Learn more about an era of music and the connections behind the songs. Interwoven with personal anecdotes, commentary and artist history. A unique way to tap into music nostalgia and discovery.
My Personal Chart, October 7, 2000
The playlists on the left features the songs discusssed in the different sections, the one on the right features all the songs on the chart for this week as well.
My Personal Chart Blog, October 7, 2000
Part 2, A Big Era for Christian Music, Many Roads lead to DC Talk.
SOLOMON’S WISH/Grand Scheme (2)
I could not find much information about Solomon’s Wish on the internet. They were a trio and only had one album. At the time, this acoustic guitar-based song was my #1 song of the year. Much of that status has to be because of the harmonies and the grandeur of the song as it builds. Besides, I must have been a pretty spiritual state of mind at the time. They were in the same lane as Jars of Clay and this song especially reminds me of Toad The Wet Sprocket and the song “Something’s Always Wrong”. In total, I charted 5 songs from the album “A Wise Man’s Tragedy”. “Learning To Fly” (25) was the only other to make my top 10, peaking at #3. Their music is not available on Spotify. There also seems to be one or two bands with the same name. Both indie rock, one from the mid-’90s and another in the last few years.
‘Fly’ has a similar style to a number of songs from the Australian band Taxiride (not a Christian band) that had a string of hits in the land down under between 1999 and 2005. One of those, “Get Set” reached the Alternative top 40 in the States and was featured in the movie “Election” with Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick. I charted 8 songs from their debut album “Imaginate” and 17 songs in total. 10 of those reached my top 10 including 3 #1’s with the 2002 song “How I Got This Way” becoming my #1 song of 2003. This song has one of my favorite choruses of all-time. There is an acoustic version of this song on Spotify that is good, but it doesn’t have the intensity of the original. Like Solomon’s Wish, there was extensive use of vocal harmony by this band. On this week’s chart was “Let Me Die Young” (101), a song about joining the one you lost too soon. “72 Hour Daze” is another lamenting ballad that reached #6 on my chart earlier in the year and was my #30 of the year. In ’99 “Get Set” and “Everywhere You Go” with its late ‘70s vibe both reached my top 10.
Christian music was much more prominent on my personal chart between the mid-’90s and about 2010. The catalyst for that was most likely DC Talk, a trio from Lynchburg, Virginia. Their early music was much more Hip-Hop oriented than their music towards the end of the ‘90s. Early songs like “Spinnin’ Round” and “Heavenbound” owe a lot to the Beastie Boys and Run DMC who both incorporate Rock into their brand of Hip-Hop. I will say this early music, to me, was relatively amateurish. Their second album in 1990 added a dose of New Jack Swing to the mix. “Nu Thang” brought them into the Christian top 5 for the first time. In 1992 with their third album “Free At Last” they started to settle into their status as a major Christian force. The album featured covers of “Jesus Is Just Alright” made most famous by the Doobie Brothers in 1972 and Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me”. The album went on to win Best Rock/Gospel Album of the year at the Grammys. ‘Jesus’ helped bring them into mainstream consciousness. They were among only a handful of Christian artists to appear on late-night TV, performing this song on “The Tonight Show” in November 1993. The song contains samples from Madonna’s “Vogue” and Snap’s “The Power” but I also hear elements of Crystal Water’s “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)”. It wasn’t until their next album that I really became fully aware of them.
The album “Jesus Freak” released in November 1995 helped to propel them as the biggest Christian Rock band of the ‘90s. In 1997 they placed 6 songs from the iconic album “Jesus Freak” in my top 50 of the year. The title track was a brilliant mix of Rock and Rap yet so much of the album settled into a polished and melodic Pop-Rock lane. This helped them to attain Pop airplay with “Just Between You And Me” their only crossover hit, reaching #15 Pop. The album also includes a cover of the “Day By Day” from Godspell. The song “Mind’s Eye” was my #3 song of 1997 and one of 17 songs of theirs that went to #1 on the Christian chart.
In listening to snippets from the album one of the tracks is a 1:18 reprise of “Jesus Freak”, done in a tongue in cheek off-key lounge style. What is particularly funny about this is that yesterday at a friend’s house we ended up getting sucked into a documentary about Florence Foster Jenkins by accident. She is notable as “the world’s worst opera singer”. Meryl Streep portrayed her in the movie named after her in 2016. Just another perfectly timed coincidence in my life of coincidences. Just listen to “The Magic Flute: Queen Of The Night Aria” to experience her sheer delightful awfulness. In total DC Talk had 7 #1’s on my personal chart, the last was “Wanna Be Loved” in 1999.
Newsboys are a Christian band from Australia, formed in 1985 and still performing. They’ve had 3 different lead singers over the year, each with about a decade under their belt. The current lead is Michael Tait who was one-third of the band DC Talk. Michael Tait formed his own band, Tait, in the late ‘90s and released 2albums in the early 2000s and I charted 9 songs from. One of those, “Lose This Life” reached #1 on my chart. That song has shades of U2, Midge Ure, John Farnham, and another song that went to #1 on my chart. “Glorious” by Swedish artist Andreas Johnson debuted on my chart in late 2000 and ended up as my #7 song of 2001. It was a hit across Europe, most notably in the UK (#4) and Italy (#3). In Sweden, it peaked at #13. Interesting that the first 3 instrumental melody lines of the song are identical to the first 3 sung melody lines of “Two Minute Warning”, a 1983 song by Depeche Mode. In 2000 Newsboys had “Beautiful Sound” (43) on my chart with lead vocalist and original member Peter Furler. Most of the 24 songs that I’ve charted by them were from his era and include the #1 “He Reigns” from 2004. Their lane, like the artists already discussed here, was sturdy Pop-Rock.
It seems Australia is a hotbed for Christian artists. Rebecca St. James had a couple of songs on my chart in 2000 including the #22 “Pray”. The album of the same name won the Grammy for Best Rock Gospel Album. In 1996 she recorded a rocked-up version of fellow Australian John Farnham’s song “You’re The Voice”. His version, which won the ARIA Song of the Year (Australia’s Grammy equivalent) is one of my all-time favorite songs, my #2 song of 1987. It made an appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1990, reaching #82. 2 of Rebecca’s 5 brothers are the current Christian duo For King and Country who have had a number of songs cross over to Hot AC radio. Their current single “Together” is top 30 at Hot AC and top 10 at Christian radio. St. James, who is married to former Foster The People bassist Jacob Fink, had her best showing on my chart with the #12 “I Thank You” in 2004. This song is similar to songs from artist Bonnie McKee whose debut album came out in 2004. 3 songs from the prolific songwriter’s album went to #1 in 2004-05 including two 4 week runs at the summit for the songs “Somebody” and “When It All Comes Down”. Rachael Lampa, another Christian artist from Ann Arbor, debuted in 2000 at the age of 15 and her song “Live For You” (71) had a bit of a Latin-Pop flare. In 2004 she graced my #1 slot with “When I Fall”, another in the Bonnie McKee lane. In 2015 she became a backup singer for Hozier.
The UK Christian band Delirious? was another band that, like Taxiride, placed 17 songs on my personal chart, though overall not as impactful as Taxiride. 3 of those songs made my top 10 and the 1999 song “Deeper” (#2 peak on my chart) was my #15 of the year. That song has the distinction of making the UK top 40 singles chart twice in one year. It originally peaked at #20 in 1997 and later that year the EP “DeEPer” made it to #36. That EP included “Touch” (41) which was re-recorded for their 2002 album of the same name. It was uncommon for a Christian band to reach the UK singles chart. but they managed 7 top 40 entries. In 2010 they saw their highest charter in the UK (#4) with “History Maker” when they released their great hits album “History Makers”. The song was originally on the same 1997 album as “Deeper”, “King Of Fools”.
In 2004 there was a compilation album called “In The Name Of Love”; Christian artists doing covers of U2 songs. Delirious? did a version of “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” and Tait took on “One” while his DC Talk bandmate TobyMac reworked “Mysterious Ways”. TobyMac (real name Toby McKeehan) has had the most successful solo career of the DC Talk with 9 #1 songs, 8 albums (2012’s ‘Eye On it’ debuted at #1 on Billboard 200 Album Chart) and he has won numerous Grammy, Billboard Music, and Dove awards (Christian music’s equivalent of the Grammys). Most recently he won the Dove award for Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year in 2019. The singer and rapper has hit my personal chart 25 times but reaching #1 has been elusive. The highest he has gone is #5 in 2010 with the rocker “Tonight” featuring John Cooper of the Christian Rock band Skillet. He has made my top 10 twice more with 2010’s “Hey Devil” and 2015’s “Feel It”.
Christian rockers Audio Adrenaline were also on the U2 cover album with “Gloria”. They had a couple of minor charters for me in 2000. Their best showing on my chart was “Some Kind Of Zombie” from 1997 (#30 on my chart and #1 at Christian Rock). They had 10 studio albums between 1991 and 2015, mostly with lead vocalist Mark Stuart. They disbanded in 2005 and re-formed in 2013 with a new vocalist, Kevin Max. Max was the third member of DC Talk and the main vocalist on much of the “Jesus Freak” album. He had collaborated with Audio Adrenaline (and Newsboys) in the past but would only stay only for one album, “Kings And Queens” (the title track reached the Christian radio top 5). From that point, the band wanted to go more in a Worship music direction, while he wanted to go towards Alternative and Indie Pop. As a solo artist he’s only had 2 songs reach my chart, “Evidence” and “Angel With No Wings”, both in 2002.
The most honored artist in Christian music history is Steven Curtis Chapman who started his career in the late ‘80s. He was between songs on my chart this week. “Great Expectations” had peaked at #32 in late August and ‘The Change” debuted the first week of January 2001 and made it to #22. He had 25 #1 songs on the Christian chart in the ‘90s alone and won Artist of the Year at the Dove Awards 7 times. I just discovered another #1 single from the same 1999 album “Speechless” called “Dive” which could impact my chart now. 7 songs from that album alone went to #1 on Christian radio and it won a Grammy and 2 Dove awards.
A singer in a similar mode, Mark Schultz debuted on the Christian charts in 2000 and has attained 7 #1’s including his first 4 singles. “He’s My Son” and “I Am The Way” (110) were 2 songs of those that I charted. Between 2008-10 he saw his best success on my chart with 3 songs making my top 20 (“40 Days” #19, “He Is” #10, and “Love Has Come“ #7). He had a stint in the touring group “Up With People” and performed internationally with them. His trajectory started when he, by chance, met a youth pastor named Mark DeVries that he was supposed to contact a year earlier but had gotten rid of his number, thinking it was a dead end.
I think it could be argued that Michael W. Smith could rival Chapman in Christian music history. Unlike Chapman, he was also able to achieve mainstream success in the early ‘90s. Smith was having a great run on my chart between 1998 and 2002. In 2000 alone he had 16 songs on my chart from 2 albums, 1998’s “Live The Life” and 1999’s “This Is Your Time”. ‘Life’ won the Dove award for Album of the Year in 1999 and the title song from ’Time’ song of the year in 2000 (2 of his 45 Dove award wins). His impact on me was huge at the time with the title track from “Live The Life” was my #2 of 1998 and “Missing Person” from the album my #1 of 1999. These 2 songs still have a huge impact on me. The former was featured on the Beyond Radio Presents episode Castlist 004, Episode 2 (released Nov. 2, 2019), and “Missing Person” will be part of an upcoming episode. The “Live The Life” story is about the difference between what the songwriter’s intention was and what you actually get out of a song. It is a beautiful story that is getting me welled up just thinking about it.
