So Long?
Fact: The 4th spice to get a solo number 1
Over zealous top voted Youtube comment relating to how much better music used to be:

‘When you compare it to today’s music, it is a classic’

My Take: I had mixed feelings about the Spices going solo. Some groups have a stand out performer who it is clear is the star but those 5 were always best together. It is easy to argue that Mel C had the most potential to be a serious artist but I still had the most fondness for her when she was belting ‘groove it!’ at the end of ‘Who Do You Think You Are.’ There was something really special about the girls as a unit: Feel free to try and name another girl group that has achieved worldwide success without an obvious lead who everyone knows above the rest. They were the first girl group to create a brand that was about 5 young women who overcame their manufactured origin story to become friends. Even with the internal power struggle and backstage drama, they had chemistry that couldn’t have been faked because none of them were talented enough. Every girl at my school wanted to be one of them but not necessarily the same one. And so the idea of them breaking off and going solo did not fill me with hope.

I remember being pleased for the Baby one when she donned a very little gingham dress and loaned her soft breathy vocals to a little twangy country pop number. It wasn’t a bad career move, what with Shania Twain having made pop country quite popular at the tail end of the 90’s and Emma successfully dumps the innocent little girl look with ease. In all likelihood because she always looked a bit uncomfortable with always wearing her hair in bunches and carrying cuddly animals around. She seems happy to be liberated in the video. And I was happy for her. But I wasn’t crazy about the song. It was easy to listen to but nothing memorable. I end up saying that a lot don’t I?

OK but I actually like it better this time round…The twangy guitar is very good, I repeated it five times after my initial listen and it did not hurt, and the little drop out after the chorus is one of many nice little production touches. If anything the worst thing about it is Emma. Her voice needs a bit of help to sound like anything on the chorus and she will never be a special singer but she looks great in the video and it is a pretty vocal if nothing else…Oh I like the end of the song too. Good work guitarist! Overall, it is one of the stronger spice solo songs. Although that is not saying that much is it? Looking at you Geri…

Did I own it: No

Could I sing along now: A bit. But not really

Worth Remembering: Actually yes. It is a good song. Most of what came after from Baby Bunton was nowhere near as well done though. (Except 60’s inspired track ‘Maybe’ which is fabulous) I am going to place a bet now that I won’t see her on this list again…

Date of Number 1: 28.04.2001
Number of weeks at the top: 1
Artist: Destiny’s Child
Song: Survivor
Fact: The first US girl group to achieve a second number one in the UK. Not even the Supremes did that.
Over zealous top voted Youtube comment relating to how much better music used to be:

N/A. Oh dear…I am not touching the comments here as they are Grief Olympics stuff that I don’t need on my day off…

My Take: Oh the drama. I kind of like it. It is all big and silly and it is one of the early examples of the sub genre that has become very, very popular in the social networking era: Calling out your haters. Whether this song is directed at the previous Destiny’s Child members who left (they certainly thought it was and were not happy) or the press or the men that Beyonce sure does love to tease, it is cleverly non specific. This means that we can apply it to anyone or any situation we like as we throw our hands in the air to show that we are survivors and fuck everyone else. That part is not mandatory. But it is expected.

As with all DC work, there is a huge amount of hypocrisy in their empowering lyrics. My favourite is the section I will identify as the ‘I’m better than that’ plot hole. Where they claim they won’t compromise their Christianity. In a video that zooms in on them rubbing sand on their half naked bodies and at the end they run in slow motion down the beach in the tiniest little crop tops you have ever seen. I am not a prude but it all seems a bit predictable and not nearly as liberating as Beyonce would have you believe. As writer Caitlin Moran told her young daughter: You will know Rihanna is truly a powerful woman in a man’s world when she feels able to wear comfy trousers in her videos.

Nonetheless I think this works more than most ‘get lost haters: Wah!’ songs cause it is one of the better pop/r n b products of the time and it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously. For example, when they did it live, Beyonce would always adapt the lyric about how much the song earned to factor in the latest sales and add a very loud and triumphant ‘What!?’ to the end of the verse while pulling a funny face. Now to me, that is hilarious and not in a laughing at her way. She has made millions from these kinds of faux empowering songs and there is something about that ‘What?!’ that nearly makes me think she has a sense of humour about it all.

