#ThrowbackTunesday: Episode 31

Happy Tuesday people! Time once again for our weekly retrospective of the UK hit singles from five points in the last twenty five years with #ThrowbackTunesday. Before we get to this week’s featured classic hit, let’s see what others are joining on it the playlist…

  • 1993: SWV – ‘Right Here’
  • 1998: The Corrs – ‘What Can I Do (Remix)’
  • 2003: Lemar – ‘Dance (With U)’
  • 2008: Taio Cruz – ‘She’s Like A Star’
  • 2013: Naughty Boy feat. Emeli Sandé – ‘Lifted’

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

    • ARTIST: Lemar
    • SONG: Dance (With U)
    • ALBUM: Dedicated

    After ITV’s success in the early 00s with the Popstars and Pop Idol formats, it wasn’t long before the BBC decided they wanted in on the action too. And it was from Germany that they decided to import an Endemol format that was one parts Pop Idol with two parts Big Brother.

    Fame Academy ran for two series from the autumn of 2002. The premise was simple: ten musically gifted contestants or ‘students’ would live in a sprawling house in North London, watched 24-7 by hidden cameras, competing to stay in with a live show and performance every Friday night, often with their own self-penned songs, whilst overseen by a panel of teachers – read ‘judges’ – and weekly superstar guest mentors.

    But despite the series becoming famous notably for host and comedian Patrick Kielty almost always nearly being on the recieving end of a wallop around the head from the show’s ‘headteacher’ and Capital Radio boss Richard Park, the show did unearth some brilliant new talent along the way. One of whom, was Lemar.

    Although finishing in third place on the first series behind winner David Sneddon and runner-up Sinead Quinn, this soulful, silky voiced and effortlessly cool dude was an audience favourite – particularly following his duet with Lionel Richie on one of the live shows. And after the series ended, he was invited in February 2003 to support Beverley Knight at the Hammersmith Apollo date of her UK tour in London.

    It was at this show that reps from Sony Music attended, who subsequently offered him a lucrative record deal – and work duly began on his debut album. Its first single, ‘Dance (With U)’, arrived six months later, in August that same year.

    Almost immediately, it was a very different run of things from the other Fame Academy graduates. David Sneddon and the likes of Ainslie Henderson had concentrated on quite derivative, bland ‘serious’ posturings with guitar based music – which the charts were becoming full of.

    Lemar on the other hand, was offering glorious, 80s inspired soul pop that sounded fresh off a Luther Vandross album with his irresistibly brilliant debut single. And as his fellow former pupils started to flounder chart wise (David Sneddon, for comparison, just scraped the top 20 the week before this with third and penultimate single ‘Best Of Order’, and was dropped two months later by his label) he seemed set to transcend his roots and their own early successes.

    And Lemar did so in style, smashing straight in at #2 on this very week fifteen years ago behind Blu Cantrell’s still strong selling ‘Breathe’, starting a career that so far has taken in two BRIT Awards, four MOBO Awards, four platinum selling albums, a cameo in the major Hollywood film De-Lovely, and a wealth of top 10 hits. Here’s to this week’s #ThrowbackTunesday champ Lemar – who proved that not winning Fame Academy was a blessing in disguise.

    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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