You don’t hear much about British R&B singer Jamelia nowadays, though it seems that is by her own choice rather than due to lack of sales or interest. After all, she did manage to achieve the impressive feat of logging six consecutive top ten singles in the UK charts and her albums reliably went Gold for sales of over 100,000 copies in the UK. Whatever the reason for her absence from the music scene, she has certainly left a great legacy of music which has withstood the test of time pretty well. None more than her seminal hit “Superstar” which is a perfect example of early naughties R&B pop at its best.
It is a little known fact that “Superstar” is actually a cover of Danish singer and Popstars contestant Christine Milton’s original version which peaked at No.1 for seven weeks in Denmark in early 2003. At the same time Jamelia was making her comeback after a three year absence from the music scene with the first single from her sophomore album Thank You, the ill-fated “Bout”, which actually was the smallest hit from the album, peaking at a disappointing No.37. After this commercial failure Jamelia went back to the drawing board, knowing that she needed a big hit to keep her career afloat. Seeing as “Superstar” hadn’t been released outside of Scandinavia, Jamelia realised that it could be her way to break back into the UK market and quickly recorded it. The single was released in September of 2003 and initially entered the UK chart at No.8, but as it began to gain radio airplay and recognition, it became a sleeper hit, peaking at No.3 over a month after it was released. “Superstar” eventually went on to spend 20 weeks in the chart and ended 2003 as the 26th biggest seller of the year. That what a little (super)star power can do for you!
“Superstar” also became a worldwide smash for Jamelia, peaking in the top 10 of most European markets and reaching No.1 in New Zealand and Australia. It also earned an Ivor Novello Award for being the “Most Performed Work” in the UK in 2003 and was declared the fourth most popular song of the last decade according to performances and airplay. Damn girl!
Perhaps it’s the effortless swag. Perhaps it’s the funky backing beat. Perhaps it’s the catchy lyrics. Either way, “Superstar” will go down as one of the best pop songs of our time and a party staple for years to come.
Favourite Lyric: There’ssomething ’bout this let’s keep it moving/and if it’s good let’s just get something cooking/
We’re going to take it down a notch with this week’s selection. After all, Unguilty Pleasure is not just about incessantly upbeat, catchy dance-pop and campy 80’s tunes, it also includes emotional ballads such as this week’s tearjerker from an unlikely source. Really, it was only a matter of time before we had to pick a Disney song, but instead of picking an obvious one we decided to go for this forgotten gem. It’s…
“When She Loved Me” from Toy Story 2
You know that a something is quality if it achieves exactly what it was intended to do and songs are not different. “When She Loved Me” was designed to pull at heartstrings and to reduce people to a big, quivering wreck on the floor and it definitely manages to achieve its goal (at least, it makes me well up). It also goes to show that sometimes there’s nothing more effective than a simple piano ballad. No need for any bells or whistles, just a singer and a piano and some graceful strings from accompaniment.
Sarah McLachan also deserves a big pat on the back for her amazing vocal performance which conveys just the right amount of vulnerability and hurt. It sounds like she is constantly close to breaking down, but her angelic voice never falters as she tells the story of someone who was let down by someone who they never thought would betray them. It’s songs like this which prove that Disney is not just for kids and is more than capable of leaving adults with a lump in the back of their throats. “When She Loved Me” is filled with understated magic which makes it one of Disney’s best crafted and most heartfelt ballads. Frozen ain’t the only one with good tunes you know.
“When She Loved Me” comes at the point in Toy Story 2 when we realise that Jessie, the cowgirl doll, was abandoned by her owner, Emily, and left in a box on the side of the road. Emily used to play with Jessie all the time but as she started to grow up she began to lose interest in her once favourite toy in favour of make-up and nail polish. However, on day Emily picks up Jessie again and takes her on a car trip. Jessie is delighted and believes that Emily will start playing with her again like she used to, but then she realises that Emily donating her to charity, which greatly upsets her. She then utters the immortal line “you never forget kids like Emily and Andy, but they forget you”. This haunting line sums up “When She Loved Me” and the moving visual compliments the beauty and sadness of the song perfectly.
“When She Loved Me” was nominated for the 2000 Academy Award for Best Original Song and should have won but was beaten by another Disney tune, the bland Phil Collin’s track “You’ll Be in My Heart” from the even blander Tarzan. But it will go down in history as one of Disney’s most moving pieces ever which added depth to a film which is already bursting with heart.
