Reach for the Stars: 1996–2006: Fame, Fallout and Pop’s Final Party: A Times Summer Read 2023
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Prepare to be left open mouthed...some of the finest secrets from the pop-music landscape of those heady times.' -- Heat I was moving into my teenage years when the Spice Girls started, and so Iwas trying to work out who Iwas. But Iwas also trying to sort of hide who Iwas, and it was too revealing to talk about pop music. It was too revealing to say that you were afan of Girls Aloud, even, when they first started. And so Iwouldn’t.” Even at uni, Cragg would pretend to like Radiohead (“I kind of did… for abit”), while he was working out his sexuality and identity. “I didn’t really talk about [pop music] – Ididn’t say that Iliked it.” Mercury made his last public appearance to collect the award for outstanding contribution to British music alongside his Queen bandmates. Looking gaunt, his only words were: “Thank you … goodnight.” He died just under two years later.
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Ritchie I personally harbour no ill-will to J or Abs. I would want nothing more than to hear that they’re happily getting on with their lives. J was quite a domineering character and he wanted things done his way. He was willing to get that point across in a physical way sometimes. Cases are regularly made for this or that period of pop history to be recognised as a “golden era”, and random chunks of the 1950s to the 1990s have been widely exalted. It is to Michael Cragg’s great credit that his new book, a thoroughgoing oral history, focuses on a period until now almost entirely shunned by critics: British millennial bubblegum. Elsewhere, it’s revealed that Russell Brand once auditioned for the boy band 5ive, but has denied it ever since, “which is funny”, says member Scott Robinson, “because he’s done some dodgy things in his career, and auditioning for 5ive isn’t the worst”.Alongside Ian Winwood’s excellent ‘ Bodies’, ‘Reach for the Stars’ acts as a love letter to music and also as a cautionary tale of how the industry consumes, adapts and sets the agenda without any regard for the artists. Claire I remember Pete Waterman going crazy and causing a real stink because if it wasn’t us who should have won, Five were in that category, Cleopatra. It was all the new pop of the time. No one could believe it. It shifted abit but then, obviously, The XFactor came along,” he continues. “And that machine was so big and so powerful that you then did have to sort of take what was going on. It was areal rollercoaster, as they say, of people not being able to say what they wanted. Or if you did, you were branded abitch, or difficult, or rude.”
Reach for the Stars: 1996–2006: Fame, Fallout and Pop’s Final
If you watched The Big Reunion on television a few years ago (or any similar programmes) or read any of the many official band books from the late 90's and early 2000's then you probably won't learn anything new from this book. That's not to say that it isn't still an interesting read but most of the interview pieces with band members are taken from past interviews or books that are already published.Sean There were frictions within the band. And between the band and management. Then the band and the label. Frictions everywhere. A lot of it, like the music itself, seems throwaway, the stuff of gossip. We learn, for example, that even in the early stages of the Spice Girls, Victoria Adams was far more interested in shopping for clothes than she was in recording vocals. “She just wasn’t there,” co-member Geri Halliwell says of the Wannabe studio sessions. “Bless her.” It’s revealed that Russell Brand once auditioned for the boy band 5ive, but has denied it ever since
‘There were fist-fights down at CD:UK’ – 90s pop remembered
Arguably the best possible combination of writer and subject since Jesus wrote the Bible.' -- Stuart Heritage, Guardian writerMark Beaumont (writer for Melody Maker and NME) It was the first show of strength of the internet because the Brits were the establishment stronghold and here was Belle and Sebastian using the weight of their fanbase to break the stranglehold of pop. I think it was the first high-profile example of the internet being used to shift culture. Sean Conlon I saw Abz at my audition. He had some sunglasses on and looked a little bit like how Peter Andre used to dress. He really stood out from the whole queue.