Reviewing British Number One Singles from the Year 2002: January-End of June
Welcome back to my journey through the songs that topped the charts when I was a teenager as I look at them with an adult eye and attempt to say whether or not the deserve the unconditional love of nostalgia that my generation currently awards them.
Now in previous versions of this I have included Youtube comments to demonstrate that, yes, people genuinely and without any self awareness try and claim that these songs were so much better than the music of today. However, Youtube has gone a bit weird lately and now the comments are harder to read and therefore I can’t be arsed trying to find funny comments anymore. Sorry. Blame Youtube getting cosy with Google Plus. Sluts.
Date of Number 1: 19.01.2002
Number of weeks at the top: 1
Song Name: More than a Woman
Fact: The first woman ever to have a posthumous chart topper in the UK. She was only 22 when she died in a plane crash.
My Take: My first thought was: ‘This has to be a Timbaland song’ His production touches have a very distinctive stamp and it elevates this song beyond generic RnB with some cool sound effects, a slamming beat and some wacky guitar work.
The internet’s truth on this song is it demonstrates that Aaliyah was a genius. Well…I was not aware of her prior to her death and so coming at it not knowing her back catalogue…The song does not gain anything from her performance. She didn’t write it at all and her vocal is just ok…Not unique, pretty light and frothy, only notable in that she does her best to make it sound like the lyrics mean anything. At one point I was sure she was accusing this guy of having ‘newborns in your closet’ which was a worrying twist but it turns out it was ‘new bones in your closest’ which is actually a bit of clever wordplay and not an attempt at chilling surrealism.
The video is classic 2002: She is on a motorbike, in a futuristic room, then there is the crappy dance routine culminating in trying to be sexy with a hankie…the standard spec. I was laughing until it got to the bit about the video being dedicated to the memory of Aaliyah. That was a bummer.
So, to give her the benefit of the doubt, I went back and listened to some of her other songs and found out she was the 90’s Lorde: A teenage prodigy, self assured and confident beyond her years. Fair enough, she was talented. She has a nice upper range and seemed pretty savvy. But…I just can’t listen to this kind of music with any sort of enthusiasm. Mid tempo RnB is just so forgettable. Even if Aaliyah herself isn’t.
Did I own it: No. I don’t think I was aware of this song at the time either.
Could I sing along now: No. I could give you ‘more than a woman…more than a…hmnhmhm…’ Before launching into the Bee Gees song ‘More than a Woman’ almost by default. Now there is a catchy song.
Worth remembering: Oh God. No. If you like it and miss her then…carry on. It is proper sad that she was not able to keep being alive, what a horrible thing for those who loved her. But the song doesn’t do anything for me.
Date of Number 1: 26.01.2002
Number of weeks at the top: 1
Artist: George Harrison
Song Name: My Sweet Lord
Fact: The first time in chart history that a dead singer took over from another dead singer. This is the second time ‘My Sweet Lord’ got to number 1, having topped the charts exactly 31 years earlier.
My Take: What can I say that hasn’t already been said? The answer is nothing so allow me to repeat the obvious: Harrison was just a babby when The Beatles made it big and in a band filled with big egos and lots of strange haircuts he plugged away carving out his song writing voice despite not receiving a huge amount of encouragement from his buddies. When The Beatles ended in a storm of Japanese artists and hurt feelings, Harrison had quite a lot of songs to share with the world.
‘All Things Must Past’ is generally considered the gold standard of Beatle solo albums and with good reason. But ‘My Sweet Lord’ is possibly most famous for the plagiarism controversy that genuinely rocked the musical world at the time. Harrison’s ode to the Hindu God bared more than a passing resemblance to the Ronnie Mack penned Chiffon hit ‘He’s So Fine.’ Whoops. Harrison’s response was that any plagiarism was subconscious as he had actually been intending to nick the melody of ‘Oh Happy Day’ a non-copyrighted classic Christian feel good number. Err…Good point?
