Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

1999 in British music

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1999 in British music

This is a summary of 1999 in music in the United Kingdom, including the official charts from that year.



The most successful album, Come on Over by Shania Twain, spent a cumulative total of ten weeks at the top, followed by Boyzone's By Request with nine weeks in total.

In the singles chart Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca", Eiffel 65's "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" and Cliff Richard's "The Millennium Prayer" all topped the singles charts for three weeks, the joint longest time at number one during 1999.

This year also saw the return of American Rock/New Wave band Blondie and their number one single "Maria". The teenage pop singer Britney Spears' "...Baby One More Time" was the highest selling single of the year.

One of the first number one singles of the year came from music producer, Fatboy Slim who topped the charts for one week with his single "Praise You". January became a very successful month for the DJ, real name Norman Cook, a former member of Hull-based band The Housemartins, his new album You've Come A Long Way Baby topped the charts for 4 weeks. The album produced many other hit singles, the followup to his chart topper "Right Here Right Now" peaking at number two, marking his third consecutive top three hit.

Girl groups

1999 emphasised the trend away from girl groups, with solo acts and boy bands dominating the charts. B*Witched, with a fourth and final release from their début self-titled album, "Blame It On The Weatherman" became the first (and as of April 2011 only) girl group for their first four releases to début at #1; their success declined quickly thereafter. The Spice Girls, with four remaining members, reached number one with their first single without Geri Halliwell, claiming the official number one Christmas single at the end of 1998 with "Goodbye"; it was the group's third consecutive number one Christmas single. As for other girl groups, Cleopatra scored one Top 30 hit with "A Touch Of Love", peaking at number 24, Their T.V sitcom was a smash hit and was No1 in its time slot. Hepburn and the Thunderbugs, both girl bands who played their own instruments, had lesser success. Neither the Spice Girls nor All Saints, both popular in the previous year, released a single in 1999.

Boy bands

Boyzone topped the charts twice, first with a remake of a Billy Ocean song, "When the Going Gets Tough", made for Comic Relief and then with a remake of Canadian singer Anne Murray's hit "You Needed Me". Their album By Request, containing both chart-toppers along with the million-selling "No Matter What" from 1998, topped the albums chart for nine weeks and became the most successful album in their career. With six #1 singles to their name, they unofficially disbanded with both Ronan Keating and Stephen Gately going on to solo success. Keating reached #1 with his début single "When You Say Nothing At All" later in the year; it was featured in the soundtrack to the hit film Notting Hill.

5ive scored their first number one single with "Keep On Movin'" after numerous consecutive top ten hits. Their peak of popularity as a boy band was short-lived as many more successful groups eclipsed them. A1 were another British boy band who joined the music scene during the year, scoring three top ten singles, including "Be The First To Believe" and "Summertime Of Our Lives". Their album fared less well, only reaching number 20 on the charts.

American boy bands were also very successful in the UK during the course of the year, with *NSYNC scoring two top ten hits, though their album only made number 30. With seven consecutive top ten singles behind them, The Backstreet Boys made number one with "I Want It That Way". The song was taken from their album, Millennium which sold millions worldwide and made number two in the UK.

Despite these successes, all boy bands paled in comparison to Westlife, managed by Ronan Keating. Their first four singles ("Swear It Again", "If I Let You Go", "Flying Without Wings" and "I Have a Dream/Seasons in the Sun") all entered the charts at number one, equalling the record set by B*Witched earlier in the year. "Flying Without Wings" was voted The Record of the Year by the public in the annual ITV poll, and Westlife's début self-titled album reached number two in the charts.

From film to music

Two successful actresses launched successful singing careers. Jennifer Lopez, having scored a number one hit in the US with "If You Had My Love", had two top five hits in the UK. Martine McCutcheon, who left her role as Tiffany in the BBC soap opera EastEnders to begin singing topped the UK charts for two weeks with her second single "Perfect Moment". Her singing career was relatively short-lived and she soon returned to acting.

American successes

Many acts during the year managed to be successful in the UK, but did not manage to match the chart topper they had scored in the US. Mariah Carey clocked up her 14th number one single in the US, with "Heartbreaker", a collaboration with rapper Jay-Z, which made number five in the UK. Her newest album Rainbow could only make it to number eight in the UK and sold just 12 million copies worldwide - her lowest global count at the time. TLC topped the US charts twice during the year with "No Scrubs" and "Unpretty". They had their most successful year in the UK since 1995, and "No Scrubs" became their highest peaking single making number three. Hip hop trio, Destiny's Child topped the US charts for the first time with "Bills, Bills, Bills". It made number six in the UK charts and set them on course for massive success in the new millennium. Enrique Iglesias also topped the US charts with his début single, "Bailamos", which made number four in Britain – he was to become much more successful in the UK in the new millennium.