These were 2 of 3 Christian radio #1’s from the album, “Never Been Unloved” was the third. ‘Life’ was co-written by Brent Bourgeois who had a couple of moderate radio hits in the mid-’80s as part of Bourgeois Tagg, “Mutual Surrender (What A Wonderful World)” and “I Don’t Mind At All”. In 1990 he had a solo hit with “Dare To Fall In Love” which was not dissimilar to Smith’s Pop hit “Place In This World” from 1991. Co-written by Christian and Popstar Amy Grant for whom Smith played keyboards and was her opening act on her tours in his early years. The song reached #6 on Billboard’s Hot 100 a few months after Amy Grant started her big run on the Pop charts from ’91-’94 with 5 top 10’s including the #1 “Baby, Baby”. During that run, she was married to Gary Chapman another Christian musician (no relation to Steven Curtis Chapman but they were friends). Gary was a licensed helicopter pilot and once landed on Steven’s lawn as a surprise.
On this week’s chart “Matter Of Time” (26) and “I Still Have The Dream” (46) were moving up on their way to #12 and #7 respectively. Smith has also co-written with Nik Kershaw (whose “Wouldn’t It Be Good” was a UK #4 and moderate Stateside Pop hit from 1984) and Dan Haseltine the lead singer of Jars Of Clay. That Illinois band has scored 13 #1 songs on Christian radio. They released 6 singles from the 1999 album “If I Left The Zoo” including “I’m Alright” (129) which peaked at #10 on my chart and #2 Christian. The album was the second of 3 albums in a row to win the Grammy for Pop/Gospel album. Surprisingly, they were not even nominated for a Dove award until 2004. They are best known for the 1995 song “Flood” that saw mainstream success at Alternative (#12) and Pop (#20). That song and “Liquid”, both from their debut album were produced by Adrian Belew of King Crimson. This came about because his niece was an intern at the record company Essential and she gave Belew the band’s demo. They are also featured on the U2 cover album, delivering “All I Want Is You”.
U2’s influence was also all over the Marietta, Georgia band Third Day. Their mix of Heavy Alt Rock, Southern Rock (aided by the husky-voiced Mac Powell), and Gospel helped to place 37 songs on my personal chart; 10 top 10s, 4 #1’s, and a #2. In 1998 they had my #2 song of the year with “Peace”. This is the opening track but not one of the 5 singles from their second album “Conspiracy #5 (which won the Dove Award for Rock Album of the Year in 1998). Most recently they reached #2 on my chart with “Revival” a Gospel-Pop party song in 2018. 2 songs just missed my weekly top 100 in 2000, “What Good” and “Sky Falls Down”. They have amassed 21 #1 songs and 4 #2’s on Christian radio. “Nothing At All” from their 1996 debut is strikingly the only song of theirs to crossover to mainstream radio, reaching #34 on the Rock chart in 1997. In 2001 Mac Powell won Male Vocalist of the Year at the Dove Awards. There was another Christian compilation album called “Exodus” in 1998 that featured DC Talk, Jars Of Clay, Michael W. Smith, and Third Day, who covered Smith’s song “Agnus Dei”.
Plus One was a Christian boy band and their song “Written on My Heart” is right out of the Backstreet Boys playbook. It and “God Is In This Place” went to #1 on Christian radio and ‘Heart’ also made it into my top 10 at #8. They performed the song on an episode of “Days Of Our Lives”. BSB’s “Larger Than Life” spent 3 weeks at #1 on my chart a year before but their 3 2000 singles didn’t fare quite as well. “Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely” and “The One” both made my top 25 and “Shape Of My Heart” only reached #75. N-Sync also only reached #23 on my chart in 2000 with “Bye Bye Bye” (10 weeks at #1 on the Pop chart) and #40 with “It’s Gonna Be Me” (6 weeks at #1 Pop).
Brian Littrell of BSB had a Christian album in 2006 called “Welcome Home” and a song from it, “I’m Alive”, was co-written by Ian Eskelin an oft awarded writer and producer who was also the lead singer of All Star United who had 7 albums between 1997 and 2009. “Worldwide Socialites Unite” (107), an awesome Pop-Rock rave-up, and another song not available on Spotify went to #3 on my chart and should have been a #1. They specialized in fun Power Pop with sometimes caustic or pun-filled lyrics
(“Worldwide socialites unite
Avoid the dreaded question
The meaning of our lives
And as to God’s existence
Well, that’s your private business
And, quite frankly, impolite
Let’s keep the “lite” in social
Let’s keep this social light
Let’s keep the “lite” in socialite”)
13 of their songs made my chart including “Popular Americans”, “Theme From Summer” (139), and “If We Were Lovers” (a #1 record in Singapore of all places). He also made my chart as a solo artist in 2005 with “Taboo” and “Save The Humans”. The Nashville band Luna Halo started as a Christian band and had “Superman” (40) as their only entry on my personal chart. Most of the band left after the first album and Cary Barlowe formed a new lineup, dropped the Christian moniker, and released a series of EP’s between 2002-2006. In 2007 they released another album that essentially went nowhere but the Alt-rocker “Untouchable” was covered by Taylor Swift on her 2008 album “Fearless” as a country ballad. Barlowe went on to write songs for other Country artists like Lady A and Florida Georgia Line. I never know how I’m going to wrap up these posts when I start. In addition to his work in the Country field he has collaborated with TobyMac on 9 #1 songs (including “Made To Love” his first in 2006 and the aforementioned funked-up “Feel It”) leading to 3 Grammy nods.
My Personal Chart Blog, October 7, 2000
Part 1, The Mainstream Side of Post-Grunge, Iconic Songs, Music Party Impact, and the Future Wives Club.
Leaving Town/Dexter Freebish (1)
“Leaving Town” ranks as one of my all-time favorite songs. Back in 2001 was the last time I put together my all-time list and at that time it ranked at #220, in a similar zone to songs I have talked about in my blog posts this year (“Breakdown Dead Ahead” by Boz Scaggs, Elton John’s “Sartorial Eloquence” and the Jeff Healey Band version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”). I feel that when I re-do this list, which I should do for my 60th birthday coming up next July, this song will move upwards, possibly into the top 100 or higher. The Austin, Texas band has a connection to the Beatles in that they won Song of the Year in the 1999 John Lennon Songwriting Contest with this song. That contest was established in 1997 by Yoko Ono and gives awards in 12 different categories plus the Song of the Year grand prize. Sadly, it is the only song by the band that charted, reaching #30 Pop, #25 Alternative, and #15 AAA. It missed the Hot 100, placing at #111 on Billboard’s Bubbling Under chart. It was a favorite among my circle of friends and was #24 at the 2001 music party that I host each summer. The second series of my podcast “Beyond Radio Presents” chronicles the #1 songs from the parties that started in 1984 and that will have a virtual version later this fall.
Over the course of 3 albums, they scored 15 placements on my personal chart (plus at least 5 others that should have charted) with 7 of those making my top 5 including 2 #1’s (“Wonderland” was the other). Their debut album “A Life Of Saturdays” is definitely among my favorite albums of all-time, which is why I’m perplexed that 4 of the songs from that never charted (though 5 did) and 2 of those that didn’t (“Spotlight” and “Deeper”), would easily make the top 10 if I re-did those charts now. The band was named after a roller coaster at Astroworld in Houston, Texas that closed in 2005. The coaster was originally called “Dexter Frebish’s Electric Roller Ride”, opening in 1972. Its name was changed to Excalibur and they closed that coaster in 1998. I only late last year discovered the band’s 2010 third album “Shine On” with the song “Save The Last Dance” reaching #7 on my chart in February.
Though only a one-hit-wonder (and moderate at that), Dexter Freebish fits into the mold of the mammoth Pop-Rockers of the time, Matchbox 20. The Orlando group led by Rob Thomas first hit the airwaves 4 years earlier with “Long Day”, a #8 Rock song that was their first #1 on my chart. It was a melodic slice of Post-Grunge but slightly harder than what would follow and establish the band. The next single “Push” was the breakthrough, taking them to #1 on the Alternative chart and #3 Pop. The album “Yourself Or Someone Like You” proved to be a hit-making machine and eventually sold over 12 million copies. By the time the 2nd album “Mad Season” came out, Thomas had become a household name due to his turn as the vocalist on the #1 song of 1999, Santana’s “Smooth”. That song is ranked by Billboard as the #2 song of all-time, behind Chubby Checker’s “The Twist”.
The lead single from “Mad Season” was the fabulously insinuating “Bent” which was another multi-format smash that topped the Hot 100 in July and my personal chart the week of my birthday at the end of the month. It was the #5 song at the 2001 party, and it will always be connected to my friend and business partner at the time, Keino from South Africa. He came to the States for the party and if I recall correctly it was his favorite song at the time. The opening instrumental line of the song is definitely part of what makes the song great, a moody lick that is repeated later and contrasts the gentleness of the verses. Thomas has said this was the first love song he had ever written, though not necessarily tender and sweet.
“If You’re Gone”, the second single (and I guess his second love song), was released to radio the first week of October. It debuted on my chart the following week but somehow only managed to hit #72 on my chart 2 weeks later. The horn line, most prevalent in the bridge and towards the end, so totally reminds me of the early ‘70s and specifically the Partridge Family. Maybe the top 5 Pop hit was too bland for me in that moment. At the time the song had the distinction of taking the longest to reach #1 on the AC chart, 42 weeks. The Rock-oriented “Crutch” debuted on my chart the same week and reached #5, albeit 7 months later, so it was a long slow burn. In all 11 of the 13 songs from this album charted for me with the title track also going to #1. More to that story when I circle back to early 2001 next March.
Another song that fits into the Matchbox playbook is an obscure song from the California band Neve. Their #30 Alternative and #25 Hot AC song from 1999 “It’s Over Now” spent 4 weeks at #1 on my chart in mid-99 and was my #2 song of the year. For some reason that escapes me now, it re-appeared on my chart in June 2000 and spent another 6 weeks in my top 15. It was unusual for a song to chart twice for me in those days but typically it was if I knew the song better and thus it performed better in its second appearance. This was not the case with this one. This band came and went quickly and were also compared to the New York band Nine Days. They are an almost one-hit-wonder. Their song “Absolutely (Story of A Girl)” was a true Pop hit, spending 2 weeks at #1. The autobiographical song was written about the lead singer’s future wife (Matchbox 20’s “If You’re Gone” was also written for Rob Thomas’ future wife). They were able to reach the Pop top 40 a second time with “If I Am” (124), peaking at #25. 4 of the 9 songs that I charted from the band between 2000-2003 made my top 20, better than “Absolutely” which peaked at #25. The third single “257 Weeks” (16) was a piano rocker while the break-up song “Bitter” went to #1 on my chart for 2 weeks in the summer of 2001. The follow-up album was mired in release delays by their label because they said there wasn’t a single (“Good Friend” and “Marvelous” both made my top 15 so I disagree) and they were eventually dropped.
Fellow New Yorkers Splender had a remarkably similar life on my personal chart. They also scored a #1 on my chart with the Pop top 20 ballad “I Think God Can Explain” for 2 weeks in June 2000. Before that, they peaked at #15 with “Yeah Whatever”, a top 25 Alternative song in 1999. ‘God’ placed at #21 for the 1991 music party. In total, they also placed 9 songs on my chart, 6 of those reaching my top 25. They also had 2 songs on this week’s chart, “Spaceboy” (70) and “Monotone” (115). Like Nine Days, their follow-up album went nowhere. Both bands also appear on the album “Music From Dawson’s Creek, Vol 2”.
Vertical Horizon’s Matt Scannell wrote their signature song “Everything You Want” while in Greenwich Village and it was about a girl he was in love with (but she did not become his future wife). It was a massive hit for the DC via Boston band and timed quite well, hitting the charts in December of 1999, going to #1 on the Hot 100 and at Hot AC plus top 5 Alternative and AAA. In addition, it became Billboard’s Most Played Song of the Year. It was #13 at the 2001 music party.
