With the coronavirus crisis in full swing, we all need something to smile about. Here’s my contribution…
Ahh the Noughties! A time where low-rise jeans + whale tail = high fashion, Myspace and Microsoft messenger were the internet hotspots and shows like Big Brother, Pop Idol and Come Dine with Me had the nation gripped.
It was also the decade that bought us some great music – X Factor Christmas singles excluded, of course. UK Garage (and its baby brother, Grime), contemporary R&B, post-Britpop – the 2000s had something for every musical taste.
As an avid music lover who grew up in the early 2000s, I couldn’t let 2020 pass without going through my archives to reflect on the tracks that gave me much joy in my formative years. Here are 5 of my favourite songs that turn 20 this year.
You might want to sit down on something sturdy for the shock (or get up and dance!)…
U Know What’s Up – Donell Jones ft Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes
UK release date: January 2000
Peak chart position: 2
Weeks on chart: 15
When I think of 90s R&B, Donell Jones is a name that comes up instantly. Christenings; weddings; house parties; my grandparent’s living room; my mum’s car: I literally couldn’t turn as a child without hearing at least one track from Jones’ debut album My Heart (Yearnin still slaps to this day). However, outside of Black Britain (at least my section anyway), Jones was relatively unknown. That was until he dropped U Know What’s Up, his second UK single from his second studio album Where I Wanna Be. I’m not sure if it was clever marketing, Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes’ fiery rap (play the Jones-only version around me at your peril!) or the British public’s sudden hankering for a summery R&B track in winter, but we really got behind it. The single went straight to #2 on the charts and remained in the top 10 for 4 weeks in total. Not bad considering his previous UK release – Knocks Me Off My Feet – peaked at #58. One of my lasting music memories is watching Jones’ perform on Top of the Pops – a rarity for a previously ‘underground’ Black U.S artist, even in the 00s – and an absolute treat for me, my mum and his many other UK fans (even if he was Left Eye-less).
Flowers – Sweet Female Attitude (Sunship Edit)
UK release date: April 2000
Peak chart position: 2
Weeks on chart: 14
1999 was a big year for UK Garage (UKG) as it made the transition from underground to mainstream with hits from Artful Dodger, Shanks & Bigfoot and DJ Luck & MC Neat to name a few. A year later, it was Sweet Female Attitude’s time to flourish, and that they did – Flowers went platinum and was the UK’s 37th biggest-selling single that year. And it’s stood the test of time, with founding group member Leanne Brown still performing on the festival/event circuit (I saw her at UKG Brunch last October and had a blast!). Super impressive considering the remix was only originally intended for the London club scene.
Dancing in the Moonlight – Toploader
UK release date: April 2000
Peak chart position: 7
Weeks on chart: 40
I was today-years-old when I learnt that Dancing in the Moonlight a) didn’t top the UK charts and b) is a cover – French-American rock group King Harvest released the original version in 1972. *Shock face emoji*. New facts aside, it’s still one of my favourite alternative rock singles and one of the few that I could sing along to with family and school friends without too many questions because (almost) EVERYONE LOVED THIS TRACK. Plus, I got the single for free with the weekend paper. Result!
Maria Maria – Santana ft Product G&B & Wyclef Jean
UK release date: May 2000
Peak chart position: 6
Weeks on chart: 9
Latin rockstar Carlos Santana and his band already had an illustrious career dating back to 1966 before hooking up with Wyclef Jean on Maria Maria. However, it was this single – and other crossover collaborations on their 18th studio album Supernatural – that gave them mainstream fame in the early 00s. And with its thudding bassline, mix of sultry Spanish and captivating electric guitar features, and sprinkling of Spanish slang, it’s really no surprise. So potent is the Grammy-award winning song, I launch into full-salsa mode whenever I hear it. And thanks to Wild Thoughts, DJ Khaled’s 2017 #1 single ft Rihanna & Bryson Tiller which heavily sampled Maria Maria, I get do this much more often now.
Say My Name – Destiny’s Child
UK release date: August 2000
Peak chart position: 3
Weeks on chart: 13
It’s no secret that Destiny Child’s sophomore album The Writings on the Wall, is one of my fave albums. Of all time. And if I had to choose one of its four singles to take on a desert island, the double-Grammy award winning Say my Name would be it. Here are 5 reasons why:
- The original is produced by the musical genius that is Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jenkins
- The vibrant and heavily colour-coordinated video, with it’s easy-to-copy choreography (hours of fun for me and my secondary school friends)
- The lyrical drama – why can’t the antagonist’s say his girlfriend’s name?
- The real-life drama – the single’s video marked the first outing for new members Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin, who replaced LeToya Luckett, LaTavia Roberson following an alleged dispute over withheld profits.
- The Timbaland remix is everything.
It was almost impossible to stick to 5 songs, as 2000 really was a treasure-trove of musical delights. Here are some that didn’t make the list, but definitely deserve a nod…
Deport Dem – Sean Paul (in fact the whole Bookshelf riddim)
Don’t Call Me Baby – Madison Avenue
He Wasn’t Man Enough for Me – Toni Braxton
Never Be the Same Again – Mel C ft Lisa Left-Eye Lopes
Bound 4 Da Reload (Casualty) – Oxide & Neutrino
Keep safe and healthy everyone!