In conclusion, I like this song. If you are going to write an anthem about overcoming pain and betrayal it might as well be one you can really get down to.

Did I own it: I taped it off the radio at the time for a mixed tape. And I bought it once I had Itunes. I am not ashamed. I have gone off it lately but it is still good for a boogie.

Could I sing along now: Yes. Even though some of the lyrics are awful. It is hard not to laugh while saying things like: ‘If I surround myself with positive things…I am going to gain prosperity’ It sounds like a leaflet for Feng Shui.

Worth Remembering: This is always a tricky thing for me to consider. Just cause I like it better than Independent Women Part 1, does that make it worth remembering? If you ask end of decade lists, INWP1 is the better song. And Survivor is kind of stupid…Even though it is enjoyable…I am going to say yes. If only for the memory of Beyonce going ‘Thought I couldn’t sell without you…sold fif-ty million…What!?’

Date of Number 1: 05.05.2001
Number of weeks at the top: 2 (went back to number 1 on the 26.05.2001)
Artist: S Club 7
Song: Don’t Stop Movin’
Fact: 3rd number 1, 2nd consecutive number 1. Also won Record of the Year on that ITV show and I was thrilled cause it was literally the first time it wasn’t fucking westlife or boyzone. Also, did you remember they got a film? It was called ‘Seeing Double’ It was released in actual cinemas. Seriously. This happened.
Over zealous top voted Youtube comment relating to how much better music used to be:

‘The new generation don’t know what they are missing’

My Take: Are you ready for this? This song is fan-fucking-tastic. This is their crowning jewel. This is pure pop at its finest. Every whoop, every whoa, every computer generated use of the word funky is perfectly placed to quite literally make you come alive. I love it. Not ironically, not calling it a guilty pleasure, no shame: This is just right. I wouldn’t change a damn thing.

There is something marvellously sinister about how hypnotic it is, almost like we have a red shoes situation and nobody on the dance floor can actually stop moving without risking grievous bodily harm. Why would you want to switch this off? It is joyous and good natured but there is a darkness to the urgency of the beat and the cold eyed performances. If you don’t dance to this you may well be dead. Not dead inside. Just dead.

Still trying to deny it? Are you a fan of Billie Jean by MJ or is that just crappy pop too? Oh you like that song do you? Listen again…There you go. What is that, they ripped him off? Yes. They did. What of it? Does it change the fact that the song is brilliant? Who am I talking to????

I just looked up the song writers and in addition to pop legends Simon Ellis and Sheppard Solomon, all seven members of the Club are listed as contributers. Bullshit. I refuse to believe they had anything to do with this…If they could write songs anywhere near this good, there is no way they would bother with reality TV and Uni campus tours to earn their keep. Sorry guys. But take comfort: You were nearby when one of the most entertaining pop songs of the naughties was written…That will be something to hold on to be as you continue the march towards death. All alone. Don’t stop movin’ to the funky, funky, beat…

Oh and just in case you were dying to know…Tina. Tina was my favourite.

Did I own it: No. I’m not sure what that is about…I do own the Beautiful South cover version which is truly inspired in a slowed-down-western-drama kind of way. It is on my Poker playlist and none of my hard drinking gambling friends have ever objected.

Could I sing along now: Yes. And dance. You should see me dance to this. In my head I am super cool. And in real life.

Worth Remembering: Oh yes. Feel free to disagree. I won’t be angry with you, just disappointed. Because if I play this and you don’t get up and start moving then you are just ruining it for yourself.

Date of Number 1: 12.05.2001
Number of weeks at the top: 2
Artist: Geri Halliwell
Song: It’s Raining Men
Fact: First solo female singer to have four consecutive number 1’s. Fucking hell.
Over zealous top voted Youtube comment relating to how much better music used to be:

‘FLAWLESS song’

My Take: Every time you start to forget about her…She appears. Like Freddy Krueger. Whenever you think you are safe…How did that old skipping roap rhyme go again?