This album really spoke to me with 7 songs making my top 12 with “Finding Me” (34) reaching #2 in November. Before ‘Want’, “We Are” was their first single, peaking at #21 Alternative. 2 other songs, “You’re A God” and “Best I Ever Had (Grey Sky Morning)” impacted at Pop and Hot AC, both reaching the top 10 on the latter format. Gary Allan took his version of ‘Best’ to the Country top 10 in 2005. As often seems to be the case in researching artists for these blog posts, upon the release of the next album in 2003, Vertical Horizon’s record label RCA was undergoing restructuring and pushed back the release over a year and failed to adequately promote it.
There is an interesting connection between the last 3 bands. Their record labels, 550 Music (Nine Days), J Records (Splender), and RCA (Vertical Horizon) all fall under the Sony Music Entertainment company, with J and RCA led by Clive Davis. Scannell of Vertical Horizon said Davis was not a fan of the band and was instrumental in the promotion failure. Perhaps Davis had a disdain for this whole Post-Grunge movement. The band would release 3 more albums in 2009, 2013, and 2018 and achieved their only #1 on my chart with “Broken Over You” from the 2013 album “Echoes From The Underground”.
Like VH, the California band Lit was on RCA. They received a Billboard Music Award for the 1999 song “My Own Worst Enemy”, the #1 Alternative song of the year. This was not quite as big a Pop hit as some of the others, only reaching #29, but it was #10 at the 2000 music party and made it to #1 on my personal chart. In 2000 they placed 5 more songs from the album “A Place In The Sun” on my chart. “Miserable” was another top 5 Alternative hit and the juxtaposed horn-driven “Happy” (actually not really a happy song at all) spent 4 weeks at #11 on my chart in March/April. This band seems to have been emo before emo was a thing.
The band has remained active since the late ‘90s and in 2018 returned with, surprisingly, a Country album. They aren’t the only ones who have done this. Nine Days re-surfaced in 2016 with a Country album “Snapshots”. I guess the line between Rock and Country is not hard to cross. The Canadian Rock band Default’s lead singer Dallas Smith has had 23 top 10 Country hits since 2011, 10 of those going to #1 including last year’s “Drop”. Chad Kroeger discovered Smith’s band and Kroeger’s band Nickelback recently released a cover of “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”, but definitely with a Rock approach. The original by the Charlie Daniels Band was their biggest Pop hit in 1979, reaching #3. The fiddle laced song also was #1 at Country radio. Daniels straddled the line between Country, Pop, and Rock. He died in July at 83.
The Lit song “Zip-Lock” was a surprising under-performer on my chart, only reaching #59. The video pays homage to Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” with Dee Snider of that band taking on the role of the Dad from the earlier video. It also has a cameo from the members of Blink 182 (who have a new song “Quarantine”) as streakers at a pool party. The album is cited as influencing a number of albums including the debut albums from Good Charlotte (“Little Things”) and American Hi-Fi (“Flavor Of The Weak”). ‘Flavor’ was a top 5 Alternative and #16 Pop hit in 2001. The follow-up single “Another Perfect Day” reached #6 on my personal chart. Lead Singer and drummer Stacy Jones was in 2 great female-led alt bands in the ‘90s, Letters To Cleo from Boston and Veruca Salt from Chicago. Cleo’s “Here And Now” was a top 5 on my personal chart while Veruca Salt’s “Number One Blind” went all the way to the top. Kay Hanley of Cleo grew up diagonally from the Wahlberg brothers Donnie and Mark in Dorchester, Mass. and is friends with Nina Gordon of Salt. Stacy Jones is now music director for Miley Cyrus (who has been at the top of the Beyond Radio 250 for 6 weeks with “Midnight Sky”). He also is the touring drummer for Matchbox 20. In 2007-08 Kay Hanley was a backing vocalist for Miley Cyrus’ Hannah Montana concert tour—precious.
Eve 6’s second album “Horrorscope” is also cited as being influenced by the Lit album. Of course, they are best known for the 1998 song “Inside Out”, most known for its interesting wordplay. That one was the #2 Alternative song of the year and #18 at the music party in 1999. The band got their name from a character on an “X-Files” episode but was not their original name. They began as Yakoo and then went Eleventeen before settling on Eve 6. Another RCA group, they have had 3 #2’s on my chart without hitting the top spot. In addition to “Inside Out”, “On The Roof Again” and “Promise” (4), both from “Horrorscope” hit the runner-up spot. Many might remember, as my tenant Justin did, that the top 15 Pop song “Here’s To The Night” was a big graduation song at the time. Funny thing though, it’s a song about a one-night stand, not the end of something celebratory. ‘Roof’, a song about potential suicide has a memorable bridge, again employing rapid-fire wordplay and alliteration.
The next band also had a song connection to a graduation, but unfortunately not necessarily a happy one. Their biggest Pop hit, “Wonderful”, was the graduation song for the 2000 graduating class from Columbine High School, the year after the massacre. Like Lit’s “Happy”, “Wonderful” is a contradiction; upbeat, poppy melody, with darker lyrics. We discuss this song in the second episode of the “Beyond Radio Presents” podcast. This one is about the struggles of growing up in a broken home. Art Alexakis often wrote from a somewhat biographical place, like 1998’s Alternative top 5 “Father Of Mine”. Up to that point, ‘Father’ was my favorite Everclear song, but it was eclipsed by 3 songs from 2000’s “Songs From An American Movie: Learning How To Smile”.
There was certainly a little bit more of a Pop sensibility to this record. “Wonderful” spent 3 weeks at the top of my chart and was #30 at the 2001 music party. During its third week at the summit “Here We Go Again” (9) debuted on my chart at #5 and 2 weeks later spent 4 weeks at #1. Right on its heels the second single “AM Radio” (14)debuted at #13 and spent 4 weeks at #2. There was something about these songs at the time that just struck a chord with me. In addition, “Learning How to Smile” (24) and a remake of “Brown Eyed Girl” (7) were also riding high. The funny thing about that song is I was never really a fan of the original. I’m sure there were some that felt this remake was blasphemous. “AM Radio” was built off a sample of the Jean Knight #2 hit from 1971 “Mr. Big Stuff”. ‘Again’ also contains a sample from Public Enemy’s “Bring The Noise” which in turn samples 8 songs in addition to a spoken sample from Malcolm X at the beginning. One of the samples is from a 1974 Commodores song “The Assembly Line” from the same album as my favorite song by them, the instrumental “Machine Gun”, which was their first song to hit the Hot 100.
A strange thing happened towards the end of 2000 for the Portland, Oregon band. They quickly released another album “Songs From An American Movie: Good Time For A Bad Attitude”. This was a Rock heavy album, contrasting against the former album, which at first was to be an Art Alexakis solo album. Because of technical delays, the first album was delayed and released in July instead of April with the second in November. That short window proved to be confusing to radio programmers, retailers, and record buyers leading to a relatively poor chart performance for the second album. Ironically, the lead single from that album was “When It All Goes Wrong Again”. It wasn’t all that bad though, the song reached #10 Rock and #12 Alternative. The album also includes a song written for his future wife, “The Good Witch Of The North”.
A bit more on the rootsy side of Post-Grunge was California’s Tonic. In 1997 they debuted with the song “If You Could Only See”, a song he wrote after a conversation with his mother about his almost future wife (no dice). The #1 Rock song of 1997 spent 63 weeks on Billboard’s Radio Songs chart, peaking at #11. It was not eligible for the Hot 100 at the time because it had not been released as a physical single. This was a major bone of contention for me in the mid-‘90s as I felt the Hot 100 was not indicative of what was necessarily popular at the time. There was a long list of songs that were huge hits that did not make the chart. One of those, Goo Goo Dolls “Iris” was #1 for 18 weeks on the Radio Songs chart in 1998 (and #4 in airplay for the year). The #2 airplay song of ’98 was Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn”, another song to fall under that issue. In the December 5, 1998 issue of Billboard, there was a rule change, letting album cuts enter the chart based on airplay and at the time it was the right move “Iris” debuted that week at #9, almost 8 months after debuted on the Radio Songs chart. In the last 20 years, streaming and video play became factors for the Hot 100 as well and that is a whole other negative conversation.
Between 1999-2001 Tonic placed 4 songs on my personal chart from their second album “Sugar”, 3 of those making my top 10; “Mean To Me” (15) peaking at #4, “You Wanted More” #5 and “Waltz With Me” #9. With their third album “Head On Straight” in 2002 they saw 2 sides of the coin. Sales were dismal (less than 50,000) but they received 2 Grammy nominations, one for Rock Album and the other for Rock Song by a Duo or Group. That song, “Take Me As I Am” was a #1 for me and grazed the Hot AC top 40, stalling at #36. Lead singer Emerson Hart has released 3 solo albums in 2007, 2014, and 2019. His solo music, at least the 3 songs I charted, took more of a lamenting ballad approach. All of these concerned the end of relationships. “If You’re Gonna Leave” (#26 in 2007), “I Wish The Best For You” (#17 in 2008), and “The Best I Can Give” (#1 in 2014 and my #9 song of the year). Hart also wrote and performed the theme “Generation” for the 2002-2005 TV drama “American Dreams” starring Brittany Snow (also of the “Pitch Perfect” movie series).
Moving to another #1 Rock track of the year, “Kryptonite”, the debut single from Mississippi’s 3 Doors Down was the year-end #1 of 2000 on both the Rock and Alternative charts. The song starts with a simple guitar line and then the signature drum line kicks in. The drum part was hammered out by lead singer Brad Arnold in a math class when he was 15 and bored. This song is iconic as any of the others that have been discussed here and was #3 at the music party in 2001. What is interesting is that 20 years later none of these songs would see the light of day on the Hot 100 or on Pop radio. The turnaround is so incredibly drastic. Rock is almost a dirty word at this point. The only song that has reached the Hot 100 that would be considered Rock is “Bloody Valentine” by Machine Gun Kelly, a rapper turned rocker. The current #1 on Alternative radio debuted last week at #50 and dropped to #90 this week upon the release of his album. Interestingly the song reminds me of Blink 182.
3 Doors Down is the most enduring artist among the artists I’ve discussed here though from pure album sales Matchbox 20 would best them and certainly Rob Thomas has been an enduring solo presence as well. They have had 5 Rock #1’s and their last album in 2016 produced the #2 Rock song “In The Dark”. The groove of this song propelled it to #1 on my chart, the first time the band had gone that far. Their debut album produced 4 hits, “Loser” (117) was their second Rock #1 and spent 21 weeks at the summit. “Kryptonite” only spent 9 weeks atop the Rock chart but came out in February while both songs remained on the chart for a full year. Arnold feels that “Loser” helped to establish that they would not be a one-hit-wonder.
“Duck And Run” was their third Rock #1, on the chart for 26 weeks in the first half of 2001. Unfortunately, after 9/11 it was deemed a song that could not be played on the radio anymore. The ballad “Be Like That”, a song about following your dreams, brought them back to the Pop and Hot AC charts. This year Arnold was planning on celebrating the 20thanniversary of their debut album “A Better Life” but with the pandemic instead concentrated on solo work. He released the song “Wicked Man” in August that ponders what is behind the curtain of truths and lies, perhaps from both sides of the aisle. His politics would most likely make it clear, but one never knows. You should listen and see what you get out of it.
My Personal Chart, April 29, 2000
The companion Spotify playlist has all the songs discussed in the blog that are available. Individual playlists for each blog entry are available on My YouTube Channel.
My Personal Chart, April 29, 2000
YouTube playlist with the songs from Part 6
Part 6, Familial Ties and Unties (Let the Meek Be Strong) and the Ladies Who Lilith
The Eurythmics /Power To The Meek (8)
The Eurythmics went 10 years between the 1989 album “We Too Are One” and 1999’s “Peace”. In-between Annie Lennox had a successful solo career which included the fabulous album “Diva” and Dave Stewart formed the band the Spiritual Cowboys, with members of the Pretenders and Ian Dury & The Blockheads, which released 2 albums. He also released 2 solo albums later in the 90’s.