Favourite Lyric:/through the summer and the fall /we had each other that was all/ just she and I together like it was meant to be/
Something amazing happened last night. During a live Yahoo web stream Taylor Swift decided to give us all a near heart attack by premiering a new song and the lead single from her new 80’s inspired album 1989, which will apparently be “her very first documented, official pop album”. The album is titled after her year of birth and will be her first album release in two years since 2012’s Red. “Shake It Off” is a massive change of direction for the country singer who has been getting progressively less country for years now. Well, it seems that now she is declaring independence and it don’t matter what the haters say ‘cos she just gonna shake it off.
In the hilarious video Taylor is plonked in the midst of several different troupes of performers and tries vainly to keep up at cheerleading, modern dance, ballet and (no don’t say it, please!) twerking to name but a few. Miley Cyrus has a lot to answer for. “Shake It Off” was produced by Max Martin and Shellback who are responsible for past Taylor smashes such as “22” and “We Are Never Getting Back Together”. Apparently, Taylor’s goal with this new musical project was to produce something that sounded like nothing she’d ever done before. Well, she definitely achieved that one didn’t she?
The saxophone-led backing beat is as bouncy as a beach ball and will no doubt fill dance floors for the rest of time. But what it does show is that Taylor has been taking note of pop trends by including a prominent brass section which has been employed this year by acts as diverse as Cheryl Cole, Faul & Wad Ad and Paloma Faith. I’m sure that it will bring Taylor as much success as it did to these acts. Perhaps the best part of “Shake It Off”, however, is the midsection breakdown when Taylor chants that we should be getting down to /this sick beat/. Never thought you’d hear that from little innocent Taylor eh? Oh if Teardrops on my Guitar could see her now. As always Britney has some wise words to say:
Thanks Britney. So, despite Taylor ditching her more thoughtful lyricism in favour of pop hooks and repetition, we’re willing to let that slide as long as 1989 contains more variation and a bit more of the old Taylor. For now, we can just enjoy this sick beat provided by Miss Swift until the album comes out on October 27th. Officially, can’t wait!
‘Cos the players gonna play, play, play, play, play…
Here’s 11 sizzling hot tunes that are set to be massive in the coming weeks. Bon appetit!
11) Alexa Goddard – So There
For those of you who haven’t heard of Alexa Goddard, she is an English Youtuber who started off her career doing covers, the most famous of which is her version of Soulja Boy’s “Turn My Swag On” which managed to reach the UK top 20. Now, newly signed to Jay Z’s label Roc Nation, Alexa has turned her hand to crafting little pieces of original pop perfection for our degustation and turns out that they slip down a treat. “So There” is a summery , Katy Perry-sized confection which should manage to get Goddard’s career off to a flying start.
10) Pharrell Feat. Miley Cyrus – Come Get It Bae
Subsequent singles from Pharrell’s album GIRL may not have managed to live up to the success of “Happy” (nothing really can to be honest), but now that the ridiculously enormous gravitational pull of that track is finally starting to wane, it seems like the time is right for Pharrell to have another smash. And if it’s going to happen, “Come Get it Bae” is definitely the track to do it. It’s another slice of catchy, funkalicious R&B with a side of Miley Cyrus for a bit of extra spice. I feel weird saying this, it has been a bit quiet on the twerking front as of late and we were starting to miss the stench of Miley’s corrupted innocence in the pop charts, which is why we should welcome her return, even in the form of a guest appearance while talking about riding someone’s motorcycle… Despite the dodgy lyric content, “Come Get It Bae” does manage to recapture some of the joyous, clappy fun of “happy” and Cyrus’ “heys” will go down as either the most infectious or annoying hook of the summer, or maybe both.
9) The Script – Superheroes
The Script are getting quite reliable at chucking out inspiring, semi-epic pop anthems every couple of years. You might think we’d start getting a bit bored of their budget-Coldplay ways, but for some reason they keep bouncing back with inoffensive, radio-friendly tunes which we lap up without fail. “Superheroes” never manages to go anywhere that the band hasn’t been before but it manages to be extremely enjoyable at the same time. It’s pure power pop and it sounds as if it’s made up exclusively of encouraging catchphrases, but you can’t really stay mad at The Script because you can tell that there’s not an ounce of insincerity in their music. And that, my friends, makes them superheroes in our book.
