Search This Blog

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Album Spotlight: "Honey To The B" by Billie Piper

It's been a while since I've done an album spotlight, and I thought that in this case, there was no time like the present.

Only, this album spotlight could elicit one of two reactions, depending on what side of the globe you happen to be living in.  In some places, this album was a huge success that scored four huge hits, and earned our featured singer the accolade of being the youngest female artist to have their debut single to reach the #1 position in the UK.

In other places, the album didn't do so well, only had one minor single release, and her singing career in North America fizzled before it even began.  Although some of you may recognize her for her television work in such series as "Penny Dreadful", "Secret Life of a Call Girl", and this sci-fi series which has been on the air for over fifty years.

And certainly when it comes to the show "Doctor Who", our featured singer happened to play a very important role.  Joining the show in 2005, she played the role of Doctor Who's companion, Rose Tyler.  And although she was contractually on the show for one year, she made return appearances on the show, the most recent being in 2013.

These days, Billie Piper is most well known for her acting chops.  But did you know that this actress - who recently turned 33 years old on September 22 - started out her career as a pop artist?

I'm not kidding you.  And, here's the proof.

Today's album spotlight is Billie Piper's debut album "Honey To The B", released in October 1998.  At the time, she was just going by her first name, Billie.  She had just turned sixteen at the time of the album's release, and in her native UK the album spawned four singles and was certified platinum.

I wish I could say that her success in the United States was just as good, but she kind of disappeared as quickly as she came.  I suppose part of the reason could have been timing.  I remember 1998/1999 was the year that we had a whole slew of female pop artists dominating the charts from Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera to Mandy Moore and Jessica Simpson.  On top of that, the Spice Girls had already cornered the female market in the mini-British invasion of the mid-1990s.  There really wasn't a whole lot of room for Billie to make her mark on the music industry in the United States.

Interestingly enough though, in my home country of Canada, I seem to recall MuchMusic playing her music videos a lot!  I guess in a way, it makes sense though.  Canada is tied very close to the United Kingdom, and our music charts seem to favour more UK music than the United States does. 

Anyway, for those of you who were fans of Billie Piper's music, you'll love this one.  And for those of you who only know her from Doctor Who, prepared to be surprised.  Whether that surprise will be a good one or a bad one, I'll leave it up to you.

So, what was Billie's first single?

Released:  June 29, 1998
Peak Position on the UK Charts:  #1
Peak Position on Canadian Charts:  #30

See, I told you she was more known in Canada than in the United States!

And it was with this single that Billie Piper made history.  At just fifteen years old, she was the youngest female artist to have her very first single debut at the #1 spot on the British charts.  The single was also the official song of the 1999 Women's World Cup, so I would say that she did very well with her first single, wouldn't you?

The song itself is actually not bad.  Like I said, she was coming out around the same time as the Spice Girls, and she was already having to compete against pre-existing female artists such as Kylie Minogue and Robyn, so I would imagine that she probably had to work a little harder to get her stuff out there.  But for a debut single, I'd say it was worth becoming a Top 30 hit in Canada, and a #1 smash hit across the pond.

I only wish that the music video was not so cheesy.  The CGI (and might I add, really bad CGI) UFO was bad.  The trash can melting into a dancing robot was cringeworthy.  By the time I saw the rhinoceros bouncer, I was on the floor laughing at how horrible it was.  But in Billie's defense, she was fifteen.  Fifteen year olds find random things amusing.  I know I did when I was that age.

Released:  September 21, 1998
Peak Position on the UK Charts:  #1

This was another song that was heavily featured on the Canadian music video channel MuchMusic back in the day, so I'm really surprised that this single never charted here.  It also never charted in America either, which also surprises me since a special edit was recorded on the American version of "Honey To The B". 

In the UK though, Billie continued her quest for domination of the British pop charts with this single becoming her second #1 hit.  And thankfully, this music video is not as badly done as her first one.  Truth be told, it's quite well done in its simplicity.

Of course, the song's message itself is simple.  It's about a girl who has feelings for a guy and wants to know if he wants her as his girlfriend.  Simplistic and sweet, and the perfect song for someone who was about to turn sweet sixteen.  After all, this song was originally released the day before Billie's 16th birthday.

Released:  December 7, 1998
Peak Position on the UK Charts:  #3
Peak Position on the USA Dance Charts:  #9

I know that she wants you, she wants you, she wants you...

Yeah, so the chorus was very repetitive, but then again, so are most modern day pop songs.  I have to say though that I do have this one on my iPod, and I have to admit that it is a guilty pleasure!

There were two music videos made for this single.  The one that I posted here was the American version...but the movie that Billie and her friends are watching at the drive-in?  That was the version that was released in the UK!  So, it's like a video within a video!

Now while this single cracked the Top 5 in the UK, this was Billie Piper's only American single to even be released in some format.  But you know, of the four singles released from "Honey To The B", this one is my favourite of the bunch.

One thing that you might not know is that this single was actually a cover version.  It was originally released by Dara Rolins in 1996.

And if anyone bought the CD single of the song "She Wants You", they were given a special gift.  With the single released just days before Christmas, Billie recorded a version of "Last Christmas" for the single.  It didn't really chart, but I've included it here just for posterity purposes.

Released:  April 13, 1999
Peak Position on the UK Charts: #3 and #17

I know, you're confused.  How can a song have two different chart positions?  Well, the answer is simple.  The single re-entered the British charts eight years apart, that's why!

Originally, the song reached #3 in the spring of 1999 - and given the incredibly lame video that accompanied the song, I'm kind of hoping that it was the song's strength that helped it chart that high.  Billie, did you learn nothing from the "Because We Want To" ordeal?  Aye yi yi!

But the song re-entered the charts in January 2007, and you can thank a British DJ for that feat.

In January 2007, Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles was introducing a new format for the UK Charts that would have a different set of guidelines that would come into effect by the end of the month.  He tested that theory out by selecting a random song that had been released over the last ten years wanting to see if the rules would help propel it back into the charts.  The song chosen was "Honey To The Bee", and to everyone's surprise, the song peaked at #17 - eight years after its initial release!

So, that's a look back at "Honey To The B".  Billie's music career sadly peaked at this point.  In 2000, she released her sophomore album "Walk of Life", but it failed to match the success of her previous album and by the time she entered the world of acting in 2004, she had all but given up on her singing career.

But for one brief shining moment in the late 1990s, Billie Piper was a pop starlet.  And I just brought you the proof.

No comments:

Post a Comment