Americans only know her her as Doctor Who‘s shag-worthy companion. But before she was an A-list actress in the UK, Billie Piper had already made a name for herself as one of the late ’90s biggest pop stars. Her long-discarded music career is back in the news today now that her 1999 hit, “Honey To the Bee,” has re-entered the UK charts at No. 17. It seems that BBC DJ Chris Moyles has been promoting the tune to test the UK’s new rules that allow any song available for download to compete for a chart slot. (If it came out in 1959 and iTunes has it, it can be a hit in Britain.) I’m sure Moyles was playing all of this as a joke, but from the innocent teen-pop of “Because We Want To” to the R&B bounce of “Girlfriend,” Piper’s musical career is pleasantly surprising in the variety of its pop confections. Here’s a sampling from our old friend, YouTube:
“Because We Want To”
OK, in this video, she’s a tough, neck-shaking street girl, turning the back alleys of London into a magically animated wonderland with a flip of the wrist. This is a bit too Kids Bop/Mariah Carey for me, but she looks great.
“She Wants You”
Billie Piper re-made as a 21st-century Kylie Minogue. This slick dance tune should have been a major U.S. hit.
“Honey To The Bee”
Woah…Billie Piper with black hair. Her dark look is a bit too moody for this peppy song, but check out the special f/x in the background. She did Madonna’s “Love Profusion” video long before Madonna did it.
This is a more mature Billie Piper, rocking a blacker, sexier sound that almost qualifies as blue-eyed soul.
Who knows if “Honey To the Bee” or any of the above songs will be squaring off for No. 1 next week? This week, Mika makes good on hype, reaching the crest of UK charts and knocking Leona Lewis way down to No. 6. Lots of new entries this week…almost all good tunes, too. That View song is a fave of mine, even if it sounds like Cornershop‘s “Brimful of Asha.”
In other news:
- Newsflash: Simon Cowell is a big jerk and America loves him for it.(BBC)
- Rafael Nadal has ended Andy Murray‘s run at the Aussie Open.(Guardian)
- Keira Knightley has sued the Daily Mail for implying she lied about having eating disorders.(BBC)
- The Indian media has handled the Celebrity Big Brother controversy well, says the BBC‘s Paul Danahar. “There has been outrage here at the treatment of Shilpa Shetty. But there has also been acknowledgement that there has been equal outrage in the UK from brown, black and white people alike.”
- Jade Goody isn’t handling freedom to well. After being evicted from the Big Brother house and learning that she’s the British Michael Richards, she’s become “suicidal” according to The Sun: “I just want to get it clear to everybody out there that I am not a racist. My biggest fear is that my kids will be rejected – not that I’ll never work again. I hadn’t much to lose before, but I have now. I have got two children – I don’t want them rejected because of me.”
- Channel 4 is faced with new racism charges for its series, Shipwrecked, in which a contestant said she wanted a black person to do her “slave work.”(Guardian)
- Preston‘s hissy fit on the set of Never Mind the Buzzcocks disappoints The Guardian‘s Eva Wiseman: “A good storm-off requires a basic grasp of camp. The power of a well-thrown-down microphone is second to none. But no. Preston calmly walked.”
- They are barely out of nappies- the members are aged 13, 13, 13, 14, and 15 – yet Pull in Emergency is one of Britain’s most-buzzed about bands.(Guardian)
- David Morrissey (Viva Blackpool, State of Play) avoids a Razzie nomination for Basic Instinct 2; co-stars Sharon Stone and David Thewlis weren’t so lucky.(BBC)
- Silent Witness star Amanda Burton has found a new love after divorcing her philandering hubby…and he’s a silver fox.(Daily Mail)
- Amy Winehouse received rave reviews for her NYC debut.(Daily Mail)
- Hugh Grant is ready for fatherhood, he tells Vogue. “As much as I adore myself, I’m quite keen to find someone else to care about more.”(Daily Mail)
- Will Naomi Campbell – who is reportedly set to appear on Ugly Betty – set to give up modelling for acting?(Daily Mail)
- Mackenzie Crook has gone from The Office to Chekov’s The Seagull.(Telegraph)
- Crook gets one page, but Peaches Geldof gets the lead story and three – count ’em – three pages in today’s Telegraph.
- The new British TV drama, Skins, attempts to show young people “as they really are.” And it is written by kids. As creator Bryan Elsey tells Telegraph, “We have a mentoring system where the more experienced writers, the 23-year-olds, help the 17- and 18-year-olds. The 17-year-olds have written six-minute spin-off films for the website, but if we get a second series we want them to write their own episodes supported by the group.”
- Two young Welsh filmmakers have convinced Faye Dunaway to appear in their film at a reduced fee. Uh, do they know what they are getting themselves into?(The Times)