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Last Updated: Friday, 26 December, 2003, 02:53 GMT
2003's musical highs and lows

By Michael Osborn
BBC News Online entertainment staff

R&B diva Beyonce Knowles has emerged as a solo superstar during the past year
Take a glance back at the last year in music, and as usual it is littered with chart-scaling successes, dismal failures, award winners and sad losses.

While 2002 turned into the year of the TV talent show warbler, 2003 witnessed two stars scale the ladder of global superstardom.

In the laydeez' corner is Beyonce Knowles, who became a solo phenomenon thanks to a whole lot of rump-shaking.

The all-conquering man is Justin Timberlake, who collected a fistful of MTV awards - and caused a ripple by dirty dancing with Kylie Minogue at the Brits.

He was denied a solo UK chart-topper, but shared the spoils of the Black Eyed Peas' best-selling single by providing backing vocals to Where Is The Love?

While their stars went stratospheric, other colossal musical forces saw their fortunes falter.

Madonna, 20 years at the top of her game, released American Life to fans' delight and mixed critical reaction.

Britney Spears, Madonna

But her collaboration with Britney Spears - sealed with a Sapphist clinch - seemed a less canny move, and their single faltered at 38 in the US charts.

Lesbianism briefly became an integral part of pop music earlier in the year, courtesy of Mother Russia.

School uniform-clad teen duo Tatu created a stir with their self-styled mutual love - and scored a number one smash.

The pair represented their country at the Eurovision Song Contest, behaved impeccably on the night and came a creditable third behind Turkey.

Le Royaume Uni's fortunes made far more of a splash, as hapless pair Jemini finished at the bottom of the heap without a single point.

Eurovision flops Jemini
The monitors were off. Maybe it was sabotage, but we couldn't hear anything
Eurovision flops Jemini explain their dismal showing in Riga
But it wasn't all red faces for British music - new offerings from Coldplay, Blur and Radiohead picked up plenty of points from fans far and wide.

Homegrown songstress Dido returned to the fray, repeating the formula of her debut and turning in the swiftest-selling album of the year.

It was the unheralded Suffolk town of Lowestoft that provided the year's most unusual musical success story.

Spandex catsuits, ear-piercing falsettos and the retro flavour of rock seemed an improbable hit recipe in 2003 - but The Darkness made their mark.

Rock with a touch of goth topped the charts courtesy of Arkansas's Evanescence, who became the darlings of black-clad teens across the land.

Kylie Minogue's star continued to shine in the UK, although she caused a few ripples in November when the star famous for her skimpy costumes said she was "horrified" by the amount of sex portrayed in the music industry.

On the bling scene, hard-bitten rapper 50 Cent emerged as a major star (as predicted by BBC News Online in our Sound 0f 2003 poll) and cleaned up at the Mobo Awards, while Jamaican Dancehall seeped into the mainstream thanks to Sean Paul.

Justin Timberlake & Kylie Minogue
Justin Timberlake and Kylie Minogue's raunchy routine sexed up the dour Brit Awards

He hogged the charts with three solo hits, and hooked up with divas Beyonce and Blu Cantrell to make an even greater dent in the hit parade.

While Ms Dynamite crept out of the limelight to have a child, the crazy strains of Dizzee Rascal caught on with the Mercury Music Prize judges.

2003's Brit Awards were a low-alcohol affair punctuated by fistfuls of anti-war sentiment from the stars, especially winners Coldplay.

Away from the winners' rostrums, reality TV talent still filled the music scene, but interest was beginning to fall off.

Elfin teen Alex Parks soared to glory in Fame Academy, but her predecessor David Sneddon quit the pop arena.

Girls Aloud ended the lives of boy rivals One True Voice, but Cheryl Tweedy captured the front pages with a conviction for assault.

Barry White
The music world bid a sad farewell to Barry White in 2003

Original Pop Idol Will Young bounded back to huge success, and is unlikely to be troubled by his successor in the year that lies ahead.

We bid our final farewells in 2003 to a host of musicians.

Johnny Cash, Barry White, Maurice Gibb, Robert Palmer, Nina Simone and Celia Cruz figured high on the list of stars who attained legendary status.


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