White rapper, Eminem was very successful with his début in the UK; his début single "My Name Is" peaking at number two and his follow-up also hitting the top five. He was much more successful in the US, however his success grew in both countries and he quickly made a name for himself based on controversy through his lyrics and music videos. Southern Californian band, The Offspring are also not as successful in the US as they are in the UK, with their number one single being scored in January with "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)". They followed it up with a number two hit and went on to great success around the world.

Movie soundtracks

Film music remained popular throughout the year. In addition to than Ronan Keating reaching number one with his song from Notting Hill, Madonna and Will Smith both reached number two with soundtrack singles: Madonna with "Beautiful Stranger" from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, and Will Smith with his US chart-topping single, "Wild Wild West", taken from the film of the same name. Another member of the cast of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Tatyana Ali (who played Ashley Banks), reached number three with her second single "Boy You Knock Me Out", a follow-up to her début "Daydreamin'", which had been number six the previous November. Her third single released in June fared less well, peaking at number 20. Will Smith also made number two in the UK with a follow-up release to "Wild Wild West": "Will 2K" became his last UK top three hit until 2003.

Latin and Europop

Two main crazes began in the UK during the year – the summer Latino craze and high demand for Europop and Eurodance. As a result, many acts in these styles of music received great success. Ricky Martin became an international star after the release of his massively successful single "Livin' La Vida Loca". Heading up the summer Latino craze in the UK and the US, he hit number one in several countries and topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. He became a phenomenon in the US; his début self-titled album even went on to appear in the Top 100 best selling albums of all time in the US. Lou Bega scored success with his only UK single "Mambo No.5". Still used in Cricket matches as their title song, it managed to hit #31 on import sales alone and topped the charts for two weeks when officially released in the UK.

The biggest success to come out of the Europop phenomenon was "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by Eiffel 65. Topping the UK charts for three weeks, the song managed to sell a million copies and remained in the charts until 2000. It had also managed to make #39 on import sales. Their follow-up single "Move Your Body" made number three in 2000, saving them from one hit wonder status though some still consider them candidates. Dutch based multi-national dance act, The Vengaboys followed up their number four début "Up And Down" of 1998 with four consecutive top three singles. "We Like To Party", hit number three early on in the year, "Boom Boom Boom Boom" & "We're Going To Ibiza" both became one week chart toppers for the group and "Kiss (When The Sun Don't Shine)" became another number three hit for the group in December. Their songs filled European holiday discos throughout the year. Three of their singles made the Top 40 best-selling singles of the year list.

Novelty acts

Novelty acts found great success during 1999. Chef, a character from the popular animated television show, South Park hit number one in early January for one week with a special release "Chocolate Salty Balls". The voice on the track is the voice of Chef in the cartoon, Isaac Hayes, who had previously courted the UK singles chart way back in 1971 with "Theme from Shaft". Australian film director, Baz Luhrmann also scored a number one hit with a song explaining the way you should live life, passing on advice. "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)". He was already massively successful as a director with films such as Strictly Ballroom and Romeo and Juliet. He was later to direct the hugely successful Moulin Rouge!. The song was based on "Desiderata", a number seven hit for Les Crane in 1972. Probably the most successful novelty act of the year was French act Quentin Dupieux, who under the name of Mr. Oizo scored a number one single, "Flat Beat". First featured in a television advert for Levi's Jeans, its wobbly bass riff catapulted it to the top of the charts for two weeks. The accompanying cuddly toy featured in the video also sold well.