The “Peace” album was not the comeback they had anticipated with the first 2 singles failing to make the UK top 10 (“I Saved The World Today” reached #11 and “17 Again” #27). A dance remix of “17 Again did reach the summit on the U.S. Dance chart. ‘Again’ was also featured in a season 4 episode of “Will & Grace”. Those 2 songs, and another single “Peace Is Just A Word” only had minor impact on me, none rising higher than #85 on my personal chart.
I was looking for a highlight from the album and found it in ‘Meek’, the fifth single released from the album; a song that played off of their rockier side (it peaked at #3 2 weeks earlier in April). My 2 favorite songs by them, “I Need A Man” and “Missionary Man” both had a prominent guitar edge, that I feel complimented her voice well. That is not to say she couldn’t kill it on a ballad, check her solo debut single “Why”. ‘Meek’ ended up my #32 of 2000, the sixth and final time the band made my top 50 of the year.
Fiona Apple was in my top 20 this week with “Limp” (16). It was a slow burn type of song for me, taking 17 weeks to reach my top 10 (eventually it peaked at #7). Since the release of her debut album “Tidal”, Apple has taken a strange path to stardom. She just released her fifth album (and first since 2012), “Fetch The Bolt Cutters”, to critical acclaim in April. It debuted on the Billboard 200 at #4 and the single “Shameika” is her first to garner significant radio airplay in well over a decade.
A lot of her work can be described as “Art Pop”, not dwelling on the confines of a true pop structure. Rhythm changes, Jazz flourishes, deep poetic lyrics, all combine to create something singular. “Limp” follows some of these. The background of this sounds like it comes from David Lynch’s “Eraserhead”, a percolating cauldron. The song comes from her second album, When The Pawn…’’, which at the time boasted the longest album title ever; 88 words and 444 characters, actually a poem she had written.
A reviewer compared the title to Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping”. Not sure what the reference pertains to, but it was that UK band in 2008 that broke her record with a title that had 865 characters. They appeared on my chart this week with “She’s Got All The Friends” (140). If you can believe it, they released 19 albums (7 before “Tubthumper”) and were together for 30 years (1982-2012).
Apple had my #1 song of 1997 with “Criminal”, a smoldering, sexy song that was #1 for 11 weeks. The dissonant piano led song “Fast As You Can” was her only other radio top 10, making it to #8 at AAA. Her father is actor Brandon Maggert who was Buddy in the Jim & Buddy skits on the first season of Sesame Street and played the oldest brother on the Showtime sitcom “Brothers” between 1984-89. Her half-brother Garrett Maggert is also an actor.
Like Fiona Apple, Tracy Bonham is a classically trained pianist. She attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and in 1995 a Boston Phoenix reader’s poll voted her song “The One” the best single of the year. In ’96 she released the phenomenal, anguished, rage anthem “Mother Mother” as the first single from her debut album “The Burdens Of Being Upright”. The song went to #1 on Alternative radio and was my #8 song of the year. The mid-90’s was a great time for angsty female solo artists, driven by Alanis Morissette (who earlier in 2000 reached #17 on my chart with “That It Would Be Good”), though Courtney Love of Hole really deserves the credit.
Because of record label conflicts it took 4 years for her follow-up album “Down Here” to be released. “Behind Every Good Woman” (60) would become her second #1 on my chart by July but would fail to make a dent at radio. The lengthy absence could have been the problem because the song is awesome (“behind every good woman lies a trail of men”).
At the time Bonham was married to Steve Slingeneyer of the Belgian Alternative band Soulwax. They landed 2 songs in my top 40 during the following 12 months with “Much Against Everyone’s Advice” peaking at #31 in August and “Too Many DJ’s” ascending to #9 in February 1991. The band has released 6 albums over the last 25 years but became more known as remixers for songs including LCD Soundsystem’s “Daft Punk Is Playing In My House” and a 2008 remix of the Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” that’s worth checking out. That was featured in the movie “21” starring Kevin Spacey. The soundtrack also featured LCD Soundsystem, Peter, Bjorn & John’s “Young Folks” (we saw them at Lollapalooza that summer) and Rihanna’s “Shut Up And Drive”, her most rocked out hit (featuring a sample of New Order’s “Blue Monday”).
There are other crazy actor and artist connections to the next artist. UK’s Leona Naess. She was on my chart with the song “Charm Attack” (35), a song that made it to #39 on Adult Top 40 radio. Now stay with me. Though she was raised in London, her mother is Swedish, and her father was Norwegian. Arne Naess Jr. was a successful businessman and mountaineer who died in 2004 climbing near Cape Town, South Africa. He was Diana Ross’ second husband, from 1985-1999. This of course connects Leona to Evan Naess Ross (actor) and Tracie Ellis Ross from Black-ish. To further complicate things she is married to John Miller, the brother of Christa Miller who famously was in The Drew Carey Show, Scrubs and Cougar Town. Christa’s daughter, with husband Bill Lawrence who created those last 2 sitcoms, is Charlotte Lawrence, a current Pop singer-songwriter. Lawrence’s latest single is “Joke’s On You” and 1 of her first was a remake of ‘You’re The One That I Want”.
One of Naess’ influences was Tracy Chapman, whose “Telling Stories” (100) had peaked at #50 on my chart in March. After her mainstream success in the late 80’s, she re-emerged in 1996 and between 96 and 2003 she reached top AAA top 10 6 times, with “Telling Stories” reaching #1. The last time she reached my chart was in 2005 with “Change”.
The acoustic folk of Chapman is also the mainstay of the duo Indigo Girls who surfaced in 1987 with the album “Strange Fire”. Their first single was “Crazy Game”, a kind of 50’s crooner song done as an acoustic folk song. It showcased their signature harmonies. It was 1989 when they broke through with the song “Closer To Fine”. 10 years later they released “Come On Now Social”, their seventh album. They had just come off their highest charting album, 1997’s “Shaming Of The Sun” with had spawned their highest charting hit “Shame On You” (#3 AAA), though arguably ‘Fine’ is the bigger song. Three songs from ‘Social’ would reach my personal chart; “Go”, ‘Peace Tonight” (#3 AAA) and the #25 “Cold Beer And Remote Control” (#24 AAA).
Another artist to emerge out of that late 80’s female singer-songwriter, Folk-Rock era was Melissa Etheridge. From the 1999 album “Breakdown” (and another AAA #1), the first single “Angels Would Fall” was followed by “Enough Of Me” (35), that also reached the AAA top 10. She was in a dark place during the recording of this album, as her relationship with Julie Cypher was disintegrating at the time. They eventually split in September 2000. Both songs were nominated for Best Female Rock Performance in subsequent years (2000 and 2001) and she lost both to Sheryl Crow (her remake of Guns ‘N Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “There Goes The Neighborhood”). Now I have liked Crow a lot over the years (‘Neighborhood’ was my #1 song of 1999) but from a vocal standpoint, Etheridge is at a totally different level.
Another AAA top 10 from Joan Osborne, “Safety In Numbers”, made it to #39 on my chart in November 2000. She never repeated the success of her monster 1995 hit “One Of Us” on radio, but has consistently released albums every few years for the last 25. That hit was written by Eric Bazilian (mentioned in the earlier Ricky Martin post for writing “Private Emotion”). His Hooters bandmate Rob Hyman co-wrote a couple of songs for her 2000 album ‘Righteous Love”. The album also includes a bluesy, funked up version of Gary Wright’s “Love Is Alive”.
From here we move to a Blues guitar prodigy, Shannon Curfman. The Fargo, North Dakota native was 14 when she released her debut album. Like her male teen counterpart, Jonny Lang (whom I also discussed in an earlier post and is featured on her album), she has a voice that belies her age. Songwriter Bruce McCabe wrote her #27 Rock radio song “True Friends” (80) as well as Lang’s biggest hits “Lie To Me” and ‘Still Rainin’”. She also shares songwriter and producer Kevin Bowe with Lang and the also aforementioned Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
Curfman charted 2 other songs on radio, “Playing With Fire” (#37 Rock) and “I Don’t Make Promises (I Can’t Break)” (#13 AAA). After this she only released an EP in 2006 and as of 2010, she has been a vocalist in Kid Rock’s touring band Twisted Brown Trucker. Rock started to see his star rise in 1999 with “Bawitdaba” (taking the Beastie Boys style to a different place) and “Cowboy” (adding humor and twang). Both these were big Rock and Alternative hits, with the latter reaching my top 10. His style combined elements of Hard Rock, Rap and Country. In March, his first Pop crossover, the #6 Southern Rock style ballad “Only God Knows Why” peaked at #54 on my chart.
Rap is what eventually brought the next artist, Dido, into the larger public conversation. It was the Eminem song “Stan” that catapulted the British songstress and made her song “Thank You” an international smash, rising to #3 on the Hot 100. Even though “Stan” was a huge song, by the numbers, its chart performance in the U.S. (only #33 Pop and #36 R&B/Hip Hop) would indicate otherwise. It was #1 in countries all over the world though. It is a disturbing song about a fan who spirals out of control and drives off a bridge with his pregnant girlfriend tied up in the trunk. Despite the subject matter, over time I would have to say that it was quite well done. Rolling Stone ranks it as the #296 Greatest Song of All-Time. It was the fourth single from his debut album “The Slim Shady LP” to reach the Pop top 40, the biggest of those being “The Real Slim Shady”, reaching #4 on the Hot 100.
Back to Dido, she had been around for about a year and a half before “Stan” came out. Her album “No Angel” would become the second best-selling album of the 2000’s in the UK (behind James Blunt’s “Back to Bedlam”). The 1st single “Here With Me” was a top 5 UK hit, #21 at Adult Pop here and peaked at #8 on my chart in September 1999. Interesting that the song was released in the States first (May 1999) and wasn’t released in the UK until February 2001, after the success of “Thank You”. The dreamy quality of that song permeated the entire album.
The second stateside release, “Don’t Think Of Me” (67),wasn’t even released in Britain. It did not rise above this position om my chart though it did make the Adult Pop top 40. In retrospect this song should have performed much better on my chart. Her brother Rollo is a music producer and part of the UK Dance trio Faithless, which had a string of 3 #1 Dance songs in the late 90’s, including “Insomnia”. In 2002 she was featured on their song “One Step Too Far”.
As might be suspected, many of these women graced the stages of the Lilith Fair over its 3-year run between 1997-99. This last handful of artists are were all a part of it. Canadian Tara Maclean had a folky-ethereal sound akin to Dido. “If I Fall” (77) would make it to #24 on my chart in June. In keeping with another sub-plot here, her mother is actress Sharlene Maclean and the song was featured in Kevin Williamson’s move “Teaching Mrs. Tingle” starring Katie Holmes. Williamson is best known as the creator of Dawson’s Creek and the “Scream” franchise.
Maclean was part of the folk trio Shaye through much of the 2000’s, a group that had a similarity to the Dixie Chicks (though not as Country). Their debut single was “Happy Baby”. The Chicks had just come off 2 songs on my personal chart earlier in the year, “Cowboy Take Me Away” and “Goodbye Earl”. The former was a Country #1 while ‘Earl’ only reached #13 because of its violent theme, the abusive “Earl had to die”. Of course, this was not the last controversy the girls would be a part of.
Country artists were not a major part of the Lilith Fair (in fact only 2 that I saw from the Wikipedia page). Ironically the second was Martina McBride, who in 1994 made a huge splash on my chart with the similarly themed “Independence Day”. This one is sung from the perspective of the daughter; whose mother killed her abusive husband in a house fire on July 4. Unlike the dark comedy of ‘Earl’, this song is sobering. The chorus lyrics are as such: “Let freedom ring, let the white dove sing. Let the whole world know that today is a day of reckoning. Let the weak be strong, let the right be wrong. Roll the stone away, let the guilty pay. It’s Independence Day”. The song still gets me.