8) Paloma Faith – Trouble with my Baby
Paloma Faith is unstoppable. Her third album has been selling like hot cakes all over the world and she even managed to bag herself an Australian No.1 single with “Only Love Can Hurt Like This” a few weeks ago. “Trouble With My Baby” however, is a completely different kettle of fish: it’s an upbeat, angry rallying cry for scorned women which makes you wonder which poor fool ever dared mess with our Paloma. Either way, he certainly won’t be doing that again.
7) Katy Perry – This Is How We Do
After a brief foray into dance-pop with the slightly insipid “Birthday”, Katy has chosen to showcase her fun side again with this the sassiest cut from Prism. Half sung, half rapped “This Is How We Do” is chock with shout outs and even a gratuitous /bring the beat back moment/. It’s a bouncy, uplifting jam which takes us right back to “Last Friday Night” and is destined to become a party classic for years to come. Moreover, it’s the perfect anthem for cruising down the west side in a Maserati, which pop stars seem to be obsessed with nowadays. /Suckin’ at Mariah Carey-oke and getting’ her nails did/ all Japanese-y. Oh Katy you’ve still got it.
6) Ella Eyre – Comeback
Yes Ella! This is the Ella Eyre smash we have been waiting for. Her debut single “If I Go” didn’t quite manage to fulfil all that potential which we knew she was had all long, but “Comeback” is a thumping, tell-off which can definitely go the distance. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned is the moral of the song and video, which sees Ella and her friends wrecking her no-good cheating ex-boyfriend’s apartment. Looks like she had fun making it too and we always find that a bond is created when you see someone smash in a flat screen TV with a guitar and burn out a car with a photograph. Now let that mother**ker burn indeed. Plus, she has such bouncy locks, how could she not be the next big thing?
5) Iggy Azalea Feat. Rita Ora – Black Widow
One of the most anticipated videos of the year has finally landed and it was well worth the wait. The summer has so far belonged to Iggy and “Black Widow” has given her a good chance of dominating the autumn as well. It’s kind of like “Dark Horse” part two (which makes sense as Katy Perry also wrote “Black Widow”) as it channels the same femme fatale vibe and contains similar trap influences. But “Black Widow” ain’t no sad copy, no sir. Iggy makes this track all her own with her sassy lyrics which are on point as ever and the addition of Rita Ora makes the track soar. Who knew that steel drums could sound so ominous and disturbing?
4) Meghan Trainor – All About that Bass
The 20-year old Nantucket-born overnight sensation has quickly been taking the world by storm this summer with her Caribbean-inflected hoedown “All About that Bass”. The song is heavily influenced by 50’s style doo-wop jams and Soca (soul calypso), a musical style which originates in Trinidad and Tobago. However, it’s Trainor’s refreshing attitude which stands out more than anything on this track. Of course it’s not new to praise plus-size girls, but when it’s wrapped up in such an enthusiastic and infectious package the message diffuses all the more rapidly. And with lines like “every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top” who could resist?
3) Nicki Minaj- Anaconda
After lead single from Nicki’s upcoming album The Pinkprint, “Pills and Potions” failed to light the world on fire, Nicki was in need of a hit of “Starships” proportions if she had any hope of shifting as many copies of this album as she did of her previous albums. Luckily, Nicki has an ace up her sleeve in the form of this Missy Elliott cast off “Anaconda” which manages to cram everything that we love about Minaj into a handy three and a half minutes. How thoughtful of her. It was definitely good to see a different, more serious side to our favourite human Barbie with previous singles from this new album “Pills N Potions” and “Lookin’ Ass”, but it’s infinitely better to know that zany, fun Nicki is back in da hood. The first time you listen to “Anaconda” your mind blows a little (she uses a friggin’ sample of “Baby Got Back” for god’s sake! But once your brain gets accustomed to the new pink world order you realise that this snake charming jam is a massive coup for the zany pop star and, best of all, its unmistakeably Minaj. Oh and the video is simply outrageous. Who gets away with bikini bottoms that small! I mean really! And to top it off she laughs like an insane person and gives Drake a random lap dance for god sakes. Insanity overload.
