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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Hear'Say's rollercoaster career
Hear'Say
The group appeared united when they first formed
Manufactured pop group Hear'Say have split up, less than two years after winning ITV talent show Popstars.

BBC News Online looks at how the group topped the charts, only to hit reality once the TV spotlight left them.

Hear'Say, the group brought together by three judges on a TV show watched by millions, had a dramatic but short life.

The departure of Kym Marsh, who arguably had the strongest voice, left the remaining four original members - Myleene Klass, Suzanne Shaw, Danny Foster and Noel Sullivan - apparently shaken.

 Click here to watch Hear'Say perform Pure and Simple on Top of the Pops

Hear'Say recruited a fifth member - Johnny Shentall - and limped along until finally calling it a day in October 2002.

They formed under the intense spotlight of the TV show Popstars in February 2001.

After weeks of gruelling auditions and caustic comments from the judges, the five unknowns were plucked out of thousands of hopefuls.

Kym Marsh
Kym Marsh: Left in January 2002
Their reward was 100,000 and a record contract - and, of course, guaranteed publicity.

Initially they fared well, riding high on the popularity of the TV show, which gave them a guaranteed fanbase.

Their first single, Pure & Simple, was the fastest-selling single since records began, and topped the UK charts.

Mobbed by screaming youngsters wherever they went, the band had an instant taste of fame and fortune - something they could only dream of weeks earlier.

By April, they made chart history by becoming the first British act to top the single and album charts simultaneously with debut releases.

Their album, named Popstars after the TV show, sold 306,631 in its first week.

Hear'Say
The group performed at Prince Philip's 80th birthday
This smashed first-week debut album sales, beating the likes of the Spice Girls and Oasis, and Popstars outsold the rest of the top 10 album chart combined.

The band went on to do various live gigs, including BBC Radio 1's One Big Sunday, sharing the billing with S Club 7, Shaggy and Wheatus.

Only three months after they had formed, Hear'Say performed alongside musical veterans Dame Shirley Bassey and Lionel Richie, for the Duke of Edinburgh's 80th birthday concert.

It appeared that they could do no wrong.

Popstars
Thousands of hopefuls auditioned for Popstars
The group had songwriters including the award-winning Tim Hawes and Pete Kirtley behind it, and an army of stylists, publicists and producers.

Sure enough, the next single The Way To Your Love also rocketed to the top of the charts.

But they had to contend with the sobering fact that this song sold only a 10th of the number of their first record.

Although record stores blamed the slower sales on good weather and the song's inclusion on their album, they had also been without the massive TV and newspaper coverage they enjoyed for their first single.

With the first Popstars series long gone, they had to rely on more conventional publicity, such as giving interviews, singing live and appearing on TV and radio.

Awards

Evidence of dwindling interest emerged when hundreds of tickets for their national tour remained unsold in September 2001.

Lisa Scott-Lee and Johnny Shentall
Old hand: Johnny Shentall is engaged to ex-Steps singer Lisa Scott-Lee
A spokesman said they were confident the tickets would sell, and that fans had already bought 85% of them.

Later that month, the group triumphed at the Disney Channel childrens' awards, winning "best new chart shakers", although they failed to pick up any prizes at November's Top of the Pops awards.

From then, the slide downhill was swift. In December, Hear'Say's second album debuted at a miserable number 24 in the charts, and their first single from it reached number four.

Tabloid tales

By the beginning of 2002, Kym Marsh quit to pursue a solo career - amid lurid tabloid tales of rows with Myleene Klass.

Auditions were held to to find a new member, reviving interest in Hear'Say.

But when Johnny Shentall was chosen as Marsh's replacement, fans cried foul - it turned out the new man was an old hand at pop. He had already had a short chart career in a group called Boom! and was engaged to former Steps singer Lisa Scott-Lee.

Lawyers stepped in to warn the media off implying the selection process had been anything but fair.

In March, however, a planned tour was cancelled with six months to spare - to allow Johnny Shentall to "settle in".

Jack Ryder and Kym Marsh
Jack Ryder and Kym Marsh: Wedding snub to Hear'Say
The vultures began to circle around Hear'Say once more.

Trouble turned to humilation when Liberty X, a group formed by unsuccessful contestants from Popstars, finally started to achieve bona fide stardom.

They shrugged off their "Popstars rejects" tag by storming to number one in May 2002 with Just A Little.

Worse, they repeated the success with Got To Have Your Love in September.

Old hat

In between these hits, Kym Marsh married actor boyfriend Jack Ryder - inviting Liberty X's members rather than Hear'Say.

With Liberty X storming ahead - plus Pop Idol spawning a new generation of TV-friendly singers - Hear'Say started to look old hat.

Their profile sank - only surfacing in July when they had to flee a motorway service station on the M1 after a man brandished a fake gun.

Liberty X
Liberty X became Hear'Say's nemesis
They finally called it a day in October, blaming it on abuse from the public.

Hear'Say's story is a brief one, but it is not unique.

The Spice Girls and Take That dwindled after losing Geri Halliwell and Robbie Williams.

Kym Marsh - who sold her wedding to a celebrity magazine while Hear'Say were floundering - now fancies her chances of following Halliwell and Williams to get some kind of solo success.

As for the others, they will be left to try their luck at getting fame again - but this time, without the help of a TV channel's light entertainment department.

Hear'Say split


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