“Independence Day”, I believe, jumped from 25-1 on my chart (I don’t have my charts from that year). When I put together my favorite songs of that year more recently, it ended up as my #2 song of 1994. Like ‘Earl’, there was some radio push back and it only peaked at #12 on the Country chart. “Power To The Meek” could be a companion to this song (“bless these bones, bless this skin, all of me and the mess I’m in”). McBride had 3 songs grace my personal chart in 2000; “Love’s The Only House” (54), “There You Are”, peaking at #53 and “Whatever You Say” that rose to #4 in August (a late discovery from the previous album that reached #2 on the Country chart in 1999).
Other Lilith artists that were on my chart in 2000 were Sinead O’Connor with the #20 “No Man’s Woman”, Nina Gordon (formerly with Veruca Salt of “Seether” fame) reaching #34 in July with “Tonight And The Rest Of Your Life”, and K’s Choice (the #49 “Hide” in February), a Belgian Alternative band fronted by siblings Sam and Gert Betten. Funny I would have thought Gert was the sister but in a fabulous twist, Sam is a transgender man (came out in 2019), whose name was formerly Sarah! Some of you may get the Lilith Fair reference. The organizer of that traveling summer concert was Sarah MacLachlan.
My Personal Chart, April 29, 2000
YouTube playlist with the songs from Part 5
Part 5, Clueless In Minneapolis, A Basement Full of Music and Indie in the Heartland
Camel Junkies /Beats The Hell Outta Me (4)
I have extraordinarily little information about this indie band. This is a brooding rock song with an impassioned, if not perfect, vocal. I cannot pinpoint what it was that struck me most about this song even though it spent 2 weeks at #1 on my chart at the beginning of April. It starts with acoustic guitar, eventually brings in fuzzy electric guitar, has modulation and gets more intense as the song goes on. The song is not available on any streaming services, YouTube or sites like LastFM of Bandcamp.
I knew I had the CD, so I went to my CD graveyard in the basement. My basement is mostly unfinished with a dirt floor and minor moisture problems. Most of my CDs, albums and singles are down there as we don’t really have space to display them; sad. I was trying to wear a mask as I went through boxes but, oy was it humid. It was not the most fun I’ve ever had though it made me want to figure out how to get these things displayed. I had separated the CDs and books from their cases for the most part and some were in alphabetical order, but not the Camel Junkies. After a third attempt (I have a lot of music down there), I found a promotional case with a sticker listing 5 of their songs. The CD was actually in it! It was blank so I was not even sure that it would have music on it, but it did. I know I have the full album “Random Events & Narrow Escapes” as well but have not found that yet. It was great to hear this angsty song again (I’ve now probably listened to it 10 or 15 times in the last week).
The internet provides scant info on the band. I do not know where they are from. I do know that a Camel Junkies song was added to 2 college radio stations in Jan/Feb 2000, one in Great Falls, Montana and the other in Hoboken, New Jersey. The CD is available on Amazon for $38.99 and one of the 3 reviews on Amazon is from a guy whose friend’s sister dated the lead singer. I love random, stupid stuff like this.
The track that was pitched to radio I believe was “Fuzzy”, which I remember but did not chart. It is a bit of a raunchy song but lively and perfect for college radio at the time. I did chart 2 others though, “I’m Okay” and “Lack Luster Life”.
A good amount of American indie music at the time had an Alt-Country framework. The Scott Laurent Band from Minneapolis was among those. “The Next One” (116) had just spent a couple months in my top 100. In the 80’s the Minneapolis rock scene had produced 2 influential Alternative bands in The Replacements (their biggest hit was 1990’s “I’ll Be You”) and Husker Du (“Makes No Sense At All” peaked at #2 on the UK Indie chart in 1985), and both the Junkies and Laurent seem to be born out of that wheelhouse.
I have to stay with Husker Du for a second. The B-side to ‘Sense’ was a remake of the Mary Tyler Moore show theme “Love Is All Around”. Bob Mould, the lead singer, had a solo #4 Alternative hit in 1989 with “See A Little Light” and went on to form the band Sugar in the early 90’s and had 3 songs make my top 100 of year in 1992 including “Helpless”.
The next band, also Minneapolis bred, is Johnny Clueless, a band that credits their sound to a mix of the Heartland Rock of Indiana’s John Hiatt with the Pop Rock of the Bay City Rollers. You can hear these influences on different tunes from the album “What’s Your Flavour?”. I was clearly enamored with the band in the spring of 2000 with 4 songs on my chart this week.
**UPDATE May 19: I searched through the last 2 boxes of CD’s this morning and I found the actual Camel Junkies CD. It was the third to last of the bunch (a few hundred), of course.The liner notes said it was recorded at Oarfin studios and that record label also was the home of Johnny Clueless and the Scott Laurent Band. They were indeed from the Minneapolis area. In googling the band members I found one, Shaun Felegy, who still lives there.
My introduction to them was a rocked-up version of Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” (6), a late addition to the album. It was a concert favorite and gave them some national attention. “You’re My Flavour” (15), to me has a Cheap Trick feel, another Midwest (Illinois) band. “What’s My Disease” (26) had a more jangly rootsy sound and “Make Believe” (55) veers closer to the Replacements sound.
The band had also been compared to R.E.M. and Crowded House though I am not completely on board with either of those comparisons. R.E.M.’s Athens, Georgia brethren Widespread Panic had just come off their only #1 on my chart the week before the Camel Junkies with “Bear’s Gone Fishin’” (11). The staccato organ, bongos, strummy guitar and sexy vocals of the verses creates a cool, moody vibe. The chorus brings in a reference to “Spy vs. Spy” from Mad magazine.
This so-called jam band has been together for over 30 years. Michael Houser, the co-founder and primary songwriter, died in 2002 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 40. The name of the band partly came from the fact that he was called panic in high school, as he had frequent panic attacks. In the mid-90’s they had a number of songs that charted on the Rock and Adult Alternative charts, 1995’s “Can’t Get High” reached #34 Rock and “Hope In A Hopeless World”, peaking at 35 (AAA) #13 (Rock) in 1997. In 2001 and 2002 they made the AAA top 20 with “This Part Of Town” and “Little Lily”.
Louisiana’s Cowboy Mouth, another from the jam band circuit, hit #65 in February with “Turn Me On” and in 1999 reached #11 on my personal chart with “Whatcha Gonna Do”. In 1997 they had a moderate Rock and Alternative hit with “Jenny Says”. The 2 main members of the band came from 80’s band Dash Rip Rock, early purveyors of cowpunk, (I’m sure you can figure out that genre) and the Red Rockers (best known for their 1983 song “China”, an MTV staple). Though they were dropped by their label in 2000, they have been a strong live act and have self-released a number of albums in the last 20 years. Dash Rip Rock released a song in January this year called “Dick in The Dirt”. Their first song in 1986 was “Let’s Smoke Some Pot”, a parody of “At The Hop”. Spin magazine has called them “undeniably the South’s greatest rock band.”
Another Louisiana artist, blues guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd was in the middle of his 1995-2005 presence on Rock radio, coming off his Rock #1 from 1998 “Blue on Black”, his follow-up album “Live On’ spawned 3 top 15 rock songs including “Last Goodbye”, that had peaked at #64 on my chart in January. The vocalist on most of his songs from this era was Noah Hunt.
More heartland music can be heard on the song “Directions” (101) by Tennessee’s Josh Rouse. This song, from his second album “Home”, was featured in the Cameron Crowe movie “Vanilla Sky” with Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz. Interestingly Rose now lives in Spain, from where Cruz was born.
Like Rouse, Ben Harper has had only 1 song make it to my personal chart. The reggae influenced “Steal My Kisses” (104) made it up to #75. This has also become his biggest hit, reaching #1 on AAA and #15 on Adult Pop. The Californian credits Australia for his success. He has had 6 top 10 albums there between 1999 and 2011. This song was on the 1999 album “Burn To Shine” which peaked at #2 on the Australian album chart but the single did not chart there (though #2 in New Zealand). The title track was another AAA top 5. He has been married 3 times; his second wife was Laura Dern, from 2005-2012.
These last 2 bands are not from the heartland though there are connections. The Belgian band Arid cites Ben Harper as 1 of their many influences. The strummy “Believer” (36) was 1 of 3 songs that made my chart between 2000-2002 including “All Will Wait” and “Everything Changes”. The lead singer Jasper Steverlinck had a #1 solo single in Belgium with a beautiful piano/vocal only cover of David Bowie’s “Life On Mars”. Those last 2 songs are not on Spotify though you can find ‘Mars’ on YouTube.
Another song that could have come out of the heartland playbook is “We Haven’t Turned Around” (42) by Brit band Gomez. Folky with acoustic and fuzzy electric guitars that brings me almost full circle to the Camel Junkies. Even vocally there are similarities. And both end quietly. Their first album “Bring It On” won the Mercury Prize in 1998, an award that goes to the best album released by a British or Irish act. The title track was bluesy track that fits into that Roots Rock space like most of these bands.
Their last album “Whatever’s On Your Mind” spawned 2 more the 100 songs on my personal chart with the title track and “Options”. Between 2006-2011 the band saw 4 songs reach the AAA top 10, with “See The World” reaching #1. The others were “Options” (10), “How We Operate” (#8) and “Airstream Driver” (#7).
My Personal Chart, April 29, 2000
YouTube playlist with the songs from Part 4
Part 4, Cover Your Jazz Hands and the Long and Winding Road to #1
Guster /Fa Fa (Never Be The Same Again) (4)
This Boston band first hit my chart in 1998 with “Airport Song” from their second album “Goldfly”, which hit #19 on my chart. It starts with an acoustic guitar line; it brings in their signature harmonies and the lead vocals are traded off. Bongos, bass and electric guitar eventually enhance the song and it builds to a cacophony by the end (with the sound of a ping pong game to close it out). This sets the tone for a lot of their work. Interesting instrumentation, alternate percussion, and humor.
The 1999 album “Lost and Gone Forever” solidified my appreciation with 2 #1’s on my personal chart, “Barrel Of A Gun” (which uses a typewriter in the bridge) and “Fa Fa”. This song ended up as my #2 of the year. ‘Barrel’ would have been in the top 10 if it didn’t straddle 2 years. These 2 songs established their presence on the Adult Alternative chart (AAA as it is commonly known), both reaching the top 20 (#12 and #17 respectively). “Fa Fa” also made the top 30 on Adult Pop. The addition of horns, flute and sax in the last third of the song bring a nice nuance to the song. 2 other songs from the album charted for me “Center Of Attention” and “Happier’ in 2000 and third this year “What You Wish For” after producing 1 of the current episodes of the podcast which featured ‘Barrel’ (Castlist 005, Ep. 2, posted April 24).
The band met at Tufts University and scored a number of movie and TV placements for their songs over the years, including “Wedding Crashers” (“I Hope Tomorrow Is Today”) and “The OC” (“Keep it Together”). At concerts they like to do humorous covers of other artists’ songs like Temple of The Dog’s “Hunger Strike” (a thoroughly unfunny song). Last year they landed another top 10 AAA hit with “Overexcited”, a song sung in a British accent by member Ryan Miller, who felt it was the best way to get into character. The song, which is sung from the protagonist’s point of view, is about a “nice guy looking for a future lover”. There are now 7 or 8 versions with guest vocalists in different languages (French, Hebrew, etc.). The best is the Canadian version with Tyler Stewart of Barenaked Ladies.
The well-known producer Steve Lillywhite worked on this Guster album and also with the next band on the album “Hard Candy” in 2002. Berkeley, California’s Counting Crows have been consistent if erratic performers on my personal chart. In the fall of 1999, they reached #1 on my chart with “Hanginaround” the first single from the album “This Desert Life”. The effervescent song with lots of hand clapping was a multi-format hit, from Pop to AAA where it also went to #1. I love its messy ending. Sounds like they may have been drunk recording it.
