Annie – Heartbeat
Being known by a single name is a long-standing tradition in pop. Sometimes it’s there from the get-go, as with Cher and Madonna, and sometimes the star in question kind of earns it, as with Kylie. Some pop stars try to influence us by dropping their surname from their records, as with Cheryl – but no matter what she will always be referred to as Cheryl Cole.
Which brings us neatly to the case of Annie, who, while having a perfectly lovely name, made her career at least ten times more difficult by using a moniker so common that she is hard to Google effectively. I’m not saying this is the single reason why she’s never had the career she deserves – poor promotion and record company shenanigans played their part too – but it certainly didn’t help matters.
Norwegian Annie first came to minor prominence with 1999’s The Greatest Hit (which sampled Madonna‘s Everybody) and experienced a sole UK top 40 chart hit in 2003 with the Richard X collaboration Chewing Gum. She was something of a darling of the music press – if the NME could have grown a pop star from a crystal, Annie is pretty much what they would have come up with.
2004 saw the release of her debut album Anniemal, and its second single Heartbeat really should have marked the moment she became pop royalty. A collaboration with fellow Norwegians Royksopp, it was possibly the most perfect single of the year, and was named as such in several end of year polls.
The subject matter is that brilliant pop stand-by, the fleeting moment when you meet someone in a disco and everything changes. What’s especially fantastic is that the tempo literally doubles at the point she meets the object of her affections on the dancefloor – “Feel my heartbeat, truly to the beat, love the symphony.” Annie‘s voice is another crucial factor in this song’s amazingness – yes, it’s another faintly dispassionate female vocal, devoid of acrobatics. I generally find these to be the most effective in pop.
I was working in a Virgin Megastore when this came out, and when it came on the in-store radio station on the day of release I hurtled down to the singles department and snatched up a copy immediately, and sneakily moved it to eye-level (because that’s buy-level) where everyone could see it better. I was convinced it was going to be a smash hit, and was hugely disappointed when it only made no.50.
It was to be a long time before we heard from Annie again, with label wrangles causing second album Don’t Stop (featuring some fantastic work with Xenomania) innumerable delays, eventually surfacing quietly in 2009 with little to no success. Her relationship with Richard X continues, and in 2013 they released the astonishingly good A&R EP, but again without troubling the charts.
As a writer, however, Annie has managed to crack the UK top ten once – she was partially responsible for Mini Viva‘s epic pop banger Left My Heart in Tokyo. Let’s hope that she gets to do it again under her own name.
Entered chart: 06/03/2005
Chart peak: 50
Weeks on chart: 2
Who could sing this today and have a hit? I always thought this would be perfect for Diana Vickers, though god knows she’s not exactly a hit-making machine herself.
I would love to see you do a post about “Songs Remind Me of You” or “I Know UR Girlfriend Hates Me.” The latter had such a fucking good video I’m surprised it didn’t cause a bigger impact in more countries around Europe.
I’ll never understand how Heartbeat wasn’t a smash. Especially loved that live bass in the 2nd verse and her voice sailed perfectly over it. Here in the States, it had indie cred and got a lot of promo, still nothing. Heard it at a local bar once.