Peak UK Chart Position: #7 in April 2003.
Named after the French word for April, Avril Lavigne was born in Ontario, Canada on this day in 1984. She first appeared on stage aged 15 with Shania Twain, and had signed a $2 million recording contract (covering her first two albums) aged just 16.
“Complicated” was her debut single, which won her a string of awards and was a huge global smash, spending six weeks at number one in Australia, reaching number two on the Billboard Hot 100, and number three in the UK (going on to be the 36th best seller of 2002). She has had seven UK top ten singles, with “Girlfriend” peaking highest, a number two in April 2007.
Although she still performs, she has also been involved in perfumes (releasing three different fragrances), clothing, and charity work – launching The Avril Lavigne Foundation back in 2010 which aims to help young people with serious illnesses and disabilities. She married Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger in 2013.
Back to April 11th 2003 for today’s video, and a Top of the Pops hosted by Jamie Theakston, and featuring Junior Senior, Eve, and Ronan Keating in the studio. “I’m With You” had entered the charts at number seven, and Lavigne duly performed it live with her band. The song was to curiously re-enter the charts at number 58 in December 2011 – possibly on the back of being sampled by Rihanna on the track “Cheers (Drink To That)” from September 2011 – the video for which Lavigne also appears in.
Peak UK Chart Position: #2 in October 1993.
Mike Pickering was a former DJ at the Hacienda, who went on to work for the legendary Factory records before forming M People. Joined by Paul Heard, vocalist Heather Small, and percussionist Shovell, they notched up an impressive ten top ten singles over an eight-year chart career.
“How Can I Love You More?” was their first chart success, only managing number 29 late in 1991 in its original (and far superior) form – but became their first top ten success in 1993, courtesy of a remix by Sasha, after three other low-charting singles. This then catapulted them into the big league, with “One Night In Heaven” getting to number six, and “Moving On Up” doing just that on this day in 1993, and climbing to number two.
They twice won a BRIT Award for best dance act, in 1994 and in 1995. 1998 saw their (first) greatest hits compilation released, “The Best of M People”, which peaked at number two and sold 1.75 million copies. “Moving On Up” was indeed their biggest hit, selling over 550.000 copies and becoming the 36th best selling single of 1993. Here’s a live performance of the song taken from an M People ‘Later… with Jools Holland’ special in 1998.
Peak UK Chart Position: #1 in April 2013.
Byker Grove was where it all began for Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, way back in 1989. As PJ and Duncan, they progressed to the pop charts in 1993 – although missed the top forty with their first release, “Tonight I’m Free”, managing number 63 just before Christmas.
“Why Me?” reached number 27 in April 1994, and then the first release of “Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble”, which got to number nine for a couple of weeks in August of that year. After that, they impressively had a further eleven hits, all of which peaked between numbers ten and sixteen. “Falling” was the last of that run – as Ant and Dec by then – which was hastily pulled from release due to a copyright infringement. They were subsequently dropped by their record label, and didn’t dabble in the music industry (arguably, didn’t need to) again until their 2002 FIFA World Cup anthem “We’re On The Ball” got to number three.
“Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble” was re-released in 2013 with all proceeds going to the charity ChildLine, and resurrected by the duo on their ‘Saturday Night Takeaway’ ITV show. It was an instant number one. Nineteen years previous, they made their first appearance on Top of the Pops, rubbing shoulders with the likes of host Julian Clary, and acts Bad Boys Inc, The Grid, and Skin. Who would have thought then that they would be as famous as they are now…?
Anyway, marvel in this, as Dec celebrates turning 41 today.
Peak UK Chart Position: #1 in September 1995.
Simply Red’s twentieth single release became their first and only number one single in the UK. “Fairground” was the lead single from the million-selling album “Life” and managed four weeks at the top, becoming the seventh biggest seller of the year in the process.
The song samples a 1992 dance track by Dutch act the Goodmen entitled “Give It Up”, which was largely instrumental and ended up being a top ten hit in the UK itself on second release. It, in turn, samples “Fanfarra (Cabua-Le-Le)” and “Magalenha” by Sérgio Mendes and “I Need You Now” by Sinnamon.
The video for the track “Fairground” was filmed at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, largely on the Pepsi Max Big One. Here, we feature the Top of the Pops performance originally from 14th September 1995, and repeated (below) on 5th October. Hale and Pace, in their alter-egos of Jed and Dave, appear at the end. You can’t say you weren’t warned…
Peak UK Chart Position: #11 in March 1992.
A man who has been in the business for just over fifty years, selling over 64 million albums in the US and over 120 million records worldwide, and winning 20 Grammy Awards out of 49 nominations; Bruce Springsteen turns 66 today.
Staggeringly, he has never had a number one single either on the American Billboard Hot 100 or in the UK (although he has had several US Rock chart number ones). The closest he has come in the US was “Dancing In The Dark”, peaking at number 2, whilst he also managed the same chart position in the UK with “Streets Of Philadelphia” (disappointingly held off the top spot by “Doop”).
“Human Touch” came from the album of the same name, which spent a week at number one in the UK early in April 1992. The single was number one in Norway and Spain, but only managed a couple of weeks at number 11 in the UK, and number 16 in America. Here’s a performance taken from May 22nd 1993, in concert at the National Bowl in Milton Keynes.
Peak UK Chart Position: #3 in April 1999.
Swindon-born Billie Piper was actually born Leian Piper, although this was legally changed by her parents when she was just seven months old. Today, she turns 34, and prior to her success in Doctor Who had a pretty impressive chart career.