Dance acts

Dance acts great success on the singles chart during the year. In particular, a wave of Trance acts from Europe entering the Top 40 throughout the year, some of which initially entered the lower reaches of the Top 100 on import. Shaft hit number two with "Mucho Mambo Sway", which is dance-associated. US producer Chris Brann created a dance track "King Of My Castle", with a female vocalist adding to the song. With a remix in Italy by a production team entitled Wamdue Project the track topped the UK charts for a week towards the end of the year. The two biggest production team hits came from Shanks & Bigfoot and ATB. Shanks & Bigfoot were British production duo Stephen Meade and Daniel Langsman who hit the top for two weeks with their release "Sweet Like Chocolate". Vocals on the track were provided by Sharon Woolf. ATB is German producer André Tanneberger, whose single "9pm (Till I Come)" hit number one for two weeks. It is widely regarded as the first trance track to reach the top spot in the UK. Both this and "Sweet Like Chocolate" were in the top ten best selling singles of the year. Alice Deejay also scored two top 5 hits with "Better Off Alone" and "Back In My Life". Mr Oizo, Armand Van Helden, Fatboy Slim, Vengaboys and Eiffel 65 all had chart toppers this year. Production number ones and Latin/Europop/Eurodance number ones showed the variety of countries chart-toppers were coming from during the year – Germany, France, America, Italy, The Netherlands, Ireland & Australia.

Despite not being a direct production team Basement Jaxx are in a similar vein and they also enjoyed great success during this year. Only having charted once before in 1997, they scored two consecutive top five hits and one top 15 hit during the year. Their album release Remedy is also their highest peaking throughout their career, making #2.

Other successful acts were DJ Sakin & Friends, Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, Artful Dodger, Chicane, Yomanda, Emmie, Wiseguys, Phats & Small, DJ Jean, Moloko, William Orbit, Ann Lee, amongst others.

Solo Spices

Ex-Spice Girl Melanie B was Melanie G throughout the year, having been recently married; she reverted to her maiden name the following year. Her solo career was slowly dying out with her follow-up single to her 1998 chart topper making a mere number 14. The single, "Word Up" was a remake of Cameo's number three hit from 1986. Emma Bunton hit the charts for the first time, being featured on Tin Tin Out's single "What I Am". The single made number two and her success was only to grow from here.

Melanie C released her début solo single, "Goin' Down", which made number four and was the follow-up to her number three duet with Bryan Adams from the previous year. Her album, Northern Star made number four on the charts, and is the biggest selling solo album by a Spice Girl with over 3 million copies sold worldwide. The title track from the album also made number four later on in the year. She would experience greater success with her singles the following year.

Geri Halliwell was by far the most successful Spice Girl during the year. Having quit the group, the previous year, she announced she would be back. She came back to the music scene with a new image and a new sound. Her début single "Look at Me", only made number two, however she scored two chart toppers by the end of the year. "Mi Chico Latino" cashed in on the mood of the moment and hit the top for a week during the summer Latino craze of 1999. "Lift Me Up" became a second chart topper for the ex-Spice Girl and is perhaps Geri's strangest song, with an equally weird music video, in which she befriends a group of aliens and helps them fix their ship. Her début album, Schizophonic peaked at number four in the albums chart, and was well received in the UK and sold over two million copies worldwide.

BRIT awards

The BRIT Awards ceremony of 1999 was seen as the last one of the millennium, and a special song combining some of the hottest acts of the moment was released. B*Witched, Steps, Tina Cousins, Cleopatra & Billie joined forces to create "Thank ABBA For The Music", which reached number four in the charts, ending B*Witched's run of consecutive entries at the top. ABBA were at their peak of popularity again this year, despite not being around with the A-Teens, an ABBA tribute band making their mark on the UK charts with two top 20 hits, remakes of two previous #1 hits for the Swedish quartet, "Super Trouper" & "Mamma Mia".

The British artist whose success grew more than any other during the year (who was not a débuting act) was Robbie Williams. His second album, I've Been Expecting You returned to the top of the charts for one week and he also scored a second chart topping single with "She's The One". The single became strongly associated with the video in which Williams is a skating instructor of a man and woman, and has to replace the man in the competition after an injury. The chart-topper followed two number four hits, "Strong" & "No Regrets" which were all taken from his second album.

The Eurythmics won the BRIT Award for "Most Outstanding Contribution to British Music", giving Annie Lennox a ninth BRIT Award. Eurythmics re-united for the night, performing with Stevie Wonder, and announced they were re-uniting for a new studio album - "Peace".

Female artists

Compiling the greatest songs of what had been a very successful decade in music for her was Céline Dion, with her chart topping greatest hits package All The Way...A Decade Of Song. Whitney Houston had her most successful year on the singles chart since 1992. Following the success of her 1998 collaboration with Mariah Carey on "When You Believe", she scored a further three consecutive top five singles, each stalling a place higher than the previous; 4 to 3 to 2. "My Love Is Your Love" marked the first time she had been in the top two of the UK singles chart for over 6 years.

Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera both headed their careers and released their début singles. February saw Britney start a phenomenon, her début single, "...Baby One More Time" sold 1.45 million copies in the UK, becoming the second largest selling single by a female solo artist and also the fastest selling single by a female solo artist, with 0.46 million copies shifted in its first week of sale. She became the youngest female artist to début at #1 on the singles and albums chart in the US. Her début album of the same name as her début single has been massively successful, and has sold over 25 million copies worldwide. It only managed to reach #4 on the albums chart in the UK, but it did span 2 other hits during the year - the innocent pop ballad "Sometimes" (#3) and the upbeat dance tune "(You Drive Me) Crazy" (#5). Christina Aguilera released her début single, "Genie in a Bottle" in October. It also shot to #1 for 2 weeks just like "...Baby One More Time", but did not clock up such high sales, however in the US, it was much more successful than "...Baby One More Time", where it spent 5 weeks at the top.

Macy Gray was one of the most successful female artists of the year. She kick-started her career in the UK with the long-running Top 10 hit, I Try, which entered the singles chart at #10 and eventually made its way up to #6. Her début, On How Life Is, found success both in the UK (#3) and the US (#4). In spite of her initial success, momentum swiftly tailed off and she has yet to enjoy another UK Top 10 hit.

Pop singer Shania Twain became an international sensation this year. She was back on the music scene with her third album, Come on Over. Her previous album, The Woman In Me had set various records for country albums and female artists, however Come On Over exceeded those records and became one of the biggest selling albums in the world ever. It spanned hits such as the orchestral "From This Moment On", the upbeat "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!", the untouchable "That Don't Impress Me Much" and the soft love ballad "You're Still the One". All reaching the Top 10 in the UK, the most successful of these singles was a remix of "That Don't Impress Me Much", which despite only reaching number three in the singles chart became the seventh biggest selling single of the year. The album itself is the 11th biggest selling album in the UK with over 3 million copies sold and the second largest selling by a female solo artist, under Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill. The album has sold 29 million copies worldwide and is her most successful album to date, making her a superstar in her own right. The album also topped the charts for a total of ten weeks during the year (11 weeks in total) and took the Christmas number one album position.

Pop acts

S Club 7 reached the top with their début single "Bring It All Back" in June and quickly became the most successful mixed pop group since ABBA. The only thing they failed to achieve was international success, despite making and releasing 4 successful TV series' three of which were filmed in different locations in the US. The group seemed to peak at #2 non-stop throughout the rest of the year with their two follow up singles and their début album all reaching this position.

British pop singer Lolly (real name Anna Kumble) was very successful scoring three Top 10 hits (two of which went Top 5) and her album also went Top 25. Her songs are well remembered for being criticised everywhere for being "cheesy", however still being very successful.

1970s punk rock band Blondie also made a surprise resurgence at the very beginning of the year, making #1 18 years after their previous Top 10 hit (and 19 years after their previous #1). "Maria", the band's sixth #1, was the first track taken from their #3 album, No Exit. The band started fresh as member differences and conflicts outside of the group had all been settled. Lead singer Debbie Harry continued to pursue acting as well as being a member of the group. She is the oldest female to make number one at 54 years of age, however Cher still holds the record for oldest solo female to reach the top. Despite topping the charts in several countries "Maria" never made number one in their US homeland.

Albums of 1999

The albums to top the chart during the year were from a balance of genres. Although usually it is a domination of pop acts, rock and other acts were starting to top the charts more which were the first signs of a change towards wider appeal of other genres of albums to the public which continued to grow in the new millennium – 2004's album charts for example being dominated by rock bands. Blur, Catatonia, Suede, Texas, Jamiroquai, The Chemical Brothers, Travis & Leftfield all hit number one on the albums chart, showing how rock, dance, and adult pop could also be big album sellers

Despite resistance from other genres, pop was not kept completely off the top. Steps' new album, Steptacular containing the million selling single "Tragedy", which hit #1 for one week in January topped the albums chart for 4 weeks and sold very well. A third re-issue of ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits pushed up sales of the album to over 3.6 million. Today it is the second biggest selling album of all time in the UK. Continuing the success of their album from 1998 were The Corrs with "Talk On Corners", which topped the charts for a further 4 weeks during 1999, making its total count 10 weeks.

