Northern Star (Melanie C album)

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Northern Star
Melanie C Northern Star.png
Studio album by
Released18 October 1999
RecordedMarch – July 1999
Melanie C chronology
Northern Star
Singles from Northern Star
  1. "Goin' Down"
    Released: 29 September 1999
  2. "Northern Star"
    Released: 29 November 1999
  3. "Never Be the Same Again"
    Released: 20 March 2000
  4. "I Turn to You"
    Released: 7 August 2000
  5. "If That Were Me"
    Released: 27 November 2000
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[3]
Slant Magazine3/5 stars[4]

Northern Star is the debut solo album released by English singer and songwriter Melanie C, released on 18 October 1999, by Virgin Records. Inspired by American singer Madonna's acclaimed 1998 album Ray of Light, Chisholm and her team recruited several of the album's producers to work with her, including William Orbit, Rick Nowels, Marius de Vries, and Craig Armstrong, as well as Rick Rubin. Chisholm co-wrote every song on Northern Star's track listing.

The album's sound is diverse, combining pop music with elements of rock, dance, electronica, trance, techno-rock and R&B which contrasted with the sound of the Spice Girls.[1][3][5] AllMusic describes "Northern Star" as a "genre-hopping" album.[1] Commercially, the album peaked at number one on the Swedish Albums Chart and entered the top ten in several countries including Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherland, and Norway. In the United Kingdom, Northern Star reached number four on the UK Albums Chart and went on the sell almost 900,000 copies. With worldwide sales close to four million copies, it is the biggest-selling solo Spice Girl album.[6] The album was re-issued on 21 August 2000 to feature the single mixes of "Never Be the Same Again" and "I Turn to You", after the massive success of both singles.

Background and recording[edit]

Melanie's first solo effort was a duet with Bryan Adams, released as a single on November 30, 1998. "When You’re Gone", originally featured on Adams' album On a Day Like Today, secured a top 3 place in UK Singles Chart. The single spent 15 weeks in the UK Top 40, with nine of these in the Top 10. Bryan Adams first met Melanie C in September 1996 at London, while she was performing "Say You'll Be There" with the Spice Girls at Top of the Pops.[7] They both liked each other and Bryan Adams always had in mind a possible collaboration with her. They met again in a hotel in the Summer of 1998 when Melanie was on tour with the Spice Girls, and Bryan Adams was doing a video, and asked her to sing on his album.[8] She hadn't even heard "When You're Gone" and she said she'd do it. The success of the single gave Melanie aspirations for more solo projects. They went on to write three more songs for Melanie’s upcoming debut solo album: "Follow Me", "Angel on My Shoulder" and "You Taught Me", the first two serving as b-sides to "Northern Star" and "Goin' Down" singles, while "You Taught Me" was released only as a promo to the media.

In early 1999, the Spice Girls took some time off, after extensively touring around the world. Mel B and Victoria Beckham announced they were both pregnant at the time, so every plan for the Spice Girls was put on hold. In January 1999 Melanie C decided to leave the UK and head to Los Angeles in order to work on her solo album, to be released in autumn of the same year.[9] Melanie C was planning to work with producer Rick Rubin, who had met a year earlier, when the Spice Girls were supposed to record a track with Blackstreet for the South Park album, before legal wrangles intervened. Rubin was to be at the helm for that track, and when he heard of Melanie's own songwriting ambitions, he offered a hand which she promptly grabbed.[10] Rick Rubin was also Red Hot Chili Peppers' main producer, whose lead singer, Anthony Kiedis was rumoured to be dating Melanie at the time.[11] Melanie C wanted to do an indie rock album, naming Blur, Oasis, Suede and The Cardigans as her inspiration.[10] She was also very fond of Madonna's work - Ray of Light in particular. Melanie wanted to cut her first album with help from Madonna.[12] According to her interview in July 1999 to the British edition of Cosmopolitan magazine, Madonna invited her to spend some time with her,[13] and she did succeed in having William Orbit, producer of Madonna's Ray of Light, on opening track "Go!" as a writer and producer, while Marius de Vries, Craig Armstrong and Rick Nowels, who also worked with Madonna on Ray of Light, also contributed tracks for Melanie's solo project. Four months after Melanie left for Los Angeles, Virgin Records executives, quite worried about the way the media would feel about her solo album, were given an early promo CD, named “Northern Star - Work In Progress CD”,[14] to give them a premiere on her sound as a solo artist. The last tracks recorded for the album were “Go!” and “I Turn To You”, both not included on the early promo CD.

