Now, this should be an interesting one (“about time too,” chorus blog readers all over the world). In the past when I’ve done these chart retrospectives, the selection of oldies has always been from the dim and distant past, be it the 90s or even late 80s. I thought for a change it would be worth going back just a handful of years if only to see whether certain records or artists have taken their rightful place in a historical context in such a short space of time.

That said, it does all depend on your own perspective on the era. The summer of 2000 doesn’t seem so long ago to those of us who lived through it, but it was still nine years ago. I think back to my teenage years in 1989 and remember that 1980 seemed like ancient history. Therefore for some, these songs may well reflect a bygone era and a stage in pop music development which is all but unknown. For my part, the summer of 2000 represented a strange transitional period in my life, as I shall recount later, but for all that I do have fond memories of the time, many of which I’m sure are tied up in the songs that will follow.

Therefore the wayback machine is duly in operation, thanks to my own tape of the Radio One Top 40 show as broadcast on July 30th 2000. Deputising host for this show is Scott Mills, which makes you realise just how long he has been around, his first show on the network having been in 1998. That said, the show doesn’t get off to the most impressive start as for most of the intro he is clearly reading the pre-prepared script and not delivering “last week’s rundown” in a way that suggests he actually cares about the material. He warms to the task later on, but for a brief moment, you find yourself wondering if Mark Goodier isn’t the more dynamic host.

40: Girl Thing – Last One Standing

Now about a year ago I wrote a full account of the entire career of Girl Thing and why they weren’t half as bad as they were painted. Nonetheless, the spectacularly failed girl group were for a long time held up as the prime example of Simon Cowell’s fallibility as he had confidently bragged that the five-piece were ideally primed to become just as big as the Spice Girls only to see them fail to make the hoped-for impact and vanish just as quickly as they came. Last One Standing was their debut single and made a respectable enough Top 10 placing first week out, but sadly for them, this was a chart era when a low Top 10 just wasn’t good enough to build a career on and it was an uphill struggle from then on. The final nail in the coffin was seeing the track that was supposed to be their third single Pure And Simple handed instead Hear’Say for whom it sold a million copies. For my money, Last One Standing remains a badly underrated pop record, even if the annoying could have been dialled down just a little. Don’t listen to the doubters, Girl Thing under different circumstances had the potential to be huge.

39: Placebo – Taste In Men

The sixth straight Top 20 hit for Brian Molko and Placebo, the first single taken from their third album Black Market Music and arguably at the peak of their appeal and influence. Taste In Men was a typically melancholy epic, distinguished in part by the lead guitar line that was straight out of the opus of space-rock era Pink Floyd, not that I can recall many people making the connection at the time. The single debuted at Number 16 first week out before diving down to this position a week later. Truly this was the era of the in and out chart run, as we shall see further along.

38: Macy Gray – Why Didn’t You Call Me

Just the one chart week for this single, Macy Gray’s third hit of her brief run of mainstream fame at the turn of the decade. Her overwhelming strength was the tone of her voice, described by one reviewer as sounding like a muted trumpet, which meant that virtually any tune she performed sounded out of this world and effectively like nothing you had never heard before. I Try was the smash hit, embarking on an all but unheard of nine-week Top 10 run at the end of 1999 during which time it peaked at Number 6. Heart-rending ballad Still had gone Top 20 in March but the cod gospel-funk of this third single was in hindsight something of an error and never quite destined for huge sales. It remains a diverting listen, even if you are all but willing her not to throw up before the end.

37: Lonestar – Amazed

Amazed was one of the major stories of the year in both the US and UK, although for wildly differing reasons. In America the lighters-aloft power ballad made chart history by becoming the first C&W single for almost two decades to top the Hot 100, even if like so many new-country singles of the time it had been extensively remixed for pop radio with electric guitars and a more heavily layered production added to give it that more commercial edge. On these shores it was notable not so much for its chart position, but the fact that it embarked on a chart run that outstripped just about everything else around it, spending a full 17 weeks (of which this was the last) hovering around the lower end of the Top 40. It never once climbed into the Top 20, hitting a peak of Number 21 on two separate occasions five weeks apart. As Mills notes on the tape, by the time it finished it had been around for so long its chart run was 10 weeks older than its nearest rival.