Christmas Number One

This particular Christmas number one was seen of great importance because it would be the one which would span into the new millennium. Many acts fought to claim this position including the likes of S-Club, Artful Dodger, Vengaboys and Steps, however only one act could claim it. Even John Lennon's 1981 #1 hit "Imagine" was re-issued, upon which it made #3. With strong desire to claim the Christmas number one that would span into the new millennium due to his longstanding association with Christmas chart toppers and Christmas releases, Cliff Richard shot straight to the top of the charts in early December with his special millennium release "The Millennium Prayer". It topped the UK charts for 3 weeks and everyone expected him to make the Christmas number one, however in Christmas week, the position he strongly desired to maintain was stolen from him by new phenomenon boyband, Westlife. Their covers of ABBA's #2 hit from 1979, "I Have A Dream" and Terry Jacks' #1 hit from 1974 "Seasons In The Sun", saw them steal the Christmas #1 spot and have their longest stay at the top of the charts - a 4-week stay.

The rise of imports

1999 was notable for the number of number one hits that had already charted on import. The Vengaboys "We're Going to Ibiza", Lou Bega's "Mambo No 5", Christina Aguilera's "Genie in a bottle", Wamdue Project's "King of My Castle" and Eiffel 65's "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" all charted within the Top 75 prior to their UK release, with Eiffel 65 entering the Top 40 on import. Without doubt the most impressive performance on import was ATB's "9 PM (Till I Come)" which saw three separate imports charting within the Top 75 in addition to subsequent single "Don't Stop!" also entering the Top 75 on import before the UK release of 9pm.

Many other singles, particularly of the trance genre, also managed to reach the Top 200 prior to their official UK release.

Classical music

Northern Irish composer Howard Ferguson died, shortly after celebrating his 91st birthday, forty years after his last significant work. Hong Kong-born Raymond Yiu produced his first major orchestral work, Tranced. Other new works by British composers included Edward Gregson's violin concerto, commissioned by the Hallé Concerts Society and premièred in Manchester the following February.

Musical theatre and songwriting

The death of Lionel Bart, best known for Oliver!, was widely mourned. The major new production in London's West End this year was Mamma Mia!, with book by Catherine Johnson and songs by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson; the musical went on to be a major stage hit worldwide and eventually a film. The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors established its new fellowship, the first recipient being Martin Gore.

Year-end charts

Data based on sales from 3 January 1999 to 1 January 2000.


Classical works

  • Arthur Butterworth - Bubu for English horn, viola and harp, Op. 107
  • Alun Hoddinott - Symphony 10
  • Joe Jackson - Symphony No. 1
  • Julian Stewart Lindsay - Vox Dei
  • Roger Smalley - Crepuscule, for piano quartet
  • Opera

  • David Blake - Scoring A Century
  • Jonathan Dove - Tobias and the Angel
  • BRIT Awards

    The 1999 BRIT Awards winners were:

  • Best soundtrack: "Titanic"
  • British album: Manic Street Preachers – "This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours"
  • British breakthrough act: Belle & Sebastian
  • British dance act: Fatboy Slim
  • British female solo artist: Des'ree
  • British group: Manic Street Preachers
  • British male solo artist: Robbie Williams
  • British single: Robbie Williams – "Angels"
  • British video: Robbie Williams – "Millennium"
  • International breakthrough act: Natalie Imbruglia
  • International female: Natalie Imbruglia
  • International group: The Corrs
  • International male: Beck
  • Outstanding contribution: Eurythmics
  • Mercury Music Prize

    The 1999 Mercury Music Prize was awarded to Talvin Singh - Ok.

    Record of the Year

    The Record of the Year was awarded to "Flying Without Wings" by Westlife.


  • 23 February - Ruth Gipps, composer, oboist, pianist and impresario, 78
  • 2 March - Dusty Springfield, singer, 59 (breast cancer)
  • 3 April - Lionel Bart, songwriter, 68 (cancer)
  • 14 April - Anthony Newley, songwriter, actor and singer, 67
  • 16 June - Screaming Lord Sutch, pop musician and politician, 58
  • 12 July - Bill Owen, actor and songwriter, 85 (pancreatic cancer)
  • 2 August - Eric Hope, pianist, 84
  • 17 September - Frankie Vaughan, singer, 71 (heart failure)
  • 21 October - Queenie Ashton, singer and actress, 96
  • 31 October - Howard Ferguson, composer and musicologist, 91
  • 11 November - Thomas Pitfield, composer, artist and writer, 96
  • 14 November - Minna Keal, composer, 90
  • 7 December - Kenny Baker, jazz trumpeter, 78
  • References

    1999 in British music Wikipedia

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