Release and promotion[edit]

Northern Star was released in UK and Europe on 18 October 1999 and later in the United States and Canada on 2 November 1999.[15] To promote the album, Melanie C made a number of televised appearances and live performances of the album's songs. Her first gig as a solo artist took place at Leadmill Club in Sheffield, on 19 August 1999, in front of a crowd of 900 people.[16] Melanie also performed at V99 rock festival on 21 and 22 August, receiving mixed to negative reviews, with BBC noting its confusion about which way Melanie C wants to take as an artist and whether she wants to be a pop star, a rockstar or a punk star.[17][18] A special documentary entitled Northern Star[19] was aired on Channel 4 on August 30, focusing on her life in Los Angeles during the recording of her first solo album. "Closer", "Something's Gonna Happen", "I Wonder What It Would Be Like", "Independence Day", "Northern Star" and "Why" made their debut during the documentary, and the music video of "Goin' Down" was also shown. She embarked on her first solo tour, From Liverpool to Leicester Square in the Autumn of 1999, and later the Northern Star Tour which started in Warsaw, Poland on 31 August 2000, and finished in Bonn, Germany on 26 August 2001.

Chart performance[edit]

Northern Star debuted at number 10 in the UK Albums Chart, on the issue dated 24 October 1999.[15] Album sales increased in the UK when "Never Be The Same Again" released as a single, entering the top 10 again and moving to number five two weeks later. Northern Star kept selling steadily well during the following months, until "I Turn To You" was released on August 2000, when sales took off again and Northern Star got its peak position on 2 September 2000, hitting number four of the album chart, nearly a year after its release.[20] As of October 2016, Northern Star had spent 79 weeks on the official UK Albums Chart. Its last appearance on it was in January 2004, nearly 4 and a half years after its release. It has sold over 890,000 copies in the UK, as of October 2016.[21] In the United States, it failed to chart in its first week of release. The album sold 6,717 copies in its first week, missing the bottom of the chart by a few hundred.[22] It charted quite well in Canada, reaching number 16.[22]

Track listing[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Northern Star.[23]

2."Northern Star"
Marius De Vries4:41
3."Goin' Down"
  • Chisholm
  • Richard Stannard
  • Julian Gallagher
De Vries3:35
4."I Turn to You"
  • Chisholm
  • Nowels
  • Billy Steinberg
5."If That Were Me"
  • Chisholm
  • Nowels
6."Never Be the Same Again" (featuring Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes)
  • Chisholm
  • Rhett Lawrence
  • Paul F Cruz
  • Lisa Lopes
  • Lorenzo Martin
  • Chisholm
  • De Vries
  • Steve Sidelnyk
De Vries5:27
8."Suddenly Monday"
  • Chisholm
  • Matt Rowe
  • Stannard
  • Julian Gallagher
Rick Rubin2:36
9."Ga Ga"
  • Chisholm
  • Phil Thornalley
  • Dave Munday
10."Be the One"
  • Chisholm
  • Thornalley
  • Munday
  • Chisholm
  • Nowels
  • Steinberg
De Vries5:41
12."Feel the Sun"
  • Chisholm
  • Nowels
Total length:53:18
Japanese edition
9."Follow Me"
De Vries4:47
10."Ga Ga"
  • Chisholm
  • Thornalley
  • Munday
11."Be the One"
  • Chisholm
  • Thornalley
  • Munday
  • Chisholm
  • Nowels
  • Steinberg
De Vries5:41
13."Feel the Sun"
  • Chisholm
  • Nowels
  • Armstrong
  • McCarthy
  • LeGassick
Total length:58:05
2000 Re-issue bonus tracks
13."Never Be the Same Again" (Single Mix, featuring Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes)
  • Chisholm
  • Lawrence
  • Cruz
  • Lopes
  • Martin
14."I Turn to You" (Hex Hector Radio Mix)
  • Chisholm
  • Nowels
  • Steinberg
  • De Vries
  • Hex Hector
Total length:61:44

Leftover tracks[edit]

  • "You Taught Me" – 4:22
    • Planned as a B-side for the "I Turn To You" UK CD2 single, but was replaced with remixes.
  • "Happy Without You" – 4:27
    • Planned as a B-side for the unreleased UK CD2 for the "If That Were Me" single. Chisholm performed the song live on her first two solo tours. The song was later re-recorded and renamed "Independence Day" for Bend It Like Beckham. It also appears on the Japanese version of Melanie's second album Reason.


Some songs from the album have also appeared in various films, such as "Ga Ga" which is audible in Big Daddy, released the same year, and also appears on its soundtrack. The song "Go" makes an appearance in Whatever It Takes. "Suddenly Monday" appears in Maybe Baby and on its soundtrack. "I Turn to You" also appears in Bend It Like Beckham. Some songs have also been covered by international artists such as Christine Fan, who covered and translated "Suddenly Monday" in Chinese for her debut album FanFan's World, Wig Wam, who covered "I Turn to You" for their album, 667.. The Neighbour of the Beast, and Dutch pop singer Do who covered the Japanese bonus-track "Follow Me", for her album of the same name.


Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[49] Gold 35,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[50] Gold 50,000^
Germany (BVMI)[51] Platinum 300,000^
Sweden (GLF)[52] Platinum 80,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[53] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[54] 3× Platinum 890,850[21]
United States (RIAA)[56] 95,000[55]
Europe (IFPI)[57] 2× Platinum 2,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


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External links[edit]