Ok, so the similarity is undeniable and it is clear that ‘My Sweet Lord’ is not an entirely original song but I feel it is significant that of the many songs penned by the Quiet Beatle it was this one that was reissued and sent soaring to the top of the charts in the wake of his death. George did not have the strongest vocal and yet here he is powerfully and beautifully capturing the excitement and melancholy of life and death in one assured and well pitched performance. Plus he is an excellent guitar player meaning that the song is elevated beyond a spiritual call to something decidedly more rocky, which is cool. I am deeply moved by this combination, as it is fitting tribute to one of the coolest artist in pop/rock history and an acknowledgement that wherever we go after we die it is a hell of an exciting trip. After a long battle with cancer, I feel Harrison more than earned the right to see whatever he hoped to see.
Did I own it: No although I have it now and also the Billy Preston version from the Concert for George that was put together by his chums. If you watch the concert you see his son Dhani playing guitar and it is spooky how much of Harrison’s double he is. Death is an illusion in many ways. On we go and we go on. Especially musicians.
Could I sing along now: Yes, for the most part. The lyrics are pretty repetitive but I am not one for memorising prayers so I usually just howl my favourite bit about how it takes so long.
Worth remembering: Yes. It is not my favourite of Harrison’s but it is a fitting tribute to the man and his work: He was not always a good guy but boy could he play guitar.
Date of Number 1: 02.02.02 (Hey!)
Number of weeks at the top: 4 (Wow. Really?)
Artist: Enrique Iglesias
Song Name: Hero
Fact: His first number 1 but his Dad topped the charts in 1981.
My Take: Wow. I can’t even remember a time when this song wasn’t a punchline. It is the ultimate in saccharine, tacky ballad bullshit and I don’t tend to interact with people who listen to music like this sincerely and as a result I was shocked to see that not only was this song a hit it was popular enough with the masses to remain at the top for four weeks. Seriously?!
It has instant creep factor with him whispering earnestly ‘Let me be your hero’ I had the volume turned up too high by accident and jeez Louise that was sinister. Can we all just stop and consider what a creepy sentiment this is??? Can you even be a self proclaimed hero or is that a paradox? If you start craving attention, credit and reward surely you cease to be, in any way shape or form, a hero? Mr Iglesias seems to be suggesting that if he successfully kisses away my pain and stands by my side then he will be my hero. How arrogant can you get??? I would expect my partner to be emotionally supportive and present in my life without needing a fucking award ceremony for it.
Also it sounds like that kid in class who always wanted to get picked first: ‘I can do it miss! Miss! MISS! I can do it! Let me be the hero yeahyeah yeah…Miss? I cut myself on the safety scissors when I tried to cut my own tongue!’
Oh, Oh and he sounds like one of those guys who is perpetually single but always whining about all the ways he would look after his girlfriend if a real life woman would actually give him the chance. Cause there is nothing sexier than a man who feels the need to assure the various women in his life that he respects women?! Again, this should really, really go without saying.
Oh, Oh, Oh, also, (this is great, this song is so bad it is like Christmas, which gift should I open next???) The whole ‘would you dance if I asked you to dance?… Would you save my soul tonight?… Would you die for the one you love?’ shit is like the kind of things teenagers in their first relationships ask each other to ‘test’ if it is totezforreals. He was in his 20’s. No excuse.
I love that Jennifer Love Hewitt is in this video…Hello 2002! And, I returned to the video at the end of the first chorus only to come face to face with Mickey Rourke which is always startling when you are not expecting it. Mickey Rourke really needed Sin City and The Wrestler didn’t he? Poor bastard…Hold the phone: Enrique just punched Micky Rourke!!! This is my favourite thing that has ever happened!!!
Oh, and he just wants to hold you…all night…yep that’s all…Fast forward 10 years and he is singing about fucking but nope…back in 2002 he just wanted to listen to you read poems from your journal, play with your hair and tell you what a special snowflake you are.