36: Ol’ Dirty Bastard featuring Kelis – Got Your Money

When a single sounds fresh nine years on, is it a sign of how ahead of the curve it was at the time, or a reflection of just how much its genre has stagnated in the decade since? ODB’s one and only chart hit single as a lead artist was this colour by numbers hip-hop track that followed the usual formula of rapper and female guest star taking it in turns to play their parts in the narrative. “Baby I got your money, don’t your worry” trilled Kelis in the chorus, the reasons for her debt presumably explained in the verses mumbled by her co-star but I’m damned if I could penetrate them.

35: Christina Aguilera – I Turn To You

Miss A’s third single was a relatively minor hit compared to its predecessors, peaking at Number 19 and moving no further upon release. It was the first example of just how well her powerful voice lent itself to epic ballads, a formula she would return to later in her career with increasingly greater rewards. At the time, however, this was just the usual “third single must be a ballad” rule being followed by a new act who was at the time better known for her pop records and in truth nobody paid it much heed. For her next single she’d return to pop and the Top 10 in the form of Come On Over Baby.

34: Morcheeba – Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day

Perhaps one of the great injustices of the turn of the century was that Morcheeba never quite managed the commercial breakthrough they truly deserved. Flirting with soul, trip-hop, electronica and blues – sometimes all at the same time – the group have to date made six albums of such quality and variety it is something of a large regret that they have never turned this into mainstream success. The never more aptly titled Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day was only their second-ever Top 40 entry, arriving two years after Part Of The Process became the first. To date this Number 34 peak remains the height of their singles chart success.

33: Vengaboys – Uncle John From Jamaica

You know I actually didn’t mind the Vengaboys so much, at least not by the end. They may have started out in the late 90s turning out virtually indistinguishable instrumental euro-dance hits such as Up And Down but by the turn of the decade they had matured into an act with an ear for the commercial and an ability to produce some rather appealing pop records. Christmas 1999 offering Kiss (When The Sun Don’t Shine) may possibly have been the best but they followed it with Shalala Lala which somehow managed to out-cartoon Aqua and finally ended their run of Top 10 hits with this calypso-flavoured bit of nonsense which was so unashamedly cheesy it even had a steel drum solo in the middle. Yes, it is a long way from being the coolest song on the singles chart this week, but by the same token a long way from being the worst.

32: Black Legend – You See The Trouble With Me

On its way out after a seven-week chart run, this single was a former Number One hit with a more fascinating history than most. Italian producer J-Reverse was searching for a way to turn the house loop he had created into a record when he hit on the idea of using a Barry White sample. The studio version of You See The Trouble With Me sounded a little too static to his ears and so instead he turned to a VHS recording of a 1990 concert in Brussels by the soul legend that his friend Enrico Ferrari had in his collection. Mixed together, the track was almost irresistible and had become a Europe-wide smash and a Top 10 Italian hit before Barry White caught wind of it and went to injunction city. With money being thrown at him desperately by labels worldwide wanting to licence the hit, J-Reverse opted to sidestep the legal difficulties and recreate the vocals, eventually being introduced to Barry White impersonator Elroy ‘Spoonface’ Powell who made a note for note copy of the original, right down to Barry White’s “1975 we brought you an album, with a song” dialogue with the crowd at the start.

Meanwhile, as the new version was being prepped for a UK release, copies of the original version found their way into the shops as imports, resulting in the unauthorised mix hitting Number 50 in May 2000. Radio One had got hold of a copy and were playing the “original” until almost a week before the authorised version was due for release. It is quite possible that they were hedging their bets, given the chaos surrounding Oxide and Neutrino’s single Bound 4 Da Reload earlier in the year. In truth, the original Italian mix was a thousand times better than the version that eventually charted so who can blame them for going with it.

31: Mary Mary – Shackles (Praise You)

This was the high point of the brief spell of mainstream fame for gospel duo Tina and Erica Atkins as they took what was easily the most spiritual track of the year into the Top 10 in the early summer of 2000. Although ostensibly an ode to spiritual ecstasy, the song was written ambiguously enough to be open to interpretation as a straightforward love song and hence was able to become a huge crossover success. Mary Mary only had one other chart single in the UK (I Sings which crept to Number 32 in the autumn) but remain a successful act on the gospel circuit back home.


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