Official Charts Pop Gem #48: Aqua – Turn Back Time

It’s Barbie Girl that everyone remembers, but Aqua’s chart-topper from 1998 was their third consecutive Number 1 and on the soundtrack to a major movie.

It’s Barbie Girl that everyone remembers, but Aqua’s chart-topper from 1998 was their third consecutive Number 1 and on the soundtrack to a major movie. Turn Back Time is well worthy of Pop Gem status.

In our weekly search for Pop Gems, those overlooked classics, we usually go for the unsung heroes, the underdogs that either never quite made the big time or have been forgotten all too soon.

But what about the songs that *do* make it all the way?

Not every chart-topper stays famous, and our theme this week is Forgotten Number 1s – the big hits that burned bright, but now nobody really recalls their moment of glory. We decided it was time to change that.

The debate was as fierce as ever at Official Charts HQ. Could we accept Number 1s from big names? Are forgotten Number 1s only the territory of one-hit wonders? We thought (and fought) long and hard and finally got it down to a shortlist. We couldn’t bear to chop out a classic tune, so had to settle for 11 finalists. They were:

Alexandra Burke – Start Without You (2010)
Orson
– No Tomorrow (2006)
Stereophonics
– Dakota (2005)
Busted
– You Said No (2003)
Darius
– Colourblind (2002)
Britney Spears
– Born To Make You Happy (2000)
All Saints
– Black Coffee (2000)
Aqua
– Turn Back Time (1998)
Tony Di Bart
– The Real Thing (1994)
Tasmin Archer
– Sleeping Satellite (1992)
Bucks Fizz
– My Camera Never Lies (1982)

And in the face of some serious competition, we picked one you might not expect, but an absolute Pop Gem. Step forward, Aqua with Turn Back Time from 1998.

Watch the video for Turn Back Time before we explain why Aqua bagged the Pop Gem this week:

Why it had to be Aqua

Aqua were something of an overnight sensation when they burst onto the pop scene in 1997. Always fun, but sometimes serious, the Danish-Norwegian band were like a cartoony breath of fresh air in the late Nineties. Out of all the acts in our shortlist, they are probably the most in need of a bit of recognition. Not a one-hit wonder, but not exactly megastars, either – the perfect Pop Gem candidates! Lead singer Lene has some serious UK pop credentials too – she co-wrote Girls Aloud’s No Good Advice.

The song

Turn Back Time was Aqua’s third Number 1 and perhaps it suffers slightly from the fact that the two chart-toppers that came before it were larger than life. The band’s debut single, Barbie Girl and its follow-up Doctor Jones introduced the band as something of a novelty act, but there was much more to them than that. Turn Back Time was taken from the soundtrack to the popular rom-com Sliding Doors, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah. Turn Back Time, complete with moody video set in a Tube station, spent a week at Number 1, knocking All SaintsUnder The Bridge/Lady Marmalade off the top.

Other notable things happening in the Official Singles Chart that week were new entries from Wyclef Jean with Gone Til November (3), Cleopatra and Life Ain’t Easy (4) and the Corrs’ cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams (6). Entering at Number 32 was UK Eurovision hopeful for 1998, Imaani with Where Are You, which came second to Dana International’s Diva.

Aqua’s chart story

It’s no real surprise that when you think Aqua, you think Barbie Girl. Their first of three consecutive Number 1s sold 1.8 million copies in the UK and spent a month at the summit from October 1997. Doctor Jones also hit the top spot, spending a fortnight there, before Turn Back Time completed their run of chart-toppers. Two more Top 10 hits – My Oh My and 2000’s Cartoon Heroes – would follow, and their last Top 40 entry would be 2000’s Around The World.

Video playlist

Everybody loves a Number 1, even if they don’t remember them from time-to-time. Play our video playlist of Overlooked Number 1 Pop Gems. What’s your favourite?

Your Pop Gem needs you

Got a Pop Gem of your own? Want to suggest a theme for another week? Find out how you can get involved in the Pop Gem party.