Wait…Did…Did he just die because Micky Rourke punched his necklace off him? And then he waited for the night and rain to actually die cause it was more dramatic?? What is going on????
As you can see I am losing control a bit. There is so much material and so little time. Basically, this song is dreadful. Utter tosh. Nauseatingly tender. You know what though? I hadn’t forgotten it. It has endured. So I will give it that much credit. This song lives on…Even if nobody respects it.
Did I own it: Oh hells no. Cause I am neither a recipient of a lazy Mother’s Day gift nor permanently in an elevator. I used to work in a chemist though. And yes. This album was inflicted on me. A lot. It also had the Spanish version of this song. This did not improve things in my life.
Could I sing along now: Like I said, it is catchy. So I can sing along with the chorus. But only while vomiting.
Worth remembering: Hmmm…I am going to go with no. Don’t worry Micky Rourke. Your career is going to get a second wind. JL Hewitt? I have some bad news…
Date of Number 1: 02.03.2002
Number of weeks at the top: 1
Artist: Westlife (fucking…Booooo!)
Song Name: World of our Own
Fact: Their 10th number 1 making them one of only 4 artist to achieve double figures in the chart topping stakes. The other 3 being Elvis, Cliff Richard and The Beatles. Screw you record buying public. Screw. You.
My Take: Ahhh…they are trying to be cool. One of them has a fedora. Just…No. No Westlife. Take That are going to come back soon and nobody is going to care about any of you. Even their own Mum’s couldn’t pick them out of a line up nowadays.
Should I attempt to put my petty hatred of Westlife aside and talk about the song? No. As I have explained I can’t tell you how good their music is because I just see them…Their awful, boring, smug faces. Fuck them. Suits…Bridge…Key change…NO! Fuck. Them.
Did I own it: Yes. I listened to it every day and drew hearts around Shane. No I fucking didn’t.
Could I sing along now: Meh-meh-meh-meh-meh-meh-meh….I assume.
Worth remembering: Already forgotten. When does the Westlife end??? When????????
Date of Number 1: 09.02.2002
Number of weeks at the top: 3
Artist: Will Young
Song Name: Anything is Possible/Evergreen
Fact: Stamped all over the Hear’Say record for biggest selling début and was the best selling single of the year.
My Take: Back to life, back to reality…
Nobody saw this coming. Not really. The star of Pop Idol 2002 was indisputably the little 17 year with the spiky hair and the speech impediment. The media knew it. Simon Cowell knew it. Ant and Dec knew it. Even his name screamed pop idol: Gareth Gates.
Then there was the posh guy who was the last auditionee of the show who seemed to be having a laugh, dancing around to ‘Blame it on the Boogie’ Watch that first audition and ask yourself: Would someone that low key, so not fussed even be permitted to cross the threshold of the TV talent market today???
So how did Will Young, against all the odds, become the first of many Reality TV solo artists to win a big prize and a big ‘I did it’ song? Was it his pleasant, versatile vocal? The moment he politely told Cowell that his criticisms were wrong? Or was the TV watching world just so confident that Gates would wipe the floor with any of the competition that it just sat back to wait for his inevitable triumph?
I don’t doubt for a second that if it had been like Hear’Say and the judges got to choose the winner that Gates would have won. The invasion of Reality TV music hadn’t quite got off the ground yet: It was all still very low rent, very simple, the stakes were highish but everyone was just having a nice time…And that was how an upper middle class young man whose dream date was tea with the Queen came to victory.
The fact is…Will Young was the better singer and more accomplished performer. But we know that does not necessarily guarantee success in the craziest of industries. If you listen to ‘Evergreen’ you can hear that is was designed for the forgone conclusion that was Gareth’s victory. From the fact that it is a sodding Westlife cover and Gates sang Westlife at his first audition, right down to the talk of some beautiful girl he wants to impress with his Idol victory. Young came out shortly after the show finished and while his songs are not gender specific most of the time I can’t see him being happy about singing such generic heteronormative lyrics.
