It’s Thursday, it’s midday, and time to once again hop aboard the pop musical tardis that is The Story of Pop: 1999. This week: the summer bangers of 20 years ago continue apace with one of the biggest dance hits of the year…
As 1998 had been a good year to be from Ireland, 1999 was a very good year indeed if you were a dance/pop act from mainland Europe, and the act behind this week’s featured hit are no exception to that rule. Twelve months previously, an instrumental club track had been created by a team of three DJs and producers from Holland – Jürgen “DJ Jurgen” Rijkers, Sebastiaan “Pronti” Moljin, and Eelke “Kalmani” Kahlberg.
Signed to the same record label that had bought Vengaboys to success, it was suggested to add a vocal element to the haunting yet euphoric, almost ethereal trance inflected number. Lyrics and a melody were written for the resulting song “Better Off Alone”. A vocalist was duly found in the shape of Judith Pronk, and backing vocalists/dancers Angelique Versnel and Mila Levesque, and thus Alice Deejay was born.
Licensed for a UK release through the legendary Positiva Records imprint, “Better Off Alone” hit the shops on Monday, 19th July 1999 in the UK. On the following Sunday’s chart, it cruised to a respectable #4 entry, followed a week later by a Top of the Pops performance where they memorably had an OAP as their whizzkid keyboardist that all but cemented the track into legendary status.
Its growing popularity ensured that it would reach a peak of #2 on its third week of release, where it would stay for three weeks, only kept off number one by the act behind next week’s featured hit. Minus the DJ Jurgen backing, Alice Deejay continued to hit the top 10 well into the new millennium, with hits like “Back In My Life” and “Will I Ever”, as well as a brilliantly titled album called “Who Needs Guitars Anyway?”. But this week, we salute one of the all time summer dance anthems in “Better Off Alone”.
Don’t forget to follow our playlist on Spotify – updated weekly so you never miss a song from the story of pop in 1999. And you can leave your memories of the songs below in the comments or Tweet us, using the hashtag #StoryofPop1999.