21 British women who should have had US No.1 singles before Leona Lewis

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leona-lewis.gifSo Leona Lewis has done it, and reached number one in America. And good on her. She’s undoubtedly a big talent, and could hardly afford to fail with the amount of dosh invested in her success.
But isn’t it remarkable – nay, criminal- that she’s the first UK female to achieve the feat of a number one single Stateside for 21 years (Kim Wilde was the last, in 1987)? Yes, yes it is, is the answer.
With that thought of pure fact ricocheting around your brain like some kind of truth bullet, read over for (deep breath) 21 WOMEN WHO SHOULD HAVE HAD NUMBER ONE SINGLES IN AMERICA BETWEEN 1987 AND 2008 JUST LIKE THE TITLE OF THIS PIECE SUGGESTS.

In alphabetical order:

Lily Allen

Like many Brits, Allen received plenty of buzz from credible sources when she had a bash at cracking the States, but her touring never translated to record sales. Maybe because she kept breaking off to have a little moan on MySpace.

Could have been a US no.1
: “Smile” had a sweet tune, barbed lyrics and the fewest examples of UK yoot speak of her debut album’s singles, so wins by default.

[video: CapitolRecords]
Natasha Bedingfield
Soundtracking seemingly every programme and trailer on MTV has somehow not rewarded Daniel’s sis with a number one single yet. But look at that hair! Those teeth! Surely just a matter of time.

Could have been a US no.1
: “Unwritten” was the most played track on US radio in 2006, apparently.

[video: cecil1005]
Betty Boo
YES Betty Boo. Listen, at a time when Michael Bolton was receiving Grammys, Betty Boo could have cheered our American cousins right the hell up by teaching them how to do the do.

Could have been a US no.1
: Watch her in her Barbarella get-up in the video to “Where Are You Baby?”. Then you will understand what they missed out on.

[video: yamajunusa]

Kate Bush

One of the most influential singer-songwriters of the last thirty-odd years, but probably just too eccentric for the Billboard chart. Tori Amos nicked the best bits to good effect, though.

Could have been a US no.1
: “Running Up That Hill”, as covered by Placebo and featured on The OC, should have soundtracked many more teenage meltdowns than it did.

[video: nixygirl]
Charlotte Church
If the US can handle Winehouse’s extra-curricular exploits, Charlotte’s legendary boozing shouldn’t be a problem (just don’t EVER put them on the same stage again). Maybe a little light on bona fide hits though. Let’s see what she comes up with post-nipper.

Could have been a US no.1
: “Crazy Chick” wasn’t a bad go at old-fashioned pop-soul, was it?

[video: HiTac]


She rhymed about toast in “Life”! She talked about being “better” in “You Gotta Be”! She did some smoochy bollocks for the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack! No pleasing some (American) people.

Could have been a US no.1
: “You Gotta Be” ticked all the right buttons and indeed got close, reaching no.5 in 1994.

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Ugh. I know, I know. But she did sell a bucktload, so a number one single shouldn’t have been out of the question.

Could have been a US no.1
: “White Flag” was plenty dull enough.

[video: tusdeseos]
America loved Adam Ant, so why not Gabrielle and her pirate-themed accessorising? And her retro-soul efforts now sound pretty forward-looking following the success of Winehouse et al.

Could have been a US no.1
: “Dreams”. Like so many songs mentioned on this list, it was uplifting, smooth, catchy, huge hit in the UK… Cuh.

[video: GabrielleMusicVideos]
Ms. Dynamite
The proto-Estelle. Winning the Mercury prize was supposed to be the beginning for Dy-Na-Mi-Tee, but she forgot that people liked her because she seemed fun. Before getting all worthy, though, she looked like a true UK prospect in that there “urban” sphere.

Could have been a US no.1
: “It Takes More” was conscious, empowering and accessible enough for for pop radio. It also had a lightness of touch lacking in her later releases.

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Sam Fox
Don’t laugh. Former booby model Fox had three top ten hits in America, which most of the ladies on this countdown would kill for. Sadly none of them quite reached the top.