‘Anything is Possible’ is even worse though, and I don’t even remember this song being played on the radio at all, despite it being part of a Double A Side that is one of the most successful records of the 21st Century so far. But the songs must have had something going for them to sell so many copies right? You know what? I will let Will Young himself field this one…:
‘I’ve never done ‘Anything is Possible’ live. I hate it. I absolutely hate it…I can’t bear ‘Evergreen’ or ‘Anything is Possible’, they’re absolutely shocking. And you wouldn’t believe the amount of money that was spent on those videos. F**king hell! Dreadful videos. At one moment it looks like I’m in love with a tree! Dreadful. Really odd. Dreadful. No, no, no. No.’
God bless you Will Young. You are pretty awesome and actually talented. You won a TV talent contest without selling out your personal tragedies, difficulties or by crying lots. You patronised the record mogul Cowell by explaining that you were far from an average talent and then beat him at his own game. You did a couple of shit songs and then started doing your own thing. For that and for so much more you have my respect and some of my money. But not for these songs. Never these songs. These songs are everything that is wrong with TV tie-in music. And yet the worst is yet to come…
Did I own it: I may have bought ‘Pure and Simple’ but I have my limits. Neither of these songs are proper songs. Fact.
Could I sing along now: The chorus of Evergreen. Sort of. It was played a lot at the time. He sounds great. Doesn’t save the song though.
Worth remembering: Nope. Will Young’s shock victory is still awesome many years later but the songs have long been relegated to the shoe box of time.
Number of weeks at the top: 4
Artist: Gareth Gates
Song Name: Unchained Melody
Fact: The 4th time this song topped the charts. Also Gates was the aforementioned runner up to Young. Simon Cowell was not going to let this stammering cash cow slip away, second place be damned.
Also, how come the words ‘Unchained Melody’ don’t ever feature in the song? I actually know the answer to this because I am currently attached to an Everything Machine but imagine for a second I wasn’t: Why is it called that??? Why???
My Take: If my chat about Pop Idol bores you…You may want to skip this one. Yes, Simon Cowell did sign the runner up Gates as his plan was to make the kid a star and he wasn’t going to let the small fact that SOMEONE ELSE WAS VOTED THE WINNER OF THE SHOW stand in the way. Gates had performed this song on the show and I am pretty sure he even wore the same white suit that he has on in the video. Bit of a kick in the teeth for the actual victor to release it so close to his own single: Like Cowell way saying ‘No…THIS is a Pop Idol’
And so he is…Kind of. He is singing a very old karaoke standard with boyish enthusiasm with earnest ‘crouching with the microphone’ poses. He has a gappy smile and meaningful eyes but it is very very boring. The song is not one I am especially fond of anyway: It has a cool doo-wop melody but it is often performed so slowly (Like the songs says!) and gets old really fast. Even people who claim to like it, I imagine, can’t sit through the whole thing. This version in particular seems to go on forever. Gates can actually sing but his lack of life experience and -aww-gee-imma-popstar-Maw! delight makes the experience of listening to this as exciting and memorable as eating paper: You might think of it once in a while and go: ‘Why did I do that? It didn’t taste of anything and it took ages!’
See, this kind of single is the reason I have very little respect and quite a bit of contempt for S Cowell and friends. I would not consider myself a musical snob: There are plenty of reality TV popstars whose music I have bought willingly and without regret. Hell, one reality TV act is right up there as one of my favourites of all time. OF ALL TIME. We will get to that later. I am not saying that releasing songs written by other people or getting famous from a format like this means you have to turn in your artist badge. However, I really resent Cowell acting like he knows and understands music. He doesn’t. He knew that if he rushed this release out it would probably do well. This is a tried and tested song performed by a lovely little choir boy. Cha-Ching.
