A Loving Look Back On The Worst Tracks Ever Included On A ‘So Fresh’ CD
That fifth Nikki Webster single really should never have happened.
All week long Music Junkee is celebrating the greatest compilation series of all time: So Fresh. You’re welcome.
A look back over the tracklist of any So Fresh release is sure to spark memories of pop hits of a bygone era: Bomfunk MC’s! Anastacia! Aqua! Blink 182! Jennifer Lopez! Nelly! Creed?
But not all So Fresh inclusions were created equal. On every CD, there was at least one — sometimes two, even three — songs that you very clearly do not remember being hits. Mostly on account of not remembering them at all.
Exactly how these chart flops came to be included on the compilation is anyone’s guess — perhaps a label favour, perhaps a push following a big hit.
But in their honour, here is a brief lowlight reel of some of So Fresh‘s most obscure inclusions.
Amity Dry — ‘The Lighthouse’ (2003)
Just like former Big Brother housemate Sarah-Marie inexplicably ending up in the charts following her reality TV success, so too did Amity Dry.
After winning the first-ever season of The Block with her husband, it was revealed that her real passion lay in singing. The end result was this soppy ballad that did not end up impressing the judges at all.
Needless to say, it didn’t make it through to the next round. Dry indeed.
Charlotte Church — ‘Crazy Chick’ (2006)
On the very off-chance that anyone actually remembers Charlotte Church, it’s for her pre-pubescent days as a classical crossover singer. In the mid-2000s, she made the transition to pop music — and the results were about as awkward as you might expect.
Here, with creepy zoom-ins on her bare skin, she attempts to put some sass and sexiness into mental illness. Because sure, why not. We’ve come this far, after all. A dreary, awkward mess.
Charlton Hill — ‘2’s Company’ (2002)
Neighbours has bred a few stars in its time — Kylie, Delta, even Natalie Imbruglia.
Charlton, however, is a former resident of Home and Away‘s Summer Bay. This could have something to do with why his own foray into music never really took off — although one could also argue this song could well have failed all on its own.
Sounding like a Motor Ace B-side, ‘2’s Company’ was never going to draw a crowd.
Frenzal Rhomb — ‘War’ (2001)
There are people out there that hate Frenzal — hi, Kyle and Jackie O! — but circa their turn-of-the-century disaster Shut Your Mouth, no-one hated them more than they hated themselves.
Their attempts at more quote-unquote “serious” punk songs had them dropped from their label, barely denting the charts and ultimately abandoning the album; never to play a single track ever again. One can safely assume being featured on So Fresh didn’t help sales much.
Girlband — ‘Party Girl’ (2007)
A manufactured pop group that was about as thought-out as the name might suggest. Here, one half of the Rogue Traders pulled together a B-team of young hopefuls and gave them what was clearly a remnant from the Rogue Traders’ cutting room floor.
In a move surprising absolutely no-one, they were done within 18 months. This is likely the first time anyone has thought about Girlband in at least a decade — including its members.
INXS — ‘I Get Up’ (2004)
After Michael and before J.D. Fortune, INXS were in hellish limbo. Why exactly they thought Jon Stevens would be the man to pull them out of it is anyone’s guess, but they made a go of it for about a year or so.
The sole surviving evidence was their first new material in six years, a largely-forgettable number that aimed for ‘New Sensation’ and immediately felt dated. Don’t even start on Stevens rapping in the bridge.
Joel Turner and the Modern Day Poets — ‘Funk U Up’ (2005)
One of the big break-outs from Australian Idol’s auditions was beatboxer Joel Turner. In the right place at the right time, Turner scored a hit in ‘These Kids’ and even a feature verse from Anthony Mundine on ‘Knock U Out.’
By the time single number three rolled around, however, we were well and truly sick of JT and the MDP. There hasn’t been a famous beatboxer here or anywhere since — decidedly for the best.
Kayne Taylor — ‘Heartbreaker’ (2004)
A little further down the barrel than Idol alumni lies Popstars alumni — and as far as that’s concerned, Kayne Taylor is the last of his kind.
The winner of the 2004 series (which never returned), he was quickly chewed up and spat out by the industry following this brilliantly misguided attempt at a pop-rock crossover. They were clearly going for a bad boy image, but the reality is that Taylor was just… well, bad.
Leah Haywood — ‘We Think It’s Love’ (2000)
If Australian pop music made a time capsule in the year 2000, this would have easily gone in.
Mostly for its video, however, which goes for this really weird Fifth Element style of fashion. Haywood leaves a voicemail into an orb for some reason. No-one has any sleeves. Computers come out of the ceiling. It’s one of the most wildly confusing and plotless music videos one could ask for. Oh, and there’s a KEY CHANGE!
Nick Lachey — ‘What’s Left Of Me’ (2006)
You ever wonder how someone so uniquely devoid of personality and charisma found themselves in a position within pop culture? Nick Lachey was at the helm of a boy band, then a reality show and then a solo career — and the memorable moments from all three could probably be counted on one hand.
This, a sad-eyed ballad as fake as its string section, has earned its spot at the bottom of the bargain bin.
Nikki Webster — ’24/7 (Crazy ‘Bout Your Smile)’ (2003)
There was life after ‘Strawberry Kisses,’ yes — albeit not much of one. After its success, the endgame more or less seemed to be to write another one — and by the time her second album was out, the well was completely dry.
One can certainly sympathise with how badly being a child star would fuck you up, but nevertheless there were plenty of adults involved here that very clearly knew what they were doing.
Sisqo — ‘Unleash The Dragon’ (2001)
There was life after ‘Thong Song,’ yes — albeit not much of one. After its success, the endgame… sorry, this crossing of Nikki Webster and Sisqo’s timelines is getting just a little too close for comfort.
All that really needs to be said is that once you’ve reached the peak lyrical genius of “she had dumps like a truck,” there’s not many other places you can go. Points for its entertainingly-ridiculous longform music video, though.
Tina Arena — ‘Dare You To Be Happy’ (2002)
She’s currently enjoying the greatest renaissance of her entire career, with younger artists like Matt Corby and Client Liaison singing her praises to a new generation. Back in 2002, however, Tina Arena was struggling to keep up with the pop world — and this retro-disco throwback didn’t exactly do her many favours with fans.
The video sees her getting extremely horny with a guy over a game of air hockey, who then takes off his shirt to reveal a tank top that says TRUCK DRIVER on it. Just thought you deserved to know that, dear reader.
Wes Carr — ‘Fearless’ (2009)
Of all the Idol winners, Wes Carr was certainly one of them. He was also probably the least comfortable with it all — as this video testifies. He’s dressed ridiculously, he’s flanked by Vince Colosimo and Matt Newton is worming about in there somewhere too.
The song sounds like it was made on GarageBand — let’s be honest, it probably was. The album was called The Way the World Looks. Tellingly, it was bleak.
Psycho Teddy — ‘Psycho Teddy’ (2008)
This happened and we let it happen.
David James Young is a freelance writer and podcaster. He tweets at @DJYwrites.
Listen to the history of So Fresh playlists on Spotify