The Story of Pop: 2000. It’s our series of posts, week by week, where we retell the story behind the biggest hits in the UK charts from two whole decades ago. This week: our first chart topper of the series from a lady who returned there seven years after her first visit…
Cast your minds back to our 1999 series last year – specifically, October time. British soul songstress Gabrielle had made a return (albeit an understated one) to the charts after a two year break with ‘Sunshine’, that had made a thoroughly respectable #9 and had been an airplay staple as well as a UK garage favourite via a remix from Wookie.
The second single chosen from its parent album ‘Rise’ was the title track, and one that immediately reestablished her in the hearts and minds of the UK record buying public who might have missed her low key comeback in the autumn.
Being one of the few songs to receive an authorised sample of a Bob Dylan hit (‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’), ‘Rise’ was a reflective, gospel tinged ballad that mourned the loss of a long term relationship whilst finding the strength to move on: ‘I know that it’s over / But I can’t believe we’re through / They say that time’s a healer / And I’m better without you’.
It struck a chord with many who heard it, identifying the pain of heartbreak and the whole ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ ethos in the song. It perhaps explains why ‘Rise’ became Gabrielle’s second number one single upon its release twenty years ago – her first since her debut ‘Dreams’ had made the summit in 1993.
Staying there for two weeks all in all, it was one of 2000’s biggest hits, and sent her ‘Rise’ album to the top of the charts in the process as well, starting off a year of success for her, with more hits following in the shape of ‘When A Woman’ (#6 in May) and ‘Should I Stay’ (#13 in October), making her one of several artists to sell over half a million singles and albums in the UK that year.
‘Rise’ was unquestionably a special record two decades ago, and even now when it comes on the radio I still feel fondly about it. When a song connects that deeply with people, then you know you must be onto a winner, and this must surely be one of the greatest legacies that Gabrielle will carry even after she’s gone.
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