Chart Music – 2003

Yes! Back thanks to an almost universal lack of demand, I stretch back the scalp of time and feast upon the mushy innards of the past – in this instance I return to the UK music charts. If you’re interested, you can read my original post here – https://carlosnightman.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/the-uk-top-40/

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2003, Baby! Well, back then I had just passed from the jaded land of teenage dreams into the terrifying world of ‘I’m in my twenties’. I went to Glastonbury and saw a tonne of great bands – old and new, and I both marveled and despaired at the commercial music scene. On one hand, we had the continuing resurgence in the popularity of metal and rock from a commercial sense – shitty pop punk bands were ruling the airwaves alongside even worse post-grunge do-gooders. Most of the commercial metal hitting the charts in the US and UK was stagnant, but behind the scenes there was plenty to love. Bland UK and US mainstream rockers were the main order of the day, with a billion ‘The’ bands popping up from everywhere and some truly awful indie types making repetitive garbage that would be best suited to the numbing hell of a club dancefloor. On the other hand, what was now termed R’n’B continued to rise, manufactured, vapid pap from Television talent shows consistently traumatized those who actually like music, Madonna kissed Britney Spears, Pete Townsend looked at some awful pictures for research purposes, Michael Jackson met Martin Bashir and was then arrested, Phil Spector was accused of murder, Napster came back from the dead and was used by nobody, and ITunes was born and used by everybody.

But surely the music was influenced by what was happening in the word? The Space Shuttle Columbia fell to pieces on reentry, US and pals invaded Iraq looking for those pesky WMDs, and everybody continued to laugh at George Bush. As usual, various coups and uprisings began and ended around the world while people in US and Europe began taking steps to legalize or make same-sex marriage possible. Leslie Cheung killed himself, while many other notable stars passed away including Gregory Peck, June and Johnny Cash, Katherine Hepburn, Bob Hope, John Ritter, Jonathan Brandis, and many more. I was in my middle year of University witnessing all these things which would later inspire my billion selling book.

Lets take a look at what was being forced into our earholes by the radio overlords in October of 2003. Some of these are making me vomit just from remembering how bad they were, and a few I don’t recognize at all. Some I’m sure I’ll remember when I listen, and only one is remotely likeable. Here we go:

1: Black Eyed Peas: Where Is The Love. Does anybody even like Black Eyed Peas? I mean, honestly? Sure they have little tunes and little beats, but it’s all so showy and shitty. This isn’t their worst – it’s well meaning, apparently, but that chorus is a clear rip off of Natalie Imbruglia’s ‘Torn’. There’s no two ways about it. When it’s not ripping off some melodies from there, it’s ripping ideas from Michael Jackson to make an inferior, slightly twee but mostly okay song. Drum sounds are awful.

2: Beyonce: Baby Boy. I have no idea what this is. More miserable attempts at Beyoncé’s laughable grasping of feminism? Oh dear, it’s a ‘feat’. song. And oh dear, it’s Sean Paul. Has there every been a single song that Sean Paul has appeared on that has been anything better than terrible? Cheap Thrills is so much better without his robotic shite. Does Beyoncé have a thing for infants – is that what this is about? It’s about sex. It’s terrible. The backing thrusts of music are all faux-drama and threat, but with Beyoncé’s warbling over the top it sounds pathetic. It turns into some tribal Indian disaster near the end, not for musical reasons you understand – just so, I bet, Beyoncé can try out a new outfit and dance for the video.

3: Jamelia: Superstar. Yeah, this song was everywhere at the time and it’s still played quite frequently for something that’s almost 14 years old. Listening to this and the previous song, and listening to the charts today, makes you think that music has not progressed whatsoever in the last decade. Think about what happened between 1960 and 1974. Or 1974 and 1988. Or 1988 and 2002. I didn’t have any real problem with this one. It’s light, and it does have good melodies in verse and chorus. Jamelia’s voice is fine, doesn’t standout, but serves the song. It’s about sex.

4: Rachel Stevens: Sweet Dreams My LA Ex. So, this was the hot one from S Club 7. I think I’ve heard the song name, but don’t think I’ve heard the song. Spanish/funky chords. Terrible drum noises. Terrible attempts at sexy vocals. Terrible attempt at emulating Britney. Feeble, generic verse and chorus. Bland bland nothingness. It’s about sex.

5: The Darkness: I Believe In A Thing Called Love. I saw The Darkness at Glastonbury just before they exploded for a brief couple of years. Sure they’re a joke band, but that didn’t stop them from making catchy songs and they don’t get more catchy and unusual than this in chart music. It’s about sex.

6: Dido: White Flag. Speaking of bland bland nothingness, ladies and gentlemen… Dido! We all loved Stan when it came out, but then Dido started popping up everywhere, for no reason. I think this song would be better if someone else was singing. But that empty void of a voice, coupled with the silent elevator fart of the music does make the whole thing sound like a surrender.

7: The Strokes: 12:51. Ugh, I can’t stand The Strokes. They are basically Status Quo, but without the musical ability. Ha. Or the ear for a tune. Lets see if I know this one. Surprise surprise – tap tap tap the SAME FUCKING RHYTHM AND SAME REPETITIVE CHORDS ON EVERY SINGLE SONG. Here is every Strokes song ever – d d d d d d d d d duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh DO DO DO DO DO DO DO DO CHUH CHUH CHUH CHUH CHUH CHUH CHUH CHUH. How did The Strokes even happen? How did people fall for this!? It is as generic as Rachel Stevens and as bland as Dido. Arguably the worst successful rock band ever.

