Uncovering the tales behind the hits of the UK charts from the turn of a new millennium, every Thursday at midday, this is The Story of Pop: 2000. This week: a landmark chart topper for the Queen of pop…
1998 had undoubtedly been the start of Madonna’s second coming. After spending the majority of the 90s in something of a cultural wilderness far removed from her first imperial phase in the 80s, her critically and commercially lauded Ray of Light album had reestablished her as pop’s reigning queen.
But after embracing her ‘Earth Mother’ image on that record, for her eighth studio album in 2000, she was keen on a change of sound, and as always, had spotted the way the wind was blowing in terms of musical trends – towards the slightly more electronic take on dance pop that was coming out of Europe.
One of the first people she started working with on the album was French DJ and producer Mirwais Ahmadzaï, who she had heard previous works of and was full of praise for (“I worked on it with a French guy called Mirwais, and he is the shit”, declared Madge in a press release to her fans ahead of the album).
Other collaborators were William Orbit, back on board again after their successful work together on Ray of Light, as well as Guy Sigsworth and the legendary Mark ‘Spike’ Stent. It was, in her own words, “a very French and English sounding record … It’s like a follow up to [the last album] without standing still. It’s perfect.”
And that was certainly the case with ‘Music’, the album’s title track and lead single. It was perhaps the most dancefloor centric release of hers since her 80s work, setting out it’s stall from the opening lyrics: ‘Hey Mr DJ, put a record on / I wanna dance with my baby / And when the music starts, I never wanna stop / It’s gonna drive me crazy’.
The single is also perhaps just as remembered, certainly in the UK, for its promo video, which offered us a first glimpse at her new ‘Cowgirl’ look that she adopted for the remainder of the album campaign, and also featured a cameo from Ali G as chauffeur of her limo.
The creation of comedy writer and performer Sasha Baron Cohen, and a very obvious parody on then Radio 1 hip hop DJ Tim Westwood, Madonna had become a fan after moving to London and seeing a VHS copy of the Channel 4 chat show which Baron Cohen hosted in character.
Ali G was unknown to US audiences at this point, but within 12 months, thanks to his appearance in the video, and following his role as host of that year’s MTV Europe Music Awards in Stockholm, the character was given a US version of the show for HBO, ensuring he would be just as well known as he was here in Blighty.
All these elements were adding up to a surefire hit, and once released out the traps, ‘Music’ topped the chart for Madonna in 25 countries. It gave her her landmark tenth UK number one single and was her twelfth (and to date last) chart topper on the Billboard Hot 100 over in the States.
The Music album followed it to the top of the album chart in September, with further singles ‘Don’t Tell Me’ (#4) and ‘What It Feels Like For a Girl’ (#7) along with a much talked about one off concert at Brixton Academy that November firmly confirming that Madonna was back – making music to really make the people come together.
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.