One, Two, Geri’s coming for you,
Three, Four, used to dress like a whore,
Five, Six, been eating weetabix,
Seven, Eight, cause her abs are great,
Nine, Ten, but can’t sing again…

In all seriousness: she has no voice. Even the backing on this track is struggling to support her thin little wails. Having said that, this song is what is. Cheesy, naff, and perfect for the karaoke portion of the average hen weekend. I am going to try and stop being a snob… after all I just admitted to loving an S Club song. Does this improve upon the original? Not really. But it adds a bit of harmless drama to your average dance floor and as novelty songs go is pretty ok.

Did I own it: You know…I don’t remember buying it. But I remember having it. That’s how sneaky Geri is…Creepy.

Could I sing along now: Yes. Can’t everyone?

Worth Remembering: No. Unless you were a massive fan of Bridget Jones. Which I suppose is fine.

Date of Number 1: 02.06.2001
Number of weeks at the top: 1
Artist: DJ Pied Piper & The Master of Ceremonies
Song: Do You Really Like It?
Fact: A Garage track used on the channel 4 show ‘Fantasy Island.’ No, me neither.
Over zealous top voted Youtube comment relating to how much better music used to be:

‘This is proper music! England at its best, better than the shite we got out nowadays’

My Take: Huh. This wasn’t the song I thought it was. The mellow beginning, my memory told me, was the pace the whole way through. The slightly stoned, summertime breeze and the question and answer in London wide boy dialect. But no. There is rapping. And a frenzied backing track. That I am told is Garage. Ok. Then back to the refrain, that is all slow then it ups it again…It is at least different to what has come before. I genuinely was surprised by the song speeding up after setting a tone and then going back and forth. The duo may have talent. It is hard to tell cause Garage is so outside my wheel house. But they can’t sing very well and they seem to be ad libbing poorly at the end causing the song to fizzle out like flat Tesco brand lemonade. Even their enthusiasm for introducing themselves to the record buying public is performed like they are aware this will be their only hit and they are slightly apologetic for that. It ends with a really sad little voice going ‘ooh-ooh’ Which is funny. I am not quite sure what to make of this one, to be honest. I respect them for doing something different it is a shame they did not do it better.

Did I own it: No

Could I sing along now: I remembered the lovin, lovin, lovin it part. Had no idea it was anything other than that one bit though.

Worth Remembering: No. It a pretty forgettable song apart from that

Date of Number 1: 09.06.2001
Number of weeks at the top: 3
Artist: Shaggy (again?) feat. Rayvon
Song: Angel
Fact: Fourth and last number 1. Phew
Over zealous top voted Youtube comment relating to how much better music used to be:

‘Good old times, man I miss this kind of music’

My Take: That was fast. I did not expect Shaggy to be back in the charts so quickly. I knew the melody of this one from The Pretenders song ‘Angel of the Morning’ which I had on an album at the time, but it turns out they did not do the original either so my 13 year old self insisting to people who did not care that I preferred the original was pretentious and wrong. It was actually written in the 60’s and has been sang by everyone from Dusty Springfield to Nina Simone. It is a very beautiful song about love that does not last. You should listen to a version of it. Not this one though. Oh God no. They take the story of a break up and change it to say: ‘Closer than my peeps…you are to me…baby’ Ick. It does not even have the comedic originality of ‘Wasn’t Me’ it is just…run of the mill RnB. Not even Shaggys’ ‘unique’ reggae fusion rapping style can salvage what is a yawn inducing mess. Lord knows how it spent 3 weeks at the top of the charts.

Did I own it: No

Could I sing along now: The ‘real’ words yes. Uh oh I am getting up myself again…

Worth Remembering: No. It is really bland. I had forgotten it actually.

Date of Number 1: 30.06.2001
Number of weeks at the top: 1
Artist: Christina, Pink, Kim, Mya
Song: Lady Marmalade
Fact: The 900th number 1 in the UK chart. Also the third time this song had charted. The first act to take it to the top 20 was brilliant 70’s girl group LaBelle, the second time it was a version of the song by All Saints in 1998 that successfully topped the charts.
Over zealous top voted Youtube comment relating to how much better music used to be:

‘Christina puts all modern singers to shame’

My Take: I distinctly remember being baffled that this song was being released what felt like so soon after the All Saints version that I really liked and still do. But they at least they do something different. As the All Saints did. Each version of this song is distinctive and unique and takes the material somewhere modern. Which, even if you are not a fan of covers, you have to admit is better and more interesting than just doing a carbon copy of the original arrangement.