2) Jessie J Feat. Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj – Bang Bang
After an embarrassing sophomore slump, Jessie J has spent the last few months rallying her forces in order to mount another aural assault on the world and her explosive new single “Bang Bang” is the perfect mission statement. She even managed to rope in the world’s hottest new star of the moment Ariana Grande and self-confessed “bad-ass little bitch” Nicki Minaj to turn “Bang Bang” into the best girl-power jam since the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe”. As if Jessie J wasn’t sassy enough on her own. If the repetition of the line “you need a bad girl to blow your mind” teaches us anything, it’s that Rihanna can move aside, there’s a new good girl gone bad in town and we’d all better buckle up. Needless to say, “Bang Bang” already managed to peak at No.6 in the US in its debut week and has become a radio fixture since its release. Get used to this one. J-J-J-J Jessie J is back!
1) Lilly Wood and the Prick – Prayer in C
This song will probably be familiar to most readers as it’s already managed to peak at No.1 in 10 countries and has been a summer hit throughout Europe. After taking his remix of Mr Probz’ “Waves” to the top of the charts, Robin Schulz continues his winning streak with another sure-fire smash hit. His stamp is all over this mid-tempo piece of chilled-out pop, the original version of which featured on Lilly Wood and the Prick’s 2010 album Invisible Friends. In case you’ve never heard of them, Lilly Wood and the Prick (interesting choice of name) are a folk pop French-Israeli group featuring singer Nili Hadida and guitarist Benjamin Cotto. They’ve been around for quite a few years and have managed to shift a few records in France while never really hitting the big time, until now. “Prayer in C” is a cool slice of ethereal ghost pop whose hypnotising beats float over the listener like waves washing over the shore and before you know it you’ll be hooked. Irresistible.
That’s all the delicious poptastic delicacies we have for you lovely readers for now. Thanks for reading and tune in again for more pop pleasure.
As Diary of a Pop Fan is an all-inclusive site which embraces all pop regardless of the language, this week we’ve selected a guilt-free blast from the past which comes directly from the land of champagne and croissants. Now we all know about the French penchant for cheese and this Unguilty Pleasure is undoubtedly a nice stinking Stilton plastered with turquoise mould all over (it’s weird that that makes me hungry, right?). In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that this is the epitome of turn of the century Euro pop. There! It’s out there! I said it!
In May 2000 the world shook in its orbit a little when the 16 year old Corsica-born singer Alizée burst out of nowhere to grab herself a massive worldwide smash with the suggestively-titled “Moi Lolita”. The single was met with immediate success, especially in its native France where it peaked at No.2 and spent 24 weeks in the top 5 of the singles chart and it eventually went on to sell 1,282,000 copies in that market alone, making it the 31st best-selling single in French history to date. What’s more, when Alizée’s follow up single “L’Alizé” entered the charts at No.1, “Moi Lolita” was still at No.3. No mean feat by any stretch of the imagination! It also gained immense popularity in many countries all over the world, peaking at No.1 in Japan, Russia, Spain, Poland and Italy, as well as reaching the top 5 of most European countries. It also became a rare example of a foreign language song which became commercially successful in the United Kingdom where it reached No.9.
The success of “Moi Lolita” was due to many factors but the Lolita motif is what made it stand out from all the other Europop around at the time. “Moi Lolita” proves that pop is much more than just meaningless fluff in the way that it manages to capture the essence of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel. Alizée portrays the character of Lolita, the seductress, to perfection and the fact that she was only 16 years old at the time only makes it even more realistic. The themes of temptation, allure and forbidden love are brought to life in “Moi Lolita” which is what propelled it to such dizzy heights of popularity. Alizée´s perfect performance of the song is tinged with the right blend of innocence and sleaziness. In the same way as the novel, you kind of feel guilty for liking it because it of its delicious sadistic sordidness.
Of course, “Moi Lolita” would be nothing without the flithy synth backing beat which, whencombined with Alizée pure vocals, covert the track into a taboo cocktail which slips down the listener´s throat smoother than a Sex on the Beach. The dark, brooding bass line combined with surging, menacing strings add an element of danger to the mix means that you don’t even have to speak French to understand the sexual energy which Alizée effortlessly channels through her purring vocals. Phew, I´m getting a bit too excited.
Flash forward fourteen years and Alizée, who is still only 29, is now one of the best-selling female French stars of the 21st century and one of France’s biggest musical exports. She actually also just won the fourth season of the French version of Dancing with the Stars (Danse avec les Stars) in November 2013 as well, which gave her career a new breath of life, leading her to release her fifth studio album “Blonde” earlier on this year. But she will always be best known for her signature hit “Moi Lolita”.
