It’s Thursday, it’s midday, and time as always to continue our look back at all the big UK chart hits from the turn of the millennium with The Story of Pop: 2000. This week: the third and final chart topper for a future assistant to the Time Lord…
It’s strange to think that with all the ‘Team Britney or Team Christina‘ talk in the spring of 2000, that the UK had almost forgotten that we had our very own teen pop princess already. Fortunately, said teen pop princess was back to remind us all of her presence – and with a big bang to boot.
Two years previously, in 1998, Billie Piper had broken all sorts of records when, aged 15 years old, she became the youngest solo female to debut at #1 in the UK with her first two singles ‘Because We Want To’ and ‘Girlfriend’. She followed that up with another two top 3 hits – ‘She Wants You’ and the still legendary ‘Honey to the Bee’.
But her time in pop had – as has been well documented by both the press and the lady herself – been fraught with difficulties and tensions. Tales abounded of eating disorders, collapsing from exhaustion, terrifying stalker ordeals, and even incurring the wrath of the very audience she was aiming her music towards.
This largely started when she began dating Five’s Ritchie Neville, leading her to be hailed in a volley of boos at public appearances and mountains of hate mail being sent to her fan club and the letters pages of Smash Hits from overzealous fans of the boyband. So it is little wonder she was quiet for almost a year whilst she let the storm die down.
But when she returned, she had a second album, ‘Walk of Life’ ready to go, and a suitably more grown up look and sound to accompany it. She was even using her surname by now. And when ‘Day And Night’ landed on the radio and music channels, it was clear that Billie was back to reclaim her crown from her Stateside rivals and she meant business.
Produced by a then little known up and coming Swedish production team called Stargate, it was a single reliant on the same melodrama and galumphing chords that the dominant Cheiron production team (headed by Max Martin) were ruling the charts with at that time, with a slightly bonkers dance routine to boot.
Once unleashed on 15th May 2000, ‘Day And Night’ broke even more records for Billie, as she crashed in at the top of the UK chart once more and became the youngest solo female to have three UK number ones before her 18th birthday – a record she still holds to this day. It was however to be her last such single to go that far.
The unfortunately named ‘Something Deep Inside’ hit #4 that September, and both the ‘Walk of Life’ album and the title track third single were relative flops. After a whirlwind marriage to radio DJ Chris Evans that kept her as tabloid fodder for almost a year, she quietly walked away from her music career after two madcap years.
She then subsequently found her first true love again: acting. A series of film and TV roles followed, before she grew into public affection again playing Rose Tyler, the feisty assistant first to Christopher Eccleston, and then David Tennant, in the BBC’s reactivated series of sci fi favourite Doctor Who in 2005.
Her career in this field has blossomed since, and she is now gearing up for the release later this year of her new film Rare Beasts, which also marks her directorial debut. But to this week, we toast to Billie Piper’s brief but beautiful career in pop music, of which ‘Day And Night’ remains a lost classic of the time.
Don’t forget to follow our brand new playlist on Spotify – updated weekly so you never miss a song from the story of pop in 2000. And you can leave your memories of the songs below in the comments or Tweet us, using the hashtag #StoryofPop2000.