But Cowell isn’t trying to create interesting, innovative or even new music. He promises short term exposure and nothing more. The man got a Number 1 with the teletubbies. And signed puppets Zig and Zag. And gave Robson and Jerome a musical career. This man is not in it for the love of music. He likes money and big numbers. This is what he knows. And even this he had to learn after failing a lot. So why does he act so smug and make declarations like: ‘That song is one of the best songs ever written’ like he KNOWS what makes a good song? He doesn’t. He is a second-hand car dealer at best. He plays it safe and sleazy. And cheap. Really, really, cheap.
I am not telling you anything you didn’t already knows. But think what a man with that much power and influence could do if he had a passion for music? A true love for creativity? But nope. Let’s just release another version of another Righteous Brothers cover and clock off early.
Did I own it: No. I secretly thought Gareth Gates was a bit crap.
Could I sing along now: Yes. Is it possible to go through your life without hearing these lyrics? Most of them have sunk in anyway.
Worth remembering: No. If I could get rid of this song all together I probably would.
Date of Number 1: 27.04.2002
Number of weeks at the top: 1
Song Name: The Hindu Times
Fact: Their 6th Number 1, 7 years after their first.
My Take: I am not a massive Oasis fan but it was refreshing to have something like this after listening to the clean production that pervades Pop Idol singles. This is a good example of psychedelic rock that has a fresh, happy sound without being too twee. It has a faux nostalgia vibe that I often quite like in my rock songs.
Having said that, I find that Liam’s vocal grates on me pretty much always. I much prefer Noel…In every regard come to think of it. Plus, as with ALL of Oasis’s big hits, this song appears to be a rip off of at least 4 different tracks. I know it is very hard to come up with wholly original material, there are only so many chords I am sure, but Jesus: This is one part Stereophonics, one part Abba (Listen to ‘Does your Mother Know’ and tell me I am wrong) possibly half ‘Street Fighting Man’ by the Stones and, as always, a sprinkling of Beatles. It reminds me of ‘Rain’ in particular. It wouldn’t bother me if they were not so arrogant about their abilities.
This was regarded as a pretty killer comeback song. I am not a huge fan. I would take Beatles, Stones, Abba and Phonics (in that order) over Oasis. But I would take Oasis over Gareth Gates so…Cheers guys.
Did I own it: No but I did buy the album it came from ‘Heathen Chemistry’ It contains the one Oasis song with Liam vocals I actually really like and I still give it a listen now and then.
Could I sing along now: No. Not at all.
Worth remembering: Nope. I am sure Noel Gallagher is crying into his Cookie Dough ice cream somewhere…
Date of Number 1: 04.05.2002
Number of weeks at the top: 1
Song Name: Freak Like Me
Fact: This was the first single to contain new member Heidi. It was a cover of a 90’s hit by American singer Adina Howard.
My Take: Ah the Sugababes. They appeared on the scene with a genuinely brilliant slice of electro pop pie called ‘Overload’ presenting a fascinating combination of musical assurance and no desire to be popstars at all. If you go back and watch them on TOTP you see the audience are cheering and dancing while the Babes stare deep into the camera as if daring you to point out that this is all a bit artificial and shit. They look so sodding miserable. Then they slide of their stools and dance awkwardly. It is just wonderful.
The three girls, Mutya, Keisha and Siobhan, had been making music since the age of about 13 and now at the ripe old age of about 15, were ready for the world to hear what they were made of. But teenage girls are not exactly known for being stable and secure in themselves so the horrors of fame hit them hard. Despite the moderate success of their début album One Touch, Siobhan had grown weary of both her bandmates and her punishing management and so legged it. It looked like bye bye to the Babes…
As with Atomic Kitten before them, a blonde Liverpudlian with an average voice was recruited to make up numbers and a killer tune was released just in time to save their career. Phew! Although at what cost?
