#ThrowbackTunesday: Episode 24

Hello all! Time once again for #ThrowbackTunesday, and boy, we’ve got some corkers on the playlist – and for our featured song – on this week’s edition. So let’s see what five UK chart smashes from the last 25 years in this exact week we’ve got today…

  • 1993: 4 Non Blondes – What’s Up
  • 1998: Billie Piper – Because We Want To
  • 2003: Mis-Teeq – Can’t Get It Back
  • 2008: Dizzee Rascal feat. Calvin Harris and Chrome – Dance Wiv Me
  • 2013: John Newman – Love Me Again

    And our favourite song from this week’s #ThrowbackTunesday playlist is…

    • ARTIST: Billie Piper
    • SONG: Because We Want To
    • ALBUM: Honey To The B

    As we’ve seen from some of the other 1998 blogs so far, 20 years ago was unquestionably a special time for out and out pop music, as a whole generation of new fresh faces appeared, from B*Witched to Steps and Five.

    Virgin, who had undoubtedly ushered in this new movement with their phenomenal success with the Spice Girls, wanted to branch the poptastic repertoire of their label out a bit more, and so started a new division at their London headquarters just for such acts in late 1997, called Innocent Records.

    The man tasked with leading up this brand new label, was one Hugh Goldsmith, a Scots born A&R bod who’d been responsible for leading Take That to the incredible success they enjoyed in the first chapter of their career whilst he was at RCA/BMG. His first mission as the new MD of Innocent, was to find the new, young, British Madonna.

    Enter the then 14 year old Billie Piper, a budding actress and singer from Swindon, who was a pupil at the renowned Sylvia Young Theatre School across town in Marylebone – it’s almuni including everyone from several of the All Saints girls and Amy Winehouse, to Denise van Outen and Emma Bunton.

    At the time, she had gained recognition when she was chosen as the new face of the TV and print adverts for the undisputed king of ‘100% pure pop’, Smash Hits magazine. It was one of these print adverts (pictured below) that caught Hugh’s attention when the latest issue of industry bible Music Week landed on his desk.

    He tentatively wondered if this girl, with such mad verve and spirit, could sing. It turned out Billie could – and rather well too. A record deal was offered right there, which she signed in the autumn of that year, just after she’d celebrated her 15th birthday. 

    Fast forward six months to 29th June 1998, and Billie Piper mania was about to sweep the nation. A feisty, rebellious teenage anthem about playing songs so loud and running around in crowds, described by the NME as ‘teen pop class in a bendy straw with comedy eyelashes stuck on’, “Because We Want To” was released as Billie’s debut single, and to the ear had a touch of early Madonna to it – just what Innocent had been looking for.

    After putting in the hours with an intense TV promotions and schools tour campaign, and with a video shot on a Greenwich street referencing (albeit with hindsight) her time travelling and manipulating exploits in her most famous acting role years later as Rose Tyler in the BBC revival of Doctor Who, sales for the first new release from this brand new artist on Virgin’s brand new pop offshoot went through the roof.

    At just 15 years old, Billie became the youngest solo female to debut at number one in the UK with her first single – a record she proudly held for 15 years until Lorde topped the chart with ‘Royals’ in 2013, a few months shy of her 15th birthday. With her subsequent chart toppers, ‘Girlfriend‘ in October ’98, and then ‘Day and Night‘ in May 2000, she became the youngest solo female to score three UK number ones before her 18th birthday – a record she still holds to this day.

    Since quitting pop in 2001, she’s now an acclaimed and successful actress on TV, film and stage with shows such as Doctor Who, Secret Diary of a Call Girl and Penny Dreadful to her name – she’s also been appearing on Broadway in Yerma to rave reviews this year. But for this week, here’s to the brief but brightly burning pop career of Billie Piper. 

    Check out the full playlist here, and let us know what your favourite hit from the past is this week on our Twitter with the hashtag #ThrowbackTunesday!

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