The Story of Pop: 2002 (Chapter 24)

This is The Story of Pop: 2002, our weekly revisitation of all the biggest songs and the acts behind them at the top end of the UK charts exactly 20 years ago. This week: the King returns for a record breaking 18th time…

  • Artist: Elvis Vs JXL
  • Song: A Little Less Conversation
  • Released: 10/06/2002
  • Writers / Producers: Mac Davis / Billy Strange / Junkie XL / Ad Bradley
  • Highest UK Chart Position: #1
  • Weeks on Chart: 20

When it comes to the history of the UK singles charts, it is established that there are some artists who, when it comes to worldwide sales and achievements, surpass all others in the list of the all time greats.

The King of Rock’n’Roll, Elvis Presley’s success can be traced back to the very beginnings of the UK singles chart itself. He had his first number one with “All Shook Up” back in 1957.

Consistently, he then managed to achieve at least one or several chart toppers to his name every year for the next seven years, with record sales of over 500 million worldwide.

But of course, not even his career was without a dry spell or two along the way. The mid-late 1960s were definitely regarded as being his “wilderness” years, where his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, shunned him away from live performance. This period was instead characterised by a series of movies that he starred in and recorded accompanying soundtracks for – most, if not all of which, were critically panned.

It was one of these movies, titled Live A Little, Love A Little, in 1968, that birthed a song written for Elvis by Mac Davis and Billy Strange, called “A Little Less Conversation”. Released as the flipside to the single “Almost In Love”, it barely scraped the Billboard charts at #95, whilst here in the UK it failed to enter the chart at all.

Of course, 1968 was the same year that he made a return to performing with his Comeback Special, that thus also set in motion the last nine years of his career, before his death at the age of 42 in August 1977. Fast forward 25 years later, and suddenly the King was a talking point once again.

After the original recording was used again on film, this time in the soundtrack of 2001 blockbuster Ocean’s Eleven, starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt, Dutch DJ and remixer Tom Holkenborg – better known as Junkie XL – remixed the song into something that sounded very contemporary and ear grabbing. With the Elvis estate clearly not lost on a DJ being named after a contributing cause of Presley’s death, the track was granted full release and credited to Elvis Vs JXL.

The remix was then picked by advertising agency Weiden and Kennedy, to form the soundtrack for their ad campaign “Secret Tournament” for Nike for that year’s World Cup in South Korea and Japan, which saw a host of well known players – Thierry Henry, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand to name but several – playing inside a leaky old ship in a sort of bootcamp, watched over by Eric Cantona.

With that kind of pedigree behind it, that was all that was needed for Elvis to make the record books all over again, as with his 114th UK hit, he broke a long standing tie between himself and The Beatles, scoring both his 18th UK number one single (the most for any artist ever in chart history), as well as putting together the longest span of UK chart toppers, covering nearly 45 years.

“A Little Less Conversation” would eventually stay at number one for four weeks here in Blighty, during which time it also topped the chart in eight other countries and went onto sell over 1.2 million copies here alone. It thus also paved the way for a new hits album, titled E1VIS: 30 #1 Hits, to be released and top the chart that September. The King was back – long live the King.

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 2002. And you can leave your memories of the songs below in the comments, Tweet us or message us on Instagram, using the hashtag #StoryofPop2002.

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