10 unforgettable comeback tracks
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We look at some of the best tracks that relaunched our favourite stars' careers.
“Don’t call it a comeback,” as LL Cool J once said, but if there's one thing we love, it’s our favourite popstars making a triumphant return to the charts.
Earlier this month, OfficialCharts.com had a little bit of a comeback of our own – we got our hair did and we’ve had a bit of an upgrade too. To celebrate our new look, we remember 10 popstar comeback tracks that relaunched the careers of some brilliant acts.
For two long years, between 2005 and 2007, it looked like it was all over for our favourite end-of-‘90s pop princess Britney. She’d kicked off her career with million-selling …Baby One More Time in 1999, but just six years later, personal problems meant Britney would be missing from the Official Charts for far too long.
In 2007, though, she returned, with the sexy, slick Gimme More and edgy dancefloor-filling parent album Blackout – which often tops fan polls as her very best.
While Britney’s troubles weren’t quite behind her yet, Gimme More gave her a 17th Top 10 hit, peaking at Number 3. It also gave her a taste for being in the public eye again.
Britney would return pretty much to her old self again – and freshly blonde, of course – for 2008’s Womanizer. The Britney Spears ship of chart success was back on course.
CHART FACT: Britney has had 23 Top 10s in total, six of those going to Number 1.
The Canadian-born star’s early work had a much more folky sound than the music that would eventually give her the biggest hits of her career. She had hits from 2001–2004, including the huge I’m Like A Bird, and then kind of drifted away…
Most people could be forgiven there’d be no more to come from Nelly. And then in 2006 she started working with the R&B genius that is Timbaland to put together a comeback. The reaction? “Is that really Nelly Furtado?” Its first hit Maneater became the song of the summer.
CHART FACT: Maneater was Nelly’s first Number 1, staying at the top for three weeks, knocking off Sandi Thom’s I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker.
JT’s debut solo album, 2002’s Justified, was a huge success, spawning four Top 10 singles, but when it came to a follow-up, Justin liked to keep us waiting.
It wasn’t until 2006 we got the follow-up FutureSex/LoveSounds, and let’s just say the album title was pretty apt. Led off by exciting, electronic R&B banger SexyBack, Justin landed his first-ever Number 1. Now that is a comeback.
CHART FACT: Justin has spent nine weeks at Number 1 in total, including three weeks for his 2013 chart-topper, and his bestselling UK single, Mirrors.
The best comebacks are the ones you think will never happen. Fans were heartbroken when Gary, Mark, Howard and Jason called it a day in 1996 after Robbie’s departure the previous year, and few could have imagined that a decade later the fantastic four would be back together again.
Thanks to a documentary and a greatest hits revival tour, the boys found their chemistry hadn’t faded and decided to record new material. Patience relaunched the band and stayed at Number 1 for a month. Then the really incredible happened in 2010 and Robbie himself rejoined and it was all like a dream.
They’ve shed Robbie and Jason since, but still managed to score their 12th UK Number 1 as a threesome in late 2014.
CHART FACT: Take That scored seven Number 1s as a fivesome (although Robbie had left by the seventh, his voice was on the song). They landed four as a foursome (stay with us) and as a trio, just one so far.
It had been eight years since Whitney Houston had released a studio album (excluding soundtracks) when she returned in 1998 with My Love Is Your Love.
Whitney’s comeback was kicked off with the epic warning shot to any lowdown dirty cheaters, It’s Not Right But It’s Okay. The track gave Whitney her first Top 10 all by herself since 1993’s I Have Nothing.
CHART FACT: Whitney was kept from Number 1 by Blur’s Tender, new at Number 2 and Britney Spears’ …Baby One More Time, holding fast at the top.
Some popstars barely manage one comeback in a career, but Kylie is that rarest of beasts who ended up with two.
Long before the sparkling gold hot pants would secure Spinning Around’s place in comeback history in 2000, Kylie was taking a riskier path.
After four albums and four Number 1s with PWL, Kylie decided it was time for a chance and disappeared for 18 months, returning in 1994 with this moody classic.
She was beaten to Number 1 by Wet Wet Wet (not for the first time in her career), and this would be Kylie’s last Top 10 for six years, but a star was certainly reborn.
CHART FACT: Three Kylie songs have been blocked from Number 1 by Wet Wet Wet: Got To Be Certain (1988), Give Me Just A Little More Time (1992) and Confide In Me (1994).
Despite huge success in the 1980s, Duran Duran were going through a bit of a lull when Ordinary World gave them their first Top 10 hit in four years in 1993.
Its parent album (known as The Wedding Album) became their seventh Top 10 on the Official Albums Chart, reaching Number 4.
CHART FACT: When Ordinary World peaked at Number 6, Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You was still topping the Official Singles Chart for a final, tenth week.
Another star who could probably count multiple comebacks throughout her pop career, it was Madonna's 1998 reinvention that was the most striking of all.
After taking time away from mainstream pop to star in Evita and have her first child, Madonna returned with Frozen, and she looked and sounded as she never had before.
The song became her first Number 1 in eight years, since 1990’s Vogue, and restored Madonna to her rightful place as Queen of Pop, with another imperial phase ahead of her.
CHART FACT: Madonna has had 13 UK Number 1s, more than any other female solo star. Frozen was her eighth.
The former Supremes star hadn’t landed a solo Top 40 hit in the UK for four years by the time Chain Reaction gave her a second chart-topper in 1986. The Bee Gees-penned anthem spent three weeks at the top, warming up everybody’s winter.
CHART FACT: Diana’s first Number 1 was I’m Still Waiting, 15 years earlier. It spent a month at the top until it was deposed by The Tams’ Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me.
Outspoken Lily decided enough was enough back in 2009, announcing she’d be retiring from her solo pop career to concentrate on raising a family.
But the lure of the microphone was too strong for Lily, and after a few collaborations with Professor Green and Pink, Lily came back properly with two Top 10 hits in as many weeks.
She hit Number 1 with her cover of Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know, but it was the punchy, no-holds-barred brilliance of Hard Out Here that let us know Lily was totally 100% back with a capital B.