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Last Updated: Monday, 3 April 2006, 07:17 GMT 08:17 UK
Pop comeback for fun-loving Betty
By Neil Smith
BBC News entertainment reporter

Nineties pop star Betty Boo is back with a new band, a new single and a mission to put some fun back into the music industry.

Betty Boo, aka Alison Clarkson
Clarkson enjoyed several hits in the early 1990s as Betty Boo

The half-Malaysian, half-Scottish singer - real name Alison Clarkson - took the charts by storm with frothy hits like Doin' The Do and Where Are You Baby in the early 1990s, and was voted best British Breakthrough Act at the 1991 Brits.

Personal reasons subsequently forced her to take a five-year hiatus, but she has since had further success as a songwriter for Popstars winners Hear'Say and Girls Aloud.

Pure and Simple, which Clarkson co-wrote for the now defunct Hear'Say, became the fastest-selling debut single in UK chart history and won the 36-year-old Londoner an Ivor Novello songwriting prize.

Despite this, the self-styled diva is ambivalent about the effect TV talent shows like Popstars and Pop Idol have had on the music business.

Breaking boundaries

"You can't knock those programmes," says Clarkson. "They're really entertaining and it is something to do on a Saturday night if you're sitting in front of the telly with the family.

Alex James (l) and Betty Boo, aka WigWam
Her new project WigWam sees her collaborate with Alex James
"But if I'm being honest, I think they have destroyed the pop industry.

"If you're in a band you should write your own stuff, do something innovative and try to break boundaries," she continued.

"It should be anarchy really; it shouldn't be staid."

Those sentiments are reflected in WigWam, the title of her new single and also the name of the band she has formed with Blur bassist Alex James.

A dance track which James has described as "seven parts cheese and three parts fireworks", it comes with an eccentric video - directed by TV comedian Dom Joly - featuring musicians dressed in giant cat costumes.

"I'm a real cat person and the chorus sounds like a cat mewing, so it's quite fitting really," said Boo, who describes the track as a "wacky tune that breaks all the rules".

"It's not really like anything else," she continued. "Everything's a bit boring at the moment, so I thought we should put some fun back in."

Three decades

Despite spending several years out of the spotlight, Clarkson said she had no concerns about resuscitating her pop alter-ego.

"I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying it. I thought I would get tired of being Betty and talking about myself all the time, but I'm definitely hooked again."

Clarkson co-wrote Hear'Say's debut single Pure and Simple
Having a career that now spans three decades allows her to identify where other acts are going wrong.

"What I've found over the years with my songs is you can tell they're written by me," she explained.

"That's why a lot of groups fall by the wayside: they rely on other people to create their sound, using lots of different songwriters.

"What people want nowadays is to belong to something; that's why the Arctic Monkeys have done so well," she continued, referring to the Sheffield quartet whose first CD became the UK's fastest-selling debut album earlier this year.

"A lot of boy bands and girl bands are so bland, kids lose interest very quickly."

WigWam is released by Instant Karma Records on 3 April.

Arctic Monkeys make chart history
29 Jan 06 |  Entertainment
Britpop - Where are they now?
17 Aug 05 |  Music
Girls Aloud's year at the top
20 Oct 03 |  TV and Radio



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