Could have been a US no.1
: “Touch Me (I Want Your Body)” was a fascinating glimpse of what Madonna could have achieved had she teamed up with Stock, Aitken and Waterman.

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PJ Harvey
Generation X’s Kate Bush? Always a more challenging listen for those used to pop poppets, but some alternative treasures always force their way into the charts. Unfortunately Polly hasn’t been one of them, but she probably doesn’t mind too much.

Could have been a US no.1
: “Good Fortune”, from her Mercury-winning album Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea, managed to be poppy, sexy, grown-up – and catchy as hell.

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Imogen Heap
She’s just weird enough to attract fans of “alternative” music (whatever that means these days), but writes songs accomplished enough to appeal to the mainstream. Eventually large-scale success is almost certainly likely to be hers.

Could have been a US no.1
: “Goodnight And Go” was an inventive, sweet electro-pop ode to a little harmless stalking. Which is not to say it’s her best, but it would have made a great lyrically subversive chart-topper.

[video: ABCxSylvia]
“Superstar” was magnificent “urban” pop, and she even got Chris Martin in on one of her songs. Wasn’t even enough to ensure lasting success in her home country, sadly. Currently “between record labels”.

Could have been a US no.1
: “Superstar” is catchy and lyrically life-affirming. Why was it not used to soundtrack America’s Next Top Model? Hmm?

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Annie Lennox

I’m not a fan of the woman myself, but how many trinkets and worldwide hits has she picked up over the past couple of decades? Hard to believe none of them made the top spot over there.

Could have been a US no.1
: “Why?”, I suppose. I could happily never hear it again though.

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Shaznay Lewis
“Never Felt Like This Before” was a breezy pop tickle in your ear, so it was. A medium-sized hit over here, it still stands up well a couple of years later. That’s what I thought when it came on the stereo of Zara’s menswear department the other day, anyway. Also, I fancy her.

Could have been a US no.1
: Er, that one I just banged on about.

[video: RemindsMeOfYou]
Alison Moyet
One of the most unique voices of the eighties, in that she sounded a wee bit like a man. But a very talented and soulful one – those pipes will raise the hairs on the back of your neck every time. America preferred Debbie Gibson. Alison can now be found as an agony aunt at The Lipster, fact fans.

Could have been a US no.1
: “All Cried Out” should be in the canon of wronged-female empowerment anthems.

[video: lastmatureman]
Beth Orton
Never really floated my boat, but Orton is another who seems to have been ahead of her time with the whole nouveau folk stuff flying around the interwaves these days.

Could have been a US no.1
: “She Cries Your Name” would probably have needed some soundtrack assistance, but it came out when Dawson’s Creek was showing, so what gives?

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Any of the Spice Girls
Mel B hooked up with Missy Elliott, Mel C with Lisa Left-Eye Lopez and Bryan Adams, Posh with, er, Dane Bowers… and the other two released plenty of “product” as well. All to very little Stateside avail.

Could have been a US no.1
: If it had been Sheryl Crow on “When You’re Gone” with Adams it would have gone megastellar.

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Rachel Stevens
S Club had modest success in the US, and Rachel Stevens’ “Sweet Dreams My LA Ex” and “Some Girls” showed she could come out with pop gold on her own as well. With the right producer.

Could have been a US no.1
: “Some Girls” could have been the new “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, you know.

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KT Tunstall
Another one who could yet make it. Talented, attractive, great voice, able to rock out – and yet just polished enough for chart success. Signs suggest she may be heading for the territory marked “worthy”, so it could go either way.

Could have been a US no.1
: “Suddenly I See” is suitably uplifting, no?

[video: ginnymede]

Amy Winehouse

Yeah, I know! No number one single for Wino, despite a krillion Grammys and column inches. Probably just a matter of time though, as long as she remembers what she does best (no, not “running down the street in a red bra”).

Could have been a US no.1
: Take your pick really, but “Rehab” was remixed with flipping Jay-Z on it, so that should have done the trick.

[video: calvindhill]
Who do you think should have beaten Leona to the coveted US No.1 spot? Vote on our poll over at Polls Boutique

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