Official Charts Flashback 2003: Rachel Stevens vs. Black Eyed Peas for Number 1

It's fifteen years since the former S Club 7 singer battled for the top spot with her debut solo single.

In the early '00s, breakup bangers were a staple of the pop diet. They came in the form of the defiant, such as Kelly Clarkson's Since U Been Gone, the snarky like Beyonce's Irreplaceable, and in the case of Justin Timberlake's Cry Me A River, the downright bitter. 

When it comes to Cry Me A River, a song supposedly (almost certainly) aimed his ex Britney Spears, it inspired a song that is a much rarer strand on the breakup banger spectrum: a response, titled Sweet Dreams My LA Ex. 

The track was written by '90s popstar-turned-songwriter Cathy Dennis, who thought Britney might be interested in having a pop back at her former boyfriend. It turned out she wanted to be the bigger person, so it was eventually offered to a singer in search of her big breakthrough hit: former S Club star Rachel Stevens. 

She'd barely let the wounds of her own band breakup heal before unleashing Sweet Dreams 15 years ago this week, arriving just a month after S Club's final single Say Goodbye had left the Official Singles Chart.

Rachel's profile was sky high at the time, and a Number 1 seemed like a shoo-in. What hadn't been accounted for was the surprise arrival of a group called Black Eyed Peas, whose track Where Is The Love? was taking off across the world. Rachel's pull wasn't strong enough overpower BEP, so it had to settle for Number 2, selling 66,361 copies to BEP's 79,289. Conspiracy theorists will note that Where Is The Love? was co-written by and features uncredited vocals by Timberlake - just saying. 

As things stand, Sweet Dreams My LA Ex has sold 255,756, including 1.75 million streams, since while Where Is The Love's combined sales stand at 1.4 million.

There were more surprises elsewhere on the Official Chart 15 years ago this week. Westlife scored one of their lowest charting debuts yet with Hey Whatever (4) and Louise made a welcome - albeit brief - return with pop stomper Pandora's Kiss, landing at Number 5.

Further down, there were new entries for Jamelia's Superstar, Justin Timberlake's Senorita and Placebo's Special Needs.

See the Top 100 Official Singles Chart from this week in 2003 in full

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