Now, how does this version hold up more than 10 years later? Well…it got a lot of attention at the time as it was a big marketing push for two things:

1) Moulin Rouge. The big silly musical by Baz Thingy.
2) The sexually explicit video, especially the whole: ‘Isn’t Christina all grown up? And Hasn’t her hair gotten big?’ scandal. Things don’t really change do they?

Well I say scandal. It wasn’t really that big a deal. Although it did introduce a change of image for her that simultaneously alienated and gained some fans. But we will get to that later. This isn’t just about Christina. Although I understand her management were quick to shotgun her the best bit of the song. But there is a lot to cover with this cover so I will press on…

The song. The song is a classic and this version is not as good as what came before. The production is all style over substance and the ‘clunk, clunk, clunk’ refrains grates on me after a while…you can have too much cow bell after all. It is just so noisy and OTT. There is a great story in this song and a good opportunity to flex your vocal chops so why over do it? Speaking of which…

The vocals. Again, kind of noisy and manic and you lose the melody and the words as Pink and Christina engage in a shouting contest and Lil’ Kim appears to have just woken up. And Maya is there. Or so I am told. Ok, so together it is a garbled mess of disorganised and badly thought out riffs how about the individual sections?

Maya: Kind of nasal and not very confident.

Pink: I really like Pink as a vocalist actually. I think she is an underrated singer. But she is not at her best here. Although she can at least sell it live, her ability to really sing with passion and conviction is muted in her verse although she gets to belt a bit later.

Lil’ Kim: Ugh. Maya may be a piece of furniture but I’d take her average performance over this charming contribution about how they are bad ass chicks who like diamonds, money and fucking. It is not that I object to the ‘sexing up’ of a song about a hooker and I have nothing against rap. All Saints added a rap that I liked fine. But this has nothing to do with the song or even the film really, and is so phoned in it is not even real.

Christina: Her somewhat infamous vibrato is in full force here and while she injects some much needed oohmph to proceedings the words are unintelligible and the bellowing does get old fast.

So I hate it right? Wrong. It is not my favourite version of but it is still a great song and I like aspects of it. At least they can sing even if I am not a fan of all the voices on display. At least it is a pop song about something even if you can’t tell over the riffing. At least it will get you moving even if it just to turn down that fucking racket. And, best of all, at least some of the performers tried to inject some personality and sense of humour into the charts. Because nobody could take this too seriously…right?

I liked it a lot better when it came out. I loved singing along and acting like a diva with the feather boa I had gotten for my 12th birthday. And I loved the soundtrack to Moulin Rouge, a film that had the most exhilarating first 20 minutes I had ever seen in a movie musical. Listening to this version of Lady Marmalade as an adult, I feel a lot does not work about it and everyone involves seems to be trying too hard to win some Grammys. But it still works on the most important level. You will fucking groove to this song.

Did I own it: Yes.

Could I sing along now: Yes.

Worth Remembering: Yes actually. Although I urge you to seek out LaBelle and All Saints versions.

Next Time…July-December 2001 Where I was temporarily broken by a cover version of a cover version by an artist I had not expected to appear in the charts again and a dreadful novelty song that was truly inescapable at the time… but just as I was about to give up and declare the 000’s a disaster zone…She returned. With one of the best songs I had ever heard. Touché chart music. Touché. And thank you.

‘It is often when night looks darkest, it is often before the fever breaks that one senses the gathering momentum for change, when one feels that resurrection of hope in the midst of despair and apathy’

(Hilary Clinton, possibly talking about chart music in the year 2001. But probably not.)

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1 Comment

Filed under Music

One response to “Reviewing Number One Singles from the Year 2001 (Part 1)

  1. As someone who was of an age and inclination to attend nu metal clubs at the time (the age being illegal and the inclination being embarrassing in retrospect), I can tell you that Limp Bizkit, while very popular, were never what you would call ‘cool’. It was OK to do the Rollin’ dance from the video if you were a girl, very drunk, and held the most ironic expression possible while doing so. But If you bought a t-shirt, an album, or, god forbid, a red cap, your tastes were never fully to be trusted again.
    Also, I feel you are very brave for dissing Lil’ Kim on the internet. I am not enough of a badass chick for such things. I’d worry that she’d find me.

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