Mar 23

MARIO WINANS ft ENYA & P DIDDY – “I Don’t Wanna Know”

Popular19 comments • 2,345 views

#980, 12th June 2004

If the hits of 2004 have a theme, perhaps it’s men’s hurt feelings. Busted, Eamon, Mario, and more to come, like a damburst of male confusion, spite and woe. The year’s most enduring hit – in chart terms the most enduring hit of any year – finds a singer tormented by his beloved’s life without him, unable to stop imagining the details of her intimacy with another man, equally unable to endure them.

We don’t get to talk formally about “Mr Brightside” here, and in any case its emotional content isn’t the reason it’s claimed squatters’ rights on the charts. But thematically it’s the twitchy rock cousin to “I Don’t Wanna Know”, a song whose peak finds Mario Winans’ loverman cool dissolve into a desperate, unwanted but unstoppable series of questions – “Did he touch you better than me? Did he watch you fall asleep?”

Feb 23

FRANKEE – “F.U.R.B (F U Right Back)”

Popular27 comments • 1,751 views

#979, 22nd May 2004

“Answer? I hardly know ‘er!” – hard not to feel for Eamon having his hit both confirmed as a novelty so immediately and gazumped so effectively. Whether Frankee and Eamon were exes or strangers before their tracks came out hardly matters – they are now linked forever in a union stronger than any marriage, the bond of pub quiz trivia. What is the only answer record to replace its original at Number One? “F.U.R.B.”, come on down.

Feb 23

EAMON – “F**k It (I Don’t Want You Back)”

Popular29 comments • 1,846 views

#978, 24th April 2004

“Swear Word Song Hits Number One” ran the BBC News Headline, and as summaries go, it does the job. By 2004 standards, 4 weeks at Number 1 felt endless: no denying “Fuck It” was big. But was it clever? We were only a decade on from Sagat’s coy “Funk Dat” but still you might think – I surely thought – that swearing in pop was so widespread now the gimmick would never work. This was naive: what Eamon lacked in originality he made up in volume. Coy asterisks be damned, “F**k It” came with a literal fuckload of swears, 33 prime and juicy fucks at the top of the charts.

Feb 23

MCFLY – “5 Colours In Her Hair”

Popular22 comments • 1,634 views

#977, 10th April 2004

McFly were Busted friends and affiliates, and refreshed the earlier band’s ailing formula with sixties pixie dust – chanted do-do-doo harmonies and a sunshine disposition conjuring a spirit of Monkee business. But their retro aesthetic isn’t just designed to evoke teenage good times – there’s a hint of classicism in there too. McFly were boys, and they were a band, but they worked to give the impression that those two words’ proximity was just a happy coincidence and instead we were in the presence of Songwriting Talent.

That promise was occasionally kept. McFly’s hits lack the likable crassness of Busted, and mostly lack the energy too. But there’s a crispness to their power-pop borrowings, an easy, confident tunefulness most British bands struggle to access. The gap between McFly and, say, Kaiser Chiefs is social more than it is musical: different fans, different lyrical priorities, but a similar commitment to bouncy guitar pop like the stuff your mum danced to.

Feb 23


Popular21 comments • 1,971 views

#976, 27th March 2004

We’ve got used to seeing R&B singers in command of their tracks – the beats and music arranging themselves around a star’s performance, discreetly ensuring the best possible setting for their voice. That’s especially been the case for male R&B performers, whose silky confidence or swagger generally gets a performance-enhancing shot from the producers.

“Yeah!” gives us something different. The production here dominates and intoxicates – that repeating pair of 4-note figures played on synths loud enough to be bullhorns; the slow hammer of the beat and whomp of the bass; the shouts of Lil Jon in his hypeman role. This is crunk’n’B, a hard, deep, minimal sound built for the club and built to turn any space where it’s played loud enough into the club. And on the floor of the club, stardom always has to be earned.

Jan 23

DJ CASPER – “Cha Cha Slide”

Popular31 comments • 1,656 views

#975, 20th March 2004

“Land Of 1000 Dances” is not a census, it’s a promise – that as long as there is music and there are dancefloors, fresh dances will be found. The pleasure of so much pop lies in those new moves, the routines which attach themselves to songs by design or accident. You can’t usually work out the moves just by listening – there’s no clue in the grooves of Whigfield’s “Saturday Night” that the song has a special dance, but the dance is inextricable from the love so many people have for it. A bespoke dance, learned by seeing then doing, is the physical manifestation of the joyful communion pop creates simply by lots of different people loving the same thing at the same moment. It’s like the world’s easiest initiation ceremony.

Jan 23


Popular28 comments • 3,108 views

#974, 13th March 2004

The first thing you notice about “Toxic” is the strings – urgent, stabbing, a shock of treble. The string bursts compress a riff into a couple of seconds, turning its curling snatch of melody into a red alert, a warning sign on a system out of control. Something is happening. Something is wrong. But it doesn’t feel wrong.

Jan 23

PETER ANDRE – “Mysterious Girl”

Popular25 comments • 1,776 views

#973, 6th March 2004

The history of number ones is a history of answers to the question – “Who has the power to make hit records happen?” The labels? Radio stations? TV? The fans? Balances shift this way and that, but some constants remain, and one of them is light entertainment. British pop is a body in a long, irregular orbit around the sun of BBC Light Entertainment and its commercial imitators.

Jan 23

BUSTED – “Who’s David?”

Popular30 comments • 1,639 views

#972, 28th February 2004

Busted’s success belied an identity crisis. This manifested most obviously in Charlie Busted’s visible discomfort at playing the early funny stuff (let alone the later funny stuff), but it ran deeper than that. Were they a British boy band who happened to play diluted pop-punk rather than diluted R&B? Were they an actual pop-punk band who happened to be hot and fun and appeal to girls? Were they maybe even serious rock songwriters – well, as serious as Ash or Feeder – trapped in a Smash Hits and CD:UK world? “Who’s David?” – comfortably their worst ever single – feels like the product of these conflicting impulses.

Jan 23

SAM & MARK – “With A Little Help From My Friends”

Popular16 comments • 1,351 views

#971, 21st February 2004

Sam Nixon and Mark Rhodes are one of the genuine success stories of reality TV pop. From the neutral’s perspective a large part of that success is that after this brief fling pop and ‘Smark’ left one another well alone. Instead theirs is a charming story: two young hopefuls enter Pop Idol, come second and third, and are smooshed together into a duo by a Simon Cowell needing a plan B after the Michelle affair.

Cowell’s instincts were half right. There’s no detectable on-record chemistry between Sam and Mark, but the two got on well enough to turn a moment into an 18-year career as kids TV presenters, DJs, celebrity contestants, and whatever else you need two likeable Northern lads for… assuming you can’t afford the other ones. Yes, Sam and Mark are very much the Leopard From Lime Street to Ant & Dec’s Spider-Man, but they’ve set their shoulders to that wheel unstintingly, and good for them.