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Thursday, 26 December, 2002, 07:54 GMT
Music's mixed fortunes in 2002
Avril Lavigne
It has been a good year for teenager Avril Lavigne

Manufactured music triumphed in 2002 but there was still room for original acts like Avril Lavigne and Ms Dynamite to break through.

In some ways Saturday evening television seems an unlikely breeding ground for pop stardom.

For years the only figure to bridge both worlds was Mr Blobby.

And until recently the best a singing wannabe could hope for was the chance to impersonate Michael Bolton in an ill-fitting wig on Stars In Their Eyes.

How things have changed. Light entertainment shows now offer a guaranteed route to the top of the charts, and phoning for a pop star has become a Saturday night ritual to rival phoning for a pizza.

ITV1's Popstars set the ball rolling last year, but 2002 was the year in which the dial-a-pop star phenomenon reached epidemic proportions.

Gareth Gates
Gareth Gates was a success despite being a Pop Idol runner-up
In February almost nine million votes were cast in the final of Pop Idol, with student Will Young emerging as surprise winner ahead of the more obviously marketable Gareth Gates.

Not that it really mattered, as both made the number one spot their own in the months that followed.

Dialling fingers

As did third-placed Darius Danesh - who proved himself a showbiz survivor by somehow living down his Britney-inspired brainstorm during last year's Popstars.

Audiences barely had time to rest their dialling fingers before the emergence of Popstars: The Rivals and the BBC's own thrice-weekly contribution to the genre, Fame Academy.

Was it all a triumph for democracy or for mediocrity? And what were the long-term implications for the health of the UK music industry? Sir Elton John and David Bowie were among those veterans who seemed less than impressed.

In the meantime the more established boy/girl bands and solo acts continued to dominate the UK charts.

Mike Skinner of the Streets
The Streets' Mike Skinner took urban music to a new level
'NSync's Justin Timberlake enjoyed a better year than his ex Britney, while Sugababes, Atomic Kitten and Blue were among the home-grown best-sellers.

But for those who like their bands to evolve organically rather than spring fully formed from the record company laboratory, new faces were thin on the ground.

Musical dynasty

Merseyside teenagers The Coral bucked the national trend with a sparky debut that owed more to Syd Barrett than Pete Waterman, while The Streets (aka Mike Skinner) made an equally big splash with his sharp urban soundscapes.

Grizzled veterans The Doves conjured up one of the albums of the year with The Last Broadcast, but it was the genre-busting talent of north London's Ms Dynamite which pipped them all to the Mercury Music Prize.

Garage act So Solid Crew continued to build a musical dynasty with the launch of several solo careers, while Dido emerged as the biggest winner at a tamer-than-usual Brit Awards.

And at a time when the UK music industry was looking increasingly insular it was left to Coldplay to consolidate their international success with an immaculate second album - plus a coming-of-age headline slot at the Glastonbury Festival.

Retro rockers The Hives and The Vines attracted lots of music press attention, but nu-metal acts like Papa Roach and Sum 41 continued to offer a more sustained assault on the boy/girl band chart monopoly.

Ms Dynamite
Ms Dynamite crossed over from garage star to respected artist
Meanwhile, the tabloids went to town as Liam Gallagher lost his teeth in a Munich bar and Michael Jackson lost his marbles on a Berlin balcony.

On the international stage, R&B found a new superstar in 21-year-old Alicia Keys - who picked up five Grammy Awards with her dazzling debut (the evergreen U2 scooped four).

Pink and Avril Lavigne also made an impression, while Elvis Presley returned to the top of the charts 25 years after his death with a dance remix of A Little Less Conversation.

Sales slide

During the year the music world mourned the deaths of TLC's Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, The Who's John Entwistle and Joe Strummer of The Clash.

And one of the most poignant releases was a final album from George Harrison - released almost exactly a year after the former Beatle succumbed to cancer.

Eminem, Moby, Jennifer Lopez and the mighty Missy Elliott were among big name acts to release new albums in 2002, but for the record industry as a whole CD sales were reported to be sliding.

EMI was the focus of particular attention, as it revealed job cuts and plans to reduce its roster of artists - before announcing a return to profit later in the year.

The company also coughed up a rumoured 80m in order to re-secure the services of the UK's current biggest solo star, Robbie Williams, on a long-term contract.

As the year closed executives were keeping their fingers crossed that new album Escapology would help get them out of a tight spot.

Looking ahead

Looking back



See also:

17 Sep 02 | Entertainment
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