The Story of Pop: 1999 (Chapter 44)

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The Story of Pop: 1999. It’s the series, every Thursday at midday here on the blog, where we take you back to the sights and sounds of the UK charts as we bade goodbye to an old millennium and welcomed in a new one. This week: seventh time’s the charm for one of Britain’s biggest boybands from the turn of the century…

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October 1999. And just a little over 18 months into their chart career, the phrase ‘Always the best men and never the groom’ could have heartily applied to bad boy boyband Five. Jason ‘J’ Brown, Scott Robinson, Sean Conlon, Ritchie Neville and Richard ‘Abs’ Breen were the universal currency were boybands were concerned. Girls crucially liked them, but so too, did the boys. They were that little bit tougher around the edges both in image and music, but with a playful charm that so few of their peers possessed.

But despite their eponymous debut album being a chart topper the previous year, one thing they still crucially lacked at this point was a number one single. It didn’t help that their previous singles had all stalled at #2, as if to highlight that fact. First with ‘Everybody Get Up’, which had the misfortune to run into All Saints in September 1998 with their third chart topper ‘Bootie Call’.

Then came the uncharacteristically smoochy wintertime ballad ‘Until The Time Is Through’ in November that same year – held off by the fifth week at the top for Cher’s mega hit ‘Believe’. And then, despite having a midweek lead at the top, ‘If Ya Gettin’ Down’ stalled in runners up slot in July 1999 behind the Ricky Martin chart topper we met earlier in this series.

But for the second release off their second album ‘Invincible’, they had a surefire banker in the shape of ‘Keep On Movin’. A much breezier and more accessible offering than a lot of their previous six singles, it still retained a nuanced cool quota, right down to its shuffly dance routine, and an uplifting, sort of motivational chorus line: ‘Get on up, when you’re down / Baby take a good look around / I know it’s not much, but it’s OK / We’ll keep on moving on anyway’.

Also accompanied by a banjo riff that punctuated the intro and chorus (why do pop songs not have banjo riffs anymore? I say we bring them back) to immediately make it stand out on the radio, the signs were all looking positive as promotion and exposure for the single geared up. And finally, at the seventh time of asking, ‘Keep On Movin’ crowned Five with their first UK number one single on this very week in 1999 – and it still remains the biggest selling hit of their career.

Five had been promoted to the big leagues, and would go onto top the charts twice more before they split in 2001 – including once with Queen following their performance of ‘We Will Rock You’ together at the Brit Awards in 2000 – but ‘Keep On Movin’ was to only spend one week at the top. Pourquoi? You’ll find out with the – teaser alert – TWO songs we cover on next week’s entry. And that’s a whole other story in itself…

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.

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