The Story of Pop: 2000 (Chapter 43)

Bringing you all the biggest hits from the UK charts at the dawn of the new millennium, every Thursday at midday, this is The Story of Pop: 2000. And in the words of the chorus this week’s classic chart topper once said, “Everybody clap your hands, get on up and dance…”

Here’s a question to pose at your next virtual Pub Quiz night: name Steps‘ two UK number one singles. Well, can you? Of course, the first one should be fairly easy – their double-A-side of “Heartbeat / Tragedy”, which had been the first number one of 1999.

What about the second? “Love’s Got A Hold On My Heart”? “Deeper Shade of Blue”? Maybe “One for Sorrow” at a push? Well no, the honour of Faye, H, Claire, Lee and Lisa’s second and to date final chart topper falls to “Stomp”, the track which launched the release of their third album, Buzz.

Credited on the single sleeve as ‘A tribute to Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers‘, this four-to-the-floor disco, err, stomper, whilst as upbeat a party track as you could hope to expect, doesn’t immediately scream ‘instant number one hit’ if we’re honest. But we also need to consider the context here. After four straight years of growth, overall single sales started to plateau a tad in 2000.

How else to explain then, that this was the year’s 35th different number one single, which hit the top with unusually low sales, one of the lowest of that year in fact (48,000 seems to be the agreed final number). In fact it did very well indeed not to be overruled at the death by a song we’ll be covering three weeks hence.

But this was undoubtedly where Steps hit a bit of a commercial plateau themselves, as the music industry and tastes began to shift. Whilst the Buzz album was still a success (it peaked at #4 a couple of weeks after this and went double platinum), measured against the million selling standards set from their first two albums, Step One and Steptacular, it was a marked comedown, with some of the subsequent singles making perfunctory in-out top 5 appearances.

And when you consider their own internal dynamics as a group at that point (watch their Sky Living 2011 series Steps Reunion again on YouTube if you need reminding), it felt very much like the calm before the storm in many respects. It was a storm that was to brew to an ugly end come December the following year when they split on their Gold: Greatest Hits album and tour. Viewed in that light, “Stomp” was just part of the furniture musically speaking.

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.

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