If the 1990s number ones can be seen as every genre sticking to their own group, then the 2000s saw genres mixing together, borrowing and swapping from each other and a blurring of the edges as to where one genre ended and another one began.
The start of the decade saw bubblegum pop acts trying to add other flavours to their sound. For their final album the Spice Girls tried to go down a more R&B route, which was similar to the path Blue and Liberty X tried from their start. The phase of nu metal saw rock music incorporating elements of hip hop. Linkin Park were probably the ones who had the most hits with that, though it was Limp Bizkit – ‘Rollin’ ‘ which got a number one. In the mid-2000s boybands started to pick up guitars, with Busted and McFly both gaining a few number ones, and in the last few of the decades rappers were releasing electro dance tracks, two notable ones being ‘Stronger’ by Kanye West and ‘Bonkers’ by Dizzee Rascal. You had indie guitar guys covering girlbands and vice versa.
There were also mash-ups and bootlegs, which were when DJs and producers mixed the backing of track of one song with the vocals of another, creating some interesting results. ‘Toca’s Miracle’ by Fragma was one which made it to number one in this form, though perhaps the most notable was ‘Freak Like Me’. Richard X took the music of Gary Numan/Tubeway Army’s ‘Are Friends Electric?’ and mixed it with the vocals of Adina Howard’s ‘Freak Like Me’, and it was eventually released commercially as a very successful comeback single for the Sugababes.
There were some unusual pairings on number one tracks. Eminem sampling a love song by singer-songwriter Dido and reworking it into a dark tale of an obsessive fan with ‘Stan’ was one, and there was also a song created by piecing together recordings by 2Pac and Elton John – ‘Ghetto Gospel’. A more straightforward but still unlikely number one duet was rapper Nelly and country star Tim McGraw with ‘Over And Over’. In fact, pop music in general seemed to have a fluid style and a grab bag of influences. Animated act Gorrilaz and girlbands like Sugababes and Girls Aloud both incorporated lots of different styles to their sound, there were lots of reinventions, like Pink going from R&B to a rockier sound, and Nelly Furtado going from a quirky pop girl to an R&B princess. Christina Aguilera in general seemed to be trying her hands at being a pop chameleon.
The 2000s was also the decade of the reality TV winner, with many disappearing even quicker than they arrived, although a few such as Will Young made a decent career out of it. Some of the number ones of the 2000s had a flash in the pan publicity stunt feel. Despite some stiff competition from many kareoke-type cover versions, some dreary, bland forgettable ballads, some chavtacular ones like ‘Babycakes’ by 3 of A Kind, the worst has to be Crazy Frog, a infuritating, annoying overhyped ringtone that unfortunately became a big hit single as well.
The first decade of the new Millenium saw pop stars using music genres as a cocktail they wanted to mix everything into. I am interested to see how the trends of number one singles will develop from here. Here’s to the next 50 years of number one hits.
My pick of the bunch from the 2000s.
1) Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
2) Coldplay – Viva La Vida
3) Spiller featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)
4) Beyonce feat. Jay-Z – Crazy In Love
5) Eminem featuring Dido – Stan
6) Kings Of Leon – Sex On Fire
7) Lady Gaga featuring Colby O’Donis – Just Dance
8) Sugababes About You Now
9) Evanescence – Bring Me To Life
10) Rihanna feat. Jay-Z – Umbrella