On the record it seamlessly flows into “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” (9). This 7 minutes plus song was the next single, driven by a rolling piano line. The song was written about the actress Monica Potter (of “Con Air” and the TV series “Parenthood” fame). It was fictional as they had never met, but they eventually did, and she ended up being responsible for the song making the album. It was almost ditched after many tkes and she had a copy of the version that is on the album. The song “All My Friends” had just fallen off my chart the previous week, only to return later in the year when it became the third single.
The band has made the top 12 of the year on my personal chart 4 times. In 2013 they had my #3 song of the year with “Meet On The Ledge”. This song traveled a long road to achieve that and chart-wise would have one of the highest point totals ever on my chart ever (I’ve never looked across years to see what that would look like). The song debuted in my top 150 at #135 on April 22, 2012. On August 19, 2012 in peaked at #96 and almost fell out on October 14 when it was #145. That is when is started an upward trajectory, reaching my top 10 on January 6, 2013. It spent 15 weeks in the top 10 with 4 weeks at #2 and an additional 4 at #1 through February and March. If finally fell off my chart in August after a staggering 71 weeks.
When the song stalled at #2 it was behind my #1 song of 2013, “Walk Over Me” by All-American Rejects. I so love this song, it starts off with a therapist with a German accent saying “so, tell me about your musser”. In-between them we go back to Hanson for a moment. They had my #2 of 2013 with “Get The Girl Back” one of the happiest songs in my life. Horn section, hand claps (again), raucous and a video with fans Nikki Reed (“Twilight”) and Kat Dennings (“2 Broke Girls”).
One more point about Hanson and Guster. For those who know I have an annual music party with a countdown fueled by the friends and family that participate. It started as a January party in 1984 and by the mid-90’s it became a summer party. Once that happened the chart year for the party went from June through May (similar to the MTV Video Awards). At the 2001 party “This Time Around” was #8 (1 of my sister’s all-time favorite songs) and “Fa Fa” was #27.
I cannot leave the ‘Ledge’ discussion without mentioning the original version from 1968 by Fairport Convention. I had heard of the British Folk-Rock band but did not know their music. When I listened to this flower power era version, I hated it. The vocals were whiny and seemingly off key a bit. Probably a product of the time. It became their most well-known song. Adam Duritz totally made it his own. Not the first or last time a song I disliked was turned around by a cover version. Again, on that same podcast from April 24, I discussed The Interrupters ska cover of Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy”. It peaked at #2 on my chart in February. It’s a totally fantastic version and my podcast partner, Jeff Morris, loved it as well.
The album “Underwater Sunshine” was a covers album, some known, some obscure. One of those songs was “Coming Around” by the Scottish band Travis. I know the song, but I never charted either version. The song “Why Does It Always Rain On Me” (44) was their first UK top 10 and was written while the lead singer was in Israel. In his hometown of Glasgow, it rains a lot and where he was on vacation is usually sunny, but it rained for 2 days while he was there. Back in January of this year the band came close to making the Beyond Radio 250 with the song “Kissing In The Wind”. Their mellow rock tunes can be seen as an influence on bands like Keane and Coldplay.
Guster was joined on the “Wedding Crashers” soundtrack by The Flaming Lips and their song “Mr. Ambulance Driver” by the Flaming Lips. They have also been known to inject humor into their songs like “She Don’t Use Jelly”, an Alternative top 10 hit from 1993 that also made the Hot 100 at #55. On my chart this week was “Waiting For Superman” (90) from the album “The Soft Bulletin”. That album from the Oklahoma City band was the magazine New Music Express’ #1 album of 1999 and Pitchfork magazine named it the #3 album of the 90’s. Overall they have performed better on the opposite side of the Atlantic. They placed 6 songs the UK top 40 between 1999-2006, starting with another song from this album “Race For The Prize”.
In 1997 Ben Folds Five did a phenomenal Lounge-style cover version of “She Don’t Use Jelly” on the “Lounge-A-Palozza” album, a great compilation album also featuring an amazing cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” by Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme. I highly recommend this album. It also features James Taylor, PJ Harvey and Flea doing a cover of “Love Will Keep Us Together” with Jazz singer Jimmy Scott.
In 1999 the band released the album “The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner”. Messner was the first person to climb to the summit of Mount Everest alone. The actual name of the band refers to a name that the drummer used on fake ID’s. They did not know of the real Messner.
“Magic” (19) was the fourth song to hit my chart from it. A piano ballad along the lines of their 1997 hit “Brick”. This third album by the band, expanded on the jazzier side of the band. “Army”, the initial single was my #9 song of 1999. It starts out with the line “well I thought about the Army and my dad said your eff’in high” though the middle instrumental section is the best part of the song. It starts with honky-tonk piano and ends in a horn section flurry, totally an all-time favorite. The next single, “Don’t Change Your Plans” has a very Burt Bacharach instrumental break, which makes me feel very nostalgic.
I saw the band during this tour and have seen Ben Folds quite a number of times. Between the band and solo work, he has been on my personal chart 59 times with at least 11 #1’s (probably more since I am missing chart information from a lot of the 90’s). The band is a trio but the name Ben Folds Five sounded better.
On his first solo album, Neil Finn (best known a member of Spilt Enz and founder of Crowded House) also dabbled in some jazz elements. His initial single “Sinner” reached my top 5 and was my #44 of 1998. It begins with aching strings that sound as if they were pulled from a 30’s movie and then a piano flourish. This becomes the backdrop of the AAA #12, which at first feels like the piano part is off beat. Bringing in the other layers makes it a really compelling tune.
Overall, the album was not nearly as poppy as his work with Crowded House. I was such a big fan of that band (their debut was my favorite album of the 80’s) that I charted 6 songs from his #1 Australia album “Try Whistling This”, including “Astro” (29) and “King Tide” (53); though none followed “Sinner” into the top 10. Radiohead’s guitarist Ed O’Brien has hailed Finn as popular music’s “most prolific writer of great songs” (He wrote the Enz “I Got You” and Houses signature “Don’t Dream It’s Over” among others).
The Dayton, Ohio band Guided By Voices has had a career that has spanned nearly 40 years through different incarnations but it was this late 90’s/early 2000’s era that saw their greatest success. “Hold On Hope” (39) would eventually peak at #23. It is a plaintive ballad, similar to that side of Ben Folds work and was featured on the TV series “Scrubs”. It was covered by Glen Campbell in 2011. His album “Ghost On The Canvas” was recorded after his 2010 Alzheimer’s diagnosis. I am listening to this version for the first time now and it’ll make my personal chart next week. The title song had a brief stay on my chart after the album came out.
Guided By Voices were always a college level band with a cult following. The previous single, a first on my chart, “Teenage FBI” has an R.E.M. meets late 60’s Pop sound. Ric Ocasek was chosen to produce this album “Do The Collapse”, as it was supposed to be their major label debut; that never came to be. They would grace my personal twice more, “Glad Girls” in 2001 and “Back to The Lake” in 2002.
R.E.M. had reached #35 on my chart in February with the #1 AAA song and multi-format hit “The Great Beyond”. It was written for the Andy Kaufman autobiographical film “Man On The Moon” starring Jim Carrey, which the band scored as well. It was their biggest hit in the UK (#3) and nominated for Grammy. The Fray covered the song in 2007. The soundtrack also features the great 70’s hit Exile’s “Kiss You All Over”.
I am going to be discussing the Eels in an upcoming podcast, revolving around their 2018 song “The Deconstruction”. That song, like Neil Finn’s “Sinner”, operates around a really interesting jazzy or even Classical music line with violin and oboe. Their song “Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues” (122) was forced onto the album “Daisies of the Galaxies” in 2000 by the record company and hit #11 in the UK (their third in the 9-11 range). To make matters worse it was featured in the movie “Road Trip” (another record company move) and the video features actors from the movie. The mainstay of the band, and most times, only member is Mark Oliver Everett. He has said this has been his biggest regret. On this album they were joined by Peter Buck of R.E.M. They have had 16 albums since 1992. Their biggest hit in the U.S. was “Novocaine For The Soul”, a #1 Alternative hit from 1997.
Back to Boston and another cover song. Buffalo Tom’s “Going Underground” (63) came from a tribute album for the influential UK band, The Jam. Between 1977-1982 they had 19 singles, 8 of which would reach the top 5, 3 of those #1’s. the original ‘Underground’ was 1 of those and this version reached #6 in the UK as well. It was their last single before going on hiatus until 2007. The band was quite successful in Boston and did have national success through the 90’s. They were the last act to perform on the MTV’s “The Jon Stewart Show” in the mid-90’s and recorded the theme to the very short-lived TV series (2 episodes) the Mike O’Malley Show” in 1999. Lead singer Bill Janowitz has contributed articles to both Boston Magazine and the Boston Phoenix.
In the end here we connect Jim Carrey to another Boston band, The Push Stars. They are featured in the 2000 movie “Me, Myself and Irene” with “Bad Sneakers”, a cover of the 1975 Steely Dan song. It was not their only film placement. In 1998 “Everything Shines” made its way into “There’s Something About Mary” and “Drunk is Better Than Dead” (with its drunken trumpet) popped up in “Gun Shy” with Liam Neeson and Sandra Bullock. ‘Drunk’ had peaked at #13 on my chart in February and appeared again later in the year with “Any Little Town”. In 1998 won the award for “Outstanding Indie Rock Band” by the Boston Music Awards. Oh and Guster won the the award for “Indie Album of the Year” for Goldfly.
My Personal Chart, April 29, 2000
Part 3, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi , pronounced “Ricky, Mickey, Robbie”
Ricky Martin featuring Meja /Private Emotion (3)
I cannot say I was deeply influenced by the Latin invasion of Pop in 1999 and 2000 but Ricky Martin was an exception. He reached my top 10 4 times during that period with this ballad placing the best, peaking at #2 (though in Dec/Jan “Shake Your Bon-Bon” spent 4 weeks at #3). “Private Emotion” was written by Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman of the Philadelphia band the Hooters. It was featured on their 1993 album “Out Of Body”. They saw their greatest success in the mid-80’s with songs like “All You Zombies” and “Day By Day”.
His duet partner Meja is a Swedish singer who had modest top 40 hit (#36) in 1998 called “All ‘Bout The Money”. This song as well, was not a huge hit, only making it to #29 on the Pop airplay chart. It was the harmony on ‘Emotion’ that hooked me. Martin had a large following in Turkey and recorded a separate version with Turkish singer Sertab Erener.
On ‘Bon-Bon’ he paid homage to his Middle Eastern fan base, mixing musical influences from that region with the Latin vibe. This was a top 10 hit and was also featured in an ad for the Toyota Corolla featuring Brad Pitt that only aired in Japan. There was a remix of the song that is hard to find. “Shake Your Super Bon-Bon” (69) which mixes it with Soul Coughing’s 1996 Alternative hit “Super Bon Bon”.
His self-titled album from which these are culled sold 15 million copies. He has been dubbed the King of Latin Pop and started his career at the age of 12 in the Puerto Rican boy band Menudo, that had a revolving cast of teenage boys between 1977-2009. Martin was a member from 1984-89. During his tenure they had their only Hot 100 hit, “Hold Me”, peaking at #63. The lead singer of that song, Draco Rosa, has gone to be a Grammy winning songwriter and record producer who was involved in most of the tracks on this album. Of note, the previously discussed William Orbit co-wrote and produced with Madonna, her duet with Martin on the album “Be Careful”.
The 2008 incarnation of Menudo made it into the Pop airplay top 40 with “Lost”. It was a re-forming of the group that was chronicled on an MTV series “Making Menudo”. The new group was managed by Johnny Wright who also through the late 90’s managed some of the biggest Teen-Pop artists including N-Sync, Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears. These 3 artists all had varying degrees of success on my chart at the time.
