biglogoAs I already mentioned, the summer of 2000 saw me in a transitional phase of life. My radio work was restricted to being the local Saturday afternoon man on the otherwise fully networked Big AM station in Bradford. This was a rather short-lived service, lasting merely a year or so on the legacy AM frequencies of Signal Radio, The Pulse and the much-travelled 1458AM licence in Manchester (now home to a Gold service). Although now viewed as a massive failure for all concerned, I actually loved the Big AM format and only wish it had been run by people who knew how to market it properly. This was music radio for blokes, of the kind you always thought Virgin/Absolute should be. I’d spend weekends playing Robbie Williams and then Santana followed by Pulp and Rod Stewart and Bruce Springsteen. I thought it sounded great, but the stations were “soft launched” to replace existing stations in their markets and not once was any attempt made to promote them. Sure enough, the audiences vanished and the “big” experiment was swiftly ended. By then I’d escaped to London so missed the project’s demise. Just as well really, I’d have hated talking to grannies on Gold.

One radio show a week wasn’t enough to pay the bills however, so I spent the rest of the time doing a variety of temporary office jobs. Temping can be demoralising (surely only done by people like me who couldn’t land a “proper” job) but at times it was quite fun, effectively having a new job every couple of weeks and with it the chance to meet a whole new bunch of people. It also gave me the chance to play on what was still my latent celebrity. You could almost set your watch by it, normally on the Wednesday of your first week in an office the ice was broken enough for people to ask you about what you had done before. Inevitably when I told people who I had been on the radio someone would shout that they used to listen to me and I would briefly be the most notorious person in the office with at times a queue of people trooping up to meet the “famous DJ” who happened to be doing data entry work in the finance department. Still, it was handy for making friends, and who would have thought that “I was once on the radio every day” was a more effective chat-up line than “I AM on the radio every day”.

Back to the chart of the week, as Radio One continued the countdown.

30: Oasis – Sunday Morning Call

This was single number 3 from the much-maligned Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants album which saw Oasis stir psychedelic elements into their sound in a manner which both delighted and revolted people in equal measure at the time. Featuring a rare lead vocal from Noel (the first such single the group had released since Don’t Look Back In Anger four years earlier), the single made a comfortable Number 4 upon release in mid-July before swiftly tumbling. This week was its fourth on the chart and its last as a Top 40 single.

29: ‘NSync – I’ll Never Stop

I don’t think anyone ever truthfully tries to spin it this way, but to disabuse any notions to the contrary you might have - ‘NSync were never quite the superstars they affected to be back home. It actually took the UK some considerable time to catch onto them, their first big hit I Want You Back only going Top 10 here in early 1999, almost two years after its initial American success. Even after that their chart performances were erratic to say the least. March 2000 had seen them release what was arguably their best single, the Max Martin-penned Bye Bye Bye which had flown to Number 3, but they then followed it up with this track which limped to a rather miserable Number 13 before stuttering out. I say stuttering, as this single was a more or less boilerplate Cheiron studios production crammed with spiky synth beats and pitch-shifted vocals. Unusually it did not form part of the tracklisting of the original American release of the album No Strings Attached, added instead as a bonus track to the European version. Like so many flavour of the month hit factories, the Cheiron way was the defining sound of transatlantic pop music in 2000 but looking back the records they made were at the time indistinguishable from one another. ‘NSync’s biggest hit single was their last - Girlfriend which made Number 2 in April 2002. After that the Justin Timberlake bandwagon was more or less unstoppable – even if it was actually JC Chasez who was the de-facto lead singer of most ‘NSync songs, I’ll Never Stop included.

28: Different Gear vs The Police – When The World Is Running Down

I must confess I’d all but forgotten about this one. This was the formally licensed appearance of a bootleg track that had been in circulation ever since the start of 2000. When The World Is Running Down began life as track 3 on the Police’s third album Zenyatta Mondatta but was here presented in a version which stripped away virtually everything except Sting’s vocals and wrapped it up in a Deep House beat to what was in all honesty quite mesmerising effect. The fact that the single had taken so long to go “above ground” so to speak had afforded it something of a legendary status so it was actually something of an anticlimax to see it creep inside the Top 30 and vanish almost as quickly as it came. As you can probably guess, a single so bound up in complex licences at the time has passed into online obscurity. Thank goodness for YouTube needledrops.