8: S Club 8: Sun Down. There was an S Club 8? Why don’t I remember this? Did they add another member to 7 or is it a sequel to Juniors? Who the fuck cares, none of it should have ever happened. Holy hell this is bad. Just listen to that music? The annoying thing is that the leading melodies are catchy, even if it does rip off everything from Abba to Kylie Minogue. This exists solely to teach 8 year olds how to dance. Badly. It’s about sex.

9: Texas: Carnival Girl. Jeebus, this really wants to take the crown of most bland list ever. Texas is the same as Dido. Charlene Spit-Near-Ye may well be Dido in disguise. I thought I knew this one, but it doesn’t sound familiar. WTF rapping balls is this. Is that Sean Paul? Possibly Paul Sean. It’s definitely Feat. someone. Poor poor poor.

10: Fast Food Rockers: Say Cheese. Never heard of this in my life. And within the first three seconds I wish I could still say that. What the absolute balls is this? Chav noise for the braindead.

Now that’s out of the way, lets take a look at what you could have been listening to. We had decent album releases from the likes of Children Of Bodom, Cult Of Luna, Strapping Young Lad, Opeth etc. Outside of metal there was a new Madonna album, and releases by Radiohead, The Mars Volta, Placebo, Muse, and probably others. Below is a much better selection of songs to enrich your life and remind you that yes, somewhere out there are folks making genuinely good stuff.

  1. Pink: Humble Neighbourhoods.

2. Lene Marlin: Fight Against The Hours

3. Alice Cooper: The Song That Didn’t Rhyme

4. Muse: Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist

5. The Bangles: Something That You Said

6. Iron Maiden – No More Lies

7. Manic Street Preachers: Judge Yrself

8. Radiohead – Myxomatosis

9. Opeth: Windowpane

10. Ben Harper: She’s Only Happy In The Sun

Listen to mine, it’s the only logical choice. Let us know in the comments what you thought about any of the songs above and what you remember about 2003!

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Rewind The Film

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

This song is for me the weakest of the band’s few songs which have been named after the album (or the album named after it). Like the rest of the album, it is slow and studied, and filled with melancholy – this one sadly feels too dull to me. I get the direction they wanted to take, and Richard Hawley is the perfect voice to fit the mood they were tryign to achieve. Still, I buy a Manics album and want to hear James sing. Hawley is of course preferable to Wire. It’s not terrible, but it is overlong. It has some nice little guitar parts before James does sing and as a whole the song gets much stronger when James does belt one out, strings coming in to join him. Everything around those moments is boring, for lack of a better word.

Rewind The Film: 2/Okay

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Let me know in the comments what you thought of the song, and if you haven’t heard it yet, click the link above!

Glasnost

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

My favourite song from Lifeblood is unquestionably the warmest in terms of sound; that main riff is just so joyous that you’d expect this to be some triumphant song of rebellion, but lyrically it treads similar ground to much of the rest of the album, with admissions of defeat, of the mysterious passage of time sweeping so much away. It’s always lovely to hear the band at least sound so happy, and maybe there is hope and joy in the ’embrace with us, make your own glasnost’.

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Glasnost: 4/Great

Misheard Lyrics: How many ancients not easily understood?

Actual Lyrics: Humiliation’s not easily understood

The Everlasting

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

I’ve never understood the hate this one gets, particularly from longstanding fans of the band. Perhaps it’s because it’s so overtly a ballad in sound, perhaps it’s because it revels in its own defeatism, perhaps its because there isn’t a trace of punk either in sound or attitude. What it is though is one of the most beautiful, tortured ballads ever written, the admission of a band who set out to conquer the world that they failed utterly (at least they believed they did) and that they lost so much along the way. It’s the most honest 6 minutes of tragedy you’re ever likely to hear, all played to gorgeous strings, broken up guitars, gut-wrenching melodies, and one of my all time favourite guitar solos – the stretched, extended notes fish-hooking into your soul and tearing for all they’re worth. A brutal and brilliant way to open the album.

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The Everlasting: 4/Great

Misheard Lyrics: All you are old I hear you say

Actual Lyrics: Oh you’re old I hear you say

Groundhog Days

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

This is another one of those songs which I forget over the years – not because I don’t like it, just because it never seems to do enough to latch on to my psyche. In that way it’s always a treat to hear it again after a year or more as it instantly rushes back to me, but still is hidden enough that it’s a charming surprise. It follows a simple quiet verse, loud chorus format, melodies are fine throughout, but it’s most notable for that Nicky Wire ‘rap’ at the end followed by Bradfield solo. It’s a B-side from Ocean Spray and offers a more caustic sound than the single and given the experimental shown on the album this is the sort of song which easily have made the cut.

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Groundhog Days: 3/Good

Misheard Lyric: Chocolate or cum/my knees are artificial

Actual Lyric: Chocolate or coke/my needs are artificial

If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

How to follow up the mammoth unexpected success of your last album? Release your biggest song? This single became the band’s first UK number 1, and remains their only single released in the US. Based around the idealism of young (Welsh) volunteers who signed up to fight with the rebels in the Spanish Civil War, the song has since been used for any number of causes, ironic, apt, or otherwise. With powerful, poetic, literary lyrics it is one of those songs it was always amusing to see people with barely a thought in their head singing along too, especially when it was released. The song is so effortlessly catchy that everyone gets swept along with it’s melancholy verse, string-drenched chorus, and it still holds probably the finest example of the Manics ‘ooh and aahs’ trademark thanks to that extended ending.

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If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next: 4/Great

Misheard Lyric: Hosing your hair today/but I am past a feast

Actual Lyric: Holes in your today/but I’m a pacifist