With Kylie Minogue‘s latest album ‘Golden’ set to become her sixth number one in a career now spanning four decades (review will be up soon people), it’s easy to forget that it was she who broke down the barn door, after leaving behind her role of feisty Charlene in Neighbours, for stars of the small screen – and from soaps in particular – to break through into the pop charts.
In this blog and Spotify playlist, I’ve bought together some of my personal favourite soap to pop renegades for your delectation. Rest assured, Stefan Dennis and Adam Rickitt are nowhere to be seen…
1. NATALIE IMBRUGLIA – Wrong Impression (2002)
The common perceived wisdom is that her million selling, radio slaying ‘Torn’ from 1997 is the only notable hit to the name of Natalie Imbruglia, arguably because it is one of those career records that transcends even the artist behind it (it remains one of the biggest selling singles to not reach the top of the chart).
Those with a keener ear to the charts of the late 90s and early 00s, however, will know she kept on racking up the contemporary pop rock hits to the point that you forget she was Beth Brennan in Neighbours a few years prior to that. Her second album from 2001, White Lilies Island, is a lost gem of its time, with second single ‘Wrong Impression’ producing her fourth of five UK top 10 hits to date.
2. MATTHEW MARSDEN – The Heart’s Lone Desire (1998)
Traversing the cobbles of Wetherfield in Coronation Street in the mid 90s as smooth talking mechanic Chris Collins, Matthew Marsden is perhaps better known these days for notching up a sizeable film career in Hollywood.
20 years ago this year, however, he leapt into the top 20 at #13 with this surprisingly soulful, Massive Attack-esque offering that recieved far less of the praise than it deserved. His follow up single – a cover of Hall & Oates’ ‘She’s Gone’ with a pre-mega fame Destiny’s Child – has all but been airbrushed off Beyoncé‘s CV. Her loss, we say.
3. HOLLY VALANCE – State of Mind (2003)
Everyone remembers Ms. Valance’s saucy reworking of Tarkan’s ‘Simarik’ into her worldwide chart topper ‘Kiss Kiss’ after leaving behind her role as school girl Flick Scully in Neighbours. What is perhaps less well known of, is her second album that followed.
Cited as something of a cult classic amongst learned pop historians, the grimy, fuzzy electro pop of ‘State of Mind’ proved to give her her last hit of any note, but is definitely worth reinvestigation. We live in hope she’ll deliver a follow up to it one day with a listening party on her yacht from billionaire hubby and property tycoon Nick Candy.
4. DELTA GOODREM – The Analyst (2004)
It doesn’t seem right that the girl who once played Ramsay Street’s shy and retiring but musically gifted school girl Nina Tucker is a far bigger star now in her native Aussie – a coach on The Voice Australia, a stage career and several hit albums – than she is here in the UK. Not when Delta Goodrem has the talent she does, anyhow.
Following the million selling success of her 2003 debut Innocent Eyes, it’s follow up, 2004’s Mistaken Identity was recorded following her battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and contained some beautifully crafted, introspective numbers like this one. (It also contained a duet with ex-Westlifer Brian McFadden, but we won’t dwell on that.)
5. MICHELLE GAYLE – Sweetness (1994)
Albert Square hasn’t produced much in the way of long standing pop giants (Anita ‘Angie’ Dobson’s marriage to Queen’s Brian May aside). But it did come rather close in the mid 90s, when EastEnders‘ Hattie Tavernier – better known as Michelle Gayle – launched her pop career.
It was good for a run of no less than seven UK top 40 hits – biggest of all being her second release ‘Sweetness’, a pleasant mix of soulful R&B and pop not a million miles away from Eternal and TLC, which hit the top 5 and sold over 300,000 copies.
Who’s been your favourite soap to pop star? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us with the hashtag #SoaptoPop!