In late March N-Sync released their second album “No Strings Attached”, distinguished by setting the record for first week sales of an album with 2.42 million sold. Eventually Adele would surpass them in 2015. The first single “Bye Bye Bye” (31) spent 10 weeks atop the Pop airplay chart though only hit #4 on the Hot 100. The band’s name was formed from the last letter of each members first name, though that was when Jason Galasso was part of the group. Lance Bass eventually replaced him, and they nicknamed him Lansten so they could keep the name. Whatever.
The band was created by Lou Pearlman, who had successfully created Backstreet Boys a few years earlier. Member Chris Kirkpatrick had missed the cut for that group and Pearlman considered a second group if Chris could find the boys. 2 of the recruits, Justin Timberlake and JC Chavez, had been part of the Mickey Mouse Club in the early 90’s. Both groups were established in the European market before they debuted in the States, even though Orlando, Florida was home base.
Pearlman was eventually sued by both groups (and all but 1 of his other music projects) because he was holding onto most of the profits from the records and appearances, plus being paid like he was a member of each group in addition to payment for being manager and producer (triple dipping?). In 2006 he was arrested for running a Ponzi scheme. In 2008 he was sentenced to 25 in prison, where he died in 2016.
“It’s Gonna Be Me” (72) was the band’s only Hot 100 #1 with6 weeks at #1 on Pop airplay. The song was inspired by Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out” (bassline) and Rupert Holmes’ “Him” (love triangle subject matter), a strange combination. It was co-written by Max Martin who was responsible for much of the Backstreet Boys hit songs including “Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely” (85), another Pop airplay #1. Martin’s songwriting and production resumes are extensive. He has written 23 Hot 100 #1’s and produced 21, his most recent for both is The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights”, earlier this year.
Interesting that none of BSB’s 8 top 10’s ever reached #1 on the Hot 100. One of those, “The One”, became the band’s second top 25 of 2000 on my chart in July. In October 1999 “Larger Than Life” spent 3 weeks at #1 on my chart and remains a big fav. “The One” was co-written by group member Brian Littrell along with Max Martin. Between 2005-07 Littrell had 5 top 20 singles on the Contemporary Christian Chart. The youngest member of the group, Nick Carter, who joined at the age of 13, was offered a $50,000 contract to join the Mickey Mouse Club but chose BSB instead.
Mickey Mouse and Max Martin are also part of Britney Spears history. Martin wrote and produced her first hit “Baby One More Time” and had some additional credits on her first album but was a much bigger player on her second album and lead single “Oops…I Did It Again” (137). This was another Pop airplay #1 that only reached #9 on the Hot 100. She did well on my chart with ‘Baby’ (#3) but ‘Oops’ only peaked at #83. To my surprise nominated for the Best Female Pop Performance Gammy for this song; especially considering the stupid spoken word middle section, referencing “Titantic”.
On the surface, Christina Aguilera whose rise was happening at the same time as Spears, was achieving greater Pop chart success (her first 6 and 9 out of her first 10 singles all made the top 10). On the Hot 100 they are close together on the list of all-time artists. Aguilera is #107 and Spears is #98. The Diane Warren ballad “I Turn To You” reached #3 on the Hot 100 but did not make my personal chart. The song had originally been performed by the group All-4-One, who had the 1994 Hot 100 #1 “I Swear”. Their version appeared on the “Space Jam” soundtrack. The screenplay of the movie featuring Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny was co-written by my namesake Timothy Harris, a British author and screen writer. He was nominated for a British film award for his work on the movie “Trading Places”.
Aguilera’s follow-up single “Nobody Wants To Be Lonely” was a duet with Ricky Martin that reached #12 on my personal chart in 2001 and was a major international hit. This came out as the second single from Martin’s late 2000 album “Sound Loaded” (though the album version did not include Aguilera). “She Bangs”, the first, was another top 10 Pop hit for Martin and an across the board international success. The Salsa-tinged Dance-Pop song strangely only peaked at #83 on my chart (like Spears’ “Oops”). My fickle ears, I guess. Oh and of course, Aguilera was another member of the new Mickey Mouse Club, along with actors Ryan Gosling and Keri Russell. Quite a roster that show had.
On the other side of the Atlantic England had their own Teen-Pop explosion throughout the 90’s that mostly did not translate to the States. 1 of the biggest UK artists of the last 25 years, Robbie Williams, started his career in the boy band Take That. They had a string of 16 hits (including 8 #1’s) in the UK between 1991 and early 96 when they broke up. Williams, who sang lead on their remake of Barry Manilow’s “Could It be Magic” left earlier in 95 after escalating drug use and an ultimatum from the band.
It was at this time they achieved their only Stateside hit “Back For Good”. The group re-formed in 2006 with Williams returning for 1 album in 1999. The single “The Flood”, with Williams on lead vocals, made it to #26 on personal chart and #2 in Britain. In February 2019 the band reached #2 on my chart with the very retro sounding “Out Of Our Heads” with big band style horns, hand claps and a toe tapping feel. The style of this song in a review is referred to as Skiffle. The origins of the Skiffle, often related to jug bands, came out of the American south in the early part of the 20th century. In the 1950’s there was a Skiffle revival in the UK. Lonnie Donegan was the biggest artist using this style at the time. Over there he achieved 17 top 10 songs between 1955-62 (and another 13 making the top 40), with 2 reaching the top 10 in the States, including “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor (On The Bedpost Over Night)”.
Starting in August 1996 Williams solo career took off, starting with a UK #2 remake of George Michael’s “Freedom”. To me an inauspicious start, though surprisingly the original Michael version only reached #28 there, but top 10 here. A year later Robbie released his debut album “Life thru a Lens”, becoming his first #1. He has since had 11 of his 12 studio albums hit #1, the other peaking at #2. The inaugural single “Old Before I Die” followed “Freedom” to #2. It had a more rock bent, as did the whole album. Williams co-wrote it with Desmond Child who I’ve spoke of previously, and as I giggle, Eric Bazilian (Private Emotion!). I totally did not see that coming.
It wasn’t until mid-1999 that Williams got some exposure in the U.S. The album “The Ego Has Landed” (yes, he has that rep), which was a compilation of songs from his first 2 UK albums, hit the North American market in May. It was mostly the UK single releases from those albums. I charted the first single “Millennium”, but it only reached #50, though it did make the Pop top 20 here. The main melody of this song, a string line, was taken from the Nancy Sinatra song and James Bond theme “You Only Live Twice”.
It was the next single that started my long-lasting love for Robbie Williams. I must have bought the album the week of Sept. 18 because 3 songs from the album debuted on my chart, the rollicking “Let Me Entertain You”, peaking at #56 (easily should have been a top 10 for me in retrospect), the very Oasis-y “Strong”, hitting #22 in November and the gorgeous “Angels” which would go to #1 in December. Though “Angels” peaked at #4 in the UK when it came out, it is his best-selling single there. The song also won the award for Best Song of the last 25 years at the Brit Awards in 2005. The same year in a poll voted as the favorite song that Brits would want to have played at their funeral.
By the end of April 2000, I had charted 12 songs by Williams including “It’s Only Us” (70), falling from a #46 peak and “South Of The Border” (99), which had topped out at #6. 5 of those songs made the top 10. “She’s The One” was Williams second UK #1 (#9 on my chart in January). It’s a cover of a World Party song from 1997 and went on to win the 2000 Brit Award for Best Song and Best Video of the Year.
The prior April, the Irish boy band Westlife released their first single “Swear It Again” (62) a ballad that pushes all the right boy band buttons. In February 2000 they brought it stateside and it just missed the Pop top 20. This one could have easily been done by BSB or N-SYNC. On my chart it reached #12. In Britain and Ireland, they were consistent top 10 hitmakers through 2011. They came back in 2019 and released 4 singles which all made the top 10 in Scotland but not nearly as successful in England proper.
Steve Mac, Westlife’s producer, connects to the next act Five, who had 11 top 10 songs in the UK between 1997-2001. They were created and managed by the same team as the Spice Girls before they ascended to fame. Their song “Keep On Movin’” had peaked at #38 on my chart in March and has Mac as a featured performer. The tidbits you find on Wikipedia; this was the 16th best-selling single by a boy band in the UK in the 90’s. We all needed to know that! One of their 1998 singles. “Everybody Get Up” is built around the same melody line of Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘N Roll”. They also did a cover of “We Will Rock You” with an assist by Queen. They were pathetic rappers, trying to be a pop-oriented Beastie Boys.
To close out we have 3 co-ed groups, 2 from the UK, Steps and S Club 7, plus 1 from Sweden A*Teens. There were 2 remakes that made a minor impact on me at the time. Steps had “Tragedy” (142) the fabulous Bee Gees song from 1979 and A*Teens had “Mamma Mia” (127), of course originally done by Abba. You can see where this teen group got their name from. They eventually started doing original songs. They certainly had their greatest success in Sweden, but they did manage to have 2 songs reach the Hot 100 in 2000: a remake of “Dancing Queen” and an original, “Upside Down” (95 and 93 respectively).
Steps did not translate much success out the UK and surrounding countries. The name of the group was based on the premise that the videos would be choreographed, and the dance steps would be included in the liners of the singles. Sounds like a reason to hate them. Their first single “184.108.40.206” was a kind of Techno Pop-Country hybrid, a la “Cotton Eye Joe”. This Swedish band, a one-hit wonder in the U.S. had 10 top 10’s in Sweden between 1994-2008 and did well in a number of northern European countries. ‘The Spirit Of The Hawk”, a #1 song in Austria and Germany was (you’re gonna laugh) my #926 of 2000. It spent 10 weeks trying to get into my top 200 of the week, finally peaking at #196, LOL. At least I’m having a good time.
S Club 7 circles back to the Spice Girls as well. Simon Fuller, the man behind the “Idol” franchise and “So You Think You Can Dance”; along with managing a myriad of artists from the Girls, Annie Lennox, Jennifer Lopez, Amy Winehouse and Kelly Clarkson, created the group. The 7 members (4 women and 3 men) starred in a UK TV series “Miami 7” where they played fictionalized versions of themselves. It lasted 13 episodes in 1999 but was also shown on Fox Family in the U.S. between 1999-2002. They had 1 top hit in the States, “Never Had A Dream Come True” and 11 top 5 singles in the UK. The song made it to #66 on my chart in 2001.
My Personal Chart, April 29, 2000
Part 2, April in Paris (Well Actually London)
Sting/After The Rain Has Fallen (2)
20 years ago, I spent 10 days in London working on a business plan for Beyond Radio. I had started corresponding with a DJ from Cape Town, South Africa in October of 1999. His name is Kieno Kammies and he was looking for a partner in developing an international countdown show. After 6 months with lots of back and forth emails, instant messaging and phone calls we met to finalize plans.
He came to the States later in the year and we went on a number of meetings (so much of it is a blur to me now) but the end result was a non-starter. It was a genuinely exciting period that I would not give up for anything. In reading some of the emails there was lots of energy and enthusiasm. There was also maybe an aspect of naivety. This was a time when the internet business boom was in full swing and we felt we could ride that wave.
Kieno’s gone on to a successful talk radio career in South Africa and I had a great second half of my restaurant career, running events at a number of locations for a local New England company and eventually for celebrity chef, Ming Tsai. Never did I give up my work on Beyond Radio, though certainly it was back burner and more sporadic in nature.
Our time In London was mostly dank. Rainy, chilly weather for the most part. I do remember at least one nice day where we went to a woman’s cottage that we had met. Of course, I don’t remember the circumstances of that but I’m confident it was orchestrated by Kieno (he was definitely more outgoing than me). I do recall eating a lot of Aubergine and meat from a small restaurant that was delicious. Neither of us had a lot of disposable money but we decided to treat ourselves to a pub crawl by hiring a livery who gave us a nice tour of the city. That was a great day.