This week’s Unguilty Pleasure has a slight hint of spice…hmmm actually it tastes like 5 SPICE. Yes…that’s right! Continuing the theme of Spice Week we have ourselves another delicious Unguilty Pleasure served up with a side of Girl Power and Cool Britannia.
The Spice Girls were actually the band that I had in mind when I created the Unguilty Pleasure feature because they are one of the bands who have suffered the most from “we’re cooler than that” syndrome. Ok, so they were never going to win a Grammy for their musical sensibilities and nuanced pop art, but they were great fun and their songs were catchy as hell which is why it’s a shame that people are now denying ever liking the Spice Girls. They were a phenomenon and any kid who grew up in the nineties will know what I’m talking about when I say that they have a significant place in my childhood. Mostly for this..
Of course, even once decided on the band, I still had to pick the song and there was a lot of choice because, really, all of their singles could be considered Unguilty Pleasures. My first thoughts of course went to “Wannabe”, the Spice Girls’ debut and signature hit which still gets an airing at cheesy holiday and office parties. Equally it could have been “Spice Up Your Life”, the girls’ mission statement and swansong. Or maybe one of the ballads, “2 Become 1”, “Too Much” and “Goodbye” still get a decent amount of airplay at Christmas. Then my attention switched to another track. You see, the Unguilty Pleasure feature is as much about celebrating underdogs and songs which deserve more attention than they received, which is why I decided to pick “Stop” as this week’s Unguilty pleasure. Now you may cry out that “Stop” is your favourite, and I’m sure it is for many people, but the fact is that it is officially the worst performing Spice Girls single (apart from their 2007 comeback single “Headlines” which peaked at No.11) and the girls’ only single to not reach No.1.
Despite it being the girls’ worst performing single, the Motown-inspired, brassy 60’s throwback sound has ironically meant that it is the Spice Girls track which has best stood the test of time. After all, if the production and sound is already dated, it can’t date any more can it? What’s more, “Stop” kind of sums up the Spice Girls as a group in so far as it manages to capture the essence of fun and individual personalities of all the girls. But mostly because it’s a straightforward tune that gets everybody up on the dance floor to this day.
“Stop” was the group’s last single before Geri’s departure from the band in May 1998, but not the last to include her vocals, that honour goes to “Viva Forever”. Upon release, the single charted pretty well throughout the world, becoming their sixth consecutive top 20 on the US Billboard Chart and peaking in the top 20 of most charts. However, it was held off the No.1 spot in the UK by Run DMC vs Jason Nevins’ “It’s Like That”, which sold almost 250,000 copies in its first week. This broke the Spice Girls’ tally of six consecutive No.1 singles. It’s unfair that this should be the legacy of “Stop”. I mean, it even had dance moves! Much better ones that the bloody “Cha Cha Slide” which we have to suffer every time someone whips it out at a party. And the image of the Posh, Sporty, Scary, Baby and Ginger dancing around on that 1950’s Dublin street will stick with me forever.
And here’s the girls performing “Stop” in 2007 at a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
For a brief period of time the Spice Girls were on top of the world, No.1 singles all over the globe, meeting the Queen and Nelson Mandela, world tours. They had it all. But after the Spice Girls imploded, what happened to the band members? They all had solo music careers, but who had the most hits? Who had any hits? Who will be remembered as the best solo Spice Girl? Let’s countdown the 20 best solo Spice Girl hits. Warning: this list contains a ridiculous amount of pop goodness and cheese:
20) Melanie B Feat. Missy Elliott – I Want You Back
Let’s kick off the top 20 with the first solo Spice Girl single ever. In 1998 Mel B got the ball rolling by cheating on her bandmates with Missy Elliott, who approached the Scary member of the Spice Girls asking her to lend her swag to her tune “I Want You Back”. After checking with the other Spices, Mel B agree immediately and the rest, as we say, is history. “I Want You Back” surged straight to the top of the charts in the UK and managed to peak top 25 in the US, getting Mel B’s solo career off to a blinding start which she never really managed to live up to.