In fact, she became the youngest artist to debut at number one on the singles chart, and the youngest to have a number one single in over forty years. “Because We Want To” was that track, and it was followed by a further five top four singles – with “Girlfriend” and “Day & Night” both also getting to number one.
Her final release was the excellent “Walk Of Life”, which sadly flopped, only reaching number 25. Just over two years later, she left the music industry and instead concentrated on acting. She briefly returned to the top forty in 2007 thanks to Chris Moyles’ encouragement for people to download “Honey To The Bee” to test the new chart download rules. It managed to get to number 17 second time around as a result.
An unusual performance here: it’s from Australian morning television show “Hey Hey It’s Saturday” – which, it seems, ironically ceased that same year after 27 years on the screen. Billie is singing live, but there are microphone problems which cause the song to be restarted, with host Daryl Somers filling as only a Saturday morning host can…
Peak UK Chart Position: #28 in May 1989.
Nottingham-born Corinne Drewery turns 57 today. She has been the frontwoman of Swing Out Sister since 1985, not long after the band was formed by Andy Connell and Martin Jackson. Drewery and Connell still record and tour under the name.
Their breakthrough single “Breakout” came along pretty quickly, a track that reached number four in the UK and number six on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1986. Another top ten hit in “Surrender” (#7 in Jan 1987) preceded their debut album, “It’s Better To Travel”, which got to number one as a result.
Jackson left during the recording of their second album “Kaleidoscope World”, from which “You On My Mind” comes from. They were to have just two more UK hits – both covers – “Am I The Same Girl” (#21 in Apr 1992) and “La La (Means I Love You)” (#37 in August 1994). The group remained extremely popular in Japan, and frequent albums have been released since.
Back to May 11th 1989, and a live Top of the Pops hosted by Lord Bruno Brookes saw Yazz, London Boys, Stevie Nicks, and Hue & Cry in the studio. Swing Out Sister kicked off proceedings, in front of a rather excitable audience…
Peak UK Chart Position: #8 in October 1989.
This track entered the chart at number 31 on this week in 1989, following up the number two summer hit “Song For Whoever” – and the second of three singles from their debut album “Welcome To The Beautiful South”. It rapidly climbed to number nine and then one week later peaked at number eight.
The Beautiful South was formed by Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway (both ex-Housemartins), and featured three different female co-vocalists across their nineteen year span – Briana Corrigan, Jacqui Abbott, and Alison Wheeler. Worldwide total album sales exceed 15 million, and in “Carry On Up The Charts” (a best of) they scored the second biggest selling album of 1994 – with it going six-times platinum overall. They had a total of 22 top forty hits, with “A Little Time” charting highest, a one-week number one in October 1990.
Hemingway turns 56 today. After the Beautiful South disbanded in 2007 (citing “musical similarities”), he released a solo album before forming ‘The New Beautiful South’ (later just ‘The South’) with two other ex-members. They perform classic material as well as new, self-written tracks.
Back to 1997 here, eight years after the original release of “You Keep It All In”, and thus with Jacqui Abbott instead of Briana Corrigan performing on it – courtesy of Later…with Jools Holland.
Peak UK Chart Position: #19 in June 1994.
Jarvis Branson Cocker celebrates his 53rd birthday today, 38 years after co-conceiving the band Arabacus Pulp. It took the group an immense amount of perseverance to gain mainstream appeal, finally getting their top forty breakthrough with “Do You Remember The First Time?” in April 1994.
They are best remembered for their crest-of-a-Britpop-wave “Common People”, denied a place atop the UK charts by Robson and Jerome in May 1995 – and they were further denied in September of that year when “Mis-shapes” and “Sorted For E’s And Whizz” (a Kate Thornton/Daily Mirror favourite) was baulked by Simply Red’s “Fairground”. Three other top ten hits came by way of “Disco 2000” (#7 in Dec 1995), “Something Changed” (#10 in Apr 1996), and “Help The Aged” (#8 in Nov 1997).
Jarvis these days is the host of ‘Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service’ on BBC 6 Music, having fronted it for the past six years or so. He has also been a guest editor of Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme, a panellist on Question Time, and a host on Top of the Pops. This track was taken from the Sisters EP, and featured on the Pops on June 2nd 1994 – a live edition, so no chance for Jarvis to retake missing his vocal cue at the beginning…
Peak UK Chart Position: #6 in October 1994.
A song that was originally conceived in 1990, but had to wait four years to see the light of day. It spent six weeks in the top ten, and thirteen in the top forty; American singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb’s one and only hit in the UK was a mainstay of the radio in the late summer of 1994.
The song “Stay (I Missed You)” was an American Billboard number one, with which she set a precedent for being the first act to do so without a recording contract – a feat achieved for a second time nineteen years later by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop”. It was also number one in Canada, a feat which she was to match with her 1997 release “I Do”.
She has released ten studio albums, the most recent being “Nursery Rhyme Parade!”, which – as the title suggests – is a children’s album, her third all told. She has also dabbled successfully in television, film, and voice-over work, and there is also the ‘Lisa Loeb Eyewear Collection’. Each style of frame is named after one of Loeb’s songs!
On the chart published on this day in 1994, the song climbed six places to number twelve, a week away from its peak. This performance was originally from that week’s ‘Top of the Pops’, but here repeated on October 13th. Mark Goodier, with an interesting hairstyle, hosts. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the track was taken from the film “Reality Bites”.