13 Great Pop Albums That Were Overlooked & Underrated In Their Time: From Gina G To Little Boots
At some point or other, we, as pop fans, all fall hard for an album that completely tanks on the charts. Sure, the artist in question may eke out a hit single or two, but for whatever reason, the universe seems to reject the notion of the parent album finding any major success. Sorry, Carly Rae Jepsen.
But that’s where we, your music-loving pals at Idolator, come in. Because in the few spare moments when we’re not cranking out the daily goings-on with your favorite artists currently tearing it up in the land of pop, we often pine away wistfully for the days of yore, when we’d champion our own personal fave flops in vain. Eventually at one point we decided, screw that — let’s just make a list!
So head below to find our roundup of 13 overlooked pop albums from the past 20 years that deserve to be revisited.
Little Boots, Hands (2009)
Vastly underrated, English singer-songwriter Little Boots’ 2009 debut LP Hands effortlessly spewed synth-pop goodness. From her seismic electro-pop album opener “New In Town” to the Euro-dance soundscapes of Kylie Minogue-inspired number “Stuck On Repeat,” Hands was as vulnerable as it was infectious. It also might’ve helped that the pop singer’s collaborators happened to be producer extraordinaire Greg Kurstin and Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard, so hats off to those guys as well. Nevertheless, after premiering at #5 on the UK Album Chart, the disc plummeted to the 40th spot in its second week, which was rather disgruntling for the pop music world and Little Boots fans alike. Perhaps some felt she was trying too hard, but it’s also possible that the album was just way before its time — we chose to believe the latter. — RACHEL SONIS
Holly Valance, State Of Mind (2003)
Britney Spears’ Blackout is often praised for bringing electro-pop to the masses, despite the fact that Holly Valance attempted it four years earlier on 2003’s sadly overlooked State Of Mind. At the time, the Australian diva was considered to be the second coming of Kylie Minogue. They both found fame on the same soap opera (Neighbours) and conquered the charts both at home and in the UK with their debut LPs. But then it all fell apart for Holly.
The title track, “State Of Mind” — still a dizzying rush of frantic electro — was a hit (the super sexy video had something to do with it) but most pop fans missed out on the sublimely sexy “Desire,” relentlessly catchy “Everything I Hate” and arresting Rick Nowels-produced bedroom adventure “Action.” There’s way more to State Of Mind than club bangers; Holly even succeeded at mid-tempo synth-pop! (“Ricochets” is still an unexpectedly gorgeous listening experience). Eventually, the then-21-year-old threw in the towel and returned to acting when the LP tanked. But she still has a near-perfect pop album in her discography, which is more than most veterans can say. — MIKE WASS
BoA, BoA (2009)
Well before Psy or Billboard’s K-Pop charts or any of that, there was BoA, Queen Of K-Pop, making her quiet crossover into the American market in 2009. After dominating the South Korean and Japanese music scenes for years (for the unfamiliar, she was often referred to as the Britney of South Korea in the ’00’s, in terms of popularity), the multilingual talent tapped American producers like Sean Garrett, Bloodshy & Avant and Brian Kennedy to craft her first-ever English album. The record barely scratched the charts — a criminal oversight, considering that the tightly crafted dance-pop record is essentially Britney’s Blackout Part 2. From “Eat You Up” to “I Did It For Love” to “Energetic,” the album’s non-stop top notch pop that deserves so, so much more than the dust it was dealt. — BRADLEY STERN
Richard X, Richard X Presents His X-Factor Vol. 1 (2003)
These days we know British musician Richard X as the producer behind releases by Annie, Will Young and, most recently, Erasure. But 11 years ago, way before Disclosure, Calvin Harris and Rudimental were in the pop game, X delivered a pioneering, feature-heavy album packed with top-notch collaborations with the likes of Sugababes, Jarvis Cocker, Kelis and, yes, a then-unknown Annie.
“I liked soul and R&B records, and bringing that into pop — mainly electronic synth pop,” Richard X told Idolator last year for our 10-year anniversary piece on his one and only album. “It was also as much about the imagery and how that fitted or created a new aesthetic, and that was more important than if tracks just fitted in the same musical key.”
Sadly, while singles off the LP like “Being Nobody” (with now-disbanded pop act Liberty X) and “Finest Dreams” (featuring Kelis) became sizable UK hits, the album itself failed to make much of an impact on the world’s music charts at large. That said, it’s still one of the best releases of the new millennium in our book, and it’s one definitely worth your attention — if you can find it. Alas, Richard X Presents His X-Factor Vol. 1 is currently absent from both iTunes and Spotify. — ROBBIE DAW