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Tuesday, 26 December, 2000, 09:58 GMT
2000: Where did the music go?

By the BBC's Nigel Packer

Critics said it was all hype and no substance - a vast, hollow edifice populated by mime acts and dancers in fancy dress.

Yes, it was a bad year for the UK music industry, which came in for almost as much stick as the ill-fated Millennium Dome.

It was the boy/girl band phenomenon which did it, finally gaining total dominance of the charts and sparking cries of protest into the bargain.

George Michael led the dissenters, and soon everyone was asking whether British pop music had finally sold its soul to the corporate image-makers.

Craig David
Craig David: Won awards on Monday...
Meanwhile, the likes of Steps, S Club 7, A1 and Five set up camp near the top of the UK charts - only to be eclipsed by the achievements of Ireland's Westlife.

As the year drew to a close the quintet celebrated a record-breaking run of UK number one singles - a feat achieved with a series of ballads which were often as hard to tell apart as the members of the group.

Cynics questioned why their mentor Ronan Keating couldn't have stuck to his day-job - but he proved to be equally successful at that as he launched a solo career.

Fellow Dubliner Samantha Mumba was among the more promising newcomers, while UK Garage was the dance music craze of the year.

Competition

Thanks to the success of Artful Dodger and Craig David, people were soon talking about their home town of Southampton as the new Bristol - or was it the new Wales?

Either way, the boy David's success promised to be longer lasting than that of his contemporaries, as he picked up three Mobo (Music of Black Origin) Awards.

Faced with younger competition, Britain's Robbie Williams began to look increasingly like an elder statesman - albeit one with a fondness for baring his all in public.

Samantha Mumba
Samantha Mumba: Promising newcomer
Together with reclusive songwriting partner Guy Chambers, he fashioned hit album Sing When You're Winning - but his personal life grabbed more attention than his music.

First came the "just good friends" holiday with Geri Halliwell - who started the year in a blaze of publicity but ended it in strangely subdued mood - then the war of words with Liam Gallagher.

At one point it threatened to develop into full-scale fisticuffs (all in aid of charity, of course).

When both Robbie and Liam turned up at the Q Awards, audience members held their breath in anticipation of pop music's answer to Godzilla Versus the Smog Monster.

Sadly, it wasn't to be.

Troubled

Like their best pal Robbie, the Gallagher brothers found their personal lives the centre of much media attention during the year. Oasis also released two albums.

Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants took a critical pounding, and a troubled world tour culminated in Noel walking out on the band - returning just in time to salvage their live reputation with a series of British gigs.

Fellow rock giants Radiohead released their first album since OK Computer, and as usual seemed vaguely embarrassed by all the attention they received.

"Experimental" was the word most used to describe Kid A, as the trademark guitars almost disappeared completely and Thom Yorke's voice underwent a series of high-tech makeovers.

Badly Drawn Boy
Badly Drawn Boy: Mercury Music Award winner
Some were unsure what to make of it all, but those who stuck with it discovered a beautifully crafted album.

Two acts continued to reap the rewards of a productive 1999.

Moby's Play remained among the best selling albums of this year (helped, no doubt, by the fact that it was pilfered for background music to every other programme on television).

And Travis basked in the glory of 1999's The Man Who - taking the Best Album and Best British Group titles at the Brits before headlining an unseasonably dry Glastonbury.

Coldplay also flew the flag for melancholy guitar bands with their acclaimed debut Parachutes.

Disaster

And Badly Drawn Boy managed the unlikely feat of walking off with the Mercury Music Prize while establishing the tea cosy as a cool fashion accessory.

The Spice Girls had a mixed year - with a series of solo success to offset the spectacular failure of their long-awaited third album Forever - while All Saints made up for big-screen disaster Honest with a couple of number one singles.

Across the Atlantic, Britney Spears secured her title of undisputed Teen Pop Queen with a successful second album and tour.

Rap bad boy Eminem attracted equal amounts of acclaim and outrage with his powerful album The Marshall Mathers LP.

"Where are the new Beatles when we need them?," sighed many throughout an increasingly bland year.

And lo and behold, as winter approached their prayers were answered. Well...almost.

Nicole Appleton
Nicole Appleton: All Saints rescued themselves from a dismal performance by the film Honest
It was, in fact, the old Beatles - returning with a greatest hits album, 1 - but what the heck.

It offered a timely reminder of pop music's potential for magic, and duly became the biggest seller of the year.

Its success seemed to confirm George Michael's maxim that they really don't make 'em like they used to, and sure enough there were plenty of other golden oldies around to emphasise the point.

Madonna's Music picked up where Ray Of Light left off, U2 kept Robbie and Kylie off the number one spot with Beautiful Day, and an extravagantly crimped David Bowie wooed Glastonbury with an awesome greatest hits collection.

Album of the year was Primal Scream's Xtrmntr - an inspired and explosive work by a group of frazzled late 30-somethings.

There were also fine efforts from Moloko, PJ Harvey and newcomer Kelis.

A few more records of this quality would be welcome news over the next 12 months.

But as things stand we're more likely to get Ben from Castaway 2000 covering Mull Of Kintyre.

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See also:

23 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Hollywood's year of nostalgia
23 Dec 00 | Entertainment
The year of reality TV
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