27: Marc et Claude – I Need Your Lovin’ (Like The Sunshine)

Speaking of 80s classics being transformed into turn of the millennium club hits, here is another. Marc et Claude, despite the name, were actually German – the aliases of producers Marc Romboy and Klaus Derichs. They had charted once before at the tail end of 1998 with club hit LA but their one and only taste of Top 20 success came with this Number 12 hit. Sampling (with permission) James Warren’s vocals from the Korgis classic hit Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime and using the line from the chorus as the basis for an epic sounding trance tune the duo somehow managed to create a record that wasn’t completely offensive to the original. The song had itself only been a chart hit a few years earlier thanks to Baby D’s version which had gone Top 3 in the summer of 1995.

26: Sonqiue – It Feels So Good

The rise and rise of Sonique really deserves an entire article to itself, such were the long list of records she had to her name before even the faintest sniff of stardom came calling. Having been recording since the age of 17, her first real taste of fame came as the lead singer on two S-Express singles Mantra For A State Of Mind and Nothing To Lose in 1989 and 1990 respectively. She drifted into DJ work after this, but with the gimmick that she would often sing improvised vocals over the tracks she was spinning. This led to a new recording deal and she released two minor chart singles in the shape of both I Put A Spell On You and It Feels So Good which had hit Number 24 in December that year. That may well have been it, but for a club in Florida which obtained an import copy of the latter and began spinning it to a hugely positive reaction. Radio stations quickly followed and suddenly Sonique was in demand. It Feels So Good was released for the first time in the States and promptly went Top 10 on the Hot 100, the first British single in almost two years to climb that high.

Inevitably a British re-release followed, although the version that charted here was a new recording thanks to doubts over the ownership and even the location of the original masters of the 1998 version. The single shot to Number One and in a year when there was famously a new chart-topper almost every week, It Feels So Good did the unthinkable and stayed there for three weeks. It wound up as 2000’s third-biggest seller and led to two further Top 10 hits (including a re-released I Put A Spell On You) and a long-overdue album later in the year. Sadly her 2003 follow-up underperformed, her 2006 album On Kosmo fared even worse. Sonique’s last appearance in the news was a couple of months ago when she announced she was receiving treatment for breast cancer. Keep your fingers crossed for a quick recovery for her – word is there is a new single waiting in the wings. [She had the all-clear a year later, thank goodness].

25: Coldplay – Yellow

The track that began it all, although actually it wasn’t as everyone forgets that the first Coldplay hit was Shiver which had crept to Number 35 in March 2000. Nonetheless, Yellow was the career-defining moment that launched Chris Martin and his macrobiotic pals to stardom (not quite superstardom – that would come a year or so later). Kicking off an era when rock music was allowed to be soaring and melancholy, Yellow hit Number 4 in July 2000 and made parent album Parachutes one of the more essential buys of the summer. It was early the following year when I finally realised just how much of a cultural impact Coldplay had made. Staying in a seaside hotel on a business trip, I listened to the pianist in the lounge gently pick his way through Trouble for a crowd of old ladies as if it was a long lost standard.

Oh yes, it would be remiss here not to note the first appearance of the big gimmick of the Top 40 show at the time, the potted questionnaires conducted by a breathless voiceover with some of the stars on the chart. Hence for posterity, this single was preceded with:

Name: Chris Martin from Coldplay
Current Song:Yellow
Best Advice You’ve Ever Been Given: Never Give Up

24: David Gray – Babylon

Here is another legendary tale. David Gray had been releasing folk albums since the early 1990s without even a hint of mainstream success. His fourth album White Ladder had been released in 1999 to similar public indifference until it was licensed by East West Records and given a full promotional push for the very first time. The single Babylon was released at the end of June 2000 and crashed in at Number 5, turning David Gray mainstream and dragging the re-released album into the charts for the very first time. What followed then was one of the most sustained promotional pushes I can remember for a long time. Further singles followed with Please Forgive Me going Top 20 in October 2000 and This Year’s Love hitting Number 20 in March 2001. Each time a new hit was released, the album was readvertised in print and on TV and radio, thus giving it another surge up the charts. This activity finally reached its peak in July 2001 when Sail Away was released as a single and White Ladder finally hit the top of the album chart a few weeks later. Having been on the listings since May 2000 this was the longest ever uninterrupted climb to the top by any album ever. Still, a further accolade was to come. In 2002 David Gray – first album release in 1993 remember – was garnered with a Grammy nomination for “Best Newcomer”.