19) Melanie C – Next Best Superstar
Unfortunately Mel C’s star was already starting to wane by the time “Next Best Superstar” was released, resulting in a lower chart placing than this single really deserved. Nevertheless, “Next Best Superstar” became her sixth solo top ten single and her last to date when it peaked at No.10 in 2005. The single proved to be a bold move for the Lancashire born songstress, demonstrating an edgier, guitar-driven rock vibe, a sound which she would end up carrying through with her subsequent musical releases.
18) Melanie B – Feels So Good
Mel B’s only decent solo single in my opinion. “Feels So Good” is actually surprisingly catchy and serves as proof of the bonafide pop star that Mel B could have been if she had continued in the same vein. “Feels So Good” boasts a chilled R&B vibe (not unlike that of Brandy or Ashanti) mixed with synth keyboards. The single managed to peak at No.5, selling 55,000 copies in its first week and finished 2001 as the 80th best seller of that year.
17) Emma Bunton – Free Me
The James Bond theme that never was. For her second studio effort Emma decided to take a more sultry, 60’s inspired route, a move which brought her immediate success with lead single “Free Me” peaking within the top 5 of the UK singles chart in Spring 2003. The new refined style was well received by the public and the success of the single made sure that the album of the same name charted within the top 10 of the UK album charts as its predecessor did before it. Emma looks absolutely stunning in the music video as well which I’m sure did no harm in boosting the singles sales.
16) Geri Halliwell- Bag It Up
At this point in her career Geri was untouchable. When “Bag It Up” managed to become her third No.1 single in a row it became clear that the flame-haired Spice Girl was hotter than a scotch bonnet. This is one of the Watford lass’ sassier efforts and she clearly relishes the opportunity to air her raunchier side and pile on the trumpets.
15) Emma Bunton – I’ll Be There
One of the more understated solo Spice Girl singles, “I’ll Be There” was released as the third single from Emma Bunton’s second studio album Free Me and became her third top ten single in a row when it peaked at No.7 in the UK in January 2004. “I’ll Be There” manages to blend lush violins with a classic Motown feel and Emma’s irrepressible niceness.
14) Geri Halliwell – Lift Me Up
For her third solo single Geri decided to take things down a notch and release her first solo ballad. Despite its November release, “Lift Me Up” is as light as a feather and shone like a star in the middle of the winter. Unfortunately, Geri’s erstwhile bandmate Emma Bunton had also chosen the same week to release her debut solo single “What I Am”. At first, Halliwell wanted to back out but, upon realising that it was too late, in true Geri style she began to furiously promote “Lift Me Up” to make sure that it went to No.1. All the hard work paid off and Geri managed to thwart Bunton on her way towards bagging her second consecutive No.1, with “Lift Me Up” outselling “What I Am” by 33,000 copies.
13) Melanie C – Northern Star
This one is often overlooked as it preceded Mel C’s No.1 singles “Never Be the Same Again” and “I Turn to You”, but nevertheless “Northern Star” managed to peak at No.4 in the UK and sold over 200,000 copies. The song demonstrated a newfound maturity for Sporty Spice both lyrically and musically. In “Northern Star” Mel C speak about living without regret and being someone who will be remembered, which indicates that the song is probably autobiographical. Especially seeing as the song was recorded and released at the same time as Mel C was recording the final Spice Girls album Forever and the band was coming to an end. This remains one of the deepest solo Spice hits.
12) Matt Cardle & Melanie C – Loving You
The most recent entry into this chart. Last year Matt Cardle decided to get together with Mel C for the first single off his third solo album Porcelain. “Loving You” is as steamy as a locomotive and its stomping beat is reminiscent of a Zulu war chant, don’t even get me started on the owl-esque woos. Now that might not be the best pop hit formula, but it all manages to come together on “Loving You” to create an urgent, pulsing jam driven by softly plucking guitars. Sadly, it only managed to reach No.14 in the chart due to a lack of radio airplay. It however did manage to spark several rumours of a relationship between Matt Cardle and Melanie C, despite the latter being 9 years his senior. Check out the video to see the pair making out furiously. Woo indeed.
11) Victoria Beckham – Not Such an Innocent Girl
It’s nice to know that the poshest of all the Spices did manage to have some solo success despite all the haters who say that she can’t sing. “Not Such an Innocent Girl” shows Beckham trying to move away from her Spice Girl image and carve out a niche for herself. Musically, the single has a futuristic synth vibe which was replicated in the video featuring a good and bad Victoria battling out for supremacy. “Not Such an Innocent Girl” managed to become Victoria’s second solo top 6 hit when it was released in September 2001 and went on to sell over 80,000 copies in the UK. Unfortunately, it didn’t manage to do much for the album which became the lowest-selling solo Spice Girl album. Guess that’s why she decided to stick to the fashion designing.