The other part that was memorable was the new music I discovered while there. The first of these was a song I already knew. I had the Sting album “Brand New Day” and this song was the third single release, though it wasn’t released until the end of April. I heard it in a store in London and it sounded like they had done a more pop radio version. It was a radio edit of the Tin Tin Out remix. Back then when a song that I knew hit radio it evoked a certain change, one of excitement. The song hit my chart on April 8, the first week we were in London and moved up quickly, 41-16-4-2 in 4 weeks. I do not recall what kind of airplay it got in the States. It reached #31 in the UK (but only on the chart for 1 week) and did not make the Hot 100 in Billboard.
The song starts with a Middle Eastern flavor and ends in an anthemic “there’ll still be love in the world” repeated lyric. The loose subject of the song is about freeing a Saharan princess. There were a lot of world beat sounds on the album which won a Grammy for best Pop Vocal album. The title track was the first single and did marginally well and featured Stevie Wonder on harmonica. The album sold 3.5 million copies, propelled in large part by the second single “Desert Rose” (43), which features Algerian vocalist Cheb Mami. The song was not looking as if it would be a hit until it was featured in a Jaguar commercial in March 2000. While older songs had been used in commercials prior to this, ‘Rose’ was the first new song to be used like that. Since then there have been a myriad of songs that have risen in popularity because of commercial placement.
There were other songs that I heard in London that did not get airplay in the States. The song “Pure Shores” (7) by British/Canadian girl group All Saints has had lasting endurance for me. It had a similar trajectory to Sting’s song, moving 43-18-7-7 over those first 4 weeks, ultimately peaking at #4 on my chart. In total they charted 9 top 10’s in the UK but only 1 song, 1998’s “Never Ever” (the spoken intro is cringe-worthy) was a hit in the States, peaking at #5. ‘Shores’ was featured in the Leonardo DeCaprio movie “The Beach” (there is a line “take me to the beach” in the song), so it did get some exposure here.
The song was the second best selling single of 2000 in the UK (behind “Can We Fix It?” by Bob The Builder, ROFL. It had a great dreamy ambient sound that made it really stand out. The song was co-written and produced by William Orbit. The Ferry Corsten dance remix of his “Barber’s Adagio For Strings” (13), was a top 5 UK hit. His production style was also evident on their song ‘Black Coffee”, another UK #1 that reached #28 on my chart later in the year. In the 80’s he was in a band called Torch Song, who had a song “Prepare To Energize” featured on the Bachelor Party Soundtrack (I spoke of another song from that movie by Oingo Boingo in a past article). Orbit wrote a song with Beck and Jay Ferguson (of “Thunder Island” fame), “Feel Good Time”, the first single from Pink’s third album “Try This” in 2003.
All Saints returned to my chart in 2016 with “One Strike”. The song addresses the end of member Nicole Appleton’s marriage to Liam Gallagher, formerly of Oasis. In the I can’t make this stuff up department, on April 14 of this year, All Saints and Sting released a remake of the Police song “Message In A Bottle”. Really.
This foursome came out at the same time as the Spice Girls meteoric rise. By 2000 they had split up and were starting to release solo work. Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice) had a string of 4 UK #1’s including “Bag It Up” (109) and a remake of “It’s Raining Men”. Sporty Spice, Melanie C, scored a UK #1 with “Never Be The Same Again” (136) featuring Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopez of TLC. She reached my top 100 3 times between 1999-2000 with “I Turn To You”, “Northern Star” and a duet with Bryan Adams, “When You’re Gone”.
The next song would eventually reach #1 on my chart on June 24 but had a slower start out of the gate. “Summer Moved On” (115) by Norwegian’s A-Ha is a wispy but stately ballad, sounding nothing like a song that would be played in the States. Once the song clicked with me it moved fast like the other 2, 113-55-15-6, but that took over a month. Towards the end the lead singer Morten Harket holds a note for 20.2 seconds (a European record for a pop song). Similar to Sting, they reached #33 in the UK with the song but #1 in Norway.
The band had been on hiatus since 1993 and wrote this song quickly, for a one-off appearance at the 98 Nobel Peace Prize concert. Afterwards they decided to record again, releasing 5 more albums between 2000-2015. I charted 5 songs from “Minor Earth, Major Sky”, the title track reaching #7 in November. There is a creepy video for the song “Velvet”, where the 3 band members are portrayed as murder victims. In 2015 they returned to my chart with “Under The Makeup”, peaking at #17, their first time back since 2003.
Another Norwegian, female singer-songwriter Lene Marlin was getting substantial airplay for her song “Sitting Down Here” (123) which had hit #5 in the UK in March. This song did not have a big impact on me, but another, “Unforgivable Sinner” would hit #12 on my personal chart in April of 2001. That song was her first release, in 1998 and was fastest selling single in Norwegian history and spent 8 weeks at #1 there.
My introduction the UK band Stereophonics had come in the late fall of 1999 with “Pick A Part That’s New” (12) which peaked at #3 in March. They were all over the airwaves during our visit. This week in 2000 I had 4 songs by them on my chart including “Hurry Up And Wait” (48), “Is Yesterday, Tomorrow, Today” (76) and “Mama Told Me Not To Come’ (64), a remake of the Three Dog Night song. That was a collaboration with Tom Jones, who had an album of duet remakes out. He had a song called “Sex Bomb” (134) with German DJ Mousse T (the 1 original song on the album) and earlier in the year his cover of “Burning Down The House” with the Cardigans. Surprisingly that version did not perform as well as I would have thought on my chart, only peaking at #87. All 3 were top 10 hits in England.
Stereophonics won the Brit Award for Best New Group in 1998. They have been mainstays on the UK charts with 29 charted singles. Their only UK #1 was in 2005 with “Dakota”. That was 1 of the lowest performers (#116 peak) of the 27 songs that have reached my personal chart. Their highest so far is 2014’s “In A Moment”. The band has 2 songs from the latest album, 2019’s “Kind”, on my personal chart right now. “Bust This Town” at #19 and “Don’t Let The Devil Take Another Day” at #42.
The man at the core of the UK band The Verve (best known for the monster “Bitter Sweet Symphony”) was lead singer Richard Ashcroft. He was embarking on a solo career at this moment in time, with “A Song For Lovers” (105) his first single. This top 3 song had a short initial run on my personal chart but re-surfaced in the fall, finally reaching #62. That song would be eclipsed in early 2001 with another song from the album, “C’mon People (We’re Making It Now)” which just missed the top 10 at #11. Chris Martin of Coldplay called him the best singer in the world. That seems to be a wicked overstatement. In 2011 he hit my chart again with the very Verve-y “Are You Ready?” (#29). His most recent album came out in 2018.
Supergrass was another Brit band that had reasonable success from 1995 ‘til the early 2000’s. Their UK top 10 “Moving” (10) was peaking on my chart at #7 while we were in England. The song starts out as a mid-tempo ballad and then goes into a sprightly hand-clapping chorus. I like the juxtaposition. I am almost certain they charted for me earlier with “Cheapskate” in 1997. I do not have all my weekly personal chart information for that year (and none from 1991-1996). That song was a North American only release and reached #35 on the Alternative chart. Their fist major hit in the UK was “Alright” in 1995 which I remember as well.
The final 2 artists here are from France and Denmark and the songs are in their respective languages. I believe I heard these, not because of the trip, but because I was exchanging mixed tapes with a gentleman from Germany, Matthias Schulz. It was always fun the get the cassettes and see what I was going to find. I have tried to find them in my basement but so far, they have eluded me.
David Hallyday is from France and he had 3 songs on my chart this week. “Pour Toi” (22) would eventually peak at #4, “Un Petit Peu De Toi” (49) on its way to #21 and “Tu Ne M’as pas laisse le Temps” (83) reaching #33. All 3 were ballads. ‘Tu Ne M’as’ would hit #1 in France and #2 in Belgium. His father, Johnny Hallyday, was a phenomenally successful artist in the 60’s, said to have brought rock ‘n roll to France. David’s first cousin is Michael Vartan, who starred in the TV show “Alias” with Jennifer Garner.
Like ‘Pour Toi”, “Jeg Kender en Engel” (71) by Danish band Dodo and the Dodos would make it up to #4 in June. The band, lead by female singer Dodo Gad, had 5 albums between 1987-1998 and another in 2008, with the super boring titles 1, 2, 3, etc. In listening to snippets of the album this is from I would place them somewhere between T’Pau and Basia, upbeat pop of the time.
YouTube playlist with the songs from Part 1
My Personal Chart, April 29, 2000, Part 1
Part 1, Brotherly trios and 2 degrees of Separation
Hanson/This Time Around (1)
For those who know me well or follow our podcast Beyond Radio Presents, my love of the sibling band Hanson is well documented. Earlier this year the band spent 6 weeks at #1 on my personal chart with the orchestral version of the 1997 hit “Where’s The Love” from their 2018 album “String Theory”. We discuss this on the first episode of Castlist 005, “Old Man Grammy Rant, All Time Rave and Music Therapy For the Masses”.
This week in 2000 the band was in its second week at #1 with “This Time Around”, the first single from the album of the same name that would be released the following week. It went on to spend 5 weeks atop my chart. It was a bit of an evolution from their 1997 debut. This song had a more pronounced rock feel, setting them apart from the other so-called boy bands of the era. It is ends in a rollicking blast that I absolutely loved.
The song reached #20 on the Hot 100 but the release of the album was ill timed. In May 2000, their record label Mercury merged with the Def Jam label. The band kind of fell through the cracks with Def Jam not allocating much in the way of promotional funds for the album or tour. The album did manage to go gold but the band actually self-funded their tour. They were dropped in 2003 after the label rejected over 80 songs from the band, saying they were not marketable. Since then they have released 6 albums on their own label, the first one, “Underneath” reached #25 on the Billboard 200 and at the time was the best-selling independent album release.
Outside the U.S. the first single from the album was “If Only”, a song that was closer to the sound of the hits from their breakthrough hits. It reached #9 in Australia and #15 in the UK. It would eventually reach #5 on my chart. The song features John Popper of Blues Traveler on harmonica. They reciprocated the favor in 2015 on a Blues Traveler album with the song “Top Of The World”.
A funny connection to the album, it was co-produced by Mark Hudson who was from another brotherly trio, the Hudson Brothers. They were featured on the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour and then had their own summer variety show on CBS in 1974 (and a Saturday morning kids show that fall). Their Beatlesque “So You Are A Star” peaked at #21 on the Hot 100 that September. One of the brothers, Bill, was married to Goldie Hawn from 76-82 (and father of Kate Hudson) and then Cindy Williams from 82-2000. Mark Hudson also co-wrote Aerosmith’s “Livin’ On The Edge” (my favorite song by them), in addition to 11 other songs by the band.
9 songs from the album would hit my personal chart over the course of the next 15 months. This includes one of my all-time favorite songs “Runaway Run”. The last time I created my personal all-time favorites list was 2001 (slowly working on an update). At that time three of their songs made the top 100 (‘Around’ at #90, “Where’s The Love” at #24 and “Runaway Run” at #17). This song has my hands down favorite bridge of any song, 50 seconds of pure bliss. Interesting that the bridge has a string section backing it, arranged by David Campbell, who was brought in for the orchestral arrangements of “String Theory” 18 years later. Campbell is Beck’s father. This should have been released as a single.
Not among the 9 songs that hit my chart back then, the most rocked out song on the album, “In The City” is debuting on my personal chart this week. It starts by sounding like a Jethro Tull song, with a little 2000 era scratching. 60’s guitar and harmonica (with a frenzied harmonica solo bridge). I remember it from the time but 2 decades later it sounds fresh and fabulous. This would be fantastic live. They could possibly hit #1 on my chart again in 2020.
Johnny Lang, a young singer and blues guitarist (he was 19 at the time) was also a guest player on this album. I would think probably on this song. He had reached #8 on my personal chart in 1999 with “Still Rainin’”. In 2007 he went on to win a Grammy for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album for his 2006 release “Turn Around”. Another of my all-time favorite artists, Keith Urban, also debuts on my personal chart this week with his version of Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love” from the “One World: Together At Home” concert.