23: S Club 7 – Reach

Has enough time passed for this story to need retelling? A creation of Simon Fuller, S Club 7 were arguably the first-ever 360-degree commission, their activities spreading across as many different media as possible. At the heart of the project initially were the children's TV series, starting with Miami 7 which charted the antics of a group of young singers attempting to make it big in the titular American resort. The songs they sang in each episode formed the basis of their albums and singles, and oh yes there was also a website which you could visit to read their own diaries and participate in the S Club 7 community. When debut single Bring It All Back flew to the top of the chart in the summer of 1999 it was clear that the music was strong enough to appeal even to those who had never seen the TV show and whilst the various TV shows (and even a film) continued to be made, S Club 7 were first and foremost the greatest pop stars of their era. Reach was the first single from their second album 7, put together to accompany the airing of the second TV series LA 7. With the misfortune to be released in the same week as It Feels So Good, Reach stalled at Number 2 but has since gone on to be regarded as one of their greatest ever singles, the Motown themed party track being one of those pop records that is instantly recognisable from the moment it begins.

Looking back it is funny how it seems to be the girls who have remained in the spotlight whilst the boys have vanished into obscurity. Hannah spends teatimes running away from dinosaurs in her underwear, Rachel danced her way to success on Strictly and broke a million hearts by getting married recently whilst Jo, well we don’t like to talk about Jo any more it seems. How can one woman love a dressing gown so much?

22: Kylie Minogue – Spinning Around

I’ve probably said this many times before, but it never hurts to repeat it. I loved the whole indie-Kylie concept, a reference to her flirtation with a more alternative sound for her 1997 self-titled album. It led to Some Kind Of Bliss, the greatest ever Manic Street Preachers featuring Kylie Minogue single that will ever be made, but it sadly also resulted in some of her worst-ever record sales and a suspicion that her decade run of hits was about to come to an end. The motivation for doing so was simple. Kylie was naff, a manufactured pop star with a string of hit singles that appealed to little girls and nobody else. The dive into alternative music was a failed attempt to give her some urgently needed credibility.

Little did she know what was in store. A new deal with Parlophone records in 2000 meant a fresh start and a return to the dance-pop style that had served her well in the past. Spinning Around wasn’t actually the greatest track she would ever record, and even when it went to Number One I slated it as a waste of resources. Unwittingly however it was about to become iconic, thanks entirely to the gold hot pants she wore in the video (picked up, we are told, second hand at a market). Kylie had never before been marketed on her sexuality or the firmness of her booty, but suddenly she had a brand new image. From that grew a newfound appreciation of her talents as an entertainer, and served with some ever stronger new material she proved that the chart-topping run of Spinning Around was no second wind but instead the start of a new run of hits that would last her for most of the next decade.

Spinning Around incidentally marks the only connection with a UK Number One for future American Idol judges Paula Abdul and Kara Dioguardi who co-wrote the track. When it charted where it did, it actually elevated Kylie Minogue to a whole new level of chart performance as I wrote at the time:

“…it is her first chart-topper since Tears On My Pillow ascended to the top in January 1990. This wait of 10 years and 5 months is one of the longest ever endured by a female artist, second only to the gaps of 26 and 15 years between appearances at the top by Cher and Diana Ross respectively. The success of Spinning Around further means that Kylie is now one of a select band of artists to have had Number One hits in three different decades (80s, 90s, and 2000s), putting her in chart terms on the same level as the likes of Cliff, Elvis, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Madonna, Queen, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. Kylie Minogue - chart legend?”

21: Moloko – Pure Pleasure Seeker

To round off this segment, a new entry and the final chart peak of what was the third big hit single for Moloko. The group had made their chart breakthrough at the end of 1999 with Number 4 hit Sing It Back and had followed it up with the almost devastatingly good The Time Is Now – probably the world’s first and only organic dance track. Following those classics, Pure Pleasure Seeker was something of a disappointment, a clunky mess of a record propelled by a grunting saxophone line which becomes annoying within the first 20 seconds. It would be 2003 before they returned to the Top 10 again.

More to come from 2000 including the whole Top 20, which as Scott Mills was only too keen to tell us, could be watching “being revealed live online” on the Radio One website. Yes, that is correct, if you were dedicated enough you could log on to an auto-refreshing chart page which added each single as it was revealed on air. Did people actually sit there watching this?


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