10) Tin Tin Out Featuring Emma Bunton – What I Am
Little Miss Nice managed to bring some Spice to this old classic when she decided to play it safe and team up with seasoned chart botherers Tin Tin Out for her debut solo single. The result is an updated and remixed version of Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians’ 1988 hippie anthem “What I Am”. Emma’s relaxing vocal stylings suit the nature of the songs boho chic lyrics to perfection. As previously mentioned, “What I Am” was beaten to No.1 by a merciless Geri Halliwell’s “Lift Me Up”, but nevertheless did manage to sell over 100,000 copies in its first week. Don’t worry Emma, you managed to beat Geri on this chart!
9) True Steppers Featuring Dane Bowers and Victoria Beckham – Out of Your Mind
Victoria Beckham may have not had the most prolific solo career, but she can boast at least one genuine smash. “Out of Your Mind” was released in the summer of 2000 and Beckham embarked upon a military style promotional campaign in order to ensure that she grabbed herself that No.1 spot. However, Sophie Ellis-Bextor had different ideas. “Out of Your Mind” was No.1 all week until Saturday when it was taken over at the last minute by Spiller featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s “Groovejet”. Ouch! Neverthless, “Out of Your Mind” remains the solo-Spice Girl single with the biggest first week sales (over 180,000 copies). That makes it even more painful that she is the only Spice Girl to never have had a solo number one.
8) Geri Halliwell – Look At Me
After quitting the Spice Girls when they were still on top of the world, Geri took some time out to hone her oncoming solo assault on the mainstream music market before returning to the spotlight with the brash “Look At Me”. Geri’s debut solo single was fittingly wacky and just as attention-grabbing as Ginger Spice herself. In “Look At Me” the attention is fixed firmly on Geri and she is clearly loving every minute. The song became a massive success, selling over 330,000 copies in the UK alone and over 1 million copies worldwide. The monochrome video also features the funeral of Ginger Spice. Talk about burning bridges.
7) Emma Bunton – Maybe
For her sophomore effort, Bunton decided to take a more Motown, 60’s influenced approach and none of her singles from that period demonstrate this new direction better than “Maybe”. The song contains lounge/bossa influences which lend the song an easy breezy flow and Emma’s cooing happy-go-lucky vocals soar over the string accompaniment to create a really playful little ditty. The highlight is undoubtedly the ba-dah / ba-da-da-da-da-da-dah hook which you’ll find yourself humming for days on end. Despite peaking one place lower than Bunton’s previous single “Free Me”, “Maybe” eventually managed to outsell it and became a hit throughout Europe to boot. In fact, the persisting popularity of “Maybe” meant that it was chosen as Emma’s solo performance on the Return of the Spice Girls tour in late 2007. This is also one of the rare cases when the video really enhances a song, mostly for the funky choreography which is inspired by Rich Man’s Frug from the musical Sweet Charity. It also goes to show that you don’t need a big budget in order to make an entertaining video.
6) Melanie C – I Turn to You
“I Turn to You” is undoubtedly an early prototype of the dance diva smashes which have been lighting up the charts so much lately (I’m thinking “Sweet Nothing”, “Titanium”, “When Love Takes Over”…). The surging strings and urgent, driving beat are even more in vogue now than they were back in 2000. As a result, “I Turn to You” is perhaps the solo Spice Girl hit which has aged the best and, in fact, it still sounds pretty fresh even now. That’s the mark of quality pop. Of course, upon release, the single became an instant club hit and was an enormous smash, topping the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play and reaching the top spot in no less than 7 countries throughout Europe. Also, the DJ who provided the upbeat remix for the single version, Hex Hector, won the 2000 Grammy for Remixer of the Year. If you have any doubts that at the peak of her popularity Melanie C was one of the biggest pop stars in the UK, the success of “I Turn to You” is all the proof you need.
