Popular

9
Oct 19

Popular ’02

Popular12 comments • 1,024 views

Last time we did one of these Obama was president, so a quick reminder is probably due – I give every Number One a mark out of 10. This is where YOU get the opportunity to vote on which hits you’d have given 6 or more to. My own highest marks were a 10 for Sugababes and 9s for Aaliyah and Girls Aloud, while at the other end Ronan, Gareth’n’Will, Westlife and ver Kitten picked up 2s.

Which Of The Number One Hits Of 2002 Would YOU Have Given 6 Or More To?

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Poll closes: No Expiry

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Discuss the year in general in the comments! (If you want)

8
Oct 19

GIRLS ALOUD – “Sound Of The Underground”

Popular34 comments • 2,354 views

#946, 28th December 2002

Looked at one way, this had to happen. Reality TV pop shows weren’t going away. Lightning had struck for Hear’Say, then again for Liberty X, then so often for Pop Idol that you’d think Zeus had the ITV voting lines on speed dial. The maths of it was simple enough: the audience mobilised for reality shows was multiples larger than the crowds pop could normally draw for a new release. Anything a winner released would get to number one. Simon Cowell (and gang) had hacked the charts.

But in doing so they’d also surrendered control. If winning a reality show was the golden ticket, and what you released after didn’t matter, then the winners’ single could get away with far more drama and delight than Cowell’s starchy definition of pop allowed. Critics, me included, who gasped in excited shock when they heard “Sound Of The Underground” – it’s reality TV pop, but good – hadn’t twigged that this outcome was always a possibility. Once you shatter the link between quality – however conservatively measured – and results, you create an opportunity for anything, great or touch-my-bum awful, that’s blocked by the usual filters.

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30
Sep 19

BLUE ft ELTON JOHN – “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word”

Popular12 comments • 1,450 views

#945, 21st December 2002

Blue’s last Number One, and any wisps of street credibility which might have still clung to them melt away. Don’t be fooled by the off-the-peg R&B shuffle in the best: just as much as Bedingfield’s effort, this is a cynical push into Westlife territory. More cynical, even – while “If You’re Not The One” had its writer’s formalist curiosity to excuse it, “Sorry” can’t pretend to be anything more than a cross-generational Christmas cash grab.

Perhaps some small degree of respectability accrues to it from Elton’s own involvement? Elton John is a famously enthusiastic and generous collaborator – it’s one of the most endearing things about him, this desire to keep up, join in and just see what happens when musicians meet. But inevitably this approach doesn’t guarantee quality – Elton tackles his lines here with gruff gusto but you imagine the track left his mind pretty soon after the studio door closed behind him. Blue beat their chests and dab ineffectively at the song and don’t leave a mark on it: they scatter a few ad libs around Elton’s vocals to remind us (then and now) that this is 2002.

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24
Sep 19

EMINEM – “Lose Yourself”

Popular17 comments • 1,851 views

#944, 14th December 2002

There’s a convention in DC Comics – started by Frank Miller with Batman in the mid-80s – of “Year One” stories. You take an established character and rewind back to the beginning of their career, digging into their early doubts and missteps. These stories have an aura of seriousness to them – they’re reaching for the definitive, and there’s a sense that everyone involved is taking a little more care than usual. “Lose Yourself” – and maybe the 8 Mile film it comes from – is Eminem: Year One, an origin story for 21st Century America’s newest super-creep.

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20
Sep 19

DANIEL BEDINGFIELD – “If You’re Not The One”

Popular10 comments • 1,277 views

#943, 7th December 2002

There’s a trope – more apocryphal than actually seen, these days – of the serious songwriter who dismisses the crap in the charts as mere formula and hints that, were they so minded, they could churn out a hit to order too. Fortunately they have better things to do than write music they think is awful.

Not all songwriters are so selfless. Daniel Bedingfield, for instance, shut himself away with some Westlife records, figuring the path to success lay in making music he detested. Having found that making music he liked worked just as well, it’s a shame he didn’t drop the idea. Still, he was right – his calculated attempt at a pop ballad really did sell.

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7
Sep 19

CHRISTINA AGUILERA ft REDMAN – “Dirrty”

Popular17 comments • 2,009 views

#942, 23rd November 2002

Christina Aguilera’s album title, Stripped, has an obvious double-meaning, one she’s been keen to point out to interviewers. Stripping off, yes, clearly, but also stripping back, removing the layers of industry wrapping to reveal the individual underneath. Raw or in the raw, she’s saying, this is the real thing. Or at least, realer than the last one.

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31
Aug 19

WESTLIFE – “Unbreakable”

Popular17 comments • 1,373 views

#941, 16th November 2002

They’re perhaps not intended to be, but Greatest Hits albums are often a sign of a band’s waning vitality, a signal to the fans that the group are moving to an autumnal phase, inviting listeners to tread their way through former hits like fallen leaves. The odd new track can’t truly hide the marks of age. “Unbreakable” is not an odd new track, in fact it’s relentlessly plain, an acoustic-led plod through the Westlife formula which does the things you’d expect in the places you’re expecting them. It’s unmistakable, indeed.

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23
Aug 19

DJ SAMMY & YANOU ft DO – “Heaven”

Popular19 comments • 1,982 views

#940, 9th November 2002

Before writing this entry I scoured the Internet to see if DJ Sammy had ever said or done anything interesting. I drew a blank. He’s the model of a jobbing Euro-DJ, lucky enough to get one big break in his 30-year career and canny enough to ride it. In the most recent interview I could find, an Australian journalist asks him if he’s bringing any new material to tour Down Under? Yes, he replies, a new remix of “Heaven”.

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17
Aug 19

NELLY ft KELLY ROWLAND – “Dilemma”

Popular26 comments • 2,909 views

#939, 26th October 2002

Nelly spent some of the year before his second LP dropped in a beef with the perennially grumpy KRS-One. The feud was not a dignified one. KRS-One called out pop-rap in general, Nelly took it personally, spent a summer trying to goad KRS into a response, finally succeeded (“You the first old man to get a rappers pension / No hits since the cordless mic invention”) and was rewarded by KRS-One calling for a ‘boycott’ of Nellyville.

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8
Aug 19

Great News For All Our Readers!

Popular17 comments • 1,256 views

Hello Popular readers!

After sixteen years, and suffering from (as you’ll have noticed) a much slower posting rate, I’ve come to a decision.

I’m going to crowdfund this project, using Patreon. HERE’S THE LINK. This coincides with me leaving my day job and going solo, which opens up a lot of spare time. But billable time being money in the freelance world, I want to be able to devote time to Popular, and Patreon is a way to do that. It’s not a perfect platfornm – what is? – but I’ve been able to set up tiers and goals which I think might appeal to people who like my work.

Very importantly, if you decide not to contribute, nothing will change – Popular will still appear here, on Freaky Trigger, and hopefully a lot more regularly than it has done recently.

UPDATE: We’ve already reached the point at which I am happy to guarantee 4 entries a month – I am enormously grateful and delighted by how quickly this has happened and how much support this funding initiative has had. Thanks, you lovely lot.

If you DO become a patron, you’ll get early access to main entries, very early access to certain other entries, and exclusive access to some other exciting things. THAT LINK AGAIN.

Whether you join up or not, it’ll mean more Popular, sooner, and I hope you agree that’s something to celebrate!

And finally, other fantastic FT contributors have Patreons of their own which also deserve your support! Mark S is creating podcasts and articles around the topic of his excellent book, A Hidden Landscape Once A Week and Hazel is crowdfunding her motorsport journalism by dishing the (some) dirt on a Patreon.