There is a small number of people with nothing better to do (including myself) who like to argue about which generation of Babes was the best. The answer is, of course, subjective. However it is undeniable that the changing of the guards lead to a shift in sound. Their ‘Freak Like Me’ was a dance number that also sampled a Gary Numan track that was created by underground producer Richard X using the Howard version. But after failing to get permission from her to release the song he recruited the Babes. Mutya and Keisha are both talented song writers who were creatively very involved in their first album…How did they feel about their first really massive hit being a cover version? Did it sting at all? No idea. Does it matter? Not really.
It is a bangin’ (yes bangin’) song and it is hard to object to it on an artistic level: At least they didn’t just copy what made the original successful. It still sounds great, a genuinely slick mash up with a grimy feel that told the world it is ok for girl groups to get down and dirty. Only…Looking back on it their performance isn’t as convincingly nasty as Howard’s (the awesome Mutya comes close to meeting the standard but Heidi and Keisha are pretty light) and it doesn’t seem like the essential listening it did when I was 14. How disappointing.
But don’t worry…The Babes are not done yet…’Overload’ may have got people to sit up and notice them ‘One Touch’ may have done pretty good but ‘Freak Like Me’ had taken them to the big leagues and this was only the beginning.
Did I own it: Yes! I did buy this one and very pleased with it I was too. I still have Freak Like Me on my itunes but, as I said, it doesn’t do it for me the same way it did in 2002.
Could I sing along now: Absolutely. Although I feel silly. Because it is usually on when I am doing dishes in my pyjamas and therefore lines like ‘I’ll take you round the hood on a gangsta lean…’ seem pretty much the most ridiculous claim I can make. I am sure my neighbours mock me.
Worth remembering: Hmmm…Yes. It may not stand out to me as much anymore but that intro alone earns it a spot in the pop history books.
Date of Number 1: 11.05.2002
Number of weeks at the top: 1
Artist: Holly Valance
Song Name: Kiss Kiss
Fact: The third Neighbours actors to get a UK Number 1
My Take: At the time, I was all: ‘Look! Flick from Neighbours has released a song!’ Because I watched Australian soaps. And I remember there was a mild amount of fuss over her being all sexy and that. I have just watched the video and I don’t really see what the palaver was about. She is rocking the just got out the shower look fine but…Meh. I have worked in retail and therefore have dressed naked mannequins before. It is pretty much that.
So the track, I hear you cry, what of it? This song had already proven to be a tried and tested hit throughout Europe. It was originally performed by a Turkish dude called Tarkan and has been covered by a whole heap of people in a whole heap of languages. It was translated to English in 2001 and released by someone called Stella Soleil. And so this was the song that Holly launched her singing career with. But her version was different cause…She was nearly naked in the video and that.
I don’t like kissy sounds on songs, but I do like dramatic Arabic pop so…I’m torn. I don’t really feel the track overall but it was quite a good grinding on the dance floor number. I bear no ill will towards Holly but there was nothing about this that suggested she was going to be the next big thing. I had forgotten all about it and her until today. Maybe should have stuck with Neighbours. It pays a steady wage, Holls.
Did I own it: No. I remember we danced to it at my Saturday stage school once…How inappropriate.
Could I sing along now: No…I sort of mumbled along with the chorus.
Worth remembering: No. The Turkish version is actually more fun.
Date of Number 1: 18.05.2002
Number of weeks at the top: 1
Artist: Ronan Keating
Song Name: If Tomorrow Never Comes
Fact: A cover version of a country song by Garth Brooks. Ronan’s third and final (hallelujah) number one.
My Take: So far there have been about 3 completely original tracks as Number 1’s in the year 2002. Jesus. Like I have been saying: people are far too kind about my generation’s music. Case in Point: We were still letting the bland, cheesy, awful vocal stylings of one Ronan Keating top the charts.
While I am sure his version is much worse than the original, a safe bet, I can’t imagine the song working any better as a country track. It is all very middle of the road musings about ‘Gee? What if I die before I show my girl how much I love her?’ and it is very boring but at least it might sound vaguely meaningful if performed well but with all the standard pop production touches like drum beats and strings created by a machine it just sounds dull as hell.