5) Emma Bunton – What Took You So Long
Contrary to popular belief “What Took You So Long” was not Emma Bunton’s debut solo single, however it is by far Baby Spice’s most commercially successful and, above all, memorable hit to date. Released as the second single from her debut album A Girl Like Me, “What Took You So Long” shot straight to the top of the UK charts, selling 76,000 copies in the process. The soothing, relaxing beat may fool you, but the lyrics “What Took You So Long” prove that, despite having a reputation the gentle Spice Girl, Baby Spice does sure pack some punch when she wants to.
4) Geri Halliwell- Mi Chico Latino
Believe it or not, after debut single “Look At Me” only managed to peak at No.2 in the UK behind Boyzone, there was talk about Halliwell’s solo career being over even before it had started. And so a desperate Halliwell embarked upon a fierce marketing campaign to ensure the success of her next single and boy did it work! Not only was “Mi Chico Latino” the ideal blend of corniness and catchiness, but also its release was timed to perfection in order to be able to cash in on the Latin pop explosion of summer 1999 which was spearheaded by the sultry Jennifer Lopez and the hip-swivelling Ricky Martin. Needless to say, “Mi Chico Latino” became Geri’s first solo No.1 and went on to be a huge smash in Europe.
3) Bryan Adams & Melanie C – When You’re Gone
The Spice Girls hadn’t even broken up when Mel C managed to bag herself this surprise hit in late 1998. Probably the classiest of all the songs on this list and actually the best-selling, with sales surpassing 650,000 in the UK alone. The song was a massive smash, especially in the UK and got Sporty Spice’s solo career off to a flying start. “When You’re Gone” spent 9 weeks in the UK top ten and became a big hit throughout Oceania and Europe. “When You’re Gone” is essentially a love song but manages to channel the gritty rock edge of both performers. No-one could have predicted that Mel C’s and Bryan Adams’ voices would blend so well. Screw Lady GaGa and Tony Bennett! Mel C and Bryan Adams should make a duet album.
2) Geri Halliwell – It’s Raining Men
God bless Mother Nature! At No.2 we have an unforgettable classic by Geri Halliwell. It was a genius move really, seeing as Halliwell already had a massive gay following. Why not claim gay anthem “It’s Raining Men” for her own? And as if that weren’t enough, let’s include it on the Bridget Jones’ Diary film soundtrack so it will forever be associated with the moment when Colin Firth punched Hugh Grant’s lights out. And of course Europe immediatey fell to its knees and bowed to the Queen of Camp. The song shot straight to No.1 in the UK, selling over 150,000 copies in its first week and became the 12th best-selling single of 2001 in that market. It also meant that Halliwell had bagged herself a fourth consecutive No.1 in a row in the UK which made her the British female artist with the most No.1 singles, a record which she now shares with Rita Ora and Cheryl Cole. However, if you thought that this song was massive in the UK you have another think coming, “It’s Raining Men” sold almost double what it sold in the UK in France and was certified Diamond, yes Diamond for sales of over 800,000 copies. France sure loves its Geri Halliwell. And why not!
1) Melanie C Featuring Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes – Never Be the Same Again
How could this not be No.1? Mel C has undoubtedly had the longest and most well respected solo career of all of the Spice Girls and “Never Be the Same Again” is the crown jewel in her back catalogue. It’s a slow-burning, mid-tempo jam which rides on a wave of mystical intensity aided by Mel C’s reserved, understated vocals and a sassy feature rap from the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez from TLC, who adds a good dose of attitude. The best thing however is that “Never Be the Same Again” still sounds as fresh today as it did in 2000, which is really the hallmark of a good quality tune. Upon release, the single shot straight to the top of the UK charts (incidentally knocking Geri’s “Bag It Up” off No.1) and sold 144,000 copies in its first week. “Never Be the Same Again” ended 2000 as the 18th best seller of that year and ended up selling more than a million copies across Europe, topping the charts in no less than seven countries. The success of “Never Be the Same Again” helped her debut album Northern Star sell over 900,000 copies in the UK alone, making it the best-selling solo Spice Girl album. Case and point.
Although the purpose of this list was to demonstrate that the Spice Girls did manage to produce a whole host of great tunes separately, really one needs to address the elephant in the room. None of these songs match up to the dizzy heights of the Spice Girls singles. There’s nothing as sassy as “Spice Up Your Life”, nothing as sophisticated as “Too Much”, nothing as definitive as “Wannabe”. In fact it could be said that all of their solo material was lacking a certain zig-a-zig-ahhh (if you know what I mean). Girl power forever!
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