The only advantage of this being on the list was the truly awful video which was made in such a rush that you can clearly see the crew in the shots where Ronan is watching his sleeping love and the car accident green screen effects are pretty appalling. So when his girlfriend reacts in her sleep to his ‘death’ and the crowd of people look horrified I like to think they are actually reacting to the shoddy video and not the untimely end of Keating.
Also when are lyricists going to learn that watching someone sleep is NOT romantic? Just creepy. Seriously. Just weird. Nope. Never cool. Honest. Doesn’t work. Just makes me think the singer is really wrong.
Did I own it: I did not
Could I sing along now: I will not
Worth remembering: Ok…I hate Ronan’s voice and everything he stands for. So no. But I will give him this: This is one of his better vocal performances: he doesn’t overdo it and while it is still crap it is not the worst I have ever heard him do. So well done mate. Now piss off and don’t darken my door again.
Date of Number 1: 25.02.2002
Number of weeks at the top: 1
Artist: Liberty X
Song Name: Just a Little
Fact: These were the 5 runner ups from the TV talent show Popstars from 2001. They formed a group and got signed by Richard Branson. This was their first and only number 1.
My Take: Now here is another interesting reality TV tale…Once upon a time the producers and judges on Popstars selected 5 people to be in a group. Kevin, Tony, Kelli, Jessica and Michelle (I didn’t need to look up their names. I didn’t pass Standard Grade Chemistry but this I remember) were told: No thanks. They decided they would form their own group and get signed. They soldiered on in the face of media mirth (before they had even released a song they were dubbed Flopstars. Get it?!) and name disputes: They had to change their name from Liberty to Liberty X. Despite such sacrifices they kept going…and the Pop Gods rewarded them with this…
‘Just a Little’ works because it is fun. Kelli, Jessica and Kevin are vocally on pretty good form (Michelle and Tony…were also there) and are clearly having a ball, there is a silly spy video with ridiculous PVC outfits, the lyrics are hilariously patronising to the intended recipient (imagine actually saying to someone ‘you’re so innocent…please don’t take this wrong cause it’s a compliment’) and yet it is…God save me…kind of cool. Yep. I don’t know how or why but it is a groovy pop song. If you can explain it…please do.
In a way, ‘Just a Little’ was the worst thing that could have happened to Liberty X. With this song they surpassed Hear’Say commercially and critically winning a Brit Award and achieving international recognition…But the only way was down and they were not able to reach the dizzying heights of ‘Just a Little’ ever again. The name of the song was fitting. They would be allowed just a little peek into the kingdom of pop royalty…They caught a glimpse of Elton John and Prince chilling in the jacuzzi…Before the door was slammed in their faces. It takes more than one song to make an impressive career.
Did I own it: Not only did I buy it I used to declare it ‘my song’ whenever I went out dancing, which is proper cringey now. My previous flatmates spent quite a long time trying to guess what ‘my song’ was as I promised if they guessed it I would dance on the closest piece of furniture whenever it came on wherever we were. Despite my Rumpelstiltskin type deal with the Pop devils, they never did guess Liberty X. I guess they gave me too much credit. Ha! Losers!
Could I sing along now: Yes. As with ‘Freak Like Me’ I do feel silly but nonetheless…Sexy…Everything about you so sexy…
Worth remembering: Yes. It has dated a bit and it is a better song than the act in question deserved but it remains a good song. Honest.
Date of Number 1: 01.06.2002
Number of weeks at the top: 1
Song Name: Without Me
Fact: With this, his third Number 1, he became the most successful rapper in UK chart history.
My Take: You got to give it to him: He knows how to make an entrance. It was always genuinely exciting to hear his lead single off of each new album and I vividly recall applauding at my TV at the sound of ‘Guess whose back…back again…’
Having said that I always preferred his ‘serious’ singles and I didn’t tend to buy the ones where he just took random jabs at celebrity culture while dressing up in lots of outfits. ‘Without Me’ is definitely in the same vein as ‘The Real Slim Shady’ in that he complains that he has created an alter ego he can’t control and everyone wants to be as awesome as him but the charts are stale and crap without him…He is not wrong. His flow is still sharp, even if the joke is getting somewhat tired.
Did I own it: No. I enjoyed the Batman and Robin (Dre and Slim) video at the time though.
Could I sing along now: Yes. Na-na-na-na-na…Na-na-na-na-na…
Worth remembering: I suppose so. He has some better ones coming up in the not too distant future…
Date of Number 1: 08.06.2002
Number of weeks at the top: 2
Artist: Will Young
Song Name: Light my Fire
Fact: A cover version of a Doors song. The Doors version only got to Number 49 when it was released in 1967
My Take: Oh hi Will that was fast. This was easily Will’s best performance on Pop Idol so it is not that shocking to see it chart not 3 months after his victory. It was probably a smart move on the label’s part to hold off releasing this till a more summary month as it has a very pims in the park feel to it. Will’s voice sounds good and the song itself is a nice track. Not much else to say about it. Still not an especially creative moment but a cooler cover than ‘Unchained Melody’ and a hell of a lot better than ‘Evergreen’
Oh wait, if you want to see Will Young completely mortified watch his performance of this song on World Idol a dreadful idea where all Idol winners from across the globe joined together for the first and final time to compete, Eurovision style, to be crowned the ultimate Idol. Mortal Kombat! Both he and Kelly Clarkson looked like they had been brought there in ropes with their families being held hostage in another room. It is ok guys. You will be free from your contractual obligations soon.
Did I own it: No. Sorry Will, ol’ buddy.
Could I sing along now: I can give you the chorus if you’d like
Worth remembering: I don’t know when I got so keen on Mr Young…I kind of want to say yes but my head says no. In fact, I’d bet even Will would say no. His best is yet to come.
Date of Number 1: 22.06.2002
Number of weeks at the top: 4
Artist: Elvis Presley vs JXL
Song Name: A Little Less Conversation
Fact: Released 25 years after Elvis died it became his 18th Number 1
My Take: Damn. Sometimes remixes do work pretty well. One of Elvis’s less well known songs made for one of his many movies, it was brought to the attention of Dutch musician Tom Holkenborg better known as JXL (fair enough) after it was used in the blockbuster Ocean’s 11 in 2001. He lowered Elvis’s vocal, emphasised the funky drumming, added some electronic joy and abracadabra: He had a hit worthy of that rare honour…A pardon from the Elvis Estate. Yep, it became the first song to feature Mr Presley that was allowed to be remixed. Add football to the story and you have a monster of a track on your hands. Yes it didn’t hurt that it was a World Cup Year. And this song is like sporty adrenalin to the ears…Cha ching. Well done JXL.
This is a seriously cool version of this song, I love the horns, the guitars, the drumming, the crazy jumps, the tempo shifts, Elvis sounds great as do the backing vocals and it is just made for mad dancing. This is how you sample a song: You take a famous singer, find a song that nobody really knows by them and you make it modern. I especially appreciate the echoy, ominous use of the King himself…Like he is reaching out from beyond the grave to remind us to drink coca cola and watch football. Aces.
Did I own it: Yes. This grew on me gradually as I recall but I did love it.
Could I sing along now: Yes. But I’d rather dance…
Worth remembering: Yes. It works. Good work summer 2002!
Next Time… Eminem finds himself a contender for Oscar night, we get a Mediterranean novelty song and Reality TV continues to dominate with the most appalling collaboration I have ever forgotten about and possibly the best début by any group ever…No I am not kidding…I will stand by them forever…The greatest thing to happen